She’s has a hauntingly beautiful voice and has continued her upward trajectory in a big way this year – and Julia Church has no plans to slow down just yet. Currently, the UK-based singing sensation from Durban has hits out with musical gamechangers like Goldfish and Sun-El Musician amongst others and has just released her brand-new solo EP ‘Cups And Balloons’.
With her soulful delivery and exquisite storytelling, Julia has proven to be a hit with audiences around the country and has caught the attention of other artists in the industry who have been attracted to her songwriting skills and unique approach to making music.
As she celebrates her brand-new collaborations and continues to push her solo material, we chat to the songstress and unearth her journey so far, dig into the skeleton of her current material, learn from the highs and lows of her career so far and find out what’s next.
Music means something so different to each person. What ignited your passion for the medium?
I think it has always been a big part of who I am. The real magic came when I discovered I could actually write my own songs though. That changed it from being a hobby into something I wanted to pursue as a full-time career.
You featured on a number of dance hits at the very start of your career. What impact did that success have on you moving forward as an artist?
It exposed me to the world of dance music that at the time was quite foreign to me and it made me realize that top lining was something I really enjoyed. In a more negative sense, I was really young when I first began to topline and was taken advantage of on multiple occasions where I wasn’t given any share of the publishing etc. It shone a light on the dark side of the industry and it’s made me really cautious moving forward.
What lessons did that success teach you so early on?
It showed me how important it is to put yourself out there! I was uploading covers onto SoundCloud almost every week from the age of 14 and that’s where my voice was first discovered by dance producers. It also taught me to GET A LAWYER.
‘Heart Shaped Box’, a collaboration you did with Goldfish, remains a classic. Why do you think so many people identified with that song?
I think that song connected with people because it was a really unexpected re-work of a classic Nirvana song that people already knew! They could sing along on the first listen. It was a bold choice to change an iconically dark and poetic song into a summer house anthem but I think it worked!
Working with them again on this year’s ‘Everything Is Changing’ music has been a great reunion of sorts. How differently do you approach a collaboration versus a solo track?
It was! I love working with Dom and Dave. I guess you approach it in a way where you have to create space for the ideas of the people you’re collaborating with. Finding the sweet spot where both artists can still have their stamp on the track without one overpowering it. It’s more of a back-and-forth writing approach rather than the more internal and immediate way I write songs on my own. They’re totally different and exciting in their own ways.
It’s very important for you to write and produce your solo music. Why is that?
I’m definitely a perfectionist at heart and I admittedly get really attached to my songs so while I love collaborating, I like to maintain most of the creative control of each step of the songwriting process. It means the finished product can feel like it’s really from the heart and I can connect with it from a personal level too – that’s really important.
Talk to us a little bit about the lyrical content and style of your latest EP ‘Cups and Balloons’.
‘Cups and Balloons’ is my third EP and the body of work I’m probably most proud of! It was more collaborative than my others, yet feels the most personal. I definitely feel really connected to each song. The title single is a more emotional spin on the classic hangover demons of the night before. It’s waking up next to that person who you know isn’t good for you but you just can’t resist. It’s about the harmful decisions we can make when we’re vulnerable and in a state of healing.
Besides your new solo material, you’ve also released a handful of collaborations which are dominating the charts at the moment. Which one really pushed you outside your comfort zone?
Honestly, every one has been an absolute joy to work on. I don’t think I could ever work on something I don’t fully connect with so they have all felt really natural and exciting. The Goldfish collaborations have probably pushed me more in the sense of performance. In Feb of this year I joined them on stage at Printworks in London in front of 4000 people and it was totally terrifying but one of the most incredible feelings.
‘Garden’ with Sun-El Musician is one of my favourite local tracks right now. What was it like working with him?
It happened so organically and I think the synergy was there from the start. I have always been the greatest Sun-El fan so it felt quite surreal but I just enjoyed it so much. “Garden” was a song of mine that he reworked into his wonderfully ethereal style and it was everything I could have wanted for the song!
There’s a soulfulness to ‘Forget You’, your collaboration with Lemon & Herb. Talk to us a little bit more about that song?
The guys reached out to me a few months ago with the “Forget You” instrumental and I knew instantly that it was a project I wanted to take on. There was just an undeniable energy about it that I wanted to explore and I ended up writing a topline where the lyrics were kind of sad but in a nostalgic way. I was in London at the time so it was a back-and-forth collaboration that also just came together so easily and organically.
2020 has been a massive year for you. What does 2021 have in store?
Hopefully an album! Been looking forward to releasing a larger body of work. I also plan to keep up with the dance projects as it’s a real love of mine and there are just endless routes to explore in that world. Who knows – maybe even a Julia Church original dance track?
Listen to Julia’s new EP ‘Cups and Balloons’ below and read more music news here.