To celebrate Pride month, queer/feminist singer and songwriter Julia Jade, an L.A. native, is releasing an EP, appropriately titled pride. “I wrote this as a celebration and commemoration of the LGBTQ+ community at a time that pride parades are cancelled and people may be stuck quarantining in spaces where they must tone down their queerness or even hide their hearts completely,” she told us via email, so we chatted…
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you start writing, singing and playing, and when did you realize it could be a career?
I started piano lessons when I was three or four, and I always loved to sing. I’m from a very musical family and was raised as a children’s theater kid. If you’re wondering, yes — I did wear some tragic fedoras. I wrote my first song when I was seven years old, about my “best friend” at the time who I apparently felt was a bad listener. I kept writing throughout my childhood but do not currently play any songs I wrote before 9th grade. I was admitted to the LA County High School for the Arts as a theater major, and when I didn’t love the program, I auditioned and was admitted to transfer into the music department. I definitely considered music to be more of a hobby as I never considered myself the strongest singer, but my lack of confidence in my musicianship fueled me to become a better writer.
I later joined the songwriting elective and played one of my songs for the first time publicly. It was called “February Flowers,” and it got a really incredible response. I think that was the first time I realized that maybe I could do this. However, by my senior year I decided I wanted to be a novelist (because that’s what you do after taking AP English) and applied to multiple colleges for English. In addition to those schools, I decided to audition for the Berklee College of Music just for kicks. Most of my classmates auditioned, but it was a long shot. Berklee was the first school I was admitted to, and when I decided to go, without realizing it, music had become my career path for good.
Describe your sound…
I would say it’s quirky and conversational indie pop/folk. I’m typically told it sounds very influenced by musical theater, and I believe that’s because my lyrics are always very honest and blunt. I write the way I talk — unapologetically and a whole lot.
What inspires and informs your work? You mentioned that the new song celebrates the queer community…
Yeah, this is a great question. For this EP specifically, I really didn’t see it coming. Once lockdown began, I decided I would write something every day, without judgment, and without the intention of releasing it. Something about releasing music during the pandemic wasn’t feeling very authentic in my mind and in my heart, so I figured I would just write as a way to nurture myself. However, I was sheltering in place at a family friend’s house, and everyone in that house was straight—it was the first time in a while that I had to navigate the meaning of my identity without the community that makes me feel at home. I wrote the song “Here’s to Us” and almost instantly had the idea that I could write and release an EP in commemoration of Pride this year. I was really excited to attend my first pride parade being back in LA and finally being out. I knew that there must be plenty of folks who too were disappointed by the cancellations, even though they were necessary. So, I think my work has been fueled and informed a lot by the intention of connecting with folks like me who may feel underrepresented, and to spread a message of love and inclusion in any way I can.
The EP is meant to celebrate queer folks at any and all points on their journey. You don’t have to be out to be valid and celebrated, and there’s no wrong way to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. The EP is meant to celebrate different facets of queerness— “Walking Closet” references expression, “Here’s to Us” references the power of community, and the track “pride.” is meant to say that there is not one look or one way to be queer. Also, that in the face of adversity, we refuse to suppress what makes us, us. In the wake of the pandemic, I realized there are many queer folks sheltering at home who may feel disconnected from the community or may have to hide their hearts completely due to the spaces they are in. I’m hoping they will find these tracks and feel remembered and seen. Pride Month is meant to celebrate those who paved the way for us and illuminate where we are now. I know that I always get really excited to come upon a work that empowers and validates my identity. So that’s been the goal—to create something like that for other people.
How have you been staying busy during lockdown, and how do you personally intend do celebrate Pride from home?
I’ve been knitting a whole lot and painting pottery with my mediocre flair. I also just learned how to make a bowtie, which is damn hard. I’ve been facetiming friends and trying to write a little something every day. Oh! And reading the book Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe which is fueling my body positive soul and helping me undo some of my ignorant thinking in a time where it’s really easy to continue thinking like that.
In terms of celebrating Pride—obviously I’m releasing the EP which has been a lot of fun. I definitely want to do a lot of crafting—make decorations as well as some queer-themed household items. My first purchase after I came out was a Pan flag, as I had some internalized homophobia to deal with and thought that seeing it every day would help ease me into my own identity. Now I find that queer items are definitely empowering and remind me of my beautiful community of friends and allies. I’ll also definitely be blasting my favorite queer bops and talking to my friends! I’ve been thinking about making some Pride themed care packages and sending them to my favorite folks to make sure they know I see them and love them.
What’s the first thing you’ll do after lockdown?
Oof, there are so many things I have said this about — getting a haircut or my nails done, or taking my partner out for a proper graduation dinner. But to be honest, I’ve been sheltering in place away from my family, so I’d probably say hugging my parents.
The pride EP is released in June. Visit Soundcloud for more information.