The inimitable Julia Jacklin – who is shortly releasing her second studio album, two-and-a-bit years after her lauded debut Don’t Let The Kids Win– talks love advice, asking for space, and the most vulnerable moment of recording the brand new and very beautiful Crushing.
The message of Head Alone is quite different to other songs about personal boundaries, which are usually addressing an attacker or someone who was otherwise never invited into the protagonist’s space. Why is the idea that the people we love also need to understand our physical boundaries important?
I’m really glad you picked up on that. I think a lot of people just hear the pre-chorus line and assume it’s a song about assault. That’s exactly right. For me, I love love, and I give it everything I have – but I am also fiercely independent and need space in order to be happy. Sometimes it feels like if you agree to be in a relationship then you’re also agreeing to basically letting someone else have ownership of your body: they can touch it whenever they want. I can’t do that. Asking for space can make people feel insecure about your feelings towards them. It can be easier, I guess, to just go along with it and make them feel better than ask for what you really need.
You’ve said: “It was really important to me that you can hear everything for the whole record, without any studio tricks getting in the way.” Is this a reflection of your search for personal candour, or something more prosaic related to the way you want certain instruments to sound?
“It was more just a reflection of what I was listening to at the time. Also I think it came from me doing some deep thinking about why I would want a more produced sound. Would it be because of genuine desire, or as a reaction to the pressure of making a ‘different’ or ‘better’ second album? In the end I just wanted to make something that I wanted to hear, something I would like. And this past year I’ve been drawn to records that make you feel like you’re in the room, where the songs and the feeling are the most important thing.
Good Guy contains the line: “I don’t care for the truth when I’m lonely.” When it happens, do you know in the back of your mind something isn’t true, or do you immerse yourself in the lie?
Well, I guess you can’t really enjoy that feeling unless you’re able to convince yourself that it’s real, even if just for a moment. I usually know deep down, but also there’s so many conflicting messages out there for what love is supposed to feel like. And everyone loves to dish out advice, which is always coming from their own experiences, and therefore is never going to be the same as yours. I thought I knew for sure when I was 18 what it felt like, and now I don’t really know. I’m still enjoying figuring it out though – don’t get me wrong, I love love.
The one huge, held vocal note in the climax of Turn Me Down (on the word ‘down’) goes from very loud and far, to very close and intimate. We can hear you softening your voice and its volume as you come closer to the mic. Did this involve some practising of the movement, to get it just right?
That was a hard note to get right. I didn’t want it to be a big perfect note – I mean, I don’t think I was actually capable of that anyway. I remember being quite anxious in recording leading up to that part because I was never sure what was going to come out. I was a bit embarrassed by it; it felt like the most vulnerable moment in the recording process with everyone listening in to hear if I nailed it this time. We recorded that song the most times out of the whole record. It’s amazing though, how much you learn about your voice in the recording process – its strengths and weaknesses – even though I’ve been singing for nearly 20 years now.
Crushing is out February 22 via Liberation.