Interview: artist and musician Julia Holter on new album Loud City Song
The Gigi-inspired album features a 'vague and dream-like' cover of Barbara Lewis’ ‘Hello Stranger’
Julia Holter is orbiting a foreign city, discussing a ghostly experience, and this scenario seems strangely apt: the LA alt-pop alchemist has long fused urban voyages with haunting arias, as heard on her wonderful third album, Loud City Song.
She’s approaching Copenhagen when we speak, on a tour that includes her debut Scottish date, and the aforesaid eerie occurrence ensued during filming for new single, ‘Horns Surrounding Me’. ‘The "Horns" video was shot where the Silencio scene [from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive] was shot,’ she wrote on Twitter. ‘On set I believe I experienced a supernatural experience and almost fainted off the balcony.’
What happened? Holter laughs quietly. ‘Well, it could have been the fog machine, or it might have been the mould, but I was standing on the balcony, and I don't get faint, so I don't understand what was going on. When we started to shoot, I couldn't stand up. I was really lightheaded and dizzy. I went into a cold sweat...’
As with her remarkable debut, Tragedy (based on ancient Greek play Hippolytus), Loud City Song takes impressionistic inspiration from an existing work, in this case 1950s musical movie Gigi. Its highlights include skewed jazz-chorale ‘In the Green Wild’ and an otherworldly cover of Barbara Lewis’ ‘Hello Stranger’. ‘There’s a scene in Gigi with a song called ‘I Remember It Well’, with two old people reminiscing about a past romance they had, but can't remember properly,’ says Holter. ‘I thought "Hello Stranger" had a similar feel, because the subject matter is vague and dream-like.’
Her new album artwork shares this aesthetic: a blurry photo of a ghostly city. ‘Actually, that was taken around the very area where the "Horns" video was shot,’ remarks Holter. A chill wind blows. ‘I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.’
CCA, Glasgow, Wed 20 Nov. Loud City Song is out now via Domino.