Julia Sound

by the partae

Where are you currently based? 

I’m currently based on the Sunshine Coast of BC, a beautiful place nestled in forest and near the ocean. The place’s original name is xwesam, on the land of the Sechelt Nation. 

How did you first start playing music? 

I became obsessed with music as a little kid, and started with recorder probably about aged 5 or 6 & piano aged 8. I then became obsessed with synths as a teenager, so I had one foot in the classical field, also playing orchestral percussion, and the other in bands. 

What’s been happening recently? 

I recently finished producing my sophomore Julia Sound album, which drops in May, called ‘Nothing Above The Blue Sky’. I’m now in the process of the release cycle of singles, video, album and promo. The album is 10 songs, and 7 of those songs feature a variety of different singers and rappers, with the first single featuring Australian Larissa Tandy. I’ve actually brought Larissa in on some of these questions for this interview to chat about the single. 

Your latest single ‘I Don’t Wanna Change’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting? 

Lin: Many of the songs on the upcoming album are really mellow… intentionally so, and focused around beats and synths, my signature sound. I started putting the track together and knew I really wanted Larissa Tandy to feature on it. I’d met Larissa at a workshop I was hosting in 2019 and we’d stayed in touch. Even though they are in Americana, I always loved Larissa’s voice and the way they can draw the listener in lyrically and emotionally. I was stoked when Larissa was up for the collab – it came together really naturally. I left the instrumentation deliberately sparse on this one, to really give a lot of space to the beautiful vocals. 

Larissa: I’ve spent the last decade working in Americana and folk, and writing with country artists. And Lin is from a completely different world to me but we found a lot of common ground. We both lived the late 90s trip hop thing and the wave of washed out electronica that followed it, while similar narratives ran in our lives. We drew on all that.

How did you go about writing I Don’t Wanna Change? 

Lin: For me the bones of the beat came together while playing around with a new laptop and Logic. Larissa and I went back and forth on this remotely and the first lyric and melody vibe didn’t really grab me, and Larissa, like a true professional, brushed that off and came back with this. I was sold! 

Larissa: I never really wrote to a formed track before, I’ve always kinda had a progression going and built the words and music at the same time. When Lin sent me the initial idea I wanted to use it as an opportunity to write outside of my usual style, but still make something that felt and sounded like me. Tried a few things that didn’t really work, but when I landed on the first verse idea it was an obvious fit. We hadn’t worked together before so I thought it might be a bit more cut and paste, like, my part plus your part, but Lin and I got a good vibe going, and were sort of nudging each other in the direction we were headed, and we ended up with something that neither of us would have made on our own. 

What does this single mean to you? 

Lin: This song was the last one written for the album, but my first song with Larissa who is my newest collaborator. In a way for me it represents the beginning of something new, as I’m sure this won’t be the first collaboration between us. Lyrically, I really hone in on the fact that it could be a song of comfort to anyone perhaps struggling with coming out. Be who you are, not who others want you to be. 

Larissa: In a broader sense, doing something so different was good for me, kinda helped me see myself and my style more clearly. Like when you’re in a room full of people who are very different to you and you suddenly have this stronger sense of 

who you are because of the contrast. But lyrically, the idea kinda just bubbled up, and I was curious about it because I’m obviously thinking about that stuff on some level. I think probably it’s a bit of me realizing how much I’m still changing at my age. Not changing to be different, but like, changing to become more of myself. And also how much I like that. 

Where and when did you record/produce/master and who did you work with?

Lin: I’m an engineer, producer and studio owner, so the whole album was done at my studio The Sound Garden Retreat, with the exception of some parts which various collaborators did at their home studios. I hired Cicely Balston at Alchemy Mastering, at Air Studios in London for the mastering. Cicely is awesome, and is nominated for a Mastering Engineer of the Year award at the Music Producers Guild in the UK this year. Way to go Cicely! 

How did you approach the recording process? 

Larissa: Remotely. I built a vocal booth in the shower of the second bathroom in my house, and tracked and comped the vocals using an iPhone and a shitty interface that I got for 70 bucks from a pawnbroker. I sent my recordings back to Lin at the studio, and she gave me solid feedback about what was working and what might not be needed. So it was remote but still almost real time collaborative. 

Lin: I was actually really impressed at the tone and quality of the files Larissa sent. I pulled them into my session, added eq, compression and effects, and also laid down a few additional background vocal harmonies. I’ve been working remotely since pre-pandemic, so have the pipeline and workflow really dialled in now. 

Who are you listening to at the moment? 

I’ve been really busy lately – a combination of producing this Julia Sound album, Kinnie Starr’s upcoming album, and a new album with an up and comer called Edzi’u. As well, I direct the music for a big video game title. Needless to say that in down times lately, it’s nice to give my ears a break so I’m leaning into Loscil, who is an amazing ambient artist. His every release blows my mind. 

What do you like to do away from music? 

I have two young kids, so time away from music is time with the family. I’m also into volunteering for some community stuff, and I’ll be getting into growing veggies when the weather warms up. 

What’s planned for 2023?

I’m heading to the UK (where I’m originally from) for the first time since pre-pandemic, which will be great to see friends and family. It’s been a long time, and some relatives are getting up there in age, so it’s an important trip. 

Favourite food and place to hangout? 

I have a big place with lots of space, a studio at home and I think the pandemic might have made me a little bit reclusive (I need to work on that!) so I hangout at home a lot 🙂 I love the local trails and beach with my dogs. My 10 year old son has gotten really into ramen, so when we were in Vancouver recently we went to a neat little ramen place called Taishoken Ramen. It was delicious!




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