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INTERVIEWS JULIA FREE
GIRL I KNEWYou don't hear too many voices like that of JULIA FREE in the current pop/rock landscape. Come to think of it, you don't hear music like hers, period - and that's unfortunate. Her CD 'STRANGE CASE OF EUPHORIA' is an enchanting listen with standout tracks such as the positively chiming GIRL I KNEW, the haunting and relevant TURN THE SOIL with it's chorus 'That was a rainy day in America.' , and the urgent THESE GAMES. Producer, SPIKE MARLIN's sparse production puts JULIA at the forefront with her whimsical lyrics and ethereal coo.
JULIA FREE TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT HER CD 'STRANGE CASE OF EUPHORIA'
TRAVELING THE WORLD
AND BRINGING A LITTLE MORE TENDERNESS INTO THE WORLD
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
JULIA had some show dates in the Northwest. As soon as she got back into town, ROCKWIRED had an interview with her. Here is how it went.
How did your shows in Seattle go.
They were great. I'm a big fan of Port Town and I had the chance to see a friend of mine for a day too. They are just little places but I played. I sub sometimes for a friend of mine when he can't make his dates.
So this wasn't your music.
No. It's a cover band. They do jazz music. They're a professional band. My music sometimes makes money.
STRANGE CASE OF EUPHORIA is a great CD. How do you feel about it?
I love it. It was lot of work. It took me about a year of off-and-on work. I worked on about 20 songs at home and then I went into a studio. These songs just came out of me for a lot of really powerful reasons.
What were some of those reasons?
Well, are there any songs that you wanted to talk about in particular?
GIRL I KNEW.
That's kind of a song I wrote about losing your identity. I went through an illness right after I came off the road and I had to be out of commission for a couple of years, so it was kind of about that and also maybe in lovelife too.
What illness, if you don't mind me asking?
I had cancer.
You said 'had'. You don't have it any more.
I'm all well , it's been about five years. I'm totally healthy. It was bad and it runs in my family.
You grew up in Manhattan Beach California. Did you grow up in a musical family?
My mom was pretty musical. She used to run the local paper and blast opera out of our window. I grew up around alot of music and arts and crafts.It was a pretty liberal background. Did a lot of skateboarding as my bio says.
Your bio also says that as a child you put your own spin on nursery rhymes. Would you care to explain?
I did. Well I used to put funny lyrics to the FARMER AND THE DELL as well as other nursery rhymes and my parents used to think it was kind of peculiar.
How did songwriting begin for you. When did you realize that you could come up with words and music and turn it all into a song?
I started playing piano when I was eight. My first instrument was actually violin but I wasn't very good at it and then I went on to piano. I took piano lessons and played a lot of classical music. In my early teens I started writing alot of quirky little songs.
You were in a band called FREE ENTERPRIZE. When did that happen?
FREE ENTERPIZE happened when I was about twenty or twenty two and I answered an ad in a local newspaper and they were looking for a singer. We did pretty well with that band actually.
There was no connection between the band's name and your last name. Was there?
Sort of. We had all of these different kinds of names and as we started getting more successful, people started calling us FRREE ENTERPRIZE, so we ended up using that name.
And you recorded some CD's with them.
I did three CD's with them actually. Two of them were released and the other one never made it to the public.
For a while there, you left music and traveled.
I did. I went to Quebec for one year and studied French and Music and then I went to Paris and studied Art and French and played music a little there as well.
So music was never really out of the picture then.
No. I've always liked to play music.
STRANGE CASE OF EUPHORIA is your first CD as a solo artist. are there any tracks that stand out for you as favorites?
Oh that's a tough one!
Well, I like GIRL I KNEW. Strangely enough, my favorite song on the album is probably the one that people would think is the least commercial of them. It the song SERIOUSLY, which is the last cut on the album.
Personally, my favorite off of this album is TURN THE SOIL.
Oh I love that song. That song's actually getting some airplay on some smaller market FM stations.
Good, then I wasn't just hearing things.
It depends on what crowd that you appeal to. I have certain songs that people like better than others and that particular songs seems to be doing very well. It's about the climate of America, the way it is now.
Yeah, it's a rough climate.
No pun intended (laughs).
Who produced this CD?
I had a very thorough producer. His name is SPIKE MARLIN. Back inthe eighties he produced the PLASMATICS and some other punk bands. Other than that, he was a musician for many years and he was the bass player on GYPSIES, TRAMPS, AND THIEVES by CHER and also on the song SUGAR SUGAR by THE ARCHIES. He's a veteran `in the business doing all that kind of work and not somebody who would necessarily produce someone like me. It was an interesting experience working together.
What are your plans for the immediate future?
I'm going to be working on a new CD and am in the process of getting the songs together. I'm also going to be doing some touring probably up to the Pacific Northwest probably around the Fall. I did about 25 shows in LA last year but right now I've got nothing booked there at the moment.
What kind of an audience do you have?
I'm a songwriter and really great songwriters write different kinds of music and that probably has been held against me a bit that I'm not locked into one style of music. I'd say that my audience is more women then men and probably a more mature audience.
What all goes into writing for you?
I do a lot of journaling and I really love to read books. I'd have to say that some of the best songs I've written have come from conversations that I've heard. For example, the song TURN THE SOIL, I have a lot of friends who talk about politics and I get kind of weary of it, but I do agree that the world isn't doing so well. My friends were talking about fighting for soil and oil, and from there I got a title and I wrote a song about the world in the way that I see it now, but I try to sell it in a softer way. It's kind of a soft sell protest song. When I was writing that song, I was listening to a lot of KAREN CARPENTER and I love the way she sings.
You're working on a new CD. Are all of the songs written?
I have about seven or eight of them finished. I'm wanting to get more songs on this album, with sparser production and more acoustic guitars and a slightly edgier sound this time around.
What do you want a listener to walk away with after hearing the music?
I think that there is not enough tenderness in the world and not enough whimsical things going on because of these serious things that are happening in the world today. I kind of hope that people feel that they've met someone who's still got a child-like point of view. Not a childish one.