Listening to Julia Jacklin’s debut album, Don’t Let the Kids Win, it’s hard to believe the singer/songwriter never thought she could make it in the music industry.
“I just felt like it was unrealistic to even think that could happen,” she says. “It wasn’t until I finished uni that I thought ‘OK I should dedicate a couple of years to music and just see what happens.’”
In the few short months since the release, Julia has already received plenty of recognition. She’s played headline shows to international crowds, been nominated for two J Awards and was even invited to play at festivals like SXSW and The Great Escape. I ask her to what she attributes her quick success.
“I think it has a lot to do with my manager, who is working me very hard and making me get on the ground in places,” she says. “I just came back from a tour of the UK and Europe and that was my fourth tour in about six months. I’ve just been back and forth, and it’s gone from being only a few people at my shows to selling out. It’s been incredible but we have been touring a lot, working hard to get a natural fanbase who comes to the shows.
“It’s also down to the mystery,” she continues. “The mystery of the music industry, you don’t really know exactly why something connects the way it does.”
It’s an interesting time in the Australian music scene for female artists. I ask Julia if she thinks her gender meant it took longer for her to break through.
“I don’t necessarily think it was longer. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 20 and didn’t start writing songs until I was 21 to 22. I just came to it late...
“But then I think it’s more internal, too. I felt a lot less talented than I possibly am because I have that tendency which a lot of women have, to downplay your strengths and feel like you’re the least gifted person in a room. Which is always full of men. That’s what can play into taking longer to get somewhere.
“I’ve found it really interesting to experience what it’s always like to be the only woman in the room. I think the hardest part is just getting the men around you to understand the difficulties of that. And not have them question you about it, or not have them dismiss it as not important.”
It’s moments of reflection and self-awareness that play a key part in Julia’s songwriting. Revelations about growing up, worries about being successful and ambition form the basis of Don’t Let the Kids Win. I ask her what she’s learnt about herself over the last few years.
“I wish I had not spent as much time worrying I wasn’t good at guitar, or a good enough songwriter. I should have just been doing it. You can spend so much time and have so many conversations with your friends where you’re all going, like ‘oh my god, I’m just not very good and this is never going to happen for me.’
“Instead [I needed] to put my head down and go: ‘OK, my songwriting is pretty shit right now but what do I expect? I’m 21 and I haven’t experienced heaps. So how about I just keep working hard and be willing to be vulnerable.’ That’s the only way you can get better at whatever you’re doing.”
Next month, Julia will return to her home turf, playing a string of sold-out headline shows. She’s also been thinking about a new album and trying to determine where her inspiration will come from, now that she’s living a self-described “bizarre lifestyle.”
"I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve thought 'Oh shit. Now that things are going well, what am I going to write about?' But, the anxiety of making another record has well and truly kicked in (laughs). It has been, weirdly, very inspiring.
“My life has changed so much in the last year and now I’m just experiencing different things and writing about them. I am still worried but it's because I’m human.”
Catch Julia Jacklin on her Australian tour, kicking off in May.
This interview was originally published in Fashion Journal 167. You can read it here.