Bringing her own unique edge to what many would consider indie-folk, Julia Weldon is an artist with a difference. With a slowly growing online following and a new album out, she kindly took time out during a busy week of touring to give this EXCLUSIVE interview to ThisIsTheLatestNews.com.
Tell me a little about yourself please Julia.
Oh wow, what a way to start. I’m a Brookyln and NYC based guitarist and songwriter with a bit of internalized folkaphobia, so I’ve recently started saying I play Indie-Folk Pop. I tour more and more. I love making music, rooftops, a strong cup of coffee and driving in the middle of the country.
You’re a self taught musician; when did you first start playing?
I picked up the guitar when I was about twelve, which believe me was a long time ago, and by 13 I was desperate to learn how to play guitar like I was hearing on the albums I listened to – it was the mid 90’s, so Bush, Dave Matthews Band, Jewel etc. I wanted to learn how to play more percussive guitar and also how to play softer, more emotional guitar styles. I’ve always had melodies and songs in my head from the moment I started playing guitar. I was also composing songs. I continued to play and got intensely into songwriting in high school – it literally got me through some rough times in high school actually. I listened to Elliot Smith and Ani Difranco constantly during those years. So I guess you can say that I taught myself by ear and through my songwriting.
You describe your sound as ‘rooftop pop and cornfield folk’ – what do you mean by that?
My music is a mix of urban and rural imagery and emotions I think. I’m also a little obsessed with this idea of “The Road”. Being a nomad, passing through cities and towns in the middle of the country. So the rooftops refer to Brooklyn/city living and cornfields refer to those wide open expanses we find in the natural landscapes – oceans, cornfields, wheat fields, the sky, deserts etc. They’re like huge natural canvases for our thoughts, ideas, music. I think the rooftop pop points to more of Indie Rock and pop songs while the cornfield folk refers more to my Americana alt country tunes. I somehow ended up with both those sounds in my repertoire!
The Advocate said of you: “New York-based singer-songwriter Julia Weldon might be the most soulful singer you’ve never heard of” – quite a compliment?
Quite a compliment for sure! I love, love, love what the Advocate has said here – that I’m “soulful” – and luckily, other press folks have noted that too. For me, connecting to my music and audience is a huge priority for me. I’m not interested in being a detached rock-star. Quite the opposite. I try to tap into as much authenticity, connection, transparency and soulfulness as possible when I perform or record my music. So it’s nice that the audience and press can feel that.
If publications and websites were to say one thing about you, what would you like it to be?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. I just like it when publications focus on my music and performance, and when they get that I’m not trying to be anything to please others – when they pick up on the fact that I’m really making music that’s authentic and heartfelt and intense and sad and real.
What is it about the likes of Bon Iver, Cat Power and The Pixies that makes you list them among your influences?
I like them all for different reasons but I think Bon Iver captures that soulful and melancholy music I strive for. Cat Power is just an amazingly captivating singer with a haunting voice. And The Pixies…I think they have this edge to their music that really informs a lot of my songs.
Where’d the title of your new album ‘Light Is A Ghost’ come from?
‘Light is a ghost’ is actually a line from the track ‘Soon‘. It’s just one lyric but it sums up lots of feelings expressed through the album. The album was actually going to be called ‘All The Birds’ and luckily I changed it last minute. Song titles and album titles are not an easy thing for me so I’m happy it’s exactly what it should be.
How would you sum up the album?
Indie-Folk Pop storytelling that captures the feel of both harsh city edges and limitless open roads.
How do you think ‘Light Is…’ differs from your self-titled debut?
It’s worlds away from the first DIY album I recorded on garage band alone in my room in 2008. It’s raw and pure and simple, but ‘Light Is A Ghost’ showcases the potential of my songs. The instrumentation and layers of production value are really amazing. It’s the most comprehensive representation of my music and I’m so proud of how it came out.
Do you have any favourite songs?
As my producer once said, I’m too close to all of them to choose! I like them all in such different ways. They are really little worlds within themselves and I’ve entered every one of them with equal amounts of heart. I think I’m naturally more attached to some of the sad, intense ones but also songs like ‘Meadow’ and ‘Careful In The Dark’, which are the albums’ faster pop singles.
Do you find the song-writing process an easy or sometimes difficult thing to approach? Where do you find inspiration?
I have a really Rilke driven approach to writing in that I find inspiration and creative authenticity in writing about the things right in front of me or inside of me – so it’s easy for me to write a song if I’m feeling down or ecstatic but mostly if I’m sad or emotional. After years of crafting songs, yes it can be easy to pop songs out. The question then is just whether or not a song is a keeper. I need to write many songs sometimes to get to the best version of the song I’m trying to write.
You’ve played various venues and cities in the US, but is there one venue you’d like to play there that you haven’t yet?
I’m hoping it’s not too far off but I would love to play some of the bigger venues in NYC/Brooklyn like the Bowery Ballroom etc, and even bigger.
Are you happy to play the smaller venues and shows or, like many artists, is the aim to play arena/stadium sized shows at some point in the future?
Someone else just asked me this recently – how far do I want my music to go? What kind of recognition do I want to receive? Would I want to be a Grammy type artist? These are intense dreams to even ponder for me because I care deeply, I have so much of my heart in my music and what I do. I think smaller venues suit me well, but yes I most definitely want to play for very large audiences in big venues. I work my butt off and I’m happy that my music speaks for itself.
How do you feel about the British and European music scenes? Any UK artists you like?
I love Lorde. That’s how I feel right now. I have a deep appreciation for awesome pop music infiltrating the mainstream media. Whether her music will stay gritty and grounded is another story, but I love her whole album.
Would you like to find yourself performing overseas?
Yes, of course! It’s on the cards, hopefully in the next couple of years.
You have over 2000 likes on your Facebook. Do you agree with the statement that social media is, today, the main tool for artists wanting to get the word out about themselves?
Yes and no. I think it’s both the most important and yet can often mean nothing. I’m super excited about my Facebook following but I need more Twitter followers. I think the best part about playing CMJ this year, a big NYC festival, was watching incredible bands play and then seeing that they all had less than 200 followers on Twitter. Social media can only take you so far in some sense until people decide for themselves if they like the actual music. For a storyteller type pop artist like me…I’m excited to keep connecting with my fans and audience through technology but I think THAT will ultimately take off when I’m doing grassroots style touring across the country. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. It’s about making an impact at the actual shows.
What’s next for you – how is the next year shaping up?
Touring! I’m getting a Masters in Music through my day job at Columbia University which is a super sweet deal, but things are picking up speed with my music career and I’m so excited to ride the wave of momentum, dedicate all my time to music and really take my career to the next level. I’m planning to tour the US a ton starting summer/fall 2014 and I can’t wait to get the music out there grassroots style!
Where should people go if they wish to find out more about you?
All these places! http://juliaweldon.com/ https://www.facebook.com/julia.weldon https://twitter.com/JuliaWeldon http://www.youtube.com/user/juliaweldondotcom and you can find Light Is A Ghost on itunes!