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BU grad set to release debut album with the band Juniper in June

Scott Johnson graduated from Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies earlier this month — with a post-grad plan that he doesn’t share with many of his Pardee classmates.

Members of the band Juniper
Scott Johnson, Alejandro Marín and Ahren Shreeve of the band Juniper. Following Johnson’s graduation from Boston University earlier this month, the trio will release their debut album “Distance Keeps Me Distant” in June. COURTESY OF HAYLEY BIGNESS

Johnson has been the lead singer and songwriter of Juniper — an up-and-coming indie band — since beginning college at Loyola University Maryland. There, he met Alejandro Marin, the drummer, at a freshman seminar. After Johnson’s transfer to BU, he met Ahren Shreeve, the band’s guitarist, who completes the band’s trio.

With over 80,000 monthly listeners and almost 3,000 followers on Instagram, the band has high hopes for the release of their debut album, “Distance Keeps Me Distant” in June. The band released their final single for the album, “More Than I Can Handle,” last Wednesday.

Previously, Juniper had a more transient roster of musicians, resulting in the band feeling like more of a “collective” than a band. Johnson said, however, that the pandemic helped solidify the group as a trio.

“Life is so turbulent … college kids are all across the country so it’s hard to work or some people don’t really want to make music at all anymore,” he said. “Having that fluid approach allowed for us to continue to grow.”

The band has spent the last year working toward the album’s release next month, on top of school and work. Shreeve became a gigging musician in the Boston area after a semester at the Berklee College of Music, and Marin graduated this year from Loyola.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the trio sought refuge away from the city when Marin’s family moved up to Maine. There, the group bonded, and Johnson said being “best friends” helps meld their sound and inspirations together into Juniper.

“We made it a huge priority for us to go up to Maine as much as possible to not only make music but to really find our sound and find ourselves as people, just being able to hang out as friends a lot,” Marin said.

Juniper’s other releases include “Here for the First Time,” which has over a million streams on Spotify, and “Please Stop Calling.” While the band is still independent of a record label, they brought on a manager and producer to their team.

“We’ll make a song, make a demo and send the stems to … our producer, and he turns it into something we didn’t even imagine,” Shreeve said. “He’s a huge part of the creative process and he’s a musical genius … he’s definitely a huge part of our sound.”

After recording most of the album in their bedrooms, not official recording studios, Johnson said he hopes signing will get them “more resources and funding.”

“Being able to work in a studio with incredible equipment and space and time and less stress, that is definitely like where we are going to,” he said.

Marin and Shreeve both said that the rock band Pinegrove inspires their sound, and Marin added that the band leans into an indie sound similar to artists such as Mac DeMarco, with heavy reverb and indie guitars.

“The really cool thing that I love working with these guys is that we all have different inspirations to us and we all have different music that we listen to,” Marin said, “but at the end of the day we can always come together to make our own sound.”

For the band, getting officially signed is on their minds, Johnson said, but they want to bask in the glory of their debut album for the summer too.

Venues are projected to begin opening more throughout the summer, and Juniper is ready to take the stage: Johnson said that hopefully they can “hit the ground running” in the fall with live shows.

“At the end of the day, we haven’t played a show since March of 2020 and right before the pandemic hit, we were playing a good amount of shows,” Marin said. “Those were some of my best memories I’ve ever had.”

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