As a rule, eager performer Julia Bhatt lives by the motto: if a song takes longer than a mere 20 minutes to devise, then it is not the one for her. From stringing chords together like a kitten toying with wool, it falls into place, and as long as it makes the songwriter feel good, it makes the cut. With her animated visual for track 1:30 imminent, I accept a slice of her character and spirit.
The wee lass’ nest when growing up was a musically buoyant affair with family outings to Beach Boys, No Doubt and Rolling Stone gigs, to name but a few. Dining on a sonic menu, everything from classic rock to American songbook to bossa nova beats was ingested, seeping into the tinklings of Julia today.
Picturesque beaches, Latin American influences and Art Deco architecture all add to the exotic flutters of Miami, where she has remained for most of her life after being born in Boston. Bhatt contemplates if her Florida metropolis designed the musical hat she wears today. "In the grand scheme of things, yes, but it’s more that I was able to experience so many different musical styles and cultures. Growing up in Miami opened my mind to take in different sounds rather than find one and stick to it."
I put it to her: how would she describe her productions to someone who has never laid ears on it before? A neon green alien, perhaps? "As an Alien, I’m sure you’ve been to many different planets with many different cultures and environments. Think of each of those planets as one of my songs. They all have a different feel to them, but they’re all the same thing from far away," she quips.
Everyone and their dog knows it can be a substantially brutal and fickle profession, the old industry of music, taking a lotta love, persistence and bloody hard work. She grasps that it is essential to practise self-belief and dares to dream; what else can we do. "I’ll be honest: I’m really hoping it is the career for me, but that’s not always how it works. I have a job outside of music, and real-life is a bitch. I want so badly for music to take off and consume my daily life, but right now, it seems my destiny is still a mystery."
Covid put a red stop sign to a trip to the Big Apple to work with her producer recently. Nevertheless, this did end up boosting the singer-songwriter to figure out software, including Ableton Live, leading to a new electronica seasoning dressing her work: "It came from me fucking around on there!" She admits. Alongside this new stylistic choice came an animated video for track 1:30 by Madyn Garretson: "She is my sister’s roommate! They both go to Parsons in New York, and they are both very talented; she’s a very cool chick."
Its words talk about the frustrations of needing to be a boss of social media marketing before even picking up an instrument; I ask how she copes with this modern trend that looks set to stay? "As per the song, I am still trying to figure that out, but I think it’s a strangely prevalent question for a lot of people right now. So much is done online that it just seems like you can’t get away from social media. I guess I just try to talk to friends and be in my normal day-to-day life. Then I forget I even do music."
Ironically, championing the goodness of the internet, her Insta acoustic posts paste smiles on faces, particularly the vintage singalong bop Runaround Sue, which poses the question, is there any part of Julia that enjoys socials? "I like the community. I’ve 'met' a lot of people through Instagram and other platforms, many of whom have stuck around and support me with comments and DMs asking how I am. It makes the remote aspect of social media seem less prominent."
With her tour cruelly snatched away last year, we end our jabber on a note of encouragement and a venue where Bhatt has a fizzy feeling of anticipation about making all of the above worthwhile. "The tour is back on for November this year!!! I’m most excited for is Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. I hear it’s cool as hell," she ends, ready and willing to see what the stars plot for her.
Article by Beverley Knight