After a sunny afternoon catching up with Julian Lamadrid, the New York City-based singer-songwriter, producer and all-round nice guy, it comes as no surprise that he is looked after by the same label that once hand-selected the likes of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Prince to be taken into their care. At just twenty-one and having recently graduated from New York University’s film school, Julian seeks creative freedom and artistic expression. His emotionally-charged music and cinematic visuals make it very clear that Julian lives and breathes art in its many forms. Every aspect of his creative process is self-directed and driven by a desire for self-discovery, creating art that is truly an extension of himself. Meandering and weaving somewhere between new wave, bedroom pop, hip-hop, 80s synth and British rock, his music refuses to be bound by the confines of genre. His music captures the voice of our rebellious, progressive and vulnerable generation, communicating the feelings of desperation within this chaotic and exhausting world. He embodies the unspoken energy and constant chaotic vibrations of New York. And with his growing collection of music, Julian is truly creating an audible pathway towards the future of art and expression.
Having just released the audio and visual for his latest track, “Mess,” a track which will be included on his forthcoming record, Mala Noche, we caught up with the Dubai-born, New York-based Julian Lamadrid to talk everything from cinema, to Frank Ocean, to karaoke.
Q: It seems like you have packed a lot into this year so far. How has 2019 been for you?
“It has been fast. My concept of time is warped completely. It feels like only yesterday that I moved to New York, and yet that was three years ago. It feels like I’ve just blinked and suddenly I’ve graduated and now I have this job. It is pretty awesome. It is pretty cool. I feel like I haven’t really had a moment to pause and take it all in. But also, I don’t want to pause, I just want to keep going one-thousand miles-per-hour. When I am forty, I can look back and be like ‘wow what a crazy time’.”
Q: What is the starting point for you when making a track?
“It varies from song to song. There are instances where I am literally walking down the street and I’ll have a little melody that is constantly bugging me in my head, and then eventually I will start humming it and maybe start saying a couple of words, and then I’ll record it on a voice-note. From there, it can sometimes just flourish into a whole song. I’ll get home and sit with a guitar and start recording it. But other times, I’ll just masochistically sit down and force myself to write and force myself to brainstorm ideas, regardless of whether or not it’s organic. I feel like sometimes when I force myself to have that discipline a whole song will come from it. Other times, I might have a beat or a certain drum pattern in my head and I’ll record it, then all of a sudden from there the whole song will grow. Sometimes there will be instances where I am watching a film and I’ll have to suddenly pause it because the film is giving me music. It really varies.”
Q: I know you have a lot of creative control in every aspect of your creative process – how important is this for you?
“I think, for me personally, my artistic integrity and my own vision have to come from me wholly at this point. Art is a vehicle for self-exploration. To maintain my own artistic integrity, it has to come from within. If I really want to get to know myself through my art or have a revelation or say something honest and something vulnerable, it’ll definitely be a lot more powerful if it just comes from me alone. That doesn’t go to say that I’m not open for collaboration, but in this early point in my career, I might as well do it all myself because I have everything in my head already, so why not execute them from that point of view? I don’t want to give someone else the job of representing me accurately.”
Q: Your videos are very cinematic and narrative-driven – are you comfortable in front of the camera?
“I am very comfortable in front of the camera. Beyond being a musician, I think I am a natural performer. Day-in, day-out, with the way I conduct myself, I love performing. When I am in front of the camera the act of trying to embody another character comes quite naturally for me because I do it in my everyday life. It’s easy to switch that on for me; in fact, it’s quite hard to switch it off! I think everyone is constantly trying to play a character or trying to embody a persona that they aspire to be. It is easier for me because a lot of the time the characters that I am playing are extensions of myself or a heightened persona from within.”
Q: You are very vocal about your musical inspirations from decades past, namely David Bowie and Lou Reed, but could you name a few inspirations from your contemporary?
“I think it is impossible to be creating music right now and not be influenced by Frank Ocean. He is one of these key figures in the world where no matter how much hype or however much people drill in the fact that he’s creating the most interesting music, it remains completely true. Blond was a record that meant a lot to my generation specifically. It was released at a time when I was just heading to University and that record was one that meant a lot to me. In terms of other modern music, I listen to a lot of electronic and techno music. I like DJ Koze and Burial. And also, Jai Paul! He is just one of those legends who has maintained his mystique in a world that is constantly telling you that you need to be posting on social media. He is so alluring because he has been able to ignore the limelight for so long.”
Q: You must be surrounded by and immersed in your own music a lot of the time. But could you name a couple of tracks, written by other artists, that you could go back and listen to time and time again. Could you name a couple of you Desert Island Discs?
- Joy Division – Atmosphere
- Suicide – Surrender
- Arthur Russell – That’s Us/Wild Combination
- David Bowie – Fiver Years
But they change every week!”
Q: What is your go-to karaoke song?
“Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark – Souvenir”
Q: This year has been pretty full-on for you. But when you have a day off, what do you get up to?
“I used to be really good at chilling because that was the only thing I used to have to do. I used to just walk around my apartment and move an item by like a centimetre and then walk back in an hour and move it back. I could just procrastinate and do nothing. Now that I have seen the world and travelled and met loads of people, I don’t want to just be alone in my apartment again. I find that thought very daunting and scary. I try to keep busy and keep my mind running. I like to spend a long time making my breakfast and a long time in the shower, and then read a book and get immersed in that. I’ll also go out and see friends of course.”
Q: What have you got coming up for the rest of the year that you can tell us about?
“More than anything I am just excited to be able to release the songs that I have been working on for a year. The act of releasing those will be like giving birth finally. I feel like I have had this baby growing and growing for so long. I’m excited to keep slowly building a fanbase of people who truly care about me and about my music. I want it to be organic. For me, longevity is of paramount importance. I want it to be genuine artistry through-and-through. I want them to care about the art. I am also excited to play shows and be on the road. I’ve played a couple already and they have gone amazingly, so I can’t wait to play more.”
Photographer: Kim Jobson
MUA: Aimee Twist
Words: Lily Major