When Virginia Woolf meets Persephone in the middle of the Folk Revival Movement.
Words by Jess Hagemann Photos by Eric Morales
At 29 years old, Julia’s music career is still in its infancy but meeting every developmental benchmark. A genuine “bootstrapper,” she’s paving her own road to success with sheer grit and determination.
How important is music to your life?
I’ve been making music for as long as I can remember. Mostly in secret, as a kid, though my family is musically inclined. It took me a long time to consider my craft seriously and to finally admit that music is my life’s work. I quit my day job to start making music full-time just a few months ago. The goal right now is just to get by. I’m touring non-stop in my Suburban and crashing on friends’ couches. The day I feel more comfortable financially, I’ll consider the experiment a success.
What helps you combat occasional self-doubt?
There are days when even I question whether the arts are a viable career path—though those days are becoming fewer and farther apart. Without fail, a bad show still triggers dark thoughts. Just before a show in Minnesota this year, the heat went out in my car and the doors stopped locking. It was freezing cold, I had to cancel the show, and I holed up in a cheap hotel thinking, “What the hell am I doing? This is not a normal life.” On such days, I try and give myself a break. I lay on the couch and watch bad movies and let it all go, knowing I’ll get back on the horse tomorrow. It’s more important emotionally for me to keep giving it my best shot than never to try at all.
I’ve listened to the songs available on your website. Your sound reminds me of Hem. Who influences you artistically?
Alela Diane (Portland). Her style is super natural and feminine. I personally identify with the folk revival movement. Sibylle Baier is another musician I try to understand. And Virginia Woolf—the way she writes about feelings, and what it was like to be a woman a hundred years ago—her subtlety is so attractive.
Tell me about the retro-looking footage in your music videos.
I’m not a visual artist, so I like manipulating what other people have made for my own purposes. Lots of open-source found footage, from old commercials to vintage PSAs on hygiene or (my personal favorite) “How to Be Outgoing,” have this incredible 1950s ethic that when smashed together with my songs create an entirely new third thing.
Do you consciously curate every performance?
Yes. I love using noise guitarists to amplify the spaciousness and heady, atmospheric qualities of the stage. Imagine a wide-open landscape.
One of your methods is to write a new song on every new moon. Why?
Weird underworld myths from ancient history, like the Persephone myth and its infinite iterations—all explorations of sisterhood, divinity, death, mutilation, and above all, cyclicality—inform my own worldview that life is not a straightforward progression, but an endless cycle of continual falling apart and rebirth. Sometimes things happen that you would never want to happen, and you can resist the change rather futilely, or you can embrace it. The waxing and waning moon to me represents that life cycle.
A percentage of every Julia Lucille album sale goes to She’s The First. What’s that about?
Money, especially worrying about money, can be toxic. Even though I worry about money, I’m wealthy compared to young women in other countries. Giving back reminds me that I have a lot to be grateful for. From a feminist standpoint, She’s the First empowers women in third world countries to get an education while employing local contractors and teachers in the building and running of the schools, and that’s genius!