Name: Joulie Fox
Nationality: Polish
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Joulie Fox's new single “Running” is out now. A new EP, Love is a Blessing, will follow soon. Pre-order it here.
Recommendations: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle; Ghosteen by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

If you enjoyed this interview with Joulie Fox and find out more about her, visit her on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing guitar at age of 11. I remember my brother bringing his first guitar home and I begged him to teach me something. I got my first song so quickly that I knew this was my calling.

A few years later after collecting a nice sum of money through extra work here and there at age of 16 I bought my first audio interface, Ableton and a microphone and I started recording first songs in my bedroom.

It was just something I wanted to do. Some kids play football, some dance and I just wanted to make music.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

When I listen to music I feel emotions. I cry, I laugh, I am excited, inspired. I just feel it. I don’t see things I just feel them. Whenever I need cathartic experience in my life or I am sad, or I need some extra energy kick I reach for music.

But speaking of my approach to creativity I never listen to music before writing my own songs only because I want my songs to be mine, not copied, not inspired by other songs.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I have definitely learned and developed a lot through the years. As a DIY musician with a few people helping here and there you need to have tough skin. You need to be a fighter and believer. You need to speak loud and be just genuine with everything you do. Because I love learning new things and I am always up for a challenge I can more rely on myself.

I just recently designed the whole digipack and a cover for my debut EP Love is a Blessing. I cried, I swore, I wanted to give up so many times but I made it and now I know how to design it myself again! (But fingers crossed I am lucky enough to have a deal by the time I release my first full album).

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I used to be a very confident person in my teens. I believed in everything I was doing and I knew where I was going and what I wanted to achieve. In my early 20s I started having issues with my confidence after being rejected by friends. I was doubting myself more and more and I wanted to give up on my dreams so many times. After I graduated Drama School, I decided that instead of settling in Poland I just want to see more of the world and try new things.

So I made the decision to move to London. I took my guitar, a small amp and I left with £200 in my pocket, driving with a stranger for 20 hours. I was terrified, and I spent my first night in a small room that looked like Harry Potter’s cupboard. For real.

The first three years in a new place were really difficult for me, I felt really lonely, lost, I didn’t know what to do and how. I felt like I am losing important years of my life trying to assimilate in a new place while all of my friends were moving on with their lives and careers. When I look at it now, stronger, bigger, more resistant, I know this was meant to be, and nothing can break me now.

London changed me musically, I was working very hard, practising instruments and music production. One day, something just unblocked in my head and I started writing like crazy. I’ve grown and I know who I am. All of these experiences made me who I am today and formed my music. I am so glad that I was brave and I followed my heart. It’s good to suffer, it lets you appreciate progress and good moments in life and your career.  

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Being honest and genuine, not forcing it. I believe that art is channelling through us and the more true you are the more genuine your art will be.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

Originality is awesome and I love hearing something for the first time and being like: “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like this”.

But! I don’t believe there is only one way of doing anything in life. You can be original and successful but you can also be hardworking, not really innovative but still people will appreciate you for your skill and just good enough music. And I think that’s beautiful that the world of creation is so diverse.

You can say that someone has a really mediocre vocal talent but at the same time their music can be so catchy that you just can’t stop listening to it.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

I am devoted to my guitar and synths. I either write with just a guitar or I start producing something in Ableton and I take it from there. I don’t have strategies. I just follow my gut.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

I wake up, and if I don’t teach or work on set I try to go to the gym a few times a week or sometimes I visit our community saunas in East London or I go for a walk and do my vocal warm up in the forest. When I am back home, I always try to read something and meditate and untril I have my first meal I won’t start working. It’s my golden rule.

Sometimes on a busy day when I prepare some releases I can’t follow my routine and I start working straight away but this never ends well for my health and mental state. When I am redy to start working I either write, record, produce or work on my vlogs and social media content. I send emails, finalise projects, I look for gigs, practise my bass, guitar or piano. On some days I stream on Twitch, on some I play gigs.

There are no days that look the same and there is always something to do. I have really broad interests and I cannot give up on everything therefore I am always busy with something. I tried to fight it and focus on one thing but I just can’t.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

I am just about to release my debut EP so let me base my description on this album. The process of creation lasted for 1.5 years. Some of the songs were already written in the past and some of them were created after the decision of releasing an EP was made.

Because I am a music producer myself I produced demo versions of my songs and together with James Yuill who co-produced my EP we chose 5 songs that landed on my album. I sent stems to James and he just made them sound so much better and then invited me to his studio in North London to go through the songs together and decide what parts I would prefer to change. When the instrumentals were ready I recorded vocals at my home (I prefer recording at home as this gives me freedom and I can do it whenever I feel it) and then the songs were sent off for mixing and mastering.

In the past I was producing my songs myself but I have to honestly say that since I met James who completely understands my vision, I feel that his fresh pair of ears and the brilliant ideas he implements make my songs sounding a trillion times better. And I don’t undermine my skills, I just know that James is an excellent producer, I trust him and let’s be honest he’s just so much better than me!

I also hate the last process of production and this slows down my productivity and timings.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

Before my first songwriting session I couldn’t imagine how can you write a song with someone else in the same room. It was a very intimate process to me and it still is.

But after trying writing with other artists I understood that if you find the right person you will climb bigger mountains than you can solo. But you need to resonate with that person and stay open.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I honestly just discovered it recently.

I was asking myself a question: “Why do I even do this? What does it bring to the world?” I wanted it to mean something, otherwise it would be just me egoistically doing my thing and for what?

When people write to me that they actually resonate with my music or they are touched because I just described how they feel, it answers my question. Even if it’s just a few people, I know that the passion I’ve been following for many years actually makes sense …

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Music is magic. It heals. It’s something we reach for while dealing with grief, breakups, loss. Something we reach for to share beautiful moments with friends.

I think music accompanied me in many special moments in life. It took me to beautiful places. I think we’re blessed with music.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

Well, I am no specialist in science field but I know that music is math. It’s math that you can create without knowing the rules. So, let’s call it magic!

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I think you can easily express many things through anything you do in life, even by making a cup of coffee. It can be made with love and attention. It can also be made with indifference and carelessness. We all choose different paths in life based on our callings. Making a cup of coffee is definitely different from writing music but I wouldn’t undermine it. I don’t think that creating art is superior in any way. You’re just born, you have a calling and this is where you go.

For me being a songwriter is a blessing. It keeps me alive, it helped me through tough moments, it raised me up from being very low and ready to give up. It heals me. It’s my personal blessing that I am grateful for. Through music I express my pain, my happiness, my quirkiness, my weird phantasies. Music is my therapy notebook that keeps me alive.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I think that the answer is quite simple. It’s a vibration that affects our bodies in different ways. Accompanied by the lyrical layer it can just hit the spot if it is something that people experienced or struggled with.

We now have technology that translates data from biological systems into notes. You can basically listen to plants! They are music. If nature is music and nature makes us feel a certain way, it’s a no brainer that music can affect us deeply in so many different ways.