The thing about travelling and touring non-stop for over two years is that you learn a lot about how other music communities work outside of your own. Being immersed in intricate, supportive, creative ecosystems either on the other side of the world or in the next state over can give you a lot of perspective on how a community thrives successfully.
Julia Jacklin is no stranger to the road, and although she flew the coop to strengthen her solo career in Melbourne, she believes that New South Wales has the opportunity to take a leaf from the well-written books of thriving scenes outside of the state’s borders.
PEDESTRIAN.TV sat down with the Sydney native to chat about the state of music in NSW, who she’s inspired by, and delving into the last couple of years of her life through her new album, Crushing.
A lot of the differences that Julia sees in other countries outside of Sydney is in the respect and support that is given to musicians from the wider community. She tells me that even moving to Victoria and seeing how there’s capacity for musicians to make a living and gain respect from creative industries, she feels more valued as a professional muso.
To be honest like moving to Melbourne though, I see a lot of changes, and I see a lot of support and respect for musicians, and the ability to make a living without having national radio support. And actually having music communities that can create revenue within themselves, which is what you see in other cities in the world.
You don’t feel like you have to leave the country to be able to earn a living or to gain respect, you can actually be successful in your city and play enough to make a living. I feel like Melbourne has that.
She tells me that she feels a bit guilty for moving from Sydney to Melbourne recently, but in the grand scheme of her career as a songwriter, singer, and all-around creative, she knew it was the best thing to do for herself.
I do feel a lot of guilt for bailing on NSW and moving to Victoria, because I guess I feel like– it’s like on one front, of course, I’m incredibly passionate about live music and I want to do everything I can to continue doing it.
And then it’s also like, I’m a young person with not much money, and I have an Instagram account so sure I can post some things to all of the people that already believe in what I’m saying.
I don’t have any capital to start my own festivals. I don’t actually have that much influence when it comes to policy and the people that actually hold the power, so it’s really sad.
Listening to Julia’s second, and newest, album Crushing, you’re overwhelmed with how real and relatable every song is. The entire album encapsulates her last two years relentlessly touring and performing as Julia Jacklin, and as part of Phantastic Ferniture, and Julia distils moments from all the varying relationships that she’s forged – and let go of – in that time.
It’s a snapshot of her life in the back of the car, where she felt deep loneliness from being away from her family and could write in a way that she normally wouldn’t have done if she wasn’t so removed from her life in Australia.
Crushing explores a reclamation and a renewed sense of self after the breakdown of a relationship, and Julia lays it all out on the table in front of you – unashamedly raw and delicate, with lyrics that don’t mask her feelings and thoughts behind cryptic prose.
I didn’t think too much when I was writing this record. I wrote most of it while I was on tour, I wrote most of it in the car on tour, and I was so far removed from my regular life and from my family and a lot of my friends that all sense of what I should say and how to say it was a bit out the window, cos I was pretty lonely in my own head. A lot of the songs came out of that.
I didn’t try and edit my lyrics as much as I used to, like I didn’t try and cover up things with poetry or tricky metaphors or anything, I kinda wanted to say just exactly how I feel, exactly how I felt it at the time. So they were all a bit heavy to write, but the heaviness is only kind of coming to me now.
Julia balances the sombre feelings of the album out with the visual side of her music – she takes a lot of time and consideration into visually creating landscapes for her songs through music videos and the album’s cover art, in an effort to remind people that she’s a positive person who explores one facet of her identity through her work as Julia Jacklin.
I know my music is very melancholy and can easily be shoved into the “sad girl” category. But to me it’s not like that at all – I mean it is but its also to me quite hopeful and joyful and I think that just sharing your experiences can be a really positive thing.
So I think visually I’m always trying to represent the other side of myself that isn’t bogged down by these emotions, that actually finds a lot of joy and positivity out of creating those songs.
When you’re knee-deep in Crushing and trying not to weep at your desk as I have been, you wouldn’t pick Julia for being a huge fan of art-pop producer, Grimes, but her eyes light up and a broad smile comes across her face as soon as I mention her name.
I just find her to be a very fascinating artist, who has real control over her imagery, her music; she kinda just does things how she wants to, when she wants to do them.
I need female artists like that in my life because it’s so easy to do things the way that everyone tells you that you should do them. Especially when you’re coming up to an album release, and everyone’s telling you how to do it, and who you should talk to, and how you should release it, and on days when you feeling a bit vulnerable – which is many days as an artist – it’s very easy to be like “Ok well maybe I don’t know anything and this person is right.”
Artists like Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and Phoebe Bridgers inspire Julia similarly to Grimes, and you can see through her determination to create music that’s unmistakably her, that Julia Jacklin is directing the conversation and direction of her music with her own hands – and if the shit hits the fan, she’s comfortable knowing that it’ll all land on her and nobody else.
There’s a lot of women like [Grimes] at the moment actually that are inspiring me in that way, where you’re just kind of like “No, at the end of the day, we know what we’re talking about. I know what I’m talking about, I know what I’m doing, and at the end of the day if I make something that’s bad, or if I make a bad decision, that’s all coming down on my head, no one else’s.”
Julia Jacklin kicked off her 2019 world tour last night in Perth, and will be headed around the country in March before heading over to the UK, Europe, and the US.
Crushing is out now through Liberation Records, and you can listen to it wherever you stream or buy your tunes.Image: Nick Mckk