I connected with Julia Piker through mutual friends and her energy is so contagious through our 10-minute zoom conversation. She released her project, ‘Samovar’ last month and it’s a perfect peek into what her life is like. We caught up with her to learn more about her career into being a singer-songwriter and how she got her to start composing music.
Tell me about your career starting out in producing and how did you make the shift into creating your own EP?
Julia: Yeah! So I started my career doing jingles for commercial spots. I did that for years and then I worked for a company that required me to learn different types of songwriting and engineering as well as self-recording and mixing and mastering. For years, I was used to playing very playful, loud, in-your-face music that was meant for broadcasting.
That took up so much time that I didn’t have a bunch of time to develop my own sound. Two and a half years ago I moved to LA and decided to leave my full-time job at a music production house where I went off on my own and built out my own studio.
It sort of forced me to figure out who I am as a writer and figure out what my sound is. I want it to be something that people can hold onto and that time during quarantine allowed me to think and sit around and play with different sounds and that’s how my EP came to be. It was forcing myself to really dig in and hear what was going to come out and naturally worked with that sort of beauty.
That’s awesome. When it came to building out the EP, how did you narrow down your selection of songs?
Julia: So I created this project sort of like a story. I knew at the beginning I didn’t want it to be a full-length record because I wanted my first release as a composer and artist on the shorter side. Something like a burst of energy so the tracks hit you in the face like “This is who I am.” Usually, when I write, I’m not the type of person who thinks about what they’re going to write.
I knew I wanted to tell a story and during quarantine, my great grandfather passed away, and he was a huge inspiration for me as he was a resilient man who survived the Holocaust. I really wanted to write a concise cohesive storyline. A son about what it’s like to immigrate from the Soviet Union in the early eighties as a Jew and come to the US and what that felt like for my family.
I love that. If you had to pick one specific track from the project, which one are you the most proud of?
Julia: The one that I feel the most in my heart is Simone. It’s a track that’s smack dab in the middle of the 11 minutes. The first two are very loud and bombastic, and they really, really hit you right in the face. And then Simone sort of recedes and kind of takes you back into yourself.
And it’s very emotional, and one of the softer songs on the project. The reason I placed this in the middle is I wanted to highlight the idea of recoiling and bringing it back to take a second breath in between the anxious, loud energy.
Can you tell me what it’s about?
Julia: I wrote this track about a young girl whose sexuality is repressed at a young age in her very Russian ballet class. I wrote about a melodramatic heartbreak and you can hear this in the track.
Do you find that during your creative process, you just transport to a certain place in your mind? How do you get to a track from start to finish?
Julia: I mean, I think it depends on the project, but this specific project, since it was a personal project and no one else is involved, you know, it's not, uh, a project that I'm working on with anyone, but myself and my, um, it was sort of like a free for all I could do whatever I wanted, but normally if I'm working on a project or I'm commissioned to do a project, I usually start out that project by like taking cues from a director, really learning.
And what's next?
Julia: I've been lucky enough to be brought on for season four of Ozark and also working on a docu-series for Hulu. I am doing so much work right now and I am so fortunate to be in this position. But ultimately, my goal is just to completely release work and working under amazing composers.
Keep up with Julia on Instagram.
"At 15 years old, I begged my mom to take me to Walmart to get Taylor Swift's debut deluxe album and I never turned back. This was my very first entry point to stan fandom. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee I was exposed to a ton of music - from rapping 3 6 Mafia to bopping to Justin Timberlake's solo discography. Now, in LA have a day job working in nonprofit development, but by night, I'm a full-fledged fangirl. I'll listen to generally any genre, but I'm a sucker for a good pop song. If you ever need someone to scream sing Carly Rae Jepsen's E·MO·TION with, I'm your girl. No, I still have not gotten over the One Direction hiatus. Please continue to respect my privacy. Twitter : samfonggg, Instagram : samantha_fong"