Artist Spotlight + Interview: Julia Holter

Here at KXSU we like to profile local bands we’ve discovered and really, really like, just for you.

Julia Holter is an LA-based singer songwriter who creates beautiful, introspective and dream like atmospheres with her music. Her new album Have You In My Wilderness received a lot of positive reviews last year. Personally, it was my favorite album of 2015, and I am sad that I can’t catch her play Columbia City Theater on February 3rd. However! I am glad I was able to do a “phoner” (apparently that’s the lingo in the industry for a phone interview) with her and her band as they made their way to Seattle.


JM: Do you want to talk a little bit about your recent album “Have You in my Wilderness”?

JH: For the first time I looked at a feasible style of 60s ballads and big productions of 60s love songs, so I was trying to do something similar to that. I am not sure if I was fully conscious of it the whole time, but that is definitely what happened.


JM: Out of the string of videos released, my favorite visually was definitely Feel You. Mainly because your dog is in it. How/Why did you come up with that idea?

JH:  Usually they’re not my ideas, and they’re other people’s ideas completely. But it was my idea to have Francis the dog in that video. We started the video with just me, and it was really good. Jose who made the video is really incredible, but I thought that my involvement in it was lacking in emotion and I didn’t understand it so it was sort of boring for me, because even though it was shot beautifully I didn’t think that the subject matter of me was interesting and my boyfriend’s dog is this creature that I have fallen in love with……in addition to my boyfriend, of course. And any face he makes is instantly loaded with meaning, and I was thinking I wanted him to be in it, it could be really fun, and it was such an obviously good idea except for the fact that I didn’t want to expose him to the world, but my boyfriend was into it and I was like “OK.”


JM: My first experience with your work was watching the “Sea Calls Me Home” music video, and I’d say that is a great intro to your work. Mainly because the video shows imagery of the ocean, and it seems that a lot of that visual imagery is brought up in the album. I have my personal interpretations, but I was wondering what idea you were trying to tackle for that song.

JH: “Sea Calls Me Home” was written so long ago (2010), so I don’t know. That song was definitely about freedom for me and kind of the scariness of freedom, but also the nice pleasantness of freedom. It doesn’t necessarily apply to now. It is sort of hard for me to know now, how my mindset affects my music.

JM: Was there a certain point when you realized you wanted to be a songwriter?

JH: Well I had the fortune of going to a great high school in LA that had a good music program, so I think being immersed and taking it seriously early on. Everyone around me was clearly talented and I felt that I was not clearly talented. There were no clear pointers to do music, and I didn’t feel like I would be a singer songwriter. I thought I would be a composer, and I thought well maybe there is a place for me in that for some reason. I guess I sort of decided to take my music seriously and if I couldn’t make a living off of it, I would do something else for a living other than make music. But I felt like it was pretty essential and pretty ambitious in a way. I really liked to sing, and I think I just realized I liked to sing and I was compelled at that and I was able to love myself like that.

A lot of that came from recording, I was able to record by myself, because I wasn’t quite ready yet to perform in front of other people. And the recording process became very freeing to me, and made me feel more confident and helped me know what I wanted to do, because I got to experiment on my own without having to rely on players and stuff.


JM: When you started did you have an end goal in mind? For example “I just want to support myself or I want to play in front of as many people as possible…etc.”?

JH: I wanted to be able to tour. I didn’t necessarily know if it was possible, but I did want to do those things, because I knew people who did, and I was kind of jealous and thought “I want to do that.” Originally I thought the idea of being a musician releasing records and touring as a living was scary. So I was thinking originally “oh maybe I’ll be a professor, but that would not have been easier. I think it came from the fact that I came from an academic family, but personally that would not have been what is best for me.

JM: Well, TY for the interview!
JH: Thanks so much, I am looking forward to playing in Seattle.


Tickets to Julia’s show on can be found here. This show is February 3rd at 8pm at the Columbia City Theater. 21+.


JOE MANUEL | Luau at Daddy’s House Feb 12 | KXSU Promotions Director





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