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5 Questions to: Julia Kent.

Julia Kent, now located in New York but born in Vancouver, is a cello player and composer from Canada. Until now she successfully collaborated with Angela McCluskey, The Angels of Light, Antony and the Johnsons, Backworld, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Current 93, Jarboe, Norah Jones, Rasputina, Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams.

Her compositions are located between the poles of music for film, rock, folk, dance and theatre, as well as experimental music.
In common with her compositions her cello playing is complex and characterized by a mystic melancholy.

Julia Kent, Photographer: Pedro Anguil

Reset Black: Up to now you have published 6 gorgeous soloalbums. Additional there are musical collaborations with Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Current 93, Jarboe – to name but a few – up to Barbara Morgenstern, in germany still dealed as an insiders’ tip. Having just a look at these range of different musical genres, provides an insight into the challenge of your complex oevre. Are these collected experiences a personal gain for your compositions? How is the impact on your creative process?

Julia Kent: I am very grateful for having had the chance to encounter so many amazing artists, and, of course, everyone I've been lucky enough to work with has had an impact on my creative process. The artistic encounters you mention are mostly from a long time ago, and, in many cases, it was just a question of someone graciously inviting me to contribute something to their work. I feel as though I've created my own path as a solo artist, but, definitely, I have learned from everyone that I've had the privilege of encountering musically. Especially Anohni, who is such a special and beautiful being. I learned so much from having the wonderful experience of playing with her over quite a few years, both musically and personally. But, definitely, everyone I have worked with has left a trace.

Reset Black: Those who listen to the music of Julia Kent are currently a sort of witness of a musically front-line report from battlefields of emotions. And the listener is certainly ambivalent: happy on one side to be "only" the audience – willing not to get lost in such an emotional battle. On the other side desiring to be consumed by such a magical fire. The track "Lac des Arcs" from your album "Asperities" is in such a way. The question arises, what makes you feel so profoundly concerned to compose songs which do not only affect, but also transport into an expanding spehre of emotions?

Julia Kent: I think that emotion, at least in the sense of trying to address the fragility and ephemerality that is innate in being human, is always something I am trying to express, musically. And, right now, it seems as though sharing the feelings and fears that we all have is the only way we can achieve commonality. We are in an awful time in the world, on many levels. I come from Canada, but I live in America, where, right now, the country seems so divided, perhaps as it always has been: we are experiencing a poisonous time of hatred, and disregard for human values, and conflict. I hope that we still can still find some points in common. I think that emotion--something that's beyond politics or ideology--can maybe bring us together as human beings? It could be the only way we can evolve--through finding our common ground as human beings on a planet that we are increasing seeing can't host us for much longer because of our greed and thoughtlessness. Ultimately, I think we all feel the same basic emotions, even if we''re on different ends of a political spectrum. And, unfortunately, I think the final emotion we will feel, as a species, might be regret: for destroying our ability to exist on this planet, and our sense of solidarity as human beings.

Reset Black: Listening to your cello playing, it comes into one’s mind that your instrument is a weapon. A weapon to crusade mainstream, pop and fleeting "Zeitgeist“. Although – or especially because of – the cello is a vintage instrument, it unfolds a momentum which is stronger than modern techniques. How did you came about electing the cello and what does it means to you? Is the cello sense of life, statement, art or more than this? Possibly even an artistic revelation?    

Julia Kent: The cello, of course, is such a classical instrument, but there always have been composers like Arthur Russell and Tom Cora who forged ahead and turned it into an expressive and individual medium. Also cellist/composers like Ernst Reijseger and Hildur Gudnadottir and Deidre Murray and Erik Friedman, who are so inspiring in the way they approach making music that is cello-based. For me, it's the instrument that I always have played and have continued to embrace because it's my voice. I don't play the cello in any conventional or technically adept way, but I love to use it as a sound source, and to exploit its expressive capabilities. It's definitely a very direct way to express emotion; the instrument is so sensitive to that. And of course it can be a weapon, as all instruments can. I'm waiting for the musicians' revolution to happen. Music has such power to unlock feeling.

Reset Black: It took me a long tome to come to an idea how to entitle your music. There is nothing comparable, no drawer to put into. It’s not because your music is a mixture of styles or crossover but rather unique in its compexity. I would love to designate your music as "Soundtrack for Inner Space and Sense" – definitely not intended in an esoterically manner. In addition to that, you are doing compositions for film and theatre. Is this pointing your way ahead? Or do you continue as a musician without limitations and still feeling comfortable in many artistically and musically fields?

Julia Kent: That is such a beautiful way to characterize my music--thank you! I definitely think that I am trying to create music that comes from an inner space and expresses some very personal emotions. But I also love making music for film and dance and theatre; it's always inspiring to make music that is reacting to someone else's creative vision. Images or choreography or text have their own requirements in terms of accompanying them and I'm always excited to explore that. It's such an interesting way to collaborate as, in a way, you're using a different language, but working toward the same artistic end. And the idea of soundtracking can be applied in so many different contexts. In a way, we're always soundtracking our own lives.

Reset Black: Having a look at the release history since your debut "Delay“, it strikes me that a new release should come very soon. Are you currently planning something new? If so, what are the themes and is there any publication date? My very special whish: a collaboration of your gorgeous cello playing and the mystic voice of David Tibet – that would be simply delightful …   

Julia Kent: Yes! I have a new record ready to go, which I think will come out early next year, on the Leaf label. It consists of music created for dance and theatre, along with some new pieces that seemed to fit into the same sound-world. I feel as though it's more external than some of my previous records, in terms of being inspired by text- and movement-based concepts, but it also evolved quite a lot in the process of turning it into a cohesive work. There are some collaborations that I'm working on as well, including something for Gregory Euclide's amazing Thesis Project, with Sophie Hutchings. And I have a couple of film and dance projects that should be emerging over the next few months.

Julia Kent, Photographer: PEPE fotografia

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"Flag of No Country" from Julia Kents "Asperities" @
The Leaf Label 2015

© by Reset Black. "Reset Black" is a Radioshow for those who enjoy sounds on the periphery of silence.