To Julia Bhatt, music is a space to vent. The 17-year-old Miami native never shies away from expressing herself. Exposed to an eclectic musical diet from a young age, she soon began thinking about her own sound and performance as an aspiring artist. Despite her talent and big dreams, Julia struggles with the same problems as any teenager. Her debut single, “Tall,” explores her insecurity that she’s not maturing fast enough. Her second single, “Marco,” deals with her frustration that her friend never seems to be able to make time for her. Julia’s music is also a candid examination of her own mental health and, she says, a cathartic way to process issues weighing heavily on her subconscious. Listen to “Tall” below!
Cliché: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Julia Bhatt: The Beatles were one of my biggest influences as a kid. My music taste changed by the year, so I also got really into Vampire Weekend, Young the Giant, the Strokes and Julian Casablancas, Tom Rosenthal, etc. I listened to a shit ton of music, but those were the biggest phases, I think.
How would you describe your life in Miami?
Pretty chill. I’m kind of simple, so I don’t do a whole lot. I hang out with my friends, I stay in bed for long periods of time, I work shifts at my dad’s restaurants every once in a while. I have to go to school and take out the recycling and all the bullshit we all do. Not a lot to it.
Your parents took you to many concerts as a child. Would you say that these experiences shaped your desire to become a singer?
For sure. As I grew older, I kept going to concerts, but my music taste was so all over the place that I got to see all sorts of people. Everyone has a different way of presenting themselves on stage, presenting their music. I always thought that if I were the one up there, what would I do, how would I interact with people? It showed me a way of meeting people who were genuinely interested in the things I was. The way I feel when I see someone I admire so much is one of the best feelings in the world, and if I could combine that feeling with my interest in music, there’s nothing else I’d want to do with my life.
Talk about your first single, “Tall.”
“Tall” is a fun song. It’s my favorite of all the ones I currently have, which is why I released it first. I would say it’s about my inferiority complex to my 6 ‘3 father. Nah, I’m kidding, but like, kinda. I’m short as fuck, and I feel like not just physically, but sort of in presence. I’ve matured on my own time, which was sort of slow, and it made me feel small because other people were going faster. It’s about that, I suppose.
You’ve mentioned that “Tall” didn’t really have any particular meaning for you until your producer and mentor Elliot Jacobson helped you to see it in a new light. How did your perspective on the song change?
I had an acoustic, sorta bossa nova song that I liked but thought was kinda incomplete. Elliot heard it and built up from the percussion, laying down a structure that I’ve never been able to do myself. Drums and little noises can make all the difference in a song. They set the pace, and you can fuck with it if you’re clever, like Elliot.
Tell us about your upcoming single, “Marco.”
It’s a little diss-track-like, which was not super intentional, because I am currently friends with the subject of the song, so hopefully this doesn’t fuck anything up. It’s a chill song, though, and I think it conveys a relatively universal feeling.
How have mentors like Elliot and others fostered your growth as an artist?
The music I write vs the music y’all hear is insanely different. Elliot and other amazing musicians have helped me turn abstract ideas into reality. I have no clue how to do or even communicate the things I have in my head. Elliot is my translator.
You use your music to explore your struggles with mental health. Would you say that your mental health impacts your music or your creative process?
I would say that I have a lot of emotions and music is definitely an expression of those emotions. A lot of times, I write songs because I have something that’s troubling me or some sort of subconscious issue that holds a lot of weight. Whether I try to or not, my lyrics are my little confrontational rants.
Has your music been therapeutic for you in terms of helping you to work through your mental health issues?
Yeah. I just rant to music.
What advice do you have for other teenagers out there who are dealing with mental health issues?
Stick it out. To quote legendary drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova, “it’s gets better, but first, it has to get worse.”
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Julia Bhatt Works Through Her Feelings In Two New Singles. Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez.