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Julia Deans

Julia Deans

Monday 9th August, 2010 11:28AM

It has been a busy six months for Fur Patrol’s leading lady, Julia Deans, having toured the nation, twice, in the wake of her upcoming debut solo album, Modern Fables. We flicked a few questions to Deans on touring, collaborations and, of course, the new album.

Holy smoke, Fur Patrol has been kicking around for at least fourteen years, why a solo album now? Does this spell the end for Fur Patrol or just a hiatus?

It’s merely a hiatus. We all felt it was time to take a break and focus on other things... and I've had a bunch of songs and ideas kicking around for a while that never really fitted the Fur Patrol template. I guess I finally worked up the confidence to tackle them on my own.

How long have you been working on your solo material? Is releasing a solo album a natural progression for you? What has been the most rewarding aspect of developing your solo album to date?

Most of the songs on the album were written in the last two or three years, but there are a couple that have been floating around in fragments in my brain for much longer. One in particular, "Little Survivor", had been waiting in the wings for about a decade before I managed to coax him into a fully formed song. It feels good to be working on my own now. I've heard "it’s about time!" from so many people, but then I've never been one to rush anything. I guess one of the biggest rewards so far has simply been finding the confidence and strength within myself to do this - to stand on my own and actually get things done!

You released a five-track teaser EP, A New Dialogue, in February, how has it been received?

The EP contains my first single from the album "A New Dialogue" and the other four tracks are demos, most of which will be on the album, but in fancier form. I had the EP made up to sell at gigs, in particular on the tour I did with Anika Moa last year... and now they are all gone, sold out!

Your gig at the Tabac last week was fantastic, how did you find the rest of your five-date Easter tour? Why the Penguin Club in Oamaru?

I thoroughly enjoyed my wee tourette... I think it was just what I needed to do; a good introduction to "Julia Deans - Solo Artiste" (ha!). I've played the Penguin Club a few times now and I love it. Such a great little venue - it has the slightly illicit air of a speakeasy, combined with the welcoming casualness of someone's home and its history is slathered across the walls in band posters, some 15 years old or more.

When can we expect Modern Fables to be released? Do you have another tour planned?

We're aiming to have the album out late June, and I want to tour the album in late July - this time with a small band.

Where did you record Modern Fables? Who was involved in the process?

David Wernham has been very patiently helping me track and mix the album. We started the whole recording process in June last year - in Berlin. Our good friend Dino Karlis (HDU, Dimmer) and I had always talked about doing some music together, so when he and his wife relocated there in November 2008, it kinda gave us a good excuse to go visit! We tracked some more of the album in Christchurch, at The Sitting Room, in August last year (horns, double bass, keys, guitars and drums)... and then the guitars and vocals were recorded here in Melbourne. I've been very lucky to have some pretty amazing musicians play on the album; Richie Pickard, Scott Taitoko, Gwynn Reynolds, Cameron Pearce and Darren Pickering (all from Solaa); Nick Gaffaney and Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight); and my bestie Celia Church sang some haunting bv's and even Karl Kippenberger (Shihad) made an appearance in there.

You looked gorgeous in the video for your first single, A New Dialogue, if not a tad creepy, who directed the video? What message did you want to convey?

Aw, shucks. thanks! That was directed by Greg Page, who shot Fur Patrol's first three video clips. I've always loved his ideas and he's such a good man to work with. "A New Dialogue" is such an intensely intimate song, we felt it important to keep the clip very warm and close and personal. The whole thing was shot very simply, using a fancy SLR-type camera (I don't know the proper technical term!) with one light fitted directly above it. Everyone in the clip is either friends or family of the crew, and we spent a day zipping around Auckland, blacking out peoples' windows and shooting in their bedrooms.

In the past you have collaborated with the likes of P-Money, Antiform and Tiki Tane, talents that are far removed from the sound of both Fur Patrol and your solo material, what motivates you musically? Any further projects or collaborations on the cards?

I've been enjoying working as just a singer, fitting melodies and stories over other peoples' music. I have such wide and varied tastes in the music I listen to, so I think it's important to explore other musical styles as a musician as well. I recently did a track for Tokyostreetgang - very 80's inspired, in the vein of Depeche Mode and New Order, so I did my best to channel Madonna and Cristina Monet. I've also been writing over the last year or so with Jon Toogood (Shihad) for his solo album, which is great fun, and Anika Moa and I are planning an all-girl rockband with Anna Coddington. Plus I've been doing some vocals for my brother, Sean, who's currently constructing his album with Mu (Fat Freddy's Drop) and Riki Gooch (Eru Dangerspiel) that's all big, warm, fat, wonky hip-hop beats... so, yeah, I'm definitely not limiting myself to one pocket!

By Karyn Cushen