A Chat With…Jules Sheldon

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Singer/songwriter Jules Sheldon has been kicking around the local scene for a while now, and we figured it was about time we had a chat. He’s launching his new single at The Fitzroy Pinnacle on Friday April 8th.

The second half of 2015 saw you tour NZ, Japan, the UK, and Republic of Ireland in support of your second album. How was that experience? Any particular highlights? Playing music in a different country will give you some of the most rewarding and exciting experiences you’ll ever have and I’m very proud that myself and my bass player Gemma went and did it. There were so many highlights. The ones which come to mind were drunken Maccas runs by our friend Guy when we were in Wellington NZ, all you can drink karaoke and getting a round of applause for translating my stage banter while in Japan, meeting Steven Morris from Joy Division while in Manchester, having a room of 50 people singing along to ‘When You Sang Like Nancy’ in Dublin, and going to David Bowie’s apartment while on a post-tour holiday In Berlin.

Speaking of the album, “Football, Trams, Parties, and Other Extended Highlights”, how did the creative process for your second album differ from your first album? Laura MacFarlane’s input as producer was a huge part of this album and without her encouraging me to make it I don’t think I would have done it myself.

It was originally going to just be an E.P which consisted of ‘When You Sang Like Nancy’, ‘The Way To You’, and ‘Blethyn Kicks A Score’ but then turned into an album when I had a sudden burst of creativity and wrote another four songs in the space of a month.

Unlike my first album where there were very full arrangements, I knew this one needed to be a very stripped back and immediate affair so I wrote all the songs with that idea in mind. This was done as I wanted it to sound as live as possible but I also was sick of hearing albums by bands who take years and years to over-produce and over-think albums that end up just sounding lifeless.

After my parts were done, Gemma Lou Helms’s came in and did bass, and then I only had to do a few minor overdubs before the album was complete.

Your new single ‘When You Sang Like Nancy’ is a song that’s been with you for a while and one that’s been played live many times. When it came to finally recording the song was it difficult to decide on a final take? Not at all. I have a very old school attitude to recording which is that everything must be done in two takes so it sounds as live as possible and ‘Nancy’ was no exception. I had written it while I was in my last year of high school so by the time recording came around it had existed in it’s current state for about 5 years. It’s been one of the only older songs of mine which I never get sick of and I still get a great deal of enjoyment from playing it. Unfortunately the person who I wrote it about didn’t share my feelings towards them, but I’m happy to have got my heart broken as I got a song like ‘Nancy’ from the experience. Waiting for my next song to come is what gives my life meaning and if you are inclined towards that train of thought, then you tend to suffer for your art. Are most songwriters sadists? I’d say so. We’re an odd bunch.

You’ve been performing since the age of 16. As a child, what was the first experience you had with music? My earliest music memories were of my parents playing Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed to me when I was 5 years old. Music is a constant in my house and I grew up with parents who were deeply affected by the music they’d listen to. For my Dad listening to David Bowie helped him escape from the grimness of suburban South London, and for my Mum listening to Patti Smith eased the extreme sense of isolation that Whyalla, South Australia has in spades.

They passed this mentality onto me and when I left one high school due to bullying and went to another high school where I still got bullied, music was my saviour and I started writing songs to cope with my experiences.

Can you tell us your favourite Melbourne acts? Two Steps On The Water, Loose Tooth, The Ocean Party, Jess Locke, Girl Crazy, Mares, Obscura Hail, my rock n’ roll uncle Spencer P. Jones, Totally Mild, Ninetynine, and any band that doesn’t feel the need to lie about having no ambition while being interviewed. I love the bands and artists I have listed here because they work hard, make great music, are amazing people, and don’t have a mentality of their musical success coming from everything just falling in their laps. Music is 90% hard work and 10% good luck so if you think that a lack of ambition is considered cool, you need a reality check.

And Melbourne venues? The Yarra Hotel, The Reverence, The Old Bar, The Charles Weston, where ever Jack Stavrakis is booking, anywhere that allows me not to give a fuck, and anywhere that allows me to get very, very frustrated watching my beloved Essendon Football Club on the TV.

You’re launching the single on April 8th at the recently re-opened venue The Fitzroy Pinnacle. What can attendees expect from the launch? Will you be playing solo or with The Tram Conductors? I’ll be on my lonesome for this show but the amazing Lach Dent from The Ocean Party will be opening for me. The Tram Conductors are still a few months off being ready but if you come along to my single launch you can expect loud shirts, a mullet, probably some complaining about Essendon losing a game of footy, lots of talk about trams, beer, and the comfy surroundings of the Fitzroy Pinnacle. I also have a sneaking suspicion some playing of music might be involved as that is what tends to happen at these ‘gigs’ I hear about.

Jules Sheldon’s ‘When You Sang Like Nancy’ single launch takes place on Friday April 8th at The Fitzroy Pinnacle with support from Lach Dent (The Ocean Party).

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