What Julia Jacklin Learned When the Pandemic Put Her Career on Hold

By: Samantha Eddy
Julia Jacklin performing at the Bootleg Theater in 2017. Photo Courtesy of Koki Miyazaki via Flickr.

Coming from Australia’s indie rock scene, Julia Jacklin is a singer with relatable songs that her fans love. So far, Jacklin has released ten singles and EPs: ‘Pool Party’ (2016), ‘Leadlight’ (2016), ‘Coming of Age’ (2016), ‘Hay Plain’ (2016), ‘Eastwick / Cold Caller’ (2017), ‘Body’ (2018), ‘Someday’ (triple j Like A Version) (2019), ‘to Perth, before the border closes’ (2020), ‘baby jesus is nobody’s baby now’ (2020), and ‘Army Of Me’ (2021). The 30-year-old singer also has two albums on her track record: Don’t Let The Kids Win (2016) and Crushing (2019). Not only do fans adore Jacklin, but others in the music scene do too. “She’s such an honest performer, you can tell she really travels into each song she plays as if she’s telling the story for the first time. Julia, to me, is one of our country’s greatest artists, in songwriting, in voice, and in her gentle refusal to be anything but her strange self,” explains Perth singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly, who Julia Jacklin co-directed a music video for. 

Growing up in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, Australia, all Jacklin wanted was to make music, despite being surrounded by a family of teachers. Jacklin spent her youth listening to Britney Spears and Doris Day, while also taking classical voice lessons. At the age of 18, the aspiring teen was able to make her dreams come true when one of her friends, Liz Hughes, asked for Jacklin to join her band called Salta. Due to Hughes breaking her wrist, Jacklin ended up taking on the guitar role rather than a singing role. She spent some time learning all of Hughes’ parts for an upcoming festival. Over the course of the following years, Jacklin was in and out of various band, with her most notable being Phantastic Ferniture. 

At 21, Jacklin was able to truly kickstart her career when she embarked on a journey to England with her first love. “I quit uni, I quit my job, I quit my band, and within two days over there he was like, ‘no’. I ended up having to work at this horrible hostel and this horrible café to earn enough money to get home,” claims Jacklin. She began performing open mic nights with some coworkers from the hostel, using her own music for the first time ever. “I had to pull myself out of my Sydney friend group in order to feel confident enough to sing my own songs, because in England it was just like, Now I’m a kid who no one knows, so it’s fine,” Jacklin explains. Once she was able to move back home to Sydney, Jacklin began playing her own shows. By the age of 24, she was already making her first record.

Julia Jacklin performing in 2017. Photo Courtesy of Simon Godley via Flickr.

When the pandemic hit well over a year ago, Jacklin was faced with challenges unlike any other she has had before. With all the free time she was introduced to while not being able to travel and perform, the artist was questioning, “Am I even a musician or am I just someone who happens to write songs when I’m busy?” “I’ve never had this much time off in my entire life. I wrote my first record when I was working two jobs and playing gigs and studying at university, and I wrote my second album on the road touring my first album. I make things in these snatches of time, and I don’t have time to overthink them. Music has been this thing that helps me get through regular life. Whereas now, I have every second of the day to question whether I’m good enough, whether all of this was a fluke,” explains Jacklin. 

Finally, in October, Jacklin was able to whip up a new song titled ‘to Perth, before the border closes’. “[Writing this was] literally like trying to draw blood from a stone,” Jacklin admits. This song was inspired by her decision to leave Melbourne when the pandemic first started and move to Fremantle, Western Australia for the next four months. “Something that I always struggle with is this fear that when I leave someplace I’m going to lose all the things that I built there, and I’m gonna arrive in a new destination with no one and nothing. After doing it enough times now, I realized it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be, and after a little while it’s usually a lot better. You find your people through change, I’ve found, instead of just staying in one place. And the good people, they stick to you,” Jacklin elaborates on the meaning behind this recent release. She followed up this song with ‘baby jesus is nobody’s baby now’ this past December.

Now that the pandemic has reached a level in which life in a little more controlled, Pitchfork reached out to Jacklin for a “post-pandemic” interview. One question they asked was, “You played four shows in December. Did gathering in front of a crowd feel any different to you post-pandemic?” Jacklin responded with, “It was incredibly intense actually, it took me about a week to recover…you’ve got a crowd of people not used to being out, and a group of musicians not used to playing. It was just so many feelings in the room…” Pitchfork introduced another good question: “When we spoke last fall, you were honest about your creative struggles during quarantine and the expectation for artists to produce. You mentioned trying to approach songwriting in a different way. How’s that going for you?” “I’ve changed my mind so many times over the last year on what I’m supposed to be doing and how I’m supposed to be doing it. I’m probably going to contradict my past self. I still feel a bit foolish, I guess, and I’m constantly stressed that I’m not using my time wisely…I have realized, though, that I’m never going to fulfill the idea of what my younger self thought of as being a real musician,” Jacklin elaborates. 

Julia Jacklin performing live in Studio A at WFUV Public Radio in 2019. Photo Courtesy of WFUV Public Radio via Flickr.

Considering the life Jacklin had growing up and transitioning into adulthood and into her music career, it is safe to say that she has been presented with a lot of struggles that tested her ability to succeed and go for her dreams. The introduction of the pandemic only allowed Jacklin to defeat more struggles and learn more about her strength, what she believes in, and her career as a musician.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close