Joanna Sternberg | The Family Interviews


Meet Joanna Sternberg

FUN FACT: this musician is no stranger to compositions. Joanna Sternberg knows how to tell a good story — be it through their emotional lyrics or poignant cartoons. That’s right, cartoons!

Color us impressed. Fresh off the release of their second LP Then I Try Some More, we called this empathetic singer in for some serious questioning.

Below we discuss buyer’s remorse, the honor of an audience, and their fantasy bowling team. Ch-ch-check it out!


Car Of The Year: A Mad-Lib by Joanna Sternberg

It's here, the all-new MCSHANE. The most luxurious BUNNY you'll ever drive! The only four-door PUPPY that comes equipped with dual air DONKEYS, power SHEEP, and contoured, plush leather GOATS. And, believe it or not, it is the only car in its class that can go up to a hundred thousand CHICKENS without needing a RED BULL or a COW. Run, do not JUMP to your nearest MCSHANE dealer and feast your EARS on the car that Motor PIG magazine calls the LAZY MOUSE of the year. As always, we save the best for last. When you see the sticker price, you are sure to shout, "I DON'T GIVE A CARE!!"


Would You Rather…

be able to jump a hundred feet in the air, or make things move with your mind? What would you do?

I would rather make things move with my mind.  I always loved the movie Matilda.  I could make me move with my mind....or I wouldn't have to move because I could make everything come to me!  I could be the ultimate form of lazy!  I could also obviously help people in need with whatever they need to get/do.  I could rob from the rich and give to the poor!  I'd like to give money and food to people without homes in NYC.  I'd like to do everything I can to help others. 


Some Questions with Joanna Sternberg

What was the last thing you bought that you regret?

I regret buying everything I have ever bought that I didn't really need.  (Which is A LOT of things!)

If you had to be on one reality TV show which one would it be? What would you do?

I would be on The Jersey Shore as the shore house's unqualified art and music therapist.


What was your most memorable performance, and why?

I am pretty sure that every performance of mine is equally memorable in it's own way.  I probably remember it better if I am not using any alcohol or illegal drugs though...

Who are your five favorite artists active in NYC right now?

It would be impossible for me to only pick 5, and I am still not sure what exactly an "artist" is... but if I were to name five people who are considered to be artists that I love off the top of my head, I would have to say Billy McShane, Spike Lee, James De La Vega, Art Spiegelman, and Roz Chast (who I think lives in NYC part time...?)

Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman

How do you feel about people applying their own interpretations to your music?

I am honored by it!

If you could go to a bowling alley with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be and Why?

I would have to say my three grandparents who have passed away, and if they didn't want to bowl we wouldn't have grandmother Fraydele Oysher, my grandfather Harold Sternberg, and my grandfather Marty Morrell.

Where do you begin when starting to create a new song?

Sometimes the entire song comes to me in a dream, complete with chords and lyrics.  Other times, I will walk down the street and hum to myself while recording it.  Sometimes this melody will get stuck in my head.  Other times I will be improvising and an entire song will flow out of me while I play either guitar or piano.  I usually begin with getting a melody stuck in my head.  When I have the energy, I will grab a guitar or sit down at the piano, and sing the melody while I figure out chords to go with it.  Sometimes the lyrics come easily, other times they do not.  This is usually because I keep coming up with lyrics that I hate.  When I am lucky, I will write a song in five to ten minutes...I say the word "lucky" because I am very lazy.  I find that I am only able to write songs when I am inspired by something else, and combine that with a feeling that I need to let out.

Who do you go to when you want to workshop your songs? Do you keep the whole process to yourself?

I always send my songs to at least three or four friends.  Otherwise I have no idea if other people will be able to connect to the song.  I make music with the hope that it will help people feel like they are not alone.  I do not know if I will be able to achieve this goal with every song, but I can try!

What was the first instrument you learned how to play?

I learned how to sing first, but I was very shy about singing until five years ago so I will say that I learned how to play the piano first

Which is better Play-Doh or Silly Puddy? Why?

I love both of them!  However, I will have to say Play-Doh because I love it's smell.  Whenever I smell it I am reminded of my pre school that smelled heavily of play doh.


Who is your favorite cartoon character? Why?

I would have to say Spongebob.  This is because he is my role model.  He is a hard worker, and is kind to everyone.  He is the ultimate optimist, and proud to be queer!

Do you have any plants? How are they doing?

I would not trust myself as a plant owner...I can barely take care of myself!

Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)

Thank You for asking me questions!

Sean Maldjian