Hey guys! So this week i’m obsessing over Julean and the Rai, the ever-changing band headed up by (coincidentally) Julean Rai. The sound varies from relaxing to heart-stopping, Julean has a voice that will really make you LISTEN, and if you give it a chance, I promise at least one of his songs will steal your heart Okay, I’ll quit being all emotional and sappy. The vlog and playlist will be up later tonight (or tomorrow morning?), but I got the pleasure of interviewing Julean via Skype this week and I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you guys! *SPOILERS* turns out “95.676%” of his songs are about girls (think he should write one about me? lol!), he’s a former member of MENSA, and he’s got two new albums coming up! Wow! Check the link at the bottom to buy/listen to some of his stuff and let me know what you think! See ya next week!
Follow them on twitter @juleanandtherai
and follow Julean @juleanrai
**INTERVIEW WITH JULEAN RAI**
Julean Rai: Hey Hailey —
Hailey Q: Hey Julean!
Julean Rai: Hey there —
Hailey Q: It’s great to finally catch you on! how are you?
Julean Rai: I’m doing well, how are you doing?
Julean Rai: I caught your blog — you seem like a busy girl lol
Hailey Q: Pretty good! I try to keep pretty busy
Hailey Q: Ok so I noticed you’re the only
regular member of Julean and the Rai. Are there any other
members that make regular appearances?
Julean Rai: The only regular member, yeah. Over
the years, the band part comes and goes. There was Lee
Dockery, Todd Jensen, and Sol between 1999-2001. Then
a few players in Tucson circa 2005-6, like Dave Mason and
— then later, in New York it was Wayne Van Zee on drums,
Mikey on backup vocals and percussion (on the live album)
and also Lev Pelekh on bass (same album). Europe found
me doing pretty much mostly solo work.
Julean Rai: But for me, it seems keeping a band together has
always been about as easy as keeping a relationship together.
Except it’s like having … I dunno … three to six girlfriends at
once; and then *they* all have to get along. These days I’d like
to work with an all-girl band, except for myself, because I figure
if it’s gonna’ be like that, then — why not?
Hailey Q: haha, exactly! That makes sense.
Hailey Q: When I listen to your albums like “The Muse Tree”
and “Darlene” I get an indie/folk vibe…what genre do you
personally identify your music with?
Julean Rai: That would be it. I dunno — “Folk Rock” sounds
too light for my overall fare. Because I mean, when you get into
albums like “Alexandria”, as well as the more recent upcoming
albums, they’re probably more fusion, or indie, than folk —
Julean Rai: And most of the people I’m compared to a lot, like Ray
Lamontagne or M Ward, or Ryan Adams — they’re in the same
community genre. But I think the radio classifies us as “Adult
Hailey Q: I see. I love the sound, especially the strictly
instrumental “Alexandria, Falling”. Did you compose all of those
Julean Rai: I did.
Hailey Q: Nice!
Hailey Q: What inspired you to write them?
Julean Rai: Alexandria started out as an improvised
instrumental work I composed when I was doing some
odd left-hand / right-brain training in 1999. Musicially, it was
sort of a wake-up call at the time (did I just play that? kind
of thing). Lyrically, it kind of got inspired by
some deeper political / sociological beliefs I had at the
time that have evolved since; and also partly inspired by
the girl I was dating at the time who
had decided that she was getting off of her medication
and that nothing was wrong with her. We talked a lot
about the over-medication of society and the like, and
I guess it kind of went from there. I remember I actually
started writing it sitting there, with her, at the Perkins in Colorado.
Later, once the song evolved and became too long to play
at most shows (15 minutes on average), even though it was
kind of a listener favorite, I started thinking about splitting it up
into its major themes and making a concept album out of it; which is
what I did, more or less. It was all built off
of the main song (1:1 Alexandria, Falling) so when I play it live
today, it’s a combination of that, the Theme, “Longest Arm”,
“Man of Two Faces” and “Closing”. I rarely play the other parts
live these days.
Julean Rai: A lot of “Alexandria” became more distinct when I
picked up more traditional Egyptian and Indian music and rhythms,
primarily supporting belly dancers in Tuscon around 2003-5, or so
Hailey Q: awesome! So is “Darlene” another album inspired by
a girl you dated?
Julean Rai: Ah; it is haha
Julean Rai: But in this case, it isn’t about just one particular girl
Julean Rai: There’s “Darlene” herself, mentioned in that work, as
well as in Like This and The Way That Leaving Goes on the Muse
album. There’s another, nameless girl (that I call Guenivere in a
different album), mentioned in The Roots and Like This, as well as
in Here. Star is only in The Dance. The girl from Sin is unique — that
songs about her, and Mountains of Anastasia is written *to* her …
and then there’s Laura, from Without the Kiss and A Wedding for
Laura, who I’m actually still friends with today —
Julean Rai: I think 95.676% of my music, in retrospect, is probably
about a girl,more or less.
Hailey Q: isn’t most music? lol
Julean Rai: Every artist needs his muse; I need several lol
Hailey Q: so are there any other bands/artists that influence you??
Julean Rai: I don’t really keep a lot of heroes; I don’t believe in them.
I feel as if we’re all exactly the same, fundamentally, though. But a few
particular people have made it on that shortlist, if there is one, I think.
I really look up to Peter Gabriel, and he’s not only a big influence
emotionally, as a writer, but also when I look to the future at what I
can become. He’s alive, awake, aware, and himself. Publically full
of love, concern, heart and connection. And humor. The same
would be true for others on that list, like David Bowie, Taj Mahal,
Richie Havens, Tori Amos.
Julean Rai: But slightly more recent bands, like the Counting Crows
are a definite fave — I think Adam and I have something in common
as writers. And Damien’s “Blowers Daughter” blew me away when
I first heard it. And Norah Jones is definitely on that list, as well.
Hailey Q: I’m addicted to Norah Jones! You guys both made my
“Chill Out” playlist lol
Julean Rai: lol Yah; she’s on mine, too —
Julean Rai: But I always hear people that inspire me, though I don’t
know who they are. Or they aren’t that famous yet. I credit most
of my playing style to a guy named Steve Maymo,
from Dayton back in 1996. And I picked up some playing cues from
Foscoe Jones and Shane Bartell, in Austin, as well years later.
Hailey Q: are you currently signed to any label?
Julean Rai: I am … thinking of starting my own.
Julean Rai: i’ve had a few label offers, but I really feel like I’m
just too independent and spontaneous to go that route. I mean,
unless we’re talking a real “indie label family” kind of thing. I haven’t
had any offers from any of those at this time —
Julean Rai: For most of the last 10 years or so, I’ve been handling
publishing, tour management, merchandising, studio work and production,
rights management, radio play, band management; all by my lonesome.
haha But it kind of makes me think that with all of the great indie folk players
I encounter, I could easily find 2-3 for a short roster and start an indie
label family of my own
Julean Rai: Oh, and one thing… The guys / girls that set this interview up —
I do have some support, but I just wouldn’t call it a label. These are the
folks only recently that have kind of made it a point to get me to stop working
on my own, lol. If I didn’t give them a mention, they’d kill me, haha
Hailey Q: that sounds awesome! there’s a real shortage of indie labels nowadays.
Julean Rai: But that’s [starting a label] not decided yet. I’m actually considering going
major label lately, as these are also the guys with the resources to really push
an album and an artist
Julean Rai: So I’m half-half right about now
Hailey Q: got it!
Hailey Q: ok, last question. Just for fun.
Julean Rai: sure
Hailey Q: Quick, five things you want Audiogazm readers to
know about Julean Rai!
Julean Rai: Oh, crap
Julean Rai: Hm. Okay, well — let’s see
Julean Rai: I like to travel, and I don’t like to make plans or
answer to anyone for it.
Possibly once or twice a year, I’ll spend 11-15 weeks absolutely
minimized and living a “road trip” life. I don’t how long that can last,
but — it’s highly addictive and exciting. I just can’t do it as much anymore
because people recognize me in the strangest places.
Julean Rai: Working on two new albums right now:
“Secrets and Stains” and “The Taos Merchants”.
I hope to record and release them at the same time,
“Taos” as an EP. I also hope to skip recording demos first, as that
Julean Rai: I am … a classically trained singer with a musical theatre
background, but I’ve gotten more introverted as a songwriter, so
don’t go expecting any showtunes anytime soon
Hailey Q: Well thank you so much for the interview!
It’s been a pleasure talking to you
Julean Rai: You too, Hailey
Julean Rai: And don’t party too hard
Hailey Q: lol no promises
Filed under: News Tagged: acoustic rock, alexandria falling, indie folk, indie folk reviews, indie rock, julean & the rai, julean and the rai, julean and the rai interview, julean rai interview, secrets and stains, the taos merchants