Australian singer/songwriter Juliana doesn't hold back on her new EP, Mere Mortal. Released in October, the EP is a mix of bittersweetness and positivity that is impossible not to connect to, mainly because each of the five tracks was carefully chosen and born from personal experience.
While Juliana hasn't yet announced plans for the end of the year or the start of 2016, it's safe to say that there is a bright horizon for this singer. Watch the heartbreakingly beautiful video for her single, "Waterfalls" below and pick up Mere Mortals now!
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
How and when did you first get involved in music? What inspired you to start writing and singing?
My dad is a music fanatic, and it’s because of him that I grew up listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and of course Kiss. So at an early age music that was melodic and anthemic was embedded into my brain. I was about 6 years old when I started singing and obviously then I was too young to know what the industry entailed.
It wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 years old that I started trying to write songs- I say trying because they were pretty bad, but a good start I guess. I didn’t think anything of it though- at that stage I was unaware what it meant to write a good song or how I could make it sound great! At that time in my life I was listening to Adele and Imogen Heap and Sia, and their writing was so beautifully haunting; I couldn’t get enough of how the music made me feel and I wanted to do that for people too.
I started working with Susie Ahern, thanks to my mum’s persistence, and that’s when I really started digging into the crux of songwriting; after that I couldn’t stop. I wrote melodies upon melodies until I was satisfied with it and then I’d go back and rewrite it and then write some more. I had a natural understanding for structure, and sometimes I found that the songs would write themselves. Writing became something I needed to do.
When did you know that music was something you wanted to pursue seriously?
As I started to get older and I knew it was something that I could be good at, I worked harder and harder and tried to put myself out there as much as possible. In 2012 I got accepted to do a program called Hollywood Immersive, founded by Lilly Dawson, which was based out of LA. The thought of taking my music overseas, both scared and excited me and there was no better feeling. I had just turned 15 at the time, so I was still in the middle of growing and learning- I still am. The program gave me access to real professionals in the industry that writing for a living every day, and all I think was “this is perfect, this is what I’m going to do”. I was lucky enough to meet hit songwriter, Desmond Child, and he was talking about a conversation he was having with Paul Stanley, and he said to him “dreams are the blueprint of your future”… very corny, I know, but it’s true, and now that’s my mantra. That’s what I live by, and writing wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, I needed to do it.
You just released your EP, Mere Mortal - what does this EP mean to you?
As people, we have an undeniable need to connect. There a five songs featured on the EP, which each represent the five senses; this is what actually enables us to feel emotion and be in touch with everything around us and at times that feeling is bitter sweet. The EP revolves around the notion of a bitter sweetness, and you can hear that both in the way each song is produced musically and lyrically. I wanted ‘Mere Mortal’ to embody that sense of dichotomy or contrast that is present within us. No matter all the little inflections, we’re still all made up of skin and bones; we’re the same.
What was the writing and creative process like for this EP? When you first started working on it, were there any goals you had in mind?
Well the writing process was over 3 years, just because I’d written each song at different stages in my life. I write only from a place of experience, so these songs kind of wrote themselves. It was like word vomit, I new what I wanted to say and it happened. But putting them side by side and making them “cohesive” and work together was probably the most challenging.
I don’t think I ever sat down and said, okay so I’m going to have five songs and it’s going to represent this and at the end it’ll mean this. The whole process was a journey in itself, and the “analysis” of it all came later. I had to choose among a catalogue of songs that I had written, and I simply chose the five that were closest to me, or the five that I wanted people to get close to first. That was the first step. It wasn’t until we started digging into the production that I really reflected on how they connected with each other. I think subconsciously the idea was there, it was just a matter of it finding its way to me haha! My goal was that I wanted the EP released while I was still 18. Turning 18 is such a big deal, but I wanted it to mean something more than being able to get my license and going out drinking haha!
What has your musical journey been like since you first started writing and singing to where you are now? How do you feel you’ve grown or evolved?
I’ve learnt a lot about myself, not just who I am as an artist. Being independent in a business like this, I have to be almost like my own record label and start my own fire, if you will. That in turn, has shaped my writing and has changed my interpretation of what I want and need to offer to my audience. Not only do I need to think creatively, but also commercially. That doesn’t mean that I’m selling out, it just means that my writing has matured to suit- I hope- a mass audience. That’s what I want- I want to enable people to empathize with what I’m communicating with my songs and I want it to be universal.
The first single you released from the EP was “Waterfalls,” which you also have a video for. Can you tell us a little bit about the song?
Everyone has their own “Waterfalls and Rainbows”. This song is about a journey to find that safe haven. It talks about searching for something out of your reach – that may be love or even happiness. The point is everyone’s is different, but the process of getting there is the best part!
What about “Waterfalls” made it single material to you? What makes it stand out from the pack?
It wasn’t about it standing out as such, but more about it being a good introduction to what I do. It’s the beginning of the journey to my “Waterfalls and Rainbows”. It was also the first song out of the five that I wrote, and I was 15 when I wrote it, so it’s a personal, sentimental favourite. I think that also, because of the type of song that it is- a pop anthem that’s maybe a little quirky- it allows me to venture to the other songs seamlessly, so the EP is a journey that mirrors what the song is actually about if that makes sense.
What would you like listeners to take away from Mere Mortal or your music in general? How would you like your music to impact people?
The biggest thing I want to achieve is connection with other people, it’s why I do what I do. If someone says to me “you have a great voice,” yeah that’s a great compliment, but if they say “I really connected to your song,” I’ll jump over the moon a billion times. It’s the most rewarding feeling. So I want my listeners to feel they have something to connect to, and whether that feeling is bitter sweet like my own, or a feeling of empowerment, what matters is that they’ve connected with something.
Now that Mere Mortal is out, what do you have planned next? Do you have any big goals for the next few months?
I have some things in the works at the moment, but you’ll have to wait and see. I want to keep telling people my story a little bit at a time, whether that be through more music or more videos; you’ll have to stay tuned.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
No thank you! I think we covered everything.