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Written by Michael Carr on October 19, 2009

In a city where live music seems beset on all sides by profiteers, uptight councils and poor music in general, and the words ‘female singer songwriter’ often carry heavy Missy Higgins-esque connotations, JuliaWhy? is a bit of a rarity. Her music is melancholy and brooding, and her enthusiasm for it is boundless. Already working as a producer on FBi’s The Bridge, as well as playing shows around Sydney, Julia is adding yet another task to her already bulging list. She’s putting on her own show dedicated to showcasing other female singer songwriters who don’t suck.

The night will include performances from Madelaine Lucas (A Casual End Mile), Daisy Tulley (Bridezilla), Gisele Rossilini (Melbourne) and of course the ever lovely JuliaWhy? and will be held at El Rocco’s Jazz Cellar (Bar Me) on October 28th.

As I’m such a sucker for female musos, I fell over myself for the chance to invoivle myself with these lovely ladies.

Music Feeds: So before I get into it I first wanted to ask about your name JuliaWhy?

JuliaWhy?: Well….it’s a nice little pun of my actual name…which will remain a secret forever! I also think a lot of my songs are all about questioning why the world is the way it is. Plus I just like the way the word “JuliaWhy?” looks with the curve of the question mark and no spaces.

MF: What made you want to put on a show like this?

JW: Well I wanted to put on a night where friends and supporters who came to see me play would also really love the other people that are performing on the night. I’ve played so many gigs where the other acts just don’t fit and that means people only stick around for the act they came to support. I wanted to book a night of quality music where people will feel they got their moneys’ worth as well as discovering and enjoying new local artists.

MF: What can we expect from the night then?

JW: Moody melodies that haunt the room and bittersweet songs that feel light and dark at the same time….is that wanky enough?

MF: Yes, plenty wanky enough for us, we’re not Pitchfork after all. Do you have any ‘horror stories’ of rubbish gigs?

JW: Countless! You need to have them though – it makes you tougher and reminds you not to take yourself too seriously because some people somewhere will just not give a shit about your music – but that’s ok! They don’t have to! However I think the gig that tops my list of “rubbish gigs” was when I played before this guy whose myspace was pretty much a shrine to himself; watching panoramic close-up photos of his face gliding across the page was really unsettling – then to actually see him play live was as obnoxious as one would imagine, his best song called something like “Two Hot Girls In A Pick-Up Truck.” It got to the point where he started pointing out “hot chicks” in the audience. It was actually hilariously unbelievable because he was serious! As soon as he finished his set he left, with his parents, without watching any of the other acts. Oh his greasy long hair and tight white chesty Bond T continues to inspire me.

Then there have been horror stories of my own gigs of course. I used to be such an emotional wreck that I started crying onstage mid-song much to the dismay of onlookers. And there have been the “G-day luv, show us ya tits”-type audience members that frequent RSL clubs – alas the joys of starting out young.

MF: Indeed. So we’ve established you’re not putting on your usual muso in the corner at the Sando type of gig, how then would you describe your own music as well as those of the other bands playing, and what is it about them that unifies them?

JW: Hmmm I think what unifies all the acts of the night is their melodic melancholy, their ability to give you chills with ethereal soprano vocals, and their interesting musicianship. I also think a lot of the artists have similar musical influences.

MF: All the bands are fronted by young female performers as well, was that intentional or coincidental?

JW: To be honest it was intentional. The term “female singer songwriter” can generate negative connotations among the Sydney “scene-ster” community because it’s a term that’s used to describe too broad an array of artists. I’ve read so many popular reviews that dismiss artists based on the fact that they fall into this “genre.” No – we don’t all sound the same. I guess I wanted to put this show on to prove that “female singer songwriters” can be interesting, challenging and captivating.

MF: Cool. Has it been hard making the move from performer to promoter?

JW: Well this is actually the first gig I’ve organised so it’s a bit early to tell. I wouldn’t really call myself a promoter, but I guess producing The Bridge on FBi means I’m exposed to really great new Sydney musicians every week –musicians I think deserve attention and musicians that I want to perform with! My heart has always been in performing but my head has held me back for years now. Recently I finally stopped dithering about whether or not I should do music, whether or not people would like it, whether or not I’d fail, and just started getting on with it and booking gigs.

MF: How has that been going?

JW: My experience of performing in Sydney has always been pretty positive. Most venues I approach are really welcoming. However I think the frustrating thing about being new and relatively unknown is the fact that Sydney is the money city. Gigs are put on to make money. So there aren’t a whole lot of spaces for people to get to know your music. I also think, first and foremost, musicians and bands need to work together more. If you can get a bunch of great musicians together to play one gig, people will want to stay and listen. I think people should try to help each other more rather than compete.

MF: Totally, especially with all the bullshit going on at the moment. With all the turmoil with venues like The Hopetoun and The Annandale, are you concerned about the scene’s future? Do you have any ideas to improve the situation?

JW: Yes I’m definitely concerned about the state of Sydney’s music scene. It seems like live music venues are closing everywhere. I wish local councils would be more supportive of live music venues and quit their whining about OH&S and noise complaints. I wish people didn’t feel they have to be careful all the time – in my opinion Sydney-ites should be a little more daring, a little more carefree and have a little more of a “fuck this, let’s put on our own night” type attitude so we can foster a supportive musical culture that’s based on like minded people. I think a lot of art spaces, warehouses and makeshift venues in peoples’ houses are popping up around the place more and more that are supportive of new local acts and that’s really encouraging.

MF: Do you have any recommendations of other artists you think deserve more attention?

JW: I think Daisy, Maddy and Giselle are great artists. Apart from that, Boy&Bear are really exciting and I also respect Jack Colwell’s music. Jess Chalker has some beautiful poetry in her lyrics. Crusade and The Spirits have a lot of potential. Kyu are amazing – my band crush actually. In terms of old school classics that I still love and listen to? Pj Harvey, The Triffids, The Birthday Party, Mazzy Star, Laughing Clowns and The Fall….bliss!

JuliaWhy? plays El Rocco’s Jazz Cellar (Bar Me) on October 28th with Madelaine Lucas (A Casual End Mile), Daisy Tulley (Bridezilla) and Gisele Rossilini (Melbourne). For more information check out her Myspace page.

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