Askonas Holt welcomes Julia Bullock to its roster for worldwide management and looks forward to this unique opportunity to collaborate with Julia on a variety of artistic endeavours. You can read Julia’s welcome interview with her new management team Joel Thomas, Imogen Taylor and Suzanne Doyle below.
Tell us a bit about your musical influences growing up. Who or what has had the biggest impact on your musical journey so far?
Ha! I still feel like I’m “growing up!” My early influences – both musical and non-musical – were so wide-ranging and helped inspire and shift my perspectives. The underlying commonality between the incredible artists listed below were their inimitable voices, their commitment to delivery of message, and the specificity of their interpretations. They all left a profound impression on me that continues to resonate. They are: Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Janet Baker, Régine Crespin, Shirley Verrett, Laura Nyro, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Carole King, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Lauren Hill, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli and Bob Dylan.
Alongside performing, you do a lot of work as a curator. What do you enjoy about this artistic journey from concept to performance? Is narrative crucial to you as a performer?
I’ve found that almost all performers have tremendous imaginations and a curatorial sense. When we have a space and platform to share our ideas, visions, values; and let them become realized as an offering to be shared in a public setting, the scope and depth can be overwhelming, delightful, surprising, and just awesome. Whether I’m programming for myself in a more intimate setting – like a concert for piano and voice – or have the opportunity to utilize resources for a more extended experience, my values as a singer and curator are similar: I want the connections drawn between music, words and the historical context (social, political, personal) to be translated in ways that are explicit, clear, and embodied.
Not every form of human expression is based on a linear narrative (or a narrative at all), but I’ve often found that the artistic material to which I most respond and am called to share, is sourced out of a necessity to communicate something deeply specific and personal – the strength then comes from how all of that imaginative material is translated. But as with the development of my singing voice, my curatorial voice is ever evolving and expanding.
You’re a prominent voice of social consciousness and have been called an “agent of change”. What do you feel is the relationship between art and activism, and how important is it for you to use your platform as a singer as a vehicle for social change?
I do not love art because I am looking to be distracted, diverted, or relieved of life’s difficulties. I love art, because I want to be enriched, engaged and entrenched in what is happening all around me. That’s why I’m almost evangelical about this idea that the act of making music is socially conscious at its core. It increases awareness and encourages us to recognise connections with each other. Art, culture and politics thrive on an almost obsessive devotion to examination. When I think about the artists whose work I love and respect, most are evaluating the patterns and practices of and within themselves, and the world around them. Their commitment is fierce and unforgiving. I’m just following their example.
I hope we all aim to be “agents of change” because that’s just about wanting to activate our consciousness as responsibly as possible. How do we ensure that we are being responsible? Well, that comes with consideration, communication, assistance, sensitivity, support, respect, care, and cultivating a sense of community that has shared values and vision. To that end, I’m excited to work with Askonas Holt, and very much look forward to all that we will come to realise together! Because everyone has voiced their dedicated interest to focus more work, time, and resources to developing relationships that employ a conscious commitment. I dig that!