I’ve crossed paths with Julia a few times over the past few years and despite not knowing her particularly well, chatting to her always feels like catching up with an old friend. She often picks up the line with, “Heeeey, Tyyyymmm! How ya been?” or asks me how my recent travels were. She’s the kind to remember the small, peculiar things and yet sometimes seems to wrangle with the bigger, grander things – like the notion of kindness or her emotions or her plans for the future. It’s these ideas that shape her music and it’s her music that influences her perception of the world, in turn. Her generously honest self and her reflective music sits perfectly within Heavenly Sounds and if I were you, I’d make sure you find a ticket to these intimate affairs.
How are you feeling about Heavenly Sounds having finished up touring in Europe?
Yeah, I feel pretty good actually. I feel pretty good because I know it’s going to be probably not as debaucherous as Europe. Europe was wild, it was so many shows and it was really packed in. We were doing six shows out of the week and we were on the bus and it was pretty hard going and I had a lot of fun, but it was kind of, by the end of it I was over playing music. You know? And I actually went to India again after the European tour and have the big reflection time of… I can’t go like this every night, partying and playing music and you know, it’s not that dramatic but it’s exciting to think about doing a tour that’s just a short run of shows and also it’ll be really cruisy because they’re not full rock shows, they’ll be stripped back and I dunno, I get excited about that, I certainly in the past have always loved the element of the set when it gets really quiet and you go into the songs that are a little bit more just me and the guitar and not so drums and bassy. I’m rearranging the songs a bit for this tour to make it a bit better for the church sound.
And as far as arrangements go who have you got playing with you on this tour? Is it quite different to when you’re abroad?
Yeah it is actually, it’s an entirely different band except for Ross Irwin who has been with me kind of since the first Australian tour. He normally plays in The Cat Empire as a horn player and I think I met him at a Cat Empire Gig, maybe, backstage playing charades and anyway he was really sweet and lovely and we stayed friends and it turned out that he is this amazing arranger. He arranges big band music and string music and so when this tour came up I sort of asked him if he wanted to be involved and it’s good because he’ll arrange horn parts which will kind of utilize the fact that he plays trumpet and I play trumpet and another boy in the band, Ed, plays trumpet. We can do some cool, different arrangements of the songs and then Ben Edgar on lap steel and banjo and mandolin and everything…. He’s a bit of a freak on the guitars.
Tell me how the songs from ‘By The Horns’ were received? Was it anything different to what you expected?
Mmmmm, I had no idea what to expect doing this, you know, I had all sorts of weird visions that changed every day, of walking out and no body being there or people just like talking too much during the shows or people, I dunno, like being good and loving it and it was like the mind has a crazy way of projecting into the future the fears and also the excitement of making music. So, if I said I honestly had any expectations… They were just changing so quickly that I didn’t ever have a clear vision of what touring on my own would be like. But yeah, it’s turned out to be really nice. I can’t use the phrase ‘better than I expected’, I just think it was a good year of music and I had so many different bands this year and I got to collaborate with some phenomenal players and really lovely people as well that become friends for life and we’ve had some amazing experiences together all over the place. I couldn’t really hope for anything more in my life right now. It’s all pretty good. I’m not going to say it’s all easy but it’s all really good. Every day has been both a challenge and a total freak zone and also really peaceful and lovely.
That’s so corny, but so lovely to hear.
Yeah I’m pretty corny when it really comes down to it I tend to say pretty cheesy shit… That’s just the way I roll (laughs).
Last time I spoke to you we discussed your life ethos and how you perceived a lot of things. You told me that you were focusing on kindness and just being kind to people. How is have you found kindness this past year and do you find being on your own, with this next chapter, that people are being kind to you?
Yeah, I mean, people have always been kind. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a phase where I feel the world’s been against me at all. I feel like I’ve got a good life and it’s been a good experience. I think the biggest challenge is being kind to myself and I think really it’s all coming from me and this year has been really good for that because with Angus always around you always have somebody there to take the attention off yourself and I didn’t have that so much this year so I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself and really noticed it – noticed that I can be quite brutal in my internal dialogue about how I do things and I just really want things to be great all the time and I think I have got good this year of just… Sometimes it’s not about being kind to people because you just can’t do it all. You know, you can’t make it all good and that’s okay and sometimes things are fucked and it’s just fucked and that’s fine and that’s how life is. It doesn’t need to always be perfect and I think kindness is a good one because there’s a way of being in situations where things can be really fucked up but you can still find the capacity to kind of be at deep calm with it and I guess be accepting of what it is and I think that’s kindness. I dunno, maybe kindness is just acceptance. You don’t try and change it or change anyone else and you just go with what is. I think I’m getting better at that. Some days I think I’m getting better and then some days I’m a nightmare. (Laughs) I’m just like bossing everybody around and you know, ‘don’t do this!’ and ‘don’t drive like that!’ you know, ‘you’re eating your food too quick!’ I can be really quite annoying so I… I dunno, I don’t know how I’m going actually but that’s the long answer to say – I have no idea what’s going on (Julia laughs some more).
How has not having had Angus with you changed your experience?
Ohh, it’s so different, I mean, I don’t know. It’s such a different relationship to travel. All the time with Angus was great, he’s amazing, because he knows me so well but that can also be really confronting and challenging because you’ve got this kind of relationship where it’s…when someone knows you really well you can feel kind of exposed a lot. That was really both the best and the worst bits about touring together – that we do know each other so well. So I guess the good and band things about not touring with Angus are those things as well. He is so special to me and I love him so much so sometimes you look across and think, ‘oh it’d be so nice to sing a song with him’ but I got to do that as well last year at Woodford and that was amazing, just to get up on stage together and sing. His voice is so beautiful and he’s, for me, the ultimate person to harmonize with. I feel like it’s so natural to do. So I got to do that this year as well as feel the space and the freedom of being on my own which I think was important. It was important for both of us. It is a different thing though. I find I’ve built relationships with people in really strong ways because of the lack of that connection to Angus. I’m so used to having him around that I don’t necessarily need to have heaps of mates with me on the road… But this year I feel much more close to the band and to the crew and we all feel really bound together. There’s a lot of love in it and communication about that. “It’s so nice to be on the road with you” and, you know, like that. I really love them all so much and I always have but I think my focus was always just hanging out with Angus.
What’s next for you after Heavenly Sounds? Do you have plans for another record or any project in particular?
Oh god, I’m such a fucking hopeless planner. I make plans and they change so I always feel really embarrassed to share my plans because they always get brought up and it’s like, ohh, that’s right, yeah, no, that didn’t end up actually happening (laughs). It’s like the awkward Christmas dinner, “What happened to you moving to Berlin, you told us all you were moving to Berlin but you didn’t do that?” Yeaaah nah I never did that and they’re like “Oh, okay, well what happened then?” Fuck! I dunno, I just changed my mind (laughs some more). So yeah, this year what I do know is happening is that I am definitely moving into a home with a friend of mine. So I’m going to California in a couple of months and I’ve found a place which is really amazing, cause this will be the first place that is mine, to have a room, so that’s kind of a set thing and then I have little goals of trying things. Like I’d like to do ten days of silence, or get back to India again later in the year, I’d like to travel down to Mexico because I’m going to be so close. I’d like to do a road trip from LA down to Louisiana and check out New Orleans and do a bit of a ten days road trip drive. I’d like to do more road trips this year, that’s the big plan.
After being on a bus for all that time I didn’t think that you’d say that…
It’s so different though. A road trip is you decide how long you’re going to spend in a town, you decide where you stop. I’m on a road trip right now. I’m calling, we’re speaking and I’m on a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne down the south coast. It’s been so fun. It’s really cool stopping at beaches and little B&Bs.
Where was that little bay that you posted the other day?
Ooooooo (laughs). It’s a secret, I’m not allowed to tell. I got told by a friend of mine of how to get there and it’s like the full mission, you know. So she said I’ll tell you but you can’t tell any body. I feel bad about posting the picture and then not being able to tell anybody…
It adds to the mystique, it’s fine. I imagine you’ve been writing a lot of songs on the road. Are they sounding similar to what was on ‘By The Horns’ or are they changing again with their sound?
I think what really makes each record sound different is the production of the record. Like I don’t think my song writing style is particularly changed, that much. I was listening to some old songs, some of the songs I had written. After Homebake Angus and I had a few days and we were just hanging out and listening to some old stuff we’ve got recorded but never got released, it was just random demos and, I listen to that stuff and I think, oh maybe I would use that song on a new record. The song itself in its kind of ‘songness’ is still how I would write today. I think I’d just produce it so differently. There are things I would do that would make it sound more like what I’m influenced or inspired by right now rather than what I was into six years ago. Yeah, this next album, whatever that is, is going to just progress in whatever direction musically that I find myself at that point. Whenever that point will be.