Rising songstress JU-LIA is here to make waves
Text Elisheba Akalawu
There’s a new No Basic Girl on our radar – and you, our beautiful NBGA readers, are about to be put on. Earlier this year whilst I was visiting a friend in Paris, I heard a song that true to its name had me addicted immediately. Introducing JU-LIA, a Dutch-French singer-songwriter, based in Amsterdam and with a set of pipes that would leave any R&B singer shaking.
First making waves on the scene in Summer 2019 with the soulful banger ‘No Time’ – an ode to a turbulent break-up with an ex – JU-LIA’s heartbreak was the catalyst for exploring her songwriting abilities for the first time. It’s a real summery vibe fuelled with dreamy rifts and empowering lyrics – a definite NBGA favourite. In addition to the amazing song production – courtesy of her brother, who also happens to be her producer – the visuals are just as wavy. The rising star is fiercely independent and has so far self-funded, directed and put together all her shoots, which is no easy feat. Her second single ‘Addicted’ is just as dynamic, with a more mellow groove, which the singer describes as a “late-night vibe” and demonstrates her creative ability to story-tell and have fun with her lyrics.
It’s a powerful accomplishment in the music landscape to be completely independent and free from the controlling forces that come with the promise of fame – which labels traditionally push to ambitious artists and for JU-LIA, being independent is fully her prerogative and non-negotiable when it comes to taking charge of her creative vision. I’m intrigued to see what the star brings next.
It was a delight to speak with JU-LIA all about her journey in music, working with her brother (the sibling rivalry was real!) and played a lil game of ‘Would you rather?’. Make sure to check out her music, available on all platforms and let us know via our instagram @nbga.mag what you think of this incredible woman!
Tell me a bit about your start in music?
I’ve always sang, ever since I was young. I would sing and do little performances for my parents and stuff, but I never really had the chance and wasn’t actually motivated to pursue music. I don’t actually know when this happened *chuckles* but I broke up with my ex and just knew I had to write something. My brother produces beats so I asked him if he had something I could write on and he sent over some beats, and I just remember writing this whole thing, I think it was like three pages or something *laughs* and he came back to me like ‘Julia, this is way too long, you know a song is only supposed to be like two minutes!’ So I went back and shortened it; we never released it because it’s just so personal and intense, but it was to try and see if music and writing was for me, and if I could work with my brother – so you could say it worked out in the end!
What kind of music did you grow up listening to and since your brother is a producer, were you quite a musical family?
Well, fun fact: my brother and I actually used to hate each other because of our music tastes *chuckles*. When we were younger he’d always listen to jazz, blues and old school music, and I used to listen to a lot of R&B like Chris Brown, Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera – pretty much every R&B artist at the time – and my brother hated it! Our rooms were right next to each other so when I played music he would get sick of it and play his music, and then I would get sick of his music and play my music – yeah, it was horrible, like fight of the year every time!
So what’s it been like working with your brother now?
It was pretty shocking when we went into the studio together, my parents were like ‘what?! Sorry, you guys are going into the studio together? What are you going to create? What type of music is it going to be?!’ so yeah, it’s pretty rare that we’re making music together. We’re still kind of figuring out how we’re going to do it and what kind of music it’s going to be; he’s still a bit too jazzy for me so he’s just going to have to accept the fact that I’m not as jazzy. For now, it’s working, his friend who’s also a producer is helping us out so we have a person in the middle who can make sure we don’t fight about it – he plays the neutral party and that’s very important for us to have otherwise it will not work at all *chuckles*.
I love the latest single ‘Addicted’, what inspired this song?
So, we heard the beat, created by my brother’s friend, first and he was asking what type of lyrics I wanted to write on it. I felt this whole mysterious vibe to it and a little bit of sexiness too. I started writing the chorus and it just came to me. The mysterious vibe was more relatable to the beat, and it was so easy to write because it wasn’t really about somebody or something specific – it was more about the vibe. It was really different from ‘No Time’ because that was all about my ex, and this one was about no one.
Ah, so this was more about your creative expression. It’s cool you can make people feel something even if it’s not based on your own personal experience.
Yeah, exactly! Being addicted to someone happens all the time – it’s so easy to be interested in someone and sleeping with them once and being like ‘I need to see you again’. ‘Addicted’ goes a little bit further than just a simple addiction. It’s really intense, but it’s also got that sexiness and smoothness. Whenever I listen to it, I get late-night bed time vibes.
I love the aesthetic of your music videos – I feel like it shows a different aspect of your personality and the art you’re creating in general. Where do you draw your influences from?
Honestly, I don’t even know, my brain is just full of ideas and visuals. Before getting into music I’d been studying film and modelling for a long time as well – so being on set and my knowledge of the whole creative process I think I’ve learnt a lot. When I made ‘No Time’ I watched the Destiny’s Child video ‘Bills, bills, bills’ with all the coloured rooms and used that as a reference. I don’t necessarily see anyone, or any videos that exist as influences, but whenever I think of something I do have references.
What’s it been like self-producing and funding everything from the very beginning – has it gotten any easier?
Basically, no it hasn’t got any easier *laughs*. When we did the first video I knew that I would have to pay for everything myself since there was no budget or anything. Like I said though, I do have a little bit of experience in the whole video and photography business, and I do have a few contacts, so it was easy to reach out to photographers, videographers and make-up artists around Paris and Amsterdam to help me execute the whole concept and video. However, I still have to pay people. So even if I know someone and I ask them for help and they say yes, but how much will you pay me and I’m not able to pay them whatever they want, then I will have to look for someone else. A lot of creatives are already working a lot, so expect you to pay them a lot. They don’t really work with beginners, so it’s still hard to find everything I need.
So what do you aim to inspire with future endeavours, what do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
To me, fame isn’t really the goal. I never started making music with the intention to be someone or be known for everything I do. When I started writing, it was from what I felt and what I was going through, so to me, whatever I write is more like a therapy for myself. I hope that what I write is relatable to others so that I can help people with their feelings too. Music though, is more for myself. If people like it then that’s great, and I would love for them to listen to it, but it’s not really my goal to be Beyonce or anything. I’ve been contacted by a lot of managers, but I want to remain Independent. They will tell you what to do and who to be, and I just want to stay true to myself and who I am, and what I want to do as an artist with my music. I don’t really want to stick to the rules of the music industry!
Do you have any upcoming projects, events or goals for 2020?
So I’ve got my first ever gig coming up*, it‘s a 30 min set which is exciting because I already got my first booking with only two singles! I was a bit nervous because I don’t have an EP, but me and my brother are working on one. We’re still figuring out where we want to go with the music and what we want to put on the project. My goal for now is Colors Studios in Berlin – I would love that! Colors Studios has been my goal for like 2 years now so I hope it will work out. Maybe more magazine coverage, I’ve worked with Vogue a few times and they’ve always supported me since ‘No Time’, so that’s been great! I don’t have any really special goals because I don’t know how fast everything will go – I’m just taking my time to see where it goes.
Would You Rather?
Go on a fancy date or Netflix and chill? Fancy Date for sure; as long as the restaurant is good, that’s enough for me.
Someone go through your text messages or read your diary? I don’t even have a diary so I guess I’d prefer for someone to read a diary I don’t have, than the text messages I do have *chuckles*
Unlimited glossier skincare for a year or a professional make-up artist do your make-up everyday for three months? Ooo, I’d prefer a whole year of Glossier!
Make an album with Lauryn Hill or Frank Ocean? Oh my God.. Frank Ocean hasn’t released anything… ah but neither has she *laughs* I think Frank Ocean though.
Perform to an audience of 100,000 or 100? 100,000!
Know how to read in every language but not speak or know how to speak every language? Learn how to speak every language I think, it’s way cooler.