Julia Messenger - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I grew up singing with my two older sisters for fun, but soon we were asked to sing professinally. We were called 'The Messenger Sisters' (no joke!) and after gaining popularity around our hometown of Melbourne with our original tunes and sisterly banter, it was clear the path for me was to continue in music.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Unless this post is uncensored... I can't mention the CRAZIEST! :) However, I'll tell you about a gig I did with my band in Ireland... It felt llike we were in the middle of bum f*** nowhere! It took us hours to drive there from our previous gig in Dublin (because we got lost!), and when we got there we were so late we literally created a 'pass and throw' line with the instruments to the stage and immediately started playing. Because of a big night previously, the drummer was so sick he had to go to the bathroom half-way through a song.. (luckily I play percussion so I covered it).. but to top that all off.. at the end of the night and a helluva day, management declared we had no accomodation.. so we had to ask the audience for beds for the night over the mic! Life as an indie! The band ended up being divided between homes after a typical irish pub "lock-in" which drunkenly ended around 4am (that was an experience in itself - the local cops were even there!) We ended up staying in that town for 3 days, were invited to BBQs, dinners.. made life long friends.. and I reckon that was pretty cool and crazy.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I have been lucky enough in my career to have sparked the interest of many notable figures – including Henning Schmitz from Kraftwerk. Whilst hanging out and working one summer in Cologne, I was invited to his home studio which is a heavenly place to work overlooking a field of paddock and hills in the countryside – an isolated place and a dream for any artist space. I listened to the tracks that he had prepared for me and loved them. A vibe of electronic and jazz, lounge and chill - right up my ally and I was immediately inspired. I quickly got out my lyric diaries as melodies and words started to come. I wrote and recorded 3 songs before the sun started to down. That’s the most I have ever worked on those tracks – and one of them jumped on to the 'New York Times' list as one of the top 10 played songs in cafes alongside Nat King Cole and Queen Latifah...! Another memorable experience that comes to mind is singing on the same stage as Sinead O' Connor at the Galway Festival. At this show, the audience didn’t really know me, so they didn’t know what to expect. It was a huge tent, and when I first started to sing there was a big space between the stage and the audience. In order to ground myself to the moment, I think I sang the first song with my eyes shut! But after the first song I opened my eyes and people had walked to me below the stage, and were looking right up at me. They came at me with so much love that it was hard not to give everything I had back. The rest of the show was a cathartic experience, being encouraged by an audience to share my music, and having them really appreciate it, as well as being in the vicinity of other great talents also.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Lately my favourite thing to do is experiment with sounds and percussion in my studio and see where that leads me in terms of melody and lyrics. Otherwise I might start something on piano and create a melody and lyrics that way. Songwriting for me can start with just a melody, melody and lyrics, the music first, or the bass first, the rhythm first.. I love to mix it up and I'd hate for it to be all the same and just routine!
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I think the biggest challenge is finding your way amongst record companies that have big dollars and clout behind them. Also it's really hard to find a team to work with as a solo artist. I would ask the music industry to challenge the power that the larger record companies have (on platforms such as Spotify playlists).. and create a more even playing field, where fans get to choose what they listen to, rather than be manipulated into listening to music without even knowing it. One of the interesting things they are finding though through the Spotify platform, is that people have various tastes, and don't just stick to one main genre (as previously thought). I find that strangely comforting.. :)
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would be in bliss to step on the stage with Massive Attack.. they cross genres also and I know I could have a lot of fun with a jazz, pop, chill vibe...
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Most of the people I play with are of high callibre, so rehearsals aren't really a luxury I can afford. I spend a lot of time preparing for shows, but I do most of that prep on my own in my studio. I record the instruments and what I want them to play, and then I'll write charts for them (which takes a while to get right). Often my pianist will come over and we'll go over stuff together. In the week of the show is when we'll have a rehearsal, but by then my charts need to be impeccable, because the next stop is the show!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I've got a song that's like a big grand ballad.. that I just can't seem to get right! Help! I've been working on and off it for years. I know people will love it.. but the more I work on it the harder it gets! Mostly my songs come quite easily... of course there may be some lyric refining down the track.. But if I ask for opinions from other songwriters that's where I seem to get confused. No more asking for other people's opinion!! (at least for THIS song) :)
What's coming up in the future?
In the future I'll be releasing the third single off my upcomig Album called "So Complicated".... In the meantime I have a big show at the Melbourne Recital Centre on October 30 which is gorgeous venue at the Arts Centre hub. So in between more recording, I'm looking forward to preparing for that!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
People can find my music on my website, but of course a really easy way is my Spotify playlist
My link tree has access to my videos and all current stuff I've been focussing on: https://linktr.ee/juliamessenger
About Julia Messenger
Julia Messenger’s exquisite vocal technique and unique ability to get to the heart of a song have earned her rave reviews around the world. This versatile singer-songwriter, with a magnetic stage presence and voice expressing an incredible range of tone, mood, and emotion, has a busy career both in Australia and abroad. Dubbed a 'world-class' singer by fans and press alike, her songs and productions have appeared on albums alongside names such as Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, Joss Stone, Moby, Bebel Gilberto, Boozoo Bajou, Nitin Sawhney, Groove Armada, Ursula Rucker, Goldfrapp, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Zero 7, Rae & Christian, Basement Jaxx, Jamie Callum, Sarah McLachlan, and Julee Cruise.
As a songwriter/singer and producer she has co-written and appeared on albums with legendary musicians of our time such as Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream/ Alphaville), Ferry Corsten (#5 DJ in the world today), Kraftwerk and the list goes on. Her voice also sparked the interest of ‘Kraftwerk’s’ Henning Schmitz. One of their collaborations ‘Look Up Look Down’ was mentioned in the New York Times as one of the top 10 on the playlist for U.S. restaurants (along with Queen Latifah and Nat King Cole). Her voice has been likened to such artists as Sade, Dido, Norah Jones, Ursula Rucker, Lisa Gerrard, Annie Lennox, Sinead O’Connor, and Donna Summer, - although given the diversity of these artists, her style is her own.
Her vocals have been called ‘sultry, sexy, superb, stunning, sweet, scorching, intense, dizzying, cream, aromatic, bewitching, exotic, exceptional, luxurious’.. and the list goes on. As such, she is consistently asked to collaborate with a variety of artists around the world all at the top of their field, and sings anything well from jazz, pop, and all styles of electronica. Her songs range from quirky, fun, and danceable; or they entice a level of intimacy, drama, and movement. In all her music, she aims to form a connection with other people and to help them feel less of an island. Either through melody or rhythm, she strives to make music that people can feel themselves through.
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