- 15 Sep 16
Artist on the rise Julia Jacklin tells Ed Power about coming of age in the mountains above Sydney, and why she can't wait to get back to Ireland for Electric Picnic.
Just so you know, Julia Jacklin did not grow up in a two-room shack or while away her childhood twanging a banjo on the porch. “When people hear I come from the Blue Mountains they think I lived in the back of beyond without running water – or in some Middle Earth wonderland,” sighs the Australian country singer. “Actually, it’s pretty much just a suburb of Sydney. It’s beautiful, but as a kid there isn’t a lot to do. I got out when I was 17.”
Jacklin is kind of a big deal, with her single ‘Pool Party’ creating a splash online and anticipation growing ahead of her soon-to-be-released debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Swim. With an expressive voice and a flair for melancholic old timey rock, her star is very much in the ascendent. She’s too laid back and, frankly, cynical to be described as a young woman in a hurry – but is nonetheless going places at an impressive clip.
“It’s weird because I had a regular job until just a few weeks ago,” she says. “Becoming a full-time musician has been strange. There’s a lot of just sitting around with a guitar and thinking, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’ When you’re younger you have a very romantic idea of what it’s going to be like.’
‘Pool Party’ is a haunting rumination on love, loss and recrimination. The impact is heightened by the accompanying video, in which Jacklin sings and looks cross, while a male acquaintance dances in unnerving slow motion. It’s freaky – like a weird art-house movie you stumble upon on BBC4 at 2am and wish you hadn’t.
“I went to my mum’s friend’s house in the Blue Mountains and shot it there. The storyline is about two people with different interests who can’t connect. That’s what the video is intended to illustrate.” Jacklin is looking forward to coming to Electric Picnic. She was last in Ireland a decade ago, though, as a sulky teenager, the country’s charms were lost on her.
“My stepdad is a huge Christy Moore and Luka Bloom fan. He plays them all the time. I eventually got into them too. But when we went to Ireland I was a teenager and wanted to be back home partying with my friends rather than going to all of the places my step-dad wanted to but I didn’t. It’s going to be good to come back.”
A jittery energy crackles through Jacklin’s music – so it’s no surprise to discover she suffers the occasional attack of stage fright. She’s slowly gaining in confidence - but it’s an uphill thing. “I’ve gotten better. Sometimes I want to throw up and run away. It varies. I’ve been really confident lately. But then I was doing a gig in Melbourne and I had a moment where I couldn’t actually play guitar, I was so nervous. I had to stop and breath and look away from the audience. It comes in waves.”