Originally emerging from the folk scene as the bandleader/producer for Julia and The Deep Sea Sirens, Johnson first came to national attention when she won a Triple J Unearthed Songwriting competition, receiving a masterclass from Gotye and Adalita. Her career has blossomed since then, leading her to big festival stages, such as Groovin The Moo, as well as a slew of support slots for iconic Australian artists including Courtney Barnett, Jen Cloher, Tim Rogers, Abbe May.
Johnson has crafted a unique sonic palette with Collarbone where voices and synths blend around antique folk instruments with the help of acclaimed producer, Sarah Belkner. The song is a synth-drenched psych-folk anthem for anyone who can't be alone. This has taken the multi instrumentalist in a brave new direction, deciding not to play it safe with this textured and dynamic new single.
Collarbone is the second standalone single Johnson has ever released after debuting her solo single, Melissa, last year. This music comes after two albums created as Julia & the Deep Sea Sirens (2008 + 2013).
The Sydney-based songwriter is taking her new musical universe on the road this winter in a series of live band shows to celebrate the release of Collarbone.
Listen to Collarbone here.
Collarbone' Tour Dates
June 24, Upstairs at Fred's - Camden, NSW
July 7, The Street Theatre – Canberra, ACT
July 27, The Wesley Anne – Melbourne, VIC
August 10, 107 Projects – Sydney, NSW
Question: How would you describe your music?
Julia Johnson: Indie folk for modern times. I use antique old folk instruments to sing of everyday dilemmas like love and loss, but I like to bring in modern electronic instrumentation and a contemporary songwriting style - the two worlds collide in a way that I'll always be exploring.
Question: What inspired the track Collarbone?
Julia Johnson: I went through a period of being unable to be alone. I was heartbroken and aching for human touch, all I wanted to do was be held.
Question: What was it like working with Sarah Belkner?
Julia Johnson: Sarah is an incredible producer and wonderful friend now as well. She has such a great instinct - usually I'm a bit of a control freak in the studio, but with Sarah at the helm, I was able to put my complete trust in her to work out what the songs did (and didn't!) need.
Question: What should we expect from the upcoming tour?
Julia Johnson: So many gorgeous harmonies, I'm so pleased to be out on the road with my new band! It gets lonely playing solo; I'm really looking forward to the songs being fleshed out and brought to life with voices, synths, harp and drums.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend the launch, who would it be?
Julia Johnson: My mum will always be the first name on my guest list! She has always been incredibly supportive of my decision to pursue a life that's a bit out of the ordinary.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Julia Johnson: Definitely performing. The studio has many wonderful things, including the ability to do another take if I stuff up, but on stage is where I feel most like myself. It's probably a bit mad, but if you want to see me at my happiest, watch me sing a sad song in a quiet room full of people.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Julia Johnson: The desire to connect - I love being part of that exchange we have between artist and audience, where we can shine a light on the human condition together.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Julia Johnson: I've been listening to my band mates' other projects - especially Matilda Abraham's new EP 'Away' - such a beautiful body of work, which she produced herself.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Julia Johnson: My classmates, my peers, all the women I've seen perform along the way to where I am today. The amazing feeling I get from watching someone perform always inspires me. Becoming part of the music industry was something that happened along the way, as I slowly evolved from just a performer in to a manager, publicist, and booker as I faced bigger opportunities and more shows.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Julia Johnson: I have a few collaborations in the works at the moment, but I would really like to collaborate with some puppeteers and dancers. I have to stay relatively still when I'm performing in front of a mic, but I'd love to incorporate movement and other art forms in to a show one day.
Interview by Brooke Hunter