Premiere: Meet Perth's Julia Wallace, who stuns with her debut single Warm Light
The 19-year-old has her fingers in many musical pies, but her solo work - being introduced today - features her at her most potent.
Header image by Annie Harvey.
A few people amongst Perth's live music scene may already know 19-year-old newcomer Julia Wallace. She's someone synonymous with the city's hyper-collaborative musical nature, working with bands that stretch across genres - Mal de Mer, Man Sandal, The Liquid Project, West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra and others included - as a keen multi-instrumentalist, gifting her prowess in piano, brass, vocals and beyond to some of Perth's most brilliant and forward-thinking acts of tomorrow.
Today, however, marks an exciting new chapter in her life. It's the launch of her own solo project, which moves away from the collaborative boundaries and expectations of her other projects to create something that's definitively herself; Julia Wallace - the project, not the person - being evidence of how Julia can flourish with full creative freedom and control. You get the feeling that this is a moment that's been a long time coming, mixing the strengths of her wide-ranging discography and distilling it down to its individual core, of which Warm Light - her debut single - is the introductory taste of.
Recorded in a shack-like extension of her parent's home during COVID, Warm Light is just the beginning for Julia Wallace, but that she's quick to introduce herself as a remarkably special addition to Perth's connected music space. It's dark and brooding yet warm and comforting simultaneously, balancing between these two sides as she layers melodies on top of one another until they meet a climactic release amongst the most beautiful we've heard all year, taking the richness of her work within the jazz-esque space and moving its highlights into this lo-fi, down-tempo pop world.
As the single's instrumental crescendos, Julia is the core that holds everything together; her vocal toying further between the contrast of gentle familiarity and warmth with this brooding darkness that underpins it. As she explains, the single comes from a moment of exhaustion, and as the single grows, you hear its claustrophobia battle with a cathartic release that really brings the single's pinnacle moment. "Every couple of lines is written about someone I was thinking about at the time, including my dog with a broken foot."
It's really something special and there's not too much to say that the single itself couldn't, so take a dive into it below as Warm Light premieres on Pilerats ahead of its official release tomorrow, November 4th. There's plenty more to come too, but in the meantime, we're giving you the chance to introduce yourself to someone remarkably brilliant as they make their moment in the spotlight, so do so below:
Tell us about yourself?
Hi! I’m 19 years old from Perth. I play trumpet and keyboard in a bunch of indie and jazz bands around the city (Mal de Mer, Man Sandal, The Liquid Project, West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra and The Artemis female jazz big band). I’ve always sung and played piano as my little music safe haven through the years, and releasing my solo music is so exciting I cannot even believe it is happening. I spend most days going to rehearsals and teaching maths to kids before and after school.
Some of my favourite artists which have definitely impacted my sound are The Japanese House, Julia Jacklin, James Blake, Angie McMahon and The 1975.
What’s the ‘vibe’ music-wise?
I played Warm Light for a friend the other day and they said ‘Dark pop vibes’ - I liked that description. Very focussed on sound and texture. Lots of piano layers, lots of vocal layers to create this wall of circling sound and lyrics. I play trumpet and flugelhorn to add to the melting pot of textures in songs to be released later down the track. I write about girls I’ve loved and my aggressive guilty conscience. Also about my dog.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
For writing I sit at the piano and try and come up with a chord pattern that feels like the ‘home’ of the track, then I voice memo potential melody all potential background voices or lines I could add, until I have a song! The amount of strange voice memos I have is ridiculous. I then record the parts myself in my house on one microphone. For Warm Light I recorded, I think there were 8 overlapping piano tracks, on my family upright piano with this beautiful dark warm tone. I recorded all the vocal parts in my bedroom, a shack outside in the garden of my parents’ home.
I got in contact with Jono Steer a couple of months ago for mixing, and I unfortunately couldn’t travel over to Victoria to record the project at his studio, but he mixed what I had recorded remotely and just made it sound so good. Leigh Fisher tracked the drums remotely too. It has been a strange but totally cool process being in contact with all these people over East who have made this project happen without ever having met them in person!
Can you tell us a bit about this new song, Warm Light?
I started writing this song about a year ago, and it has always been stuck in my head. It starts off as a pretty simple song with droning repetitive 2 chord piano pattern, and then there are more piano layer and vocal layers added to create this wall of circling sound and thoughts swimming around my head. I wrote it at a time where I was so physically and mentally exhausted and I was really just questioning a lot of what I was doing and had a great case of overthinking. I wrote this song over a couple of days, pacing around the rooms of my house with varying shades of light. The room of the piano has this really warm yellow light which I associate with this song, hence the title and lyrics.
What does the rest of 2020 and 2021 have in store for you?
The rest of this year will be playing lots of gigs with other bands - And for this project I’m starting to get a band together at the moment to workshop my songs for live shows. I’ve got my good friend Christian Zappia (plays for Carla Geneve and the powerhouse behind SupaThick) on board and I’m very excited to incorporate his guitar for live shows. The live shows will also include a couple of my mates on Flugelhorns, very niche, very fun.
Start of 2021 will be releasing another single and the EP!
What do you want people to take away from the project?
I really would like people to just enjoy the sounds, play it in the car driving down the freeway from a long day at work.
Where can we find more of your music?
This is my first single for this project, more coming out next year.
You can listen to other songs I’ve co-written for Mal de Mer and Man Sandal.