Julia Holter has the most ethereal quality to her music. She makes us feel like we’re surrounded by pixies every second of every day. She’s talented, fun, and her music brings warmth to the hearts of many. Currently on tour throughout the United States and Europe, we can’t help but think that she is enhancing every bit of land that she touches with more color, more sound, and more vibrancy. So sit back and take a look into the world of Miss Julia Holter. She’s the tops! Serial Optimist: Please, introduce yourself to the Serial Optimist.
Julia Holter: Hi.
SO: Short but sweet. When did it occur to you that you’d want to branch out and take your music further? Was there a defining “musical moment?”
Julia: Actually I didn’t grow up in a very musical family (I know someone put that on wikipedia). I mean my dad is very musical these days but back in the day, he wasn’t writing much music just occasionally played guitar at labor events. My parents are both historians, so I would say more than anything I grew up in a very academic family. My choice to play music was very much my own. By doing music I was kind of doing something different and my parents always encouraged it. I wanted to play piano from the start and I never had difficulty finding an interest in playing it and practicing.
SO: What is the recording process like for you? Are there any fun things you like to do in the studio?
Julia: I love recording very much. I’m not sure specifically what I love about the studio, but it’s such a joy to be there with a proper engineer, and producer and musicians and try things out. We had one day where we just recorded a bunch of sounds, kind of like directed improvising I guess. It was so fun and we used some of it on the record.
SO: Your first album, Tragedy, got the attention of NPR. What was that like?
Julia: I’m glad they liked it. I spent so much time on that record and I sobbed the day I saw it on vinyl. There has never been a moment like that for me again, I think it was just so amazing to me that something I had worked so hard on was on vinyl, I just couldn’t believe it. It was one of those rare moments where you work so so hard on something and the reward is so simple and so powerful.
Julia Holter – “Hello Stranger” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cKCELkzNJc
SO: We heard it took around 3 years for you to create your second album. What was that process like for you? What made you decide it was finally ready?
Julia: Well it was a collection of songs and so over the course of those years I accumulated quite a few and just decided which ones would fit on a record. There were some that didn’t make the cut, like the song that is now called “Maxim’s II”, which spawned Loud City Song. Pitchfork did a wonderful review on Loud City Song, your newest release. We are officially obsessed. What do you think is unique about this third album?
Julia: All of my projects are different so a lot of things. But i guess this one is a lot more theatrical and performative than my last two. That’s mainly because I wrote it that way, knowing I would have other performers appearing regularly as an ensemble on the record, and so it wouldn’t just be me recording on my keyboard. It’s also because of the storyline though. It’s inspired by the story of Gigi, mostly the musical, and so the expression of the characters is frequently more animated than in the past.
SO: That is a very artistic spin to take. You are traveling all around the world right now (and we are uber jealous!). Where has been your favorite place to go (so far?) and do you have a favorite venue?
Julia: It’s complicated because you don’t spend a lot of time in any of these places, so knowledge of the places is slim to none, and the only thing that matters really a lot of times is the venue and how comfortable it is. And also, maybe even most importantly, how receptive the audience is. Like I would say that the Off Festival in Poland was the most welcoming. it was a really well-organized festival and all the people in the audience were so enthusiastic and there were so many of them. it really made it fun. in fact, I always love playing in Poland, the people are so genuine in their love of different types of music.
SO: We hear you are big into nonprofit work close to home. Would you care to elaborate on your work for us?
Julia: I used to work as a tutor and other part time jobs working with high schoolers on both art+music and also just tutoring homework and college prep. I love high schoolers. And I love working in the city, because they are so hip to what’s going on. They listen to so much music these days, because of the internet I think, that their ears are open to whatever. They won’t be surprised by anything. They love Nirvana still but they love dubstep and they love Rihanna and whatever, everything. Anything. I worked with quite a few kids with a lot of musical promise.
SO: What’s your favorite food to snack on/consume in mass quantities on the road?
Julia: Anything that is healthy. It’s so hard to find but really important to find. Kombucha! Which may or may not be healthy but I’m hooked.
SO: I’m kind of a health food junkie, too. So glad I’m not the only one! Any pre-show rituals that are unique to you or your road crew?
Julia: Nothing out of the ordinary.
SO: That’s ok. We’ll leave the weird rituals in our back pocket over here. Any insight on how you have developed as an artist in the last few years?
Julia: Well i’m not sure how i’ve changed myself. it seems like mainly my circumstances have changed (i’m doing music full time) so i’m a lot happier and can focus on music.
SO Note: Check out Julia’s music on Sound Cloud and be sure to let her know you love her @JULIA_HOLTER!