JLTT: I’ve been listening to the ‘Radio Junkie’ single and I think that’s out on 22nd September and that’s from the ‘Raze Me to the Ground’ album. Why have you picked that particular track to be your first single?
J: Because honestly speaking, this is not our strongest single in the album. But, I think it’s very positive, young happy single to start with. I really like the meaning of the song because it’s not about me per se but it talks about a girl I like to imagine is different from the others. She’s dorky and a radio junkie. She doesn’t care. She’s cool.
Got it. The video has a diner setting with a jukebox playing and she’s wandering around with headphones on.
It’s got this rolling melody and bright piano which reminds me a little bit of Sara Bareilles.
Oh yes I know her. I really like her.
It goes from key of B to C.
Yeah because it’s a growing part. It changes keys. There’s no particular reason why we’re doing this. We just thought it was nice to change key and go higher.
The girl is in her own world entirely.
Tom Nichols. He’s worked with Celine Dion, Hall and Oates and Kylie. What does he bring to your music?
He brings that heart, that sprinkle of pop that the album has because I’m born as a country-rock artist. But this album is more of a country-ish, rock-ish, two thousand and fourteen with a sprinkle of pop. I am a twenty-four year old girl and it’s also a part of me and a part I would really like all kinds of people and all kinds of music lovers to appreciate my album. Even though I am born as country-rock singer.
Yeah because I would say what Nichols does, he kind of knows what’s radio friendly.
Absolutely. I agree on that and ‘Radio Junkie’ is a very accurate thing.
The way he produces has that slightly sort of pop feel to it but then David Bowie and Tony Visconti used to mix the sequence on the smallest speakers they could and then play it back through little radio speakers to hear how it would sound radio.
That’s why ‘Rebel Rebel’ sounds so bright because if you mixed that as a rock record it would not have that dynamic that links with radio. That’s clearly what it’s doing.
I’ve been working with Tom Nichols for four years. But this past year, Don Maskill he’s an incredible singer-songwriter and country producer.
Oh I know him, Rascal Flatts.
Have you seen them play?
No I’ve never seen them play.
I’ve seen them play and they are awesome. Their records aren’t as good because they are too close to Keith Urban but live.
Exactly and I really like Keith Urban.
I was the first person to play Keith Urban in this country.
I had a little radio show in London on an arts station and I found two guys; Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. I started playing instrumentals and then I found they were both really great singers as well. Urban is quite an interesting guy and he’s just made a record with Jimmy Barnes the Australian rock singer. The album also includes Joe Bonamassa who is a friend of mine. It does actually give that bright pop sound.
It’s not just pop sound.
No but there hasn’t quite been that snappy radio-friendly sound since Shania Twain and when you were young you liked Shania Twain didn’t you?
Very much. She’s one of the reasons of why I’m actually doing this type of music. Of course, my biggest music influences were Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and up to more modern Shania Twain. I was nine/ten years old when I listened to her and from more modern bands I really love Lynard Skynard up to Kings of Leon. We’re living in 2014 and even country rock bands need to adapt and for example, Kings of Leon have acted in a more alternative kind of way.
The guy who is most hip to that is Zac Brown.
Everyone in the Zac Brown Band plays country music very well. However, if you go and see him he’ll play a bit of ‘Cashmere’ by Led Zeppelin. You think ‘Hang on, this guy’s not just…’
I listen to Montgomery Gentry and stuff because I like the grit of the sound and the guitar arrangements. I found this other track of yours ‘Another Thing Coming’.
That’s a club anthem in the way it’s produced, there’s a bass monkey radio edit.
That shows quite a much more punchy sound.
Your voice changes when you sing that.
Is it more dark?
A little bit more determined.
Well because every song has a story.
This is just an observation.
Absolutely! Every song has a story and every song has a different meaning for me and another thing coming. it depends on what you want to say with a song. On ‘Radio Junkie’ I am more of so this is my type of voice. But for every single song I write, I sing differently I guess (depending on the keys as well).
He’s right in the heart of Nashville isn’t he?
It’s rockier and it’s got the fuzz guitar. A little bit too much synthesizer for me but that’s only a personal taste thing. That’s quite edgy ‘Another Thing Coming’ and it is a rocky format isn’t it?
Yes it’s kind of Muse.
But you sing on that version, like you’ve got both hands on the steering wheel.
Well of course because I’m in control of my voice. Well to be honest, the Bass Monkey Mix I sang that like three years ago and I’ve rerecorded all of the songs. I’ve grown a lot in the last three years and my voice is changing. I personally think I have improved a lot as a performer.
You’re not the same person in chapter eight that you were in chapter one.
Exactly. Since I’ve recorded six different songs years later I had to record all of the other songs because they would sound different. So maybe that’s an answer to your question. It’s also a different mix.
You were born in Rome and you spent time with your family in Argentina.
Yes Buenos Aries.
During that time Argentina wasn’t exactly stable. So at what point did the family decide they had to get back to Europe?
Just in time basically.
What a great answer.
Just in time because I mean I was eleven and apart from that period, my father was a professional polo player and my mum used to work in fashion over there. I used to go to a lot of schools and I used to travel quite a lot as a child. They thought the timing is not right, the place is not right so let’s just move back to Italy, to our roots.
Can you remember any music you heard in Argentina?
Well in Argentina, especially Buenos Aries it’s all very South American like all of the music. But it is also very United States.
‘Love, Love Love, has got very striking guitar. It sounds very you like it is just you being you.
Every song is me. This is what I feel and what felt singing them. I wrote every single lyric.
See I found a video of you singing acoustic.
Yeah that’s a Katy Perry cover from her first album and I sang an acoustic version of it.
When you do acoustic, your voice is a little deeper.
Well I mean my voice is a deep voice actually. Maybe acoustically you can hear my voice a bit better but it depends on the song I’m singing because for example, a certain song requires a certain type of tone.
Acoustically, you’re not fighting the band.
Maybe it’s because of the microphone.
I personally take a lot more chances singing acoustically. I’ve got an acoustic pedal and always during a set I’m tapping it on because I suddenly want to sound acoustic. You do that very well.
The style you go into (you’re not even conscious of it) is a bit more conversational.
Yes. It’s very informal, very simple kinds of situations.
It’s a very good contrast. Every now and again though, I hear a touch of Joni Mitchell.
Sometimes your voice will go up an octave with certain emphasis.
Well I’m not really sure about Joni Mitchell. My school was very jazzy and bluesy so I’ve learned a lot from those ladies and I’ve studied them all the time.
You know what it is with Joni Mitchell? Even if you don’t own the records you still hear it because of radio. A bit like Gerry Rafferty. I really like it when you play acoustic and I think your words really hit home in that setting.
You obviously like doing that?
Of course. I love performing acoustically.
Let’s talk about the temptations of being fashionable. An artist is often tempted or guided to be in fashion but how closely have you come to that?
As I’ve said fashion is important but it’s not everything. When I first started and I came here searching for producers to work with, a lot of producers told me that they would see me well in dance or pop. Basically a bag of money. I could’ve said yes because I was eighteen and I could’ve been tempted. But I always said no because that is not who I am. My heart belongs to country music and soul and jazz. You can always find a way to adapt it buy it would’ve been a lie. Thank God I found Tom Nichols who not only liked me as a singer and an artist but he appreciated me for who I was, what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. That is the biggest compliment for an artist.
I quite admired Johnny Cash for working with Rick Rubin. I’ve got a lot of American friends, we all now think pretty much the most consistent musician in American pop history over the last five decades is Tom Petty.
Everything the guy does is quality. His band is so good you don’t notice how good they are. His lead guitarist Mike Campbell is an absolute genius and he never plays over the vocal and he always plays for the song. The range he’s got is very good; ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’. ‘Free Fallin’ and everything else. His new album is very good and there isn’t an outfit around, not Springsteen or anyone else that consistently comes up with good songs as well as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They worked with Stevie Nicks on ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ that’s a gem. Also, on one of the live CDs they do ‘Needles and Pins’. So really, you’re not gonna let anybody saw between you and your heartfelt music.
To be honest, there was never a moment in which… yes I was tempted but that wasn’t what I wanted to do. It’s the exact same thing when people write songs for you, I mean you can collaborate with people but how can you sing a song that isn’t originally from your mind and your heart? You’re basically singing lies as someone with a good voice. The difference between an artist and someone who is just singing is your mind and what you think. It’s what you’ve got inside of you. Your voice is just the way you do things like an artist who paints; he’s good at painting but everything comes from his mind. Basically, that’s the same as me. My instrument is my voice that’s what makes the difference between me and a person who cannot sing. But the difference between an artist and a normal person is their mind.
When some people are in the business they tend to see people as competition and this has happened to Taylor Swift. I saw the first Taylor Swift show in the UK and I bought tickets for nothing when they were like twelve pounds or something.
She’s a multi-million dollar machine.
Yeah but this was when she had a country band. Six months goes by and she has two or three big hits. She sees herself now as competing with Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and others. On the way I think she lost her heart a bit.
I think that in part she’s doing what she likes but she started when she was sixteen. Funny enough, her records when she was sixteen are more country than they are now. But as I said, maybe you need to adapt yourself sometimes and at that stage of her career she’s so young and so important. You can basically be whatever you want. Not because you’ve got the right but because you can afford it.
It’s a strange path to take because you want to be known but you want to be yourself. I like people to enjoy my music but I won’t play note for note copies.
You can always get inspired by someone but that is not copying someone that’s different.
If you steal from lots of people then everyone thinks you’re original. Having heard all of this stuff of yours, I don’t consider that wanting to compete with the mainstream pop. I think you want to be more like Sara Bareilles, someone who write songs.
Honestly, this is the music I like. If it’s competitive great.
The other female I quite like is Diane Birch. She was born in South Africa and she’s very influenced by Aretha Franklin. Writes on piano with a gospel country sound.
Great writer but you can tell she’s not being produced to be manufactured she’s being allowed to grow. A good example is Kate Bush; she starts very young and Pink Floyd says this girl’s good. They funded her career so she could do what she wanted at her own pace. She works quite slowly. Lucky girl to get that chance. There’s two songs I really liked on this set of yours; ‘Stardust’ is a lovely song. The other one is ‘Put the Gun Down’.
That’s a cover.
I know but I like the way you sing over the guitar.
Thank you I really like that song.
I don’t do covers I do versions. I never do songs I love because I copy them too much. I do songs I can do something with. The Stranglers song ‘No More Heroes’ is very fast but I do it as a jazz ballad. I think Tom Nichols from what I’m hearing, must like what you’re doing and he must realise like a picture framer you need these songs framed nicely.
There’s no point putting a beautiful painting of a mountain in a lime green frame.
He’s got a good ear and he can connect you with radio.
He has my best interests.
But the other guy who’s good at that is Mitchell Froome who does Suzanne Vega and that song ‘Luca’.
I really love that song. I always think that. Again, she’s kind of talking she’s not singing.
That’s a good example of a song story. Froome also worked with Crowded House. Their most successful recordings such as ‘Weather with You’ and ‘Four Seasons in One Day’. Don Was the American producer started working with Bonnie Raitt and suddenly she went from a blues rock artist to having radio play. These songs started being heard by the right number of people.
I really like my music to be appreciated. Older people to younger people, from a man driving in the middle of Australia to a girl in India.
Good. To get through to me you have to be doing something from the heart.
Sometimes you get people who aren’t great singers but they have stories to tell.
They have a really straight message.
Randy Newman; hopeless voice really but the songs.
Like Bob Dylan.
My band does a Bob Dylan song every week. He can’t sing for anything but his songs are just other-worldly.
If it’s a thing you think about then you need to have the ability to put it on paper.
There’s something about your voice that would sound very good with an electric piano.
With keyboards you have to be careful. I won’t have a keyboard player in my band because a keyboard tends to play block chords and take two thirds of the guitar out. Your album ‘Raze Me To the Ground’, when are you releasing it?
March 2015. The song ‘Road Trip’ reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan in some way.
The first single?
The first single is ‘Radio Junkie’, then it will be ‘Road Trip’ and then we were thinking about ‘Raze Me to the Ground’.
Sounds good. Thank you for having this chat with me and good luck with the album.
Thank you Pete.
Giulia’s new album ‘Raze Me To the Ground’ will be released in March 2015 on G J Music Ltd
For more information visit www.giuliaofficial.com