Julie Campbell, better known as LoneLady, recently dusted off her guitars and keyboards and came into our studios to prep for her supporting act with New Order at their Bristol show on July 18th.
We were able to squeeze in a few minutes with Julie for a quick chat about her music, her last album: Hinterland, and what she’s currently working on.
So, Julie, you’ve been in our studios the last few days prepping for your show with New Order. How did it go?
It’s been great. We’ve been able to set up in the venue as we would set up when we’re playing live, so that makes a massive difference compared to playing in a standard rehearsal room. We’ve had the help of a monitor as well as a FOH Sound Engineer so it’s great to be looked after like that. It really lifts the standard of the rehearsal, it makes it very professional.
That’s great to hear. We’ve done some research and found out you have a Fine Art Degree from MMU, but do you remember when you decided you wanted to pursue music instead?
I don’t know if there was a particular moment. I always loved music as a kid, I got my first guitar when I was 15, and I went through a phase of wanting to learn every instrument. While I was getting my Fine Art degree I started making music, and played in a band, so that gradually took over. A key point was when I bought a Tascam 4 track recorder; that was definitely a turning point for me.
So, tell us about being signed to Warp Records – that must have been very cool. To be signed to the same label as other major artists such as Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin is a major achievement.
It’s amazing. I was never one of those music business savvy people, I used to just send out 4-track CDR’s and it was all very lo-fi. My manager at the time, Jason White, brought me to the attention of Steve Beckett at Warp, and he obviously saw something he liked, and it all happened quite quickly after that.
I feel as if I represent an expanded idea of what WARP could be. They have a lot of visionary artists on there, beyond the typical electronic music that they’re known for, so I feel like I’m in that category of Warp’s expanding artist base.
Let’s talk Hinterland. We discovered that you locked yourself away to complete most of the recording, mixing and production yourself. Do you find isolating yourself is how you create your best music? Or was it a one-off just for that particular album?
I’ve never written any other way. I like to work alone and build the sounds myself. I’ve always loved to be in total control of the creative process and I’ve always tried to do as much as humanly possible. Most of Hinterland was recorded in my tower-block flat in my bedroom on an 8-track Tascam recorder and Garage Band.
It was a really personal album for me to record because it’s about my hometown of Audenshaw, so I always think of my childhood and memories from that time when I play those songs. So it definitely has a special resonance with me.
Wow, that’s very impressive. You’ve toured with the likes of Wire, and performed at festivals such as Glastonbury, Green Man and Big Chill. How do you find touring with bands compares to doing your own solo tour?
It definitely enhances your momentum touring with other bands. I remember watching Wire perform and it really intensifies your relationship with that artist; you appreciate it more and more every night. It’s a brilliant thing to do.
Definitely. We’ve read that the landscape and your surroundings shaped your music style, so do you think if you had grown up in a rural town, or on another continent, that your music would sound different?
I believe so, I believe your environment shapes your sound and who you are. If I had grown up by the seaside or in a rural area, yeah I think my music would be different because I feel different in those environments. There’s something about the city centre you know, there’s a turbulence there and an urgency that has definitely impacted me. I’m still very much inspired by what’s around me, my environment is my biggest inspiration, rather than people, for example.
So, what’s the process you go through once you’ve decided that you’re going to write an album?
It’s an ongoing process really. For the new album I acquired new equipment and expanded my studio setup in to something more substantial. It’s sort of this gradual research, and just continuing to develop my aesthetic. It nearly always is drum machines or rhythm that gets me started on writing a song, it kick starts me.
That’s sort of answered one of my questions actually. What sounds and influences are you working with on your upcoming album?
Analogue sequencing has been a key piece of equipment. I really just want to be able to generate a lot of rhythm and melody. I love turning dials and hitting pads, so I’m just further exploring my love of electro and early techno.
Before you go, we’d love to know what you’re listening to right now?
Lots of stuff really. Some of my favourites right now are from some DJ sets I’ve done recently, and they include Ghost Node by Mikron, Glass on the Horizon by Ensemble Economique, and Cries and Whispers by New Order.