Annabel Kean / Image credit: Tracy Chawan / Tuesday 7th December, 2021 1:41PM
Having this year landed an Aotearoa Music Award nomination and a compilation spot with major international platform Drum&BassArena, Paige Julia is easily one of the country’s most exciting electronic acts right now. Following the release of her Dreams EP for Unchained Recording and her debut album Morphling, the drum and bass dynamo is facing a massive season of shows, including Rhythm & Alps and an opening set for Shapeshifter. When she’s not hitting *checks notes* eight summer festivals and eight more nationwide shows, Paige Julia is also a production and DJ mentor for music makers looking to get their foot in the door in a male-dominated industry, with plans to expand her curriculum in the coming year. Clearly in hot demand, Undertheradar was lucky enough to snag an email Q & A with her before her schedule explodes. Paige Julia talks accolades, mentoring and more in our chat below…
RHYTHM & ALPS AOTEAROA 2021
Wednesday 29th December to Friday 31st December 2021
Cardrona Valley, Wanaka
Tickets on sale now via rhythmandalps.co.nz
Annabel Kean: Congratulations on ‘Compassion’ on the Drum&BassArena 25th anniversary compilation! What did you take into consideration when creating a track for a publication with 25 years of DnB history?
Paige Julia: Thank you, this particular composition actually wasn’t made in intention for this label when I first wrote it, it began as a much slower tempo track as I was feeling really inspired by breakbeat and techno and wanted to create this melodic vibe-y slow-rolling kind of track. As I was playing it in my sets earlier in the year I was finding myself increasing the tempo of it to use it as an introduction to a jungle section of my DJ sets until it was at the speed it was now and it felt like it was hitting more with NZ audiences. When DnBArena asked if I had any music I’d like to submit they latched on to this one and put it through on the spot. Because I had the time to play it across the country I already felt comfortable about the tune so it was an easy fit! Now hearing it alongside all of the other amazing music on the compilation it feels like it fits in its own niche and I think that was the vision from DnBArena for the compilation.
And you’re one of the electronic finalists for the Aotearoa Music Awards — was this all part of the Paige Julia grand plan?
Not at all. My grand plan is to take each day to create art and enjoy this short and strange life, the specifics of things like the financials, accolades and other particular things that we look to as representations of success are nice in that they allow me to have more time and access in my life to do the central act of creating, sharing and enjoying music with others but are by no means part of the plan or anything I expected. The nomination is a nice reminder that I am being heard and received, I am very grateful for it and grateful to my close friends that compelled me to submit my work for a chance at having this nomination because I originally didn’t feel like it was something I could be in contention for and yet here I am.
How do you feel about being nominated alongside a name as big as Shapeshifter, who you’re opening for at their Matakana show in February?
Once I saw the other nominations I took the time to absorb the new work they had been nominated for and I feel like the albums from Sola Rosa and Shapeshifter speak to the experience and expertise they have in their music. I feel blessed to be even considered in the same bracket as these acts, Shapeshifter are at a level of recognition that is really quite unmatched and I have been a big fan of their work since before I even knew what ‘Drum and Bass’ was. I’ll get to meet them in February and say thank you to them for all the years of inspiration, I hope!
You’ve also released an EP and an album this year. What is the connection between Dreams and Morphling? Did one prompt the other?
I wanted my debut album, Morphling, to be a statement of artistic intent. I did everything besides the artwork by myself: the album was written, produced, mixed, mastered, published and marketed solo. I felt like it was important for the world to know and understand what I meant when I said I was an “electronic artist”. Prior to making this album, I was often referred to as a “Drum and Bass DJ” which for the first 5 years of my career was very true! However, I had these important listening experiences overseas, hearing American and UK bass music where the tempo especially can be so much more varied and this started a trend in my music-making from about 2016 onwards. So I wanted to showcase the full range of my capabilities as an artist influenced by the world of electronic music.
Dreams came about in the few months after the release of Morphling and was directed by the sound palette of the label it lives on: Unchained, a blueprint of jungle, halftime and DnB music. Working with them was amazing, Lyndon Jarr heard music he liked and knew it was going to hit and we have seen especially ‘Live and Direct’ and the title track ‘Dreams’ make some moves in the industry. A cool thing with working with an established label like Unchained was having access to their promo list, it was next level to me seeing acts around the world downloading, rating and commenting on my music.
What can Rhythm & Alps attendees expect from your set this year?
I have written a half dozen new pieces of music for the summer and I still love to play my favourites out from Morphling and Dreams. The genre blueprint for my set is usually UK dubstep – Jungle – Drum and Bass.
I read about your involvement in music production courses for women and femmes. How have those been for you this year?
I’m six years deep into teaching and mentoring DJing and music production, and this work is incredibly important to me. I self taught all of my own musicianship but I would have loved to have had this kind of program available when I got started. I have seen the results of our work in this field, whether it’s teaching groups or individual mentoring for people of all genders, watching as they enter the festival circuit, play their first club gigs, and release their first pieces of music. I believe creative communities lead to so much social good and I’m so happy to be a part of helping to create and maintain these creative spaces.
Do you have more plans in the works to tutor and mentor?
For the group sessions this is determined as we receive the necessary funding through Creative NZ, NZ Music Commission or local council grants. Since we massively discount it to increase the accessibility it is only feasible to have the level of equipment and expertise necessary with this crucial funding. In 2022 we have plans to continue and expand on the curriculum.
I’m always available to anyone wanting 1 on 1 tutoring any time on the topics of DJing and music production. Anyone can get in touch with me to organise, either online or at my studio.