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Dreamy indie-pop singer Julia Jacklin will turn the Astor Theatre into an enchanted venue on Friday, March 14. Her recent album Crushing debuted in the Top 10 on the ARIA chart, her songs hitting listeners directly in the feels. Set to join Jacklin on her national tour is Albany’s brightest hope CARLA GENEVE. In an X-Press exclusive interview, Geneve interviews Jacklin about her guilty pleasures, and how her musical therapy turned into a hit album. 

Why do you write songs?

I’m not sure really, the reason changes daily. Sometimes because I get the terrifying realisation that this is what I do for a living so my life relies on me doing it, but most of the time it’s because I feel something deeply good or bad that can’t be processed with spoken words I guess.

What does performing live mean to you?

That’s probably where I feel most comfortable in this profession. I’ve never been much of a studio head even though I really wish I was, I’ve always been like, yeah, cool, okay it works, let’s go! Which isn’t the greatest quality to bring into the studio. So, when I’m on stage and everything is loud and weird and scary and communal, that’s where I feel like I understand why I do this as much as I do. Also taking a record on the road and seeing people react to it right in front of me makes me feel like less of a narcissist. Singing about my feelings as a job makes me worry about what that’s doing to my sense of self, you know. So, performing live reminds me that it’s just a way of connecting to people, I guess. It’s not that complicated.

What were the things that came hardest and easiest about making Crushing?

The hardest was finishing the lyrics. I think I was worried that they weren’t technical enough, not poetic enough, too straight forward, so I laboured over that but ended up just keeping most of the original words which I’m really happy about now. There were times when I was literally in the vocal booth still unsure and making changes but having to just let it go otherwise we just would have run out of time.

The easiest was maybe the crew I made it with. Everyone just had each other’s backs. Burke the producer was up for anything, no idea was stupid or not worth trying out. I haven’t really had such a supportive recording experience and it was really integral to the outcome of the record, I needed to feel supported in order to feel comfortable singing the thematic content of those songs.

I think that the visual aesthetics and branding of Crushing are so beautiful (Nick MckKinlay!). To what extent does the visual side of your music matter to you? Is it something that you take joy in creating, or is it just kind of another part of the job?

Sometimes it’s my favourite part of the job. I think it gives me another opportunity to interpret and represent my music. Sometimes I think of the visuals before I think of the song, it’s a huge part of what I do and what keeps me in this world, I think. Also, I have the greatest working relationship with my best friend which is also such a gift. It’s so rare I think, and I feel really lucky that it’s worked out that way. Two kids from the same high school in the Blue Mountains making endless music videos it’s great.

Do you like social media?

Depends on the day you ask me. Sometimes I feel so good about it, mainly just in its ability to connect me with other musicians around the world. I feel that especially when I’m touring around the world and feeling super isolated and confused about if I’m doing it right. I can go on Instagram and reach out to a bunch of other people doing the same thing and feel less alone, and just get much needed practical advice and encouragement.

But yeah on a day to day basis it makes me feel inadequate, unfocused and anxious, so yeah! Still trying to find the balance like everyone else it seems. It’s still such a new thing in our lives really so I can see why everyone is completely lost and confused by what it’s doing to us and what it means to us.

What do you like to do when you’re at home not thinking about music?

I like to just have long conversations with non-musicians. I like to look at trees and fields and things I miss when I’m always in bars and venues. I like to read a lot, I’ve just gotten into poetry, kinda never really got it but something clicked this year so I’ve been reading poetry. After a long bout of touring like last year it takes me a while to carve out my life and sense of self away from music. So, I’m not really sure at the moment.

Do you have any pets?

I wish, but no they would die as I am never in one place for very long.

What is the most recent YouTube/Wikipedia/podcast hole you have been in?

I have been watching a lot of ‘Watch people die inside’ YouTube compilations which I know doesn’t reflect well on me but I kinda just love seeing people squirm on live television. I guess that’s a pretty basic human flaw, enjoying the downfall of others. But it’s like nothing too life-destroying and a lot of the time it’s just like people getting owned in debates or slipping on ice. I also watch a lot of Kristen Wiig highlight reels.

You’re a full-time musician and writer. Living the dream! Is there a practical piece of advice you would give to others looking to do that?

Oh, okay I always feel like I let people down when they ask me this because I never know what to say! I am incredibly lucky to be doing this full time at this point in my life and it took a long time to get here so I guess that’s always something to remember. It happens so slowly for 99% of people so even if it feels like you’re not getting where you want to go in the time frame you expected, every show and effort is building to something. But also, I don’t know if I fully understand that kind of question when people ask me, some of my favourite musicians and people you think of as being ‘full-time’ still work other jobs.

Being a full-time musician I don’t think should always be the goal, especially at the beginning, some full-time musicians aren’t super great musicians, they’re just really good at admin, there isn’t a direct correlation between being great and being full-time obviously. I know it’s easy for me to say that, but I am very lucky, I worked hard but I’m also lucky.

I’m privileged and people were in the mood for my kind of music when I released my first record and there was just a little space carved out for me in the industry I think. Might have gone a different way 10 years ago or 10 years into the future, who knows. We are working in a mysterious and fickle business unfortunately. Just try and make the music you want to hear and play as much as you can, don’t be a dickhead, and there’s just not much else I can say on that.

I see Crushing as a deeply personal record. How do you manage remaining so vulnerable, and creating such an intimate experience for an album while having to put that experience out into the world?

I think because of when I was writing it, I had been touring for so long and had so many unprocessed emotions, and because of that that I didn’t even think for a second about people hearing the songs. I just needed to get through some things, and I wasn’t eating or sleeping well or reaching out to people around me so writing songs was the only way I was dealing with it. Then I came home from touring and went back to Sydney and felt like a pretty big loser for a while and that’s the energy I went into the studio with, I think.

Sounds bad but I was a bit too tired and downtrodden to think about the potential consequences but after the record came out and I started touring it and saw people reacting in such a positive way it’s never really phased me. I find conflict in-person way more confronting than presenting conflict in the form of song in front of strangers. If anything, I’m a coward!

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