If You Go
Who-Julia Jacklin with Macie Stewart
When-Tuesday July 25th 8PM
Just under a year ago, Australian musician and songwriter Julia Jacklin released her third album Pre-Pleasure. This follows 2019’s album Crushing, that really established her internationally as one of the premier young artists in the industry today. On Pre-Pleasure she excavates life experiences while looking at the present and future. The album has a bigger feel than Crushing with strings, piano along with her guitar creating ebbs and flows in the songs and sometimes building to big conclusion such as on the closing track “End Of A Friendship”. Jacklin will stop by The Slowdown on Tuesday, July 25th for a performance. I spoke with her via Zoom about how she feels about Pre-Pleasure one year later, touring and writing.
The Reader– You just released a cover of the Boys Next Door’s “Shivers” which in America would be a very cult song, even among casual Nick Cave fans. What drew you to that song and is it more of a well-known song in Australia?
Julia Jacklin-I was asked to record it for a book release, the book was written about Tony Cohen who produced that track, and this guy John (Olson) asked a bunch of Australian musicians to record versions of songs he produced and he asked me to do “Shivers” which was pretty cool for me because, that was one of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar and one of the first songs I played at open mic nights and what not when I was 19, so it felt nice to actually record it properly. I mean, I don’t think like my mom would know what that song is, but yeah it’s not like a household known song in Australia, but much more well known there and it is covered quite a bit, so I just am part of a long line of people covering that song.
The Reader-So, we are closing in on a year of Pre-Pleasure being released. Do you feel any differently about the album after touring with it or having it out in the world?
Jacklin-Yeah, I mean I always feel pretty different about a record after I toured it. I think especially this one, because it was truly written in the studio or in the time I recorded it was built up in the studio a bit more, because you know obviously you couldn’t play shows for a couple of years, so none of the songs I ever played live before with a band so I feel like a lot of the songs sound pretty different it always makes me go, oh, I wish I had played them live before I recorded them. But that is just life and that is OK.
The Reader-Are there any songs specifically that you feel differently about that you could change up at this point?
Jacklin-I think it is more about my voice, and this is something I want to take into my next record, it’s like your voice, once you have sung a song a lot live your vocals kind of figure out a way to do it where it feels natural whereas in recoding if you have never sung it live it’s like your throat doesn’t really know what to do with it so you just kind of sing it the best you can in the right key. So it is more about, so next time I think I will try to sing the songs more before I record them. I think that is something to think about next time, but I have no regrets. You always wish you have done something different with records.
The Reader-I was reading where you stated after touring with Crushing that you stated that you couldn’t look at a guitar for awhile after that. How are you feeling after touring Pre-Pleasure for a good amount of time now?
Jacklin-I think I am OK with my relationship with the guitar. I think we are back on good terms. I enjoy playing guitar now. I don’t know what happened.
The Reader-It seemed like you might have had some burn out after that tour.
Jacklin-This tour has been way less intense. A lot it we had a tour bus, which I have never had before which is just, it is like traveling in first class as opposed to coach. You can sleep on it. So I think my mental state is a lot more stable these days on the road which is good.
The Reader-We are seeing a lot of shows get cancelled or postponed for many reasons. Sometimes it is because of the artist listening to their bodies and taking care of themselves or VISA issues or different things. Is it much harder to tour now these days or are we just more transparent about the issues and talk about it more.
Jacklin-I think it is both. I think it is harder, because everything is more expensive and as the cost of living increases your ability to make money from music decreases and that is obviously going to have an effect on touring. I remember in the pandemic we talked about how we are all going to leave it behind and we are going emerge in a much healthier industry and that has definitely not happened, but I am just a songwriter and I don’t have many answers for this stuff. I think it has gotten a lot harder, and people are being more honest about it too I think. I definitely was never really honest about it for a long time. You just don’t want to complain.
The Reader-Are you able to write on the road, or do you choose to?
Jacklin-I do actually. I write more on the road than off the road. I like to have, there is a lot limits on how much time you can spend on it because you have to play a show or get in the car and I need limits to time. When I am not touring and I am just staring down weeks of free time, I crumble.
The Reader-A lot of artists are putting out EP’s and singles on a whim. Do you still believe in the album format or do you like the ability to put stuff out as you wish, or a little of both?
Jacklin-I love the album as a concept. I can see why financially it is out of reach for a lot of people. I can see why people are adapting to the world we live in now where people do not have the attention spans they had ten years ago. If kind of sucks. I think there are always people that will continue to listen to albums. I think just everyone is going to do what works for them.
The Reader-On Pre-Pleasure you end the album with “End Of A Friendship” which is a big sounding song. Why did you end with that song?
Jacklin-Just because my instinct with my first two records was to end with a lowdown acoustic solo type song. I just wanted to not do that this time. I kind of wanted the last song to sound like the music that plays at the end credits of a film or something. I felt like “End Of A Friendship” had that quality.
The Reader-On the opposite end of the album is “Lydia Wears A Cross”, which mentions Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. Those were my connections to religion growing up. Can you talk about that song a little bit.
Jacklin-It was my intent to write a song about being in primary school, which is really not a part of my life that I excavated for art reasons because it was so long ago and I was a child and I can’t remember a lot of it, but I think I wanted to look at that time because that was the one time in my life that I was around a lot of religion in way that I couldn’t get out of. As an adult I have been able to choose the rooms and places I am in and I mostly choose not to be in religious spaces. But also as an adult, I am not religious, but I understand as an adult how nice it would be to have some sort of grand plan from somebody else in charge. That sounds kind of nice, but unfortunately can’t believe in that. I also just like wanted to give an homage to my favorite film Jesus Christ Superstar from 1973. That film is a huge part of my musical education.
The Reader-What do you want the audience to walk away with after seeing one of your live performances?
Jacklin-I just hope people don’t regret going out. Going out is not always great, and standing up and watching someone sing for an hour and a half is not always an enjoyable experience and I just hope that people leave with their minds and their bodies being OK and that they don’t regret the time and the money they spend at the show. We are just a bunch of professionals playing music pretty well I think, so I hope they just leave entertained. That is all you can hope for.
The Reader-On your three albums there are very different vibes. In your bio it is said with Crushing that you draw the listener uncomfortable close and with Pre-Pleasure you are loosening your grip. Is there any idea what is coming next?
Jacklin-No, not really. I have no idea to be honest. I just want to write really good songs. That is all I hope to do in this life. I hope that I can write another bunch of good songs, but you just never know and that is part of the fun I guess.