Life, Music, and Waterfalls: We Talk to Juliana

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You’ll recall last month we spoke to Australian singer/songwriter Juliana about her new album, ‘Mere Mortal’, and the stunning video for her song, ‘Waterfalls’. Since then we’ve got down with her for a chat, and found out some more about her, her music, and get the downlow on that video.

EP: We love the video for ‘Waterfalls’ – what’s the story with that? And – are we right in guessing it’s been shot somewhere near Coleraine?

J: YES! The place we filmed was actually called Sealake and I think it’s only few hours by car to Coleraine – it was stunningly beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s the most humble little town and everyone knows each other! It’s the kind of town that would probably drive me a little crazy, because I’m a big city kind of girl – but I absolutely loved it… There was something so special about it.

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I think it was on the second day of shooting we shot at one of the local salt lakes and we had to get there super early so we wouldn’t lose light and on the way was the most dreadful car ride – we had to be really careful not to bog the car! It’s so funny to find something so gorgeous in the middle of that haha!

It was dawn when we arrived and our whole crew stood there for about five minutes, watching the sun come up…It was just wow! You couldn’t tell where the horizon was because the water was so still it mirrored the sky perfectly! It looked like you could walk on it! I can’t even describe it and none of our photos did it any justice…

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Anyway enough of my rant! In the beginning I was actually a little hesitant to go with this story. I think what worried me about it was that people wouldn’t understand it enough to connect with it. But I hadn’t seen the bigger picture yet and it turned out to be perfect – just what I wanted. I trusted Blake’s vision, I told him the kind of feeling I wanted to get out of it and he conjured up this beautiful story; I went with his gut instinct and he delivered as you can tell.

The song is about searching for something that is out of your reach – it could be love or even happiness- and the video mirrors that quite well. I wanted to stay as far away from cliché as possible. I didn’t want a boy meets girl story. I wanted the audience to go along a journey with these characters and sense the dark undertones. And that’s exactly what we did – it had people intrigued; it had them wondering, where are they going? Who’s the little boy? Where did he go in the end?

I think what I loved about it most was the open ending! It allows people to have their own interpretations of what happened, because everyone’s experience is different!

EP: Your debut EP, ‘Mere Mortal’ is stunning. Is there a theme running through it? How many songs were left *off* to make it, and how do you know when a song is going to be suitable or not?

J: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Yes there is ☺ I always say, that as people we have an inevitable need to connect – either with others around us or ourselves…There are five songs on the EP, each symbolic of the five senses. That’s what makes us who we are; that’s what enables us to feel emotion. It’s an emotional journey, which in some ways is quite bitter sweet… It’s about getting to know ourselves, and I know that can be a little scary. You can hear a bitter sweetness in the music and the lyrics. I wanted the EP to embody a sense of dichotomy and at the same time flow seamlessly just as a journey does ☺

That’s a great question – there were A LOT of songs that I wanted to feature on the EP, but couldn’t simply because I didn’t want to reveal too much yet. I released the songs that as a collective sounded great, but individually showed a different side to my sound. I acted out of feeling; out of instinct and if I had a tiny little doubt in my mind that people wouldn’t be ready to hear a song, or is wasn’t the right time for it to be heard then I didn’t question it. Because I’m independent at the moment, I remind myself that not only do I have to think creatively, but commercially too, so I had to factor that in also when choosing each song!

EP: What does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself next year? In five years? 10?

J: I have a very clear vision of where I see myself in the future. I want to connect with millions of people as my musical heroes have. I want to be that artist for someone… I am a realist, though. I know that only comes after hard work and endless dedication. So in the upcoming years, that’s what I’m doing… working extremely hard to get myself heard. I don’t have an end goal and I don’t want to have an end goal. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I’ll say, “yes this is enough, great job, you can stop now”. That’s just my character – nothing is ever enough and I don’t want my goals to end at a certain point. In saying that, my biggest hope is that people connect and are inspired by what I’m doing, if I can do that every day, then that that’s an ongoing achievement within itself ☺

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EP: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently, if anything, and why?

J: Hmmm, I don’t think there’s anything I’d do over. I don’t believe in regrets…I think, we do what we do, at the time for a reason, and if it was the wrong decision, acknowledge it, but don’t regret it. Growing up is about learning, and we don’t learn from the things we did right, we learn from the things we did wrong… I’m trying to pin point something I’d change – I have a terrible memory, really terrible haha – but I really can’t think of anything as of yet. Maybe in the future I’ll have a different perspective, but for right now I like what I’ve done, and I like where I’m headed with it.

EP: What’s your take on the current state of the music industry right now? Do you feel it’s easier to get ahead in Australia, or is the struggle the same everywhere?

J: I think the music industry is going in the right direction – I actually really, really love where it’s headed! Thanks to Sia, Ed Sheeran and Adele’s return – and there’s so many others I want to name – it’s becoming about the songwriters again. For a while it was a bit “factory” like, it was almost like people were turning over and manufacturing pop songs just to throw it out there and have it featured on the charts, they didn’t really have enough if any, substance. Now that’s changed, the industry is evolving and it’s allowing people to really experiment and introduce a sound, which at times is really different, but the audience are embracing it, and almost begging for it now because they’re so bored of what pop music used to be. It has substance! That’s my interpretation anyway!

I think it’s just as hard everywhere, but here at home the population is insanely small compared to somewhere like the US! I mean the population of California alone is more than our entire country. The market is so much bigger, so it allows for something more, something greater. You don’t only see it in music, you see it with actors and dancers as well! They make it in Australia and then the next thing they do is go to the US. I love home, I really do, but because we’re so small we don’t embrace the entertainment industry, as easily as other parts of the world. If I’m going to make it, I want to do internationally, why not?

EP: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the music industry?

J: Don’t let anyone tell you, “your sound is too poppy” or “your sound is too indie, people won’t get it”. Your sound is your sound. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your music – what matters is that it’s yours. There’s always a market somewhere out there in the world that’ll embrace it. Just tap into it. What’s important is that you stay true to what you are – it sounds cheesy, but it’s so true! Another thing that’s really important is protecting your art. It’s called the music industry because that’s what it is – an industry. It’s a business. So do your research and be savvy about it, and if you can’t, build a team around you that can!

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EP: What three songs/artists are the most played by you right now and why? Anyone we should look out for?

J: Okay number one right now is Halsey. She is amazing. I am in love with her. She’s gold. I play her all day every day – I love who she is, I love her music and I love what she’s about.

Number two is Jarryd James, he’s a fellow Aussie from Brisbane and oh my god he is crazy good! I saw him in concert and I cried until the album came out and then I cried some more!

And the third…Sia, I’m always listening to Sia. She’s amazeballs ☺

EP: And finally: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview – but nobody ever does?

J: Oh, I’ve never though about this! Maybe if I have a phobia?

Which I do – it’s chewing gum. I hate the smell, I hate the idea of it, it’s disgusting! And Oprah Winfrey has it too, so I’m not a freak after all! Hahaha! 

Find Juliana online on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. ‘Mere Mortal’ is available on iTunes.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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