Upon entering her Cowell apartment room, it is clear Julia Fogelson is a music buff. Every inch of the once-white walls are plastered with band posters: The Beatles, Jack Johnson, Bob Marley. Under the stagename Julia Simone, Fogelson recently released her first demo — her mellifluous voice flows smoothly with her guitar, as if her vocal chords are doing the strumming. We sit down at the dining table in her apartment as she peels back the foil of a yogurt container, pours in some granola, and begins to tell me how it all started.
City on a Hill Press (CHP): Have you always been a singer?
Julia Simone (JS): I was always interested in singing. My family has some videos of me writing songs off the top of my head — I loved improv singing — and dancing around on the fireplace. I had a bat mitzvah when I was 13, and got a lot of money as gifts, so I decided to buy a karaoke machine. I had all these country CDs, so I would sit in my room and sing Faith Hill and Shania Twain. I think that actually helped my voice. My mom finally enrolled me in voice lessons in a lady’s living room when I was 14. But I think I only stuck with it for like a year.
CHP: What would you say most inspires you when you’re writing your songs?
JS: Emotions. Human emotions and people. Not all my songs are sad. “Wishing Tree,” which is the new one, is about just really, really liking someone, and the uncertainty of whether or not it’s going to work out. I added fiction in that song. It was inspired by going to the Wishing Tree [in upper] campus. I read a note there that said, “I wish I could respect my girlfriend Emily more.” And I thought it was so sad and remembered it and began writing a fiction story about the guy who wrote the note. But then it took a different route to be partly truth about myself. So, I weave in fiction and truth together. But I’m mostly inspired by people.
CHP: How does your songwriting process usually work?
JS: It’s really changed over the years. It used to be that I would have a poem and then I would put the poem to music and find out where the verses were and the chorus and everything. Now, I kind of find a riff that I like with a few chords that sound well together, and I like to improv over it. … Usually when I start a song I’ll try to finish it in a couple days. I’ve got a lot of started songs. So, if I don’t finish them quickly, I’ll just forget about them.
CHP: Where do you record?
JS: My friend Jonah and I talked last year about recording together. He’s a music major, and he’s a genius with music and music programs on the computer. He has a studio in Bonny Doon, where he lives, and his housemates are all musicians, too. So we laid down one of my songs and his housemate played drums to it. … One of the songs [on the CD] I had recorded when I was 14 with my guitar teacher. Sometimes I record on GarageBand on my Mac, but I have to borrow a mic from my housemate. It doesn’t compare to when Jonah does it.
CHP: Do you listen to your own music?
JS: Only the songs I like. But I mostly just listen to them thinking, “Do I sound good?” I really like the ones I recorded with Jonah, and I’m not in love with the ones I recorded when I was younger. I’ve just come into my own style now.
CHP: What would you say your style is?
JS: Folk Pop. I just came up with that a couple weeks ago. I mean, my songs are pretty poppy and traditional. But I like the whole female singer/songwriter thing. It’s very organic with just a guitar.
CHP: Where do you want your music to take you?
JS: I would love to get picked up by a label and be given the opportunity to just have everything handed to me. A label that would help me get covers made, distribute my music, [and] send it out to college radio stations. I also hope to continue playing shows. I’ve finally developed stage presence, and I’ve become really comfortable on stage and it’s easier to talk and make little jokes.
Julia Simone’s Myspace: myspace.com/juliasimone
E-mail: juliasimonemusic [at] gmail.com