Julianna Barwick is an American musician who was born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Her music is built around multiple loops and layers of her voice. Barwick, who credits a rural, church choir upbringing for her s...
Julianna Barwick is an American musician who was born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Her music is built around multiple loops and layers of her voice. Barwick, who credits a rural, church choir upbringing for her sound, begins most tracks with a single phrase or refrain, then uses a loop station and the occasional piano or percussive instrument to build the song into a swirling mass of lush, ambient folk. She released her first two collections of songs, the full-length Sanguine and the EP Florine, in 2009 and 2010, respectively, before issuing her Asthmatic Kitty debut, The Magic Place, in 2011. Her newest album, Nepenthe, was released via Dead Oceans on August 20, 2013.
2006-2009: Early Works and Sanguine:
Julianna Barwick self-released her first album, Sanguine, in 2006. The CD is a collection of short loop-based songs. Lacking definable lyrics, it displays her choice of melodic vocal overdubs with vocal percussion, with some sounds indecipherable as the human voice. The album exhibits Julianna's approach to songwriting: spontaneously improvising and recording immediately.
The Florine (Florid) EP added the instrumental dimension. Each of the six songs is significantly longer than any of the debut's songs. The song "Anjos" employs the technique of minimalist repetition of simple melodic patterns, featuring piano and synthesizer to accompany her vocal layers. Julianna uses a loop station and pedals to produce cyclical patterns.
2011: The Magic Place:
Barwick started working on her album in mid-2010 and in early 2011 the album was released by Asthmatic Kitty Records. The experimental and ambient album was well received by music critics and also ranked as #35 of "The Best Music of 2011 So Far" in Metacritic.
Although Barwick took a bedroom recording approach in the past, in an interview she mentioned:
"The Magic Place was recorded in a rehearsal stage because I needed a place that was sound proof. It also had a piano so I was able to add a little more. I think that the next record will be a progression from that. There's something I love about that cyclical pattern and the adding on and adding on. I like to keep adding things."
In another interview she revealed the inspiration of the album's title:
"The Magic Place was a tree on our farm. It was in the back pasture. It was one tree that grew up, down and around. You had to crawl in and once you were inside, it was like there were different rooms, and you could actually lay in the branches. We named it 'The Magic Place' because it really was magical--especially for a kid... and that's how I feel about my life right now--without trying to sound too hippy dippy or cosmic, this year has definitely been a magical one."
In 2011, Barwick performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Her song "Anjos" was used as the background score for the Levis "Go Forth" Ad Campaign. In March of 2012, Julianna performed at the Guggenheim museum in New York City. In 2012, Julianna Barwick announced that she had recently recorded at Sundlaugin, Sigur Ros' studio in Reykjavik, Iceland, with producer Alex Somers.
2013: Pacing & Nepenthe:
Barwick released the limited edition 7" record Pacing on March 5, 2013. In addition to the vocal loops of the past, the songs focused more on haunting piano compositions.
Barwick released her third album, Nepenthe, on August 20, 2013. Nepenthe features the string ensemble Amiina and a choir of teenage girls. The title of the album references the ancient drug of forgetfulness, found in the works of Greek literature and Edgar Allan Poe, which erases sorrow. A death in Barwick's family inspired the title.
In 2010, Barwick was commissioned to remix Radiohead's "Reckoner" from the critically acclaimed album In Rainbows. In 2011, Barwick released a collaborative improv LP with Ikue Mori titled FRKWYS Vol. 6. Pitchfork describes the album as: "A sneakily bewitching record that bodes well for Barwick's future." Until now, we knew that she was very good at one thing--"FRKWYS Vol. 6" is an encouraging sign that she's willing and able to branch out." Barwick also released an EP of remixes titled "The Matrimony Remixes", which included remixes by Diplo, Prince Rama and more. In 2012, Barwick released a collaborative record titled "Believe You Me", with Helado Negro under the name "Ombre" after the two met on tour. Julianna has also played on a number of albums, including Sharon Van Etten's Tramp.