Based in Brooklyn, New York, Julia Klot is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter with a charming voice and captivating sound. Compared to the likes of Elton John and Carol King, her music has an intimate intensity with lingering wistfulness. We speak with Julia about her upcoming EP Ghost, future plans and much more.
What can you tell us about your EP Ghost?
This EP is my first release since my debut album Brooklyn came out in 2019. I consider it to be my transition to a more mature sound. Brooklyn was very much about leaving home and starting anew – trying to learn the ropes of living on your own and growing up. Ghost sets a more sophisticated tone with its lyrically story-like progression through the phases of a relationship.
The EP starts off with ‘ghost’ which is about falling out or losing touch with a person whose memory still haunts you after the fact. ‘temporary tattoo’ talks about the anxieties of entering a new relationship and wondering if those worries are permanent or only temporary. ‘picture in a frame’ is my rearrangement of the Tom Waits original which is a sentimental song about unconditional love (marked by putting someone’s picture in a frame). ‘i’ve cried for you’ finishes the EP off in a somber tone talking about a person who pushes you away because you know too much about them.
In terms of composition, Ghost is very experimental. I really played around with different sounds I could use on my keyboard to bring out emotion in certain songs. For example, the spacey synth-pad used on ‘i’ve cried for you’ feels really dark and sad to me, which is exactly what I wanted.
What was the recording and writing process like?
I wrote most of the songs for this EP over the past summer with the exception of ‘ghost’ which I wrote when I was 16. All of the songs were written either on my piano or keyboard. My composition of these songs happened after a long time of feeling creatively stuck and suddenly inspiration struck as I sat down at the piano to write these down one by one. A lot of writing led to experimentation with the different sounds I could use – ‘ghost’ and ‘temporary tattoo’ stick with my usual piano sound, but ‘picture in a frame’ and ‘time to miss you’ use mellowed electronic keyboard sounds.
A huge part of the writing process was also coming up with arrangements for the songs. I wrote a string quartet arrangement for ‘ghost’ because I had always heard the melancholy energy of the song being reflected by the beautiful movement of strings. For ‘picture in a frame’, I wrote a horn arrangement that to me feels really sentimental and nostalgic.
Recording these elaborate arrangements was definitely a challenge just because it’s hard to organise recording sessions with groups of musicians during a pandemic. Although difficult to organise, once the music was being made in the studio it was a good time and everything came together really well.
Do you think females are underrepresented in the music industry?
I definitely think women underrepresented in the music industry. I’m currently a studio composition major at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and my producer, Ash, is majoring in studio production. She is one out of less than a handful of women in her program. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the production industry is very male-dominated, and because of that, I think a lot of women feel discouraged from pursuing this field.
There is a lot of sexism in the music industry which affects the way women are perceived in any musical context. As an artist, the focus will tend to be more on your personality and the subject matter of your music rather than your talent and skill. Women tend to be judged harshly in the music industry and this makes it difficult for female voices to be heard.
How would you describe your music?
I would say that my music is a very organic genre of contemporary pop. Oftentimes, people have told me that my music resembles the style of artists like Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Vanessa Carlton, Regina Spektor, Carol King and Elton John. I think the common tie in all those genres is piano composition, which is my main instrument so it makes sense! Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson are two huge musical influences of mine and I think listening to their music has translated over into the way I write mine.
What do you hope people take from Ghost?
I hope when listening to my EP people can feel the emotion in my songs, especially because the lyrics are some of my most vulnerable and I really tried to bring that out with the music. I also hope that people can relate to the songs. Ghost covers a bunch of my anxieties and intense feelings of getting over someone and then falling in love with a new person, and this is something that a lot of people experience. I want those people to feel moved by these songs.
What are your future plans?
Before the beginning of the pandemic, I planned to record a full-length album with a full band (including a string and horn section), but this was put on pause. Recording Ghost was wonderful because it was my creative outlet for the past few months, and now I am able to release new material.
At the same time, I have been sitting on a bunch of new songs with completed arrangements for a while now and I really cannot wait to record those and put them out into the world. I also miss performing and am looking forward to booking at venues again whenever that becomes a possibility.
Do you have a message for our readers?
From what I’ve seen, this past year has stopped a lot of people in their tracks, put lives on pause and especially influenced the way that artistic people express themselves. It is important during this time to find ways to still practice and do the things that ground you and creatively inspire you to want to be the best version of yourself!