“Hello, Julianna Barwick!”

We interview the bewitching songwriter, releasing for RVNG Intl.'s 'FRKWYS' series, and playing in London this weekend.

20.05.11

Words by: Charlie Jones

Julianna Barwick’s ‘The Magic Place’ is the kind of album that both soothes and beguiles the mind. It floats its way smoothly and calmly in the way that makes words like “restorative” and “redemptive” seem appropriate, but there’s also an experimental grit in those spectral vocals – a voice which doesn’t actually form words that often, but comes off somehow stronger for it. The choice of noises she surrounds that voice often point more towards minimalism than new age, deploying simple piano keys, cavernous atmospheres. It’s dreamlike, but that doesn’t mean it has it’s head in the clouds.

The next release from Julianna Barwick will be a collaboration with former member of no wave band DNA, Ikue Mori as part of RVNG Intl.‘s ‘FRKWYS’ series. The record came out of the pair composing four pieces as part of an installation in New York’s White Columns gallery, and pressing the recordings directly to vinyl. She’s also playing in London this saturday alongside Emeralds at BleeD. For both reasons, we thought it was time to say “hello!”. Kindly, she agreed to answer some questions on her iPhone while on tour. You can also download an MP3 of album title track The Magic Place above.

Name?

Julianna Barwick.

Age?

32.

Current location?

Glasgow, but I live in Brooklyn.

Your sound?

Dreamy choral creations.

How do you record?

The same way I perform, with a mic, effects, looper, then mess with it on the computer.

Heroes?

Bill Murray, John Williams, Beetlejuice.

Last release?

‘The Magic Place.’

Next release?

Who knows?

Next playing?

On Saturday at the Village Underground in London.

There’s a real organic looseness to your song’s structures on occasions. Are they mostly born out of improvisation?

It’s truly 95 per cent improvisation. Then I build on top of that.

How do you see your voice when it comes to composition? You don’t really have many discernible lyrics, but it is clearly a very integral part of your sound…

I see it as the leader. Nearly every song is constructed around what the vocals do.

Your collaboration with Ikue Mori sounds really interesting. Could you tell us how that came together, and what is it about pressing a sound directly to vinyl that appealed?

Matt at RVNG cooked the whole thing up and asked me to do it, and I’m so glad. It was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. I didn’t know initially that it would be cut live to lathe but I really thought that made the thing that much more badass. It was a really cool project.

RVNG Intl. will release Julianna Barwick and Ikue Mori’s ‘FRKWYS Vol.6’ on 31st May 2011