Julia Darling is one of those rare artists who can build a career out of the shadows of the label system. With a crystal clear voice and a lyrical style that is at once poetic and approachable, Julia shines as the voice of the urban singelton. Raised in the little town of New Plymouth, New Zealand, Julia left home at 18 with a dream to perform. She started out a short-lived career as a dancer but when she bought a guitar and taught herself a few chords she found her passion was for writing and performing music.
After a few short months making a living as a street performer on Acland Street in Melbourne, Australia she was discovered by a record executive and quickly signed to a deal. The record company brought her to New York and matched her up with a top producer and proven back up musicians. After months in the studio her album was met with glorious reviews…and lackluster sales. Darling’s contract was not renewed and she found herself stranded in New York, with no hits, no producer, no manager and no label.
For many artists this might have been the end of the story, but it would not be the end of Julia Darling. For the tale of Julia Darling took another turn this year when she signed on to Stanton Street Records the upstart independent label, from the owners of the now-famous Living Room, where the early careers of Norah Jones and Jesse Harris were nurtured. And with her new self-titled album, she now introduces a new, stronger, wiser version of herself.
Self-titling a CD is sometimes a little risky, so why do it at this time ... and what could it have so easily been called otherwise? "This felt like a debut for me so self- titling kind of made sense. I would have called it Get Rich or Die Tryin' but 50 Cent beat me to the punch!"
What are your memories of making a living as a street performer on Acland Street in Melbourne back in the day? "One guy gave me $5 to stop singing ... that one sticks out! I remember all the little kids, ’cause they LOVE street musicians and I learned that you can’t spot generosity."
When your debut album was met with wonderful, glowing reviews and yet lackluster sales (which ultimately led to you parting ways with the llabel), who did you blame and why? "Well in hindsight I don’t blame anyone. Making a record and then selling it depends on so many planets aligning and a real stroke of luck."
Summarize your feelings at the time when you were writing these songs:
'Let's Do It Again' - "[I was] feeling absolutely desperate to write something up tempo with tasty hooks."
'Supernatural' - "'Supernatural' was a love poem to my often absent boyfriend!"
'Lonely Generation' - "My Grandfather called my age group the ‘lonely generation’ because of our internet addiction and I told him it was divorce, not the internet that made us that way. He was pissed!"
On the track 'Wake Up' you tell the tale of practicing your autograph over and over - fact or fiction? "Fact. Though the ‘unopened envelope’ part is really the crux of the line, meaning that I was having big dreams but being pretty lazy at the same time."
Tell me more about the photo-shoot setting for the album cover "Mick Rock shot the photos on his roof. He’s the kind of guy who gets exactly the expression he wants so he had to talk dirty to me to make me super-mad, then he’d get the expressive shot and we’d all laugh hysterically. The front cover shot is more gentle ’cause we didn’t wanna scare the boys off!"
Knowing that the lives of most musicians who aren't topping the charts each month can be monetarily painful, do you supplement that cause in any way other than musically? "Do I have a day job? Hell yes! I book bands at a club, get paid weekly and I still only have $2 in my wallet. Payday is tomorrow so I’ll make it alright."
Describe yourself in just three words "Not from Australia!"
If I managed to come across a brand new and autographed copy of Figure 8 and was then offered $500 for it on Ebay ... should I sell it?! "Yeah, sell it! I’ll send you another one!There are literally thousands of those unopened and under my bed. Use the money to buy 50 NEW Julia Darling CD’s and give them to your friends."
Finally, if you were locked into a studio and asked to make a song with four other musicians (none related to the work you have done or currently are doing), who would they be and what would the name of the song be?! "Thom Yorke [Radiohead] would sing. John Lennon would write the music. Conor [Bright Eyes] would write the lyrics ....... and I would keep my mouth shut! It would be called 'Let’s Move Some Units'."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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