Catching Up With Julie Dexter
Indie artist Julie Dexter is prepared for a very long music career. The Birmingham, England native has the needed technical experience, as she composes and arranges her own music. She is very versatile and uses her classical training to sing soul, jazz, broken-beat, bossa nova, reggae, and afro-beat styles. Julie also understands the business side of things, as she moved to the US in 1999 and launched her own label, Ketch a Vibe Records, through which she has released several albums – Peace of Mind in 2000, Dexterity in 2002, Conscious in 2005, and her latest release, New Again. Julie says that she is into good music and she obviously has the tools she needs to create it. Here’s our chat about the new album and what she hopes listeners will gain from her music.
Mimi: Your bio says that listening to you is like falling in love. Why do you think that is?
Julie: The person who wrote that about me said that that’s how they felt when they were watching me perform. I guess the song choice and the setting were real intimate. It was actually in New York and it was a jazz song. I think he was referring specifically to that song. That’s just a quote but I ended up using it in my bio because I had never heard anyone say anything like that before (laughing). So, that’s really how that came about.
Mimi: What three words would you choose to describe your sound?
Julie: Jazzy, soul, and roots
Mimi: What personal qualities do you try to show through your music?
Julie: In general, I want people to get a positive message from me. When I say positive, I mean something that takes them through their day. Music is a tool for various things in your life, whether it’s to heal, uplift, evoke emotion, or if you just wanna cruise and go somewhere and have a nice backdrop melody. So, I’m very much about giving people a positive message first and foremost. If you can get a positive message from my music that helps you in your life, that’s a beautiful thing. I want you to experience something that’s good for you like vitamins.
Mimi: Why did you name your album New Again?
Julie: I felt that that’s where I was in my life. I had actually finished my album and it was named before I found out that I was expecting my second child. It ironically coincided with the fact that I felt like I was starting a new cycle in my life all over again with a newborn and continuing the new path of motherhood with my daughter who’s in kindergarten. I’m in a different place from where I was five or ten years ago. My last album was in 2005 so it’s new again for those who have been waiting since my last album. So, it has a lot of meanings and I applied the meanings after I named the album because I just liked the title. It’s actually the title of one of the songs.
Mimi: What is one main difference between your new album and your 2005 album, Conscious?
Julie: Well, the producer is different so that makes a huge difference in the sound. His beats, influences, and musical palate are what I laid my voice and lyrics to. So, that was like a new collaboration; a whole new marriage. It’s still very much in the lane of r&b and good old-school soul but it has a new twist on it. I address situations that I hadn’t addressed before. That’s a big difference because I think I’ve matured in my topics and subjects; the content that I’ve been trying to express as a woman through my music.
Mimi: Is there a song on the album that you feel especially connected to?
Julie: I’d say New Again or Who I Am, which is the last track. I’m leaning more toward Who I Am because it embodies who I am literally. It’s an introduction for those who don’t know who I am. I’m a mother, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m your friend. I’m loving, I’m supportive and I can be a shoulder to cry on. I have haters and perpetrators but they’ve made me stronger. I am applying the things I say to myself but I know you can relate. I know that people will hear at least one thing that I am and that they are also.
Mimi: I especially like Come on Home. What was your thought process when you were developing that song?
Julie: I was thinking about how you learn more as you get older because you learn from your mistakes. We can easily be quick at the mouth to say stuff that’s not cool but we don’t take the time to be that quick to apologize and humble ourselves. We take a little longer to do that than we do to express the anger. Come on Home is that aspect of your relationship where you have to bite your tongue and humble yourself. It’s where you have to say I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Come on home and let me show you that I’m sorry. That’s really what that song is about. That could be your spouse, your children, your best friend, your sibling. I mean, relationships take two people. You have a dynamic where you have to respect each other.
Mimi: Now I have to go back and listen to the song again to get that new perspective. (laughing)
Mimi: You’ve been making music for quite a while. What advice would you give aspiring independent artists?
Julie: Keep branding yourself. I encourage independent artists to take their time and build a fan base. Create longevity for yourself in a sense of knowing that you have fans that will come to your shows and support your records.
It’s also important to have a business sense. You are your own boss. You have to know all parts of your business. If you’re going to hire people, you should be the one writing the check. I look at myself as a business so the money that I make goes right back into branding my name. I have children and my work is my pension and their college fund.
Mimi: Let’s do a play on the words New and Again. I’ll give you a phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Mimi: A day in your musical journey that you would like to experience again
Julie: Hearing my song Peace of Mind on the radio. It was actually back in England and the song was from my first EP.
Mimi: A new market that you want to reach with your music
Julie: Teenagers who are about to make decisions about things in their life such as college. Maybe youth age 14 or 15 to the early twenties.
Mimi: A collaboration that you would like to do again
Julie: Ummm, I did a show with Omar and I got to sing with him on the song Be Thankful for What You Got. That was a high for me because I’m a huge Omar fan.
Mimi: A new food that you’ve tried recently and really like
Julie: Sushi. It’s not recent but I’m gonna say it anyway because it’s recent enough in my life. I had been eating lots of other foods but since I’ve been into sushi, it’s a wrap. I never ate it all my life and then when I finally ate it, I was like “I’m a sushi girl.” I make my own sushi and I take it very seriously. (laughing)
Mimi: If you were stranded on an island with only three albums, which three would they have to be?
Julie: Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On, Bob Marley – Exodus and Abbey Lincoln – Abbey is Blue
Mimi: What can we expect from you in the coming months?
Julie: I’ll be working on a new album. I’m always writing and even though this one is new to you, it’s old to me. I’m ready to get a whole new set of songs out and continue touring and doing shows. That’s where Julie Dexter really comes alive. That’s where I really connect with my audience. I encourage people to visit my website and find out when I’ll be in a nearby city.
Thanks Julie for a great conversation! I’ll be sure to let you all know as she releases new music. In the meantime, you can follow her at the links below.