IN THE STUDIO: JULIA JACKLIN
Sydney singer-songwriter heads into the bush for hushed second.
A sneak look at the Aussie singer’s second album, out early next year.
With her first album, the deceptively dreamy country pop of 2016’ s Don’t Let The Kids Win, Julia Jacklin sensibly took a “very fresh, light and healthy” approach to her work. The Sydney-based singer-songwriter went to New Zealand to make the record, where she would wake early, walk into town for coffee, work from 10 in the morning until 10 at night, and then go home for a proper sleep. Making her second album, ambiguously titled Crushing, was an altogether different experience. “We slept in the studio, basically,” laughs Jacklin, who stayed up all night with her band, drummer Clayton Allen, bassist Harry Fuller and guitarist Blain Cunneen. “We worked from 4pm to 4am and we’d sleep during the day. With my first record, sometimes you didn’t feel like you got to see what could have happened after hours.” That mystery was solved here: “You just get to this point where you’re a little delusional, being a bit silly, and then you just go to that thing that, maybe earlier in the day, you felt a little embarrassed to do. I think we got to a really wonderful place round about the 2am mark because we’d spent all day together and we were just really in tune.” Crushing’s mood of in-the-room, late-night intimacy was fostered by place as much as time. The illusion of isolation was encouraged by their three-week billet at The Grove Studios in Mangrove Mountain, just two hours’ drive from Jacklin’s home yet hidden away down a bush road, concealed from other human life. “I thought I would have people coming in and hanging out,” says Jacklin, “but once we got in there, I quickly realised I wanted to have nothing to do with
anyone outside of the band. I told all my friends, ‘Please don’t ask me about how it’s going because I don’t even want to have to try to analyse it at the moment.’” On the first day of recording, her phone died. She didn’t sort it out for two weeks. Jacklin wanted to record with producer Burke Reid after admiring his work with Gareth Liddiard’s psych-rockers The Drones. Inspired by Smog’s 2005 album A River Ain’t Too Much To Love and Out On The Weekend from Neil Young’s Harvest, the aim was to catch that moment “when the vocals come in and just hit you in the middle of your forehead, right in the centre of your brain.” The nocturnal work patterns were valuable here, as Jacklin explains when she describes the recording of unravelled lament Turn Me Down. “I think we got something because I was just so exhausted and quite emotional,” she says, recalling take after take. “I had nothing left – I thought.” Listening back next day, though, it was clear she had exactly what she needed. “I needed to just tire myself out like a child to be able to get to that point where I didn’t care.” Caring too much – or in the wrong ways – has sometimes been a habit that Jacklin has needed to shake: she admits that the first few days of being in the studio, surrounded by people waiting for her to “drive this ship” are like “impostor syndrome times a million.” “What’s so wonderful about making records is that you’re trying to capture a moment in time,” she continues. “It’s not about capturing this perfect piece of work. It’s just about being, ‘I’m an artist and I’m this age’ and this album is Julia aged 26 to 27. Whatever skill level I’m at, however my voice sounds at that time, then that’s what it is. I think that’s really special.” Two records in, Julia Jacklin has found a new confidence in her own instincts.
“Once we got into the studio, I quickly realised I wanted to have nothing to do with anyone outside of the band.”
In the zone: Julia Jacklin describes her new record as “capturing a moment in time…”
On the night shift: Jacklin worked 4pm to 4am sessions in the studio.