Julie Thompson Interview!

Julie Thompson has sung with Tiesto, Freemasons, Freestylers, and many more. She has just released her debut solo album on Black Hole through EMI

Eva Oyon

Date published: 22nd Oct 2009

Julie, you’ve worked with some of the biggest producers from the world’s of trance and house. Who has been the most interesting/quirky to work with?
Yeah I have been so lucky to work with some great producers certainly all very interesting in their own ways and many of them pretty quirky!!  I think you have to be a bit weird to survive in this business!
Any anecdotes from working with them?

I can’t mention any names but one producer I have worked with only likes writing in his pants.  Luckily we’ve only written over the Internet so far, lets hope he makes an exception if I ever have to go to his studio!
How did you get into music in the first place?
When I was 9 my dad bought me an old keyboard.  I remember that it picked up the local police radio. I just learnt really quickly and after I had been playing for about a year I got into my first band.  We just did covers at the local pubs and stuff.  It seems quite crazy now coz the drummer of that band now plays for Basement Jaxx and I carried on so it must have been a fun experience! After a while the band broke up as bands do and I decided to go solo when I was 14. That’s when I began writing tunes. My first song was so awful but I carried on and used to turn up at school an hour before I needed to so I could write on the grand piano in the school hall.  I just knew it was what I wanted to do and I was lucky enough that my parents helped me get out of school early sometimes so I could travel to London to play singer/songwriter clubs.  I even got out of a GCSE exam once so I could play the Astoria!    
And dance music - what attracted you to the scene?

I kind of got into dance music by accident really.  It all came from working with James Holden.  Before that I was really into artists like Kate Bush and Tori Amos but James played me some really weird tracks, which ignited my love for electronic music.  At that time I was really only writing for other people.  When you write for pop artists you have to write within certain guidelines.  For example you can’t use certain words, subject matters or melodies and sometimes I found that quite limited.  I love dance music as you’re free to write pretty much anything.  I find that really exiting.  There are no limitations.
Were/are you a clubber?
I like clubbing now but I was never a clubber when I was young.  It has to be the right night.  I don’t like anything too commercial, but the night has to have a bit of melody for me to enjoy it.  I used to be out pretty much every weekend but nowadays it’s only when I’m working or for a special occasion.  I guess I’m getting old!
Why did you decide to do your own solo album?
I was in the really fortunate position to be asked by Black Hole to make the album. I was touring with Tiesto on his ‘Elements Of Life’ show at the time.  I’d always wanted to make a solo album but having the support of the label from the beginning of the process was really great.
How has it been working with Andy?
It was good.  We’d worked on a few tracks before I asked him to produce the album so I knew would understand the kind of album I wanted to create.  It’s always a bit tricky working with someone who lives so far away but the Internet makes the process so much easier.  We pretty much did the basics that way.  I did the vocals in my studio and sent him the files he did production bits and sent them to me.  I would travel up to his when I needed to.
What has he brought to the album that you particularly like?

I particularly like the fact that he has kept the songs intact.  I always wanted to make an album which was song led.  He got where I was coming from straight away and his production is sensitive to the original demos I made which I am very happy about.
How did you approach writing this album?

I really wanted to make an album of songs. I wrote everything from scratch at a piano, apart from ‘It Only Hurts’, which was written to a track Andy had made. I wanted people to be able to listen to the songs in their living rooms as well as in a club.  All the songs on the album would sound good played acoustically too. That was really important to me when writing the album.
Are there any stories behind some of the tracks that you can share with us?

Well all the tracks are very personal.  The whole album is like a diary of my feelings over the past year and a half.  There are some dark tracks but some lighter uplifting ones too.  A particular example of a dark track is ‘All Is Cold’, this is all about feeling trapped and needing to get away from a particular place because the lifestyle you lead there is dragging you down.  A more uplifting one is ‘My Home’.  This is the last song on the album and all about taking a part of you home with you where ever you travel in the world.
What have been your highlights from touring?
There are so many highlights!  I absolutely love singing live.  Playing in front of 25,000 people with Tiesto was pretty awe inspiring. Getting to meet so many people and seeing so many places always leaves me feeling completely blessed. It’s the best job in the world!
Any favourite destinations?

I love traveling everywhere to be honest.  Amsterdam is always great, I have a few friends there now and the crowds are always buzzing.  I loved going to South Africa and Brazil, although when traveling to Brazil, the airline lost my luggage so I had to sunbathe in rolled up jeans for four days!  Mostly I love it when you get to play festivals where ever they are as you often meet up with the same bands all the time and get to see some wicked sets.
With the strength of your songwriting, your album should win fans way beyond the dancefloor. What and who are your own musical influences?

I love great singers but also great writers.  Kate Bush, Laura Nyro, Bjork, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb and Joni Mitchell are among my favourites.  I wouldn’t say I sound like any of them but they are the artists and writers I have grown up listening to and they inspire me to try to write better and better songs.  I remember seeing Jimmy Webb singing ‘The Highwayman’ on TV when I was a kid and it was so amazing that’s when I decided that I wanted to write.  
Who would you most like to work with and why?

There are so many people I’d love to work with some now dead and some still alive and kicking.  I would have loved to written a song with Laura Nyro, but unfortunately that will never happen now. I like working with people I can learn from, that really push me to think outside the box.      
What are you currently working on?

I am always working on new tracks with different producers in different genres. At the moment I’m working on a dark breaks track.  I have just written a soulful track for Freestylers.  I also have another pop project that’s about to release a single under a completely different name. There’s loads of stuff going on at the moment and not enough hours in the day!
What’s next after this album?

My second album hopefully!

Julie’s album ‘Feeling For Corners’ is out now on Black Hole Recordings