PHOTOS
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Photos by Thomas Patterson



Photos by Alicia J. Rose



Photos by Philip Kramer



Photos by Chris Zasche


PRAISE

"It's hard to not make comparisons to Kate Bush when I hear her gorgeous voice, as sharp and clear as it is breathy and beatific. Not to mention the other-worldly atmospheres she creates as her songs that build in both scope and beauty and makes it hard to place her compositions in any specific genre or time continuum. Full of wide-eyed splendor and sparkling with a fresh, fertile spirit, Bright Archer's Hidden Systems is a summer must." My Old Kentucky Blog (July, 2011)

"Bright Archer's dizzying new LP Hidden Systems harkens back to Mitchell's untouchable 1969-75 run (Clouds through The Hissing of Summer Lawns), but sans the vintage nostalgia of that fabled era. Kunin's earnest vocals and simple yet subtly elaborate song structure portray an artist at her creative peak." Portland Mercury (June, 2011)

"Johanna creates vignettes from her piano and her beautifully trained breathy voice, all the more visceral for its seemingly simple construction." The Owl Mag (June, 2011)

"There is a definite original quality in Kunin's lyrics that is among the most alluring aspects of Hidden Systems, as she wields her ambiguous words with devastating effect." Stereo Subversion (June, 2011)

"Trained in opera as a child, jazz in college, a current member of a number of bands around her hometown of Portland and finally taking her talents solo, Johanna Kunin has arrived breathy folk in tact." RCRD LBL

"Hidden Systems refuses easy, emotionally exploitative chord progressions for something a bit more ambiguous and challenging - a testament to both Kunin's songwriting and Norwood's studio prowess." Willamette Week

"The one that will get the same kind of buzz soon enough is Bright Archer - a.k.a. Johanna Kunin. Her songs feel a little fuller and more indebted to a chamber-pop sound, but are just as powerful and emotionally stirring." Robert Ham, Willamette Week (September, 2010)

"KCRW darling Johanna Kunin studied improvisational jazz, avant-garde chord structures and experimental classical music while at Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts. But her early piano lessons with Grandma back in chilly Minnesota may have influenced her even more strongly. Surely both aesthetic tangents helped to develop the schizophrenic allure and warm-hearted complexity that underlie her strange pop creations. Kunin's competent stride was forged by Chan Marshall's aching brilliance and the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat era, lyrical bad-dream designs, but Kunin's got her own thing going on too without a doubt. Rarely have twinkling keys, woodwind orchestrations and covers of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's work been pulled off simultaneously with such ghostly, lovely ease. With an eight-piece backing band, Kunin is usually situated at the keys, never wailing nor whining, but always thinking, constructing the music carefully and making it look easy - which, in the vapid pool of current female touring talent (not to mention those ladies who rarely lead the band), is a big upgrade of rejuvenating proportions. Wendy Gilmartin, LA Weekly (Rock Picks; June, 2009)

"Johanna Kunin balances the wonders of the forest (she sings about fireflies in a way that will make you want to ditch your possessions and live in an old growth tree) with the realities of the urban landscape. On 2006's Clouds Electric, Kunin channels the whimsical without losing track of the push-and-pull of the human condition. She has recently been in Portland mixing a new album, which will most likely put her name on the tongues of those seeking a new mysterious singer/songwriter to place on the altar." Ezra Ace Caraeff, Portland Mercury

"She puts on a powerful, hypnotic show to a hushed, attentive audience, backing her striking vocals with capable piano accompaniment. It's magical, intimate in a way even the most-compelling club performance couldn't rival." From a Live Review on SeattleSoundMag.com (April, 2008)

"Little did we know that Johanna Kunin would be bringing an entire consortium of bandmates with her, and that they would be performing an entirely new repertoire of music from what we heard last time. Mind-buzzingly beautiful? Yes! But it was also crazier and louder than would fit comfortably in our old mental paradigm for Kunin. We're talking eight to 10 people on the Sunset's tiny stage, each playing an instrument, and at least a third of them singing along." From a Live Review on Seattlest.com (March, 2008)

"The first time we went to see Johanna Kunin, we left practically purring with satisfaction. We expect tonight to be no different. Kunin uses dreamy, hypnotic loops and mind-buzzingly beautiful harmonies to lull you into your happy place." From a Show Preview on Seattlest.com (March, 2008)

"The songs on Clouds Electric contrast icy cold instrumentation...with Kunin's soft, thawing breaths." Eric Grandy, The Stranger (March, 2008)

"Kunin's music speaks volumes through understatement, her hushed vocals wrapped up in stark piano chords, gently brushed drums, and elegant electronic flourish. "Less is more" doesn't work for everyone, but Kunin does it with a tempered lusciousness that's mesmerizing." Jonathan Zwickel, The Stranger (January, 2008)

"Johanna Kunin is a remarkable songwriter with an unmistakable talent and the ability to lure you into her grasp mere moments after hearing her for the first time. The Seattleite's fingers delicately stroke and caress the piano keys, and her voice has all the makings of a bonfire, lighting up the darkness surrounding her songs' mystique in a twinkling, hopeful glimmer. Kunin brings to mind a more romantic Cat Power and a less neurotic, more dreamy Tori Amos." Travis Ritter, Willamette Week (January, 2008)

"Seattle's Johanna Kunin started the evening with skillful keyboard pop; she played a warm-sounding Wurlitzer piano and was backed by trumpet, vibraphone, and drums. If that sounds weird, well it worked. Kunin's crystalline voice is reminiscent of Bjork at her least crazed, and her thoughtful songs take a few interesting left turns." Ned Lannamann, Portland Mercury (January, 2008)

Profile on the TV show Seattle Verve (December, 2007), Click to watch.

"The night was a perfect complement to Kunin's music: atmospheric, magical, and not afraid to be both complex and child-like." Christopher Gullo, WERS 88.9FM Boston (October, 2007)

"Seattle's Johanna Kunin...gives her songs a melodic and textural lift that keeps them from getting snagged on the nearest reference point. Last year's Clouds Electric builds delicate swoops of orchestral noise around Kunin's engaging vocal melodies and piano lines - with help from producer Tucker Martine, whose credits include The Decemberists' The Crane Wife." The Onion A.V. Club (September, 2007)

Interview with Muzzle of Bees Blog (September, 2007), Click to Read.

Album Review in Metro Spirit (September, 2007), Click to Read.

Show Recommended by SFist (August, 2007), Click to Read.

"Johanna Kunin is doing something you've never heard before. It's...a little bit Laurie Anderson and a little bit Sufjan Stevens (without all the uncomfortable God stuff). Her newly reprinted 2005 album, Sigh Lens (produced by the omnipresent Karl Blau), provides plenty of opportunities for live adventurism and genuine mind-blowingness." Casey Jarman, Willamette Week (August, 2007)

"It makes sense that Johanna Kunin toured with seminal psych-folk weirdo Robyn Hitchcock and that she shares a band member or two with Laura Veirs...Kunin's sound parallels and builds upon the work of both." Luke Baumgarten, The Inlander (April, 2007)

"I've discovered a new chanteuse in our midst: the ethereal Johanna Kunin, an artist from Seattle who's currently touring with the legendary Robyn Hitchcock. Johanna falls more to the ethereal, dreamy side of chanteuse-dom, evoking Regina Spector, Tori Amos, and most vividly for me, Kate Halvenik...Her sound drips with an ephemeral, Nothing Gold Can Stay sort of sadness, a sense of the fragility of things, laden with minor chords and Johanna's strong yet whispery vocals." Dana Bos, Three Imaginary Girls (April, 2007)

"Words do little justice to capture the sounds of sheer beauty and serenity emitted from Seattle's Johanna Kunin. For each song during her live set on WERS, the singer-songwriter lays down a sprinkling of piano while her ethereal...vocals sway and swoon and soar across wide plains of emotional conviction." Jon Meyer, WERS 88.9FM Boston (April, 2007)

"Kunin's minimalist piano melodies and pop sensibilities create the proper blend of somber, compelling, eerie and accessible aesthetics that not only invite but draw the listener along the strange journeys to the shadowy corners of the mind. Added jazz inflections have a lilting lullaby effect when paired with that falling-star, cotton-soft singing voice." Isamu Jordan, Spokane Spokesman-Review (April, 2007)

"If you are seeking all the warmth of a flannel blanket in winter, wrap yourself in Johanna Kunin's latest release Clouds Electric...Clouds Electric tempts sentiments of warmth in the same way that the Sunday's Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic did two decades earlier. The distinctively northern sound that is Johanna Kunin supposes that emotion, and adds the expedience beholden of the Pacific Northwest." Robert Karmin, Puremusic.com (2007)

Live in-studio on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic with Nic Harcourt (December, 2006) Click to listen/watch.

Show Recommended by Losanjealous (December, 2006), Click to Read.

Show Recommended by SFist (December, 2006), Click to Read.

"One of the best albums of 2006. Having her music on my show makes me look good." Chris Douridas, KCRW 89.9FM Santa Monica (November, 2006)

Interview with Bodyspace.net, Portuguese Blog (November, 2006), Click to Read.

"Like freshly squeezed lemonade, the debut full-length record "Clouds Electric" from chanteuse Johanna Kunin is a refreshing accompaniment to sleepy August nights. Neither cloyingly sweet nor made acidic by cynicism...the Seattle-based songstress is seemingly destined to join the ranks of Tori Amos and local favorite Laura Veirs, with whom Kunin has recently played. The vibrant images and velvet vocals beg for a patch of grass and a blanket." Becca Zeifman, West Coast Performer Magazine (September, 2006)

Interview with Mercurial Sound (September, 2006), Click to Read.

"Something does set her apart. Kunin's lyrics aren't just darker, they're a little more intense without getting bogged down in the personal or narrowly topical. Fans of feminist folkrock might very well find themselves mesmerized by Kunin's songs, but like [Laura] Veirs she'll refused to be so ghettoized. Above all, what saves Kunin from sliding downhill toward Enya is the same Seattle DIY vibe you get from Veirs, Blau, or Phil Elvrum. She plays ancient keyboards, uses multiple mics for freaky effects, fiddles around with her own electronic noises, and begins her songs with extended overlapping vocal loops. If she has a predecessor it's Anderson rather than Amos." Bryan Waterman, The Great Whatsit (May, 2006), Click for full blog.

Songs:Illinois Blog (February, 2006), Click to Read.

"4 1/2 stars. Beautifully arranged, captivating songs with interesting, intelligent texts...Recommended!" Gerald Van Waes, Radio Centraal, Antwerp (2006) Click to read the review.

"Minneapolis transplant Kunin's airy, surreal full-length recording features an all-star backing band: Keith Lowe, Matt Chamberlain, Eyvind Kang - musicians who have worked with the likes of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Bill Frisell. It's a testament to Kunin's talent - and her producer, the highly respected and connected Tucker Martine (Laura Veirs, the Long Winters) - that these musicians recorded with this unknown.
Martine calls her 'one of Seattle's new secret weapons.'"
Tom Scanlon, Seattle Times (2006) , Click for the full article.

"Johanna Kunin is an extraordinarily gifted singer."
Seattle Times (2006)

"Johanna Kunin is a strong force and her confidence really comes through...Her arrangements and melodies are perfect.
I would give anything for a sliver of her talents."
Damien Jurado, blog.myspace.com/damienjurado (2005)