We’ve been fans of Julia Weldon for a long time, and we couldn’t be more excited for the release of their new album, Comatose Hope, which Nylon described as “what it sounds like when life, indeed, does get better.” They’ve also come out with a music video for “When You Die,” a new track from Comatose Hope that’s both dreamy and terrifying all at once. And they’ve got a concert coming up in NYC! They are one of my favorite artists right now, and they should be one of yours as well. I spoke to Julia about their video, the process of making it, and this new album.
Al(aina): Let’s start really basic. What’s “When You Die” about? What inspired you to create it?
Julia: “When You Die” is probably one of the most raw and vulnerable tracks off my album Comatose Hope and one of my favorites to play live. I wrote it during a writing residency in Catskill, NY, late one night on my electric guitar, and it came out almost all at once – out of a very real place of quiet anger. The song is about losing my father to Parkinson’s Disease and how painful it is to watch him struggle. I think the lyrics are all one big question in response to my fears about his life now and his death in the future. It’s about getting in touch with my anger, but also learning how to let it go. I think, or I hope, that people relate to the contrast between the quiet verses and the loud gang vocals of the chorus. On the production side of things with UK producer Drew Morgan (Perfume Genius), it was amazing to add a sort of gritty soundscape with loose angry drums and a Tom Waits vibe to enhance the emotional arc of the track.
A: The video feels at times equally violent and peaceful. What’s the inspiration behind the visual stuff happening in this video?
J: Oh yes, that’s totally the tone of the visuals. What I dig so much about collaborating on music videos is how directors can spin the song into their own interpretation. And that’s exactly what Jessie and Lindsey did. They related to and loved the song for their own very personal reasons and were able to transform that into a beautiful visual landscape with the help of amazing Director of Photography Danielle Calodney. The directors (of Piano Factory Pictures) pitched me on a concept that presented a different kind of visual story but with the same emotional thru-line and decided to utilize the power of my gender identity and physical body to depict a person who has been pushed to the brink by having to pass for something they’re not, day after day.
I love that they chose three beautiful settings to show the evolution… I think they really captured what it feels like to shed the mask you wear and release your anger, like peeling back a layer of yourself to expose who you really are. As a gender non-binary artist who just recently had top surgery a couple years ago, it was especially rad to sort of use my new flat chest as a way to tell this story of anger and catharsis, vulnerability and empowerment. I truly hope that other genderqueer individuals and especially queer youth are able to see the video and feel empowered in themselves and their own unique bodies.
A: I think I read you had an all woman crew? How was that?
J: Working with an intimate, almost entirely female crew added a level of trust to the whole creative project. Jessie is also queer and everyone involved really respected that I wanted the video to be in line with my identity as a highly visible queer and genderqueer artist. It’s super important for me to work with and employ badass women and queers and trans folx. Almost every video I’ve made, positions those folx at the top, running the show and that feels really good.
A: This is your second album. How do you feel you’ve changed/grown musically?
J: Good question. Yeah, I always hope I’m evolving and I definitely think there are a lot of tracks on my second album, Comatose Hope, that are sort of a response or progression from certain tracks on my first album, Light Is a Ghost. And I love that they are connected through my songwriting and also range of song styles, but I made a very conscious decision to work with producer Drew Morgan (Perfume Genius) on this recent record because I wanted to do something different. Light Is a Ghost is such a fun indie-folk pop album with some sweet, sad tracks; and I wanted Comatose Hope to feel more expansive and ambient. “When You Die” is a perfect example of a song that needed those textures and sonic layers to create the song’s atmosphere.
A: What’s next?
J: So many things! I was actually a child actor and my acting career has picked up steam in the past few months. The TV and film industry is very suddenly VERY interested in non-binary and trans folx, which works well for me! So I’ll keep working hard to audition and book work.
In terms of my music, I actually just got back from an incredible artist residency and tour in Germany and Austria. I surprised myself by writing about eight songs so hopefully, there’s another album on the way soon. Stay tuned!
Traveling and focusing on songwriting was so inspiring and I’m super pumped to share those songs at my next concert at C’Mon Everybody, which is a really rad queer-owned venue in Brooklyn. I also love performing for queer college groups, so I’m hoping to do some college touring this fall and next spring. What I really want is to be touring more in general. I love being on the road–playing and meeting all those sweet folx who like my songs.
“When You Die” from Comatose Hope
If you’re one of the sweet folks who love Julia’s music, be on the lookout for them on the road. While you wait to see them live, check them out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can buy Comatose Hope at music stores near you, and online at places like Amazon and iTunes.