December 24, 2019
Tune-In Tuesdays #50: Julia Klot on Piano, Brooklyn, and Upcoming Shows
Julia Klot sings passionately on stageSource: Julia Klot | Instagram
New York-based pianist and singer-songwriter Julia Klot released her album “Brooklyn” last month, an album inspired by her love for love and longing for home as she transitions into college.
On Sunday, we spoke to Klot via telephone to learn more about her life-long love for music, her latest album, and her upcoming release show at Rockwood Music Hall.
Tell us a little about yourself, both as a musician and as a person
I’m a singer-songwriter and pianist. I’ve been playing piano since I was 6-years-old and I started writing songs when I was 10.
It kinda started off with little, cutesy songs about nature, but it became something that I love to do and I started writing about things happening in my life.
I’m currently studying Studio Composition at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, where I’ve met a lot of incredible people and musicians.
I’d like to say that I’m an outgoing person, so meeting people and making new connections is something I love.
What are some of your hobbies outside of music?
I like running a lot. I’m actually a part of the cross country team at my school.
I joined that this year, so it’s kind of new, but I’ve met a lot of cool people and I enjoy going on runs with them.
I like to write – outside of my music. Sometimes I’ll jot down little poems or do free-writes, when I’m feeling inspired.
I occasionally bake, but I’m not the best at it [chuckles]. I love to do it and I like the outcome, it’s not always the best [laughs].
What inspired you to begin taking piano lessons at such a young age?
Not gonna lie, my parents kind of pushed me to do it. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it at first, as I was really young, but my parents were like, “No, you should do this, it’ll be good!”
There was a teacher who worked in my building, so my parents arranged lessons for me with her. I really loved her a lot and she made learning piano really fun, so I stuck with it and I grew to love playing.
What was the first song that you learned how to play on the piano?
I honestly don’t remember the first song, but it was probably something from one of the lesson books I was learning from.
I remember the first classical song I ever learned was “Für Elise” [Beethoven], but that was when I was older.
Online, it says your teacher is the one who introduced you to songwriting. How else did they have an impact on your work?
My teacher introduced me to songwriting in a kind of funny, comical way where we would write little songs about snow, or Easter, or candy – like, little kid topics.
But she definitely impacted my work in the sense that we worked on both classical and more modern music, which definitely influenced the way that I write my music on the piano.
She works in musical theatre, so she has a lot of experience writing for musical theatre and putting on performances, so she really helped me grow in those areas.
Do you ever find yourself stuck in a writer’s block? If so, how do you push through it?
I do find myself stuck in writer’s block a lot. There will be times when I go through writer’s block for months at a time.
When I have writer’s block, I’ll wait ’till there’s something for me to write about, or if I feel like I can just sit down at the piano and mess around that’s when I’ll do it.
How would you say your music as progressed since your first album, “Julia Klot,” which came out when you were just entering adolescence, versus “Brooklyn,” which has just released as you’re entering into adulthood?
A lot has changed. I was 14 when I put out that album, so the song topics are definitely very different. A lot of the songs from that first album were written about heartbreak – which I really didn’t know very much about.
I also wrote about my experience growing up. As you said, I was entering adolescence, while all the songs on my new album were written over the course of the past year.
I just started college, so I was living away from home. Most of the songs on “Brooklyn” draw inspiration from missing my home in Brooklyn while learning to live on my own while handling relationships and a new lifestyle.
Besides the lyrical aspect, I think my new album also shows growth in the complexity of the music because a lot of the music from my first album is a lot simpler and I’ve grown as a composer in terms of how I write for both my voice and the piano.
Who were some of your biggest inspirations/influences while working on “Brooklyn?”
Sarah Bareilles has always been a huge influence for me. She’s also a pianist and singer-songwriter, so I relate to her style of music and the way that she arranges it.
My current album is a very string-heavy album, so listening to artists such as Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, who has many string arrangements on her album “Human,” influenced the way that I went about arranging the songs on “Brooklyn.”
As the artist behind the album, which track on “Brooklyn” means the most to you?
I would say the title track, “Brooklyn,” definitely means the most to me because I still miss home a lot. I wrote that song specifically about my neighborhood and how my home makes me feel happy in a way that no other place can, so that song is very special to me.
What have you learned from working on “Brooklyn” that you’ll use going forward with your work?
Recording “Brooklyn” was a learning experience in terms of working with musicians. I learned a lot about arranging for different instruments.
Most of the string and horn arrangements from this album were done on the spot in the studio between me and the musicians, but having that experience has helped me learn on my own how to write for these instruments.
How do you hope to impact your listeners through your music?
A lot of my songs are about difficult relationships or struggling to understand how you feel, which I feel most people can relate to.
You have an album release show coming up in January at Rockwood Music Hall. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
That show is going to be my album release show, which I already had a part one at my college, but I wanted to have one at home in the city so my friends from the city and people back here could hear me play.
I’m going to be playing all the songs from “Brooklyn” with a full band behind me, as well as some old songs, and new ones that I’ve written this year.
I’ve been working on arrangements for my newer songs, so there’s going to be a lot with string and horn sections, which I’m really excited about.
What’s your favorite part of performing live?
When I perform live, I always like to do something different, whether it’s a new cover or changing up something in one of my songs, or incorporating a new instrument.
Whatever it is, I think it’s really cool that I get to play my songs however I want on stage.
What are you looking forward to in 2020? Do you have any additional shows planned or any music you’re currently working on?
I’m currently writing new music and I’ve written a lot of songs, so I’m hoping to record some of them in 2020. I’m hoping to put together a new album, which I’d record with the same person in Brooklyn who’s my good friend, Ash.
I’m also hoping to perform some more to promote my album, which hopefully I’ll be able to put together a few shows for the summer.
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