Emerging voice, JULA, has just released the music video for ‘Leave’, her debut single via Tall Mountain Records, today.
JULA always knew she wanted to be a musician, from the age of four she was singing and dancing to Madonna, making her own shows in her bedroom and performing for her family. As she grew older, she continued to pursue this passion for performance, singing in several bands, choirs, and taking singing and ballet lessons. After high school, she auditioned for The Conservatory of Amsterdam and began her studies in jazz vocals. During her Bachelor, she travelled to New York for 3 months to study and write music. After that, during her Masters, she studied in Copenhagen at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory for a semester. She never doubted her career choice, it was very clear to her that this was going to be her life.
We managed to get a small slot in JULA’s busy schedule of both new motherhood and new releases. Here’s a sneak peek into the mind of this emerging artist.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
I never thought of anything other than being a musician, I always knew I wanted to be in music, performing, singing and writing. I knew it was going to be hard, my mom was an actress and we never had any money and she was always working late nights, but still, I knew, this is what I want.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Most of the time that happens at the same time; I have an idea, a lyric, a melody and I know what I want with it, what sounds I want, what atmosphere. For instance, with my single LEAVE, I remember when I first had the idea for this song; I was at home with my loopstation just improvising, making soundscapes. It was a cold day and as I sat there, this song just came to me. My songs are about emotions and, for me, emotions have very clear sounds. So when I write music, I already know what the sound of the song will be, even if it’s just me and the piano. I hear the vibe of what I want it to be. It’s a very organic process.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Yes, I work with producer/songwriter Jan Schröder a lot, through him, I also worked with Ian Grimble.
What’s on your current playlist?
My playlist is very eclectic; I listen to Solange, Maggie Rogers, Björk, Ariana Grande, Muse and my not so guilty pleasure: The Spice Girls.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I am always nervous about what to say on stage, so I write stuff down and then when I am on stage, I let that go and I am very honest about my music and my process behind that.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I actually use a lot of free improvisation; I studied with some Free Improbabilities Masters during my studies in Copenhagen and it really freed my voice. Now I have an all-female free improv group that I sing with, it’s amazing, no boundaries, everything is allowed, that is how I found my voice.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
I work with Jan in the studio a lot. I dress up when I go to the studio; lipstick and all, that’s how I get in the right vibe. We have some coffee, we start jamming and we play around with silly instruments a lot and then at some point we get serious and start our session and at the end of the day, we finished the first demo for our song.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
I was 4 years old, we had this performance at our school and I wanted to do ‘Get into the groove‘ by Madonna. I gathered my friends and made them back up dancers/singers and my mom made us dresses, we looked awesome. I made all my friends stand behind me and do a backup dance and I was in front singing, dancing and performing. I loved it. That’s when I knew, I wanted to be a singer.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
I don’t keep anything close, I am not superstitious or anything. You can wake me up in the middle of the night and I will sing.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Ellen Tackenkamp; she is a friend of mine from the Conservatory, a fellow singer and she is amazing.
It depends on my mood; when I feel stuck or stressed, I can’t get the ‘juices flowing’ but I can easily turn them on by setting myself in motion, through yoga, taking a walk, riding my bike. Actually, my best ideas come from riding my bike, I do that a lot, being Dutch and all. I am happy that we live in an era where it’s normal to carry your phone around, so I can record everything that comes up.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
I used to have a loopstation and effects hooked up and I improvised with that. Lately, I don’t use that anymore, it’s just me and my voice and later I will add the piano. When my. song is finished, I add sounds in Garageband.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
I have a BA and MA in Jazz Vocals from the Conservatory of Amsterdam; I learned so much about my voice and about music there. It was an amazing time, I was very eager to learn and I studied my ass off. I studied in New York with all these jazz celebrities (Kurt Elling, Gretchen Parlato) and I spent 1 semester in Copenhagen at the Rytmik Music Conservatory. There I studied with Scandinavian free improv artist and really learned how to set myself free from the, very strict, jazz idiom.
After I finished my degree, I wanted to make my own music, stuff that I wanted to listen to, I love jazz, but it can also be very limiting in a way. So I experimented with combining jazz and pop sounds for a while, I did a lot of free improv, I took singing lessons with different people who had experience in different genres (classical, pop) and I wrote music, a lot of it. After some years, I finally came to the music that I wanted to make. That’s the music I make now.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
There will be 2 more singles this year and a tour. I really hope I can come back to London in autumn!