14 Oct 2017

The triumphant return of Julia Deans

From RNZ Music, 1:40 pm on 14 October 2017

Six years since her last solo album Julia Deans is back with an absolute banger.

Julia Deans

Julia Deans Photo: Mareea Vegas

A generation of musicians in New Zealand have looked up to and been inspired by Julia Deans. For Julia though, it wasn't until her late teens that she herself caught the rock and roll bug, and she can remember the moment it happened.

"There weren't that many women who were visible to someone living in Christchurch in the eighties and early nineties ... I was hanging out with the guys, but all they wanted to do was play these big 'widdly widdly' [guitar] solos, which I just found utterly boring."

Julia Deans performing at Auckland's Golden Dawn

Julia Deans performing at Auckland's Golden Dawn Photo: RNZ / Alice Murray

All Julia wanted to do was play music.

"[Then] when I was seventeen (and looked eleven) and the drinking age was twenty I snuck into the (now destroyed) Warners hotel in Cathedral Square and saw Love's Ugly Children.

"And there was Floss on bass and that was like, 'Woah - she lives here?' and when I think back on it that was a real moment for me seeing her just being so staunch and being so beautiful as well."

It's been six years since Julia's last solo album but she hasn't been idle, whether it's participation in Play On or covering Joni Mitchell or starring in Jesus Christ Superstar, the last few years for Julia have been about singing other people’s songs. 

"I've really enjoyed it after playing only my own songs for most of my performing life and then suddenly delving into the works of other writers.

"It's been a new thing and I think it's been really good for my writing and also my performing I think but it's kind of terrifying now because it's been so long since I released anything and the landscape of how releasing stuff works is so dramatically different even from five years ago."

‘Walking in the Sun’ is the first single from an upcoming album due in the New Year. It was inspired by oppression Julia could see in world events.

"I was reading a lot about the situation in Saudi Arabia where they weren't letting women drive and the dress codes and it just felt like there were all these things coming to light about really stupid ways in which women were being told what they could and couldn't do and what they should do and shouldn't do.

"It really just feels like these are just backward kind of rules that have been put in place, they're the sort of things that have been handed down from one generation to the next you know? That's how these people did it so that's just how it is.

"But also it's not just how women are treated, it's different races, different sexualities, there's all these stupid things that essentially are just holding back other people. 

"I love all the space shit like Cassini [NASA's mission to Saturn] and all of these incredible amazing things that humans are able to do."

Julia says she'd love it if society stopped 'being scared of sharing ideas' and 'keeping people in their place'.

"The song is just sort of a call to arms to stop treating people like second-class citizens and start sharing ideas."

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