JULIA K. INTERVIEW
Julia K. is one of the most extraordinary and exciting female singer-songwriters in the UK. Channelling the style and attitude of vocalists in the vein of PJ Harvey and Chrissie Hynde, Julia K. is not your average performer in any respect. Her consistently intriguing lyrics prove to be the perfect foil for the barbed music that accompanies them, and her emotion-enveloped shows are something to be behold.
Having begun to ‘write’ songs and play the piano at a very young age, a deep-rooted desire to create has always urged Julia K. to share her vision with the masses. Thankfully, such a ‘vision’ remains offbeat and distinctly ‘alternative’ in nature.
In spite of having a thousand and one other ‘jobs’ to do, Julia K. was kind enough to spare Steve fifteen minutes of her precious time in order to chat about her past, the present, and what is potentially going to be a hugely rewarding future…
HOW JULIA, HOW ARE THINGS?
Hi Steve! Great… hectic, but great.
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING SONGS, AND DO THINK IT GETS EASIER WITH TIME TO WRITE SONGS?
I would say I wrote my first song aged four… but it probably wasn’t any good to anyone but me and, perhaps, my mum! It’s difficult to say when exactly I wrote my first ‘proper’ song, but I guess around the age of twelve or so. However, I wrote for over ten years without really showing or performing anything to anyone because I was so petrified to get them out there! Then one day, something just kind of snapped, and I knew that was what I had to do…
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE KIND OF SONGS YOU PEN?
Cheeky, melancholic, upbeat, contemplative, extroverted, introspective… bit of a split personality to be honest!
WERE YOU CREATIVE AS A CHILD, AND DID YOUR TALENT AT WRITING SUCH INTRIGUING LYRICS STEM FROM AN INTEREST IN READING AND WRITING POETRY?
Very much so. I loved anything you could make, write, paint, play, act. I was made to take classical piano lessons from the age of five. It sucked at times when everyone else was out playing on their bikes, but now it’s one of the things I’m the most grateful for. I am so happy I learnt that ‘language’ so young. And I’ve always had an interest in poetry. Especially the craft of song lyrics. There’s something about singing words which, for me, makes them even more powerful in channelling the soul. Wow, that sounds corny, doesn’t it?
CAN YOU REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE FIRST SONG YOU EVER PENNED, AND DO YOU STILL PLAY IT LIVE?
Oooh… I think it was called Stone, and it was about two women meeting at the death of a man, one woman being the secret lover of the deceased, and one being the wife holding the wake, remembering him in a more glowing light than he deserved. I don’t play it in our current set – but you never know, I might resurrect it now!
WHEN PERFORMING, ARE YOU A NATURAL EXTROVERT, OR DO YOU SUFFER FROM STAGE FRIGHT WHEN CONFRONTED BY LARGE CROWDS?
Can I say both? I always want so badly to do a good show that the nerves can definitely get the better of me sometimes, so I behave like a natural extrovert on stage to cope with it! But, once the first two chords have been played, it doesn’t matter where I am; I get lost in the music and concentrate on doing the best job I can in entertaining my audience.
YOUR MUSIC ASIDE, DO YOU ACTIVELY PURSUE ANY OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVOURS?
Well, I devised and produced the video for my debut single release, I Light Up, and have been known to act a bit, too. I also sketched the storyboard, so I guess there are a few different creative sides to me! Go and have a look on YouTube if you’re curious…
IF YOU WERE PRESENTED WITH THE CHANCE OF SUPPORTING A BAND OR SINGER-SONGWRITER OF YOUR CHOICE, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Ohhh wow… there are loads. But I would say PJ Harvey. She has been such a massive and important influence on me, and on female-led rock music in general. She’s an inspiration. I might be too afraid to play, though! Having said all that, she was actually at one of my gigs once! But that’s another story!
AS A SINGER, DO YOU THINK IT’S OF UTMOST IMPORTANT TO TRY AND NURTURE A DISTINCTIVE VOICE IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT YOUR MUSIC NATURALLY STANDS OUT FROM THE PROVERBIAL CROWD?
That’s an interesting question. I honestly believe the only thing you can nurture is yourself. All the most distinctive singers are simply being as much themselves as they can be. At the end of the day, you can put on a particular intonation or pronunciation and people might remember you for five minutes, you might even have a hit, but that wears thin in my opinion if there’s no depth and substance behind it. You can only achieve that by really striving to be true to yourself. And I guess it helps to be lucky enough to be gifted with a voice people enjoy hearing!
FINALLY, HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC?
It’s funny – there are so many channels available these days! But have a look for me on Google. Just type in ‘Julia K’ and you’ll find me, or check out my website at www.myspace.com/juliakmusic
You can also follow me on Twitter @juliakk1
(Questions by Steve Rudd; Answers by Julia K)