Interview with JAZZ ONLINE in Germany
“Julia Messenger’s … dizzying force and passionate intensity of her voice, steers an unerring course between cruelty and cream.”
Sue Wilson, The Scotsman
“…Julia Messenger is widely considered to be one of the most inspiring musicians to ever come out of the studios of Australia…”
Julia Messenger’s exquisite vocal technique and unique ability to get to the heart of a song have earned her rave reviews around the world. This versatile singer-songwriter, with a magnetic stage presence and voice expressing an incredible range of tone, mood and emotion, has a busy career both in Australia and abroad.
As a songwriter/singer and producer she has co-written and appeared on albums with legendary musicians of our time such as Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream/ Alphaville), Ferry Corsten (#5 DJ in the world today), Kraftwerk and the list goes on.
Termed in the Electronic world as the 'Queen of Chill', she is as much at home singing Jazz as she is at being one of the 'rare strokes of luck in the electronic music scene'. Her roots are singer/songwriter, and cross over into electronic and Jazz styles.
Dubbed a 'world - class' singer by fans and press alike, her songs and productions have appeared on albums alongside names such as Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, Joss Stone, Moby, Bebel Gilberto, Boozoo Bajou, Nitin Sawhney, Groove Armada, Ursula Rucker, Goldfrapp, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Zero 7, Rae & Christian, Basement Jaxx, Jamie Callum, Sarah McLachlan and Julee Cruise.
Early on in her career, Julia’s voice piqued the interest of the German Krautrock scene, in the formative years of what later became known as ‘Chillout’ and ‘Down-tempo’. The legendary Klaus Schulze of 'Alphaville' and 'Tangerine Dream' (the first band to be signed to Richard Branson’s UK label Virgin Records), invited her to collaborate on many albums with him (most notably ‘My Ty She’). She has recorded in the legendary Krautrock ‘Can’ studios in Germany, and Klaus Schulze is quoted as calling her voice ‘murder’.
Her voice also sparked the interest of ‘Kraftwerk’s’ Henning Schmitz. One of their collaborations ‘Look Up Look Down’ was mentioned in the New York Times as one of the top 10 on the playlist for U.S. restaurants (along with Queen Latifah and Nat King Cole).
Producing, collaborating and writing are all passions. Her first solo album was signed to Varese Sarabande/Universal in LA. A press quote for that album dubbed her the new ‘Queen Of Chill’. Her previous work in Europe with many notable up-coming artists (including Waldeck and Marcus Worgull) helped create a new sound for the North American market. At the time, the genre wasn’t yet popular in the States – but is now, of course - everywhere. Viennese Peter Kruder of ‘Kruder and Dorfmeister’ complimented her on her work.
Julia is unique in her ability as a vocalist and songwriter to metamorphosize across genres and break boundaries into new ground. This is largely due to the fact that she has a rare talent for it, and has chosen to live her life honouring it.
Her influences vary from Massive Attack, Kruder and Dorfmeister, Portishead, Kate Bush, Carol King and Roberta Flack, to Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn.
Her voice has been likened to such artists as: Sade, Dido, Norah Jones, Ursula Rucker, Lisa Gerrard, Annie Lennox, Sinead O’Connor and Donna Summer, - although given the diversity of these artists, her style is her own. Her vocals have been called ‘sultry, sexy, superb, stunning, sweet, scorching, intense, dizzying, cream, aromatic, bewitching, exotic, exceptional, luxurious’.. and the list goes on.
She is consistently asked to collaborate with a variety of artists around the world all in the top of their field, and sings anything well from jazz, pop and all styles of electronica. Her songs range from quirky, fun and danceable; or they entice a level of intimacy, drama and movement. In all her music, she aims to form a connection with other people, and to help them feel less of an island. Either through melody or rhythm, she strives to make music that people can feel themselves through.
She has regularly collaborated with a number of major artists - Klaus Schulze of 'Tangerine Dream' and 'Alphaville'; Massive Attack sound engineer/mixer Jeremy Allom; Henning Schmitz (Kraftwerk); Waldeck (Dope Noir, Vienna); Hans Nieswandt (Whirlpool Productions, Warner, Germany); Soul G and Tony Match (Paris); Frank Elting (previously MRI – Berlin); PFL (Hannover), Ian Melrose (Clannad ), MOD X (Paris), Moodfood (Grammy winner- USA) and Marcus Worgull. She is also currently collaborating with grammy nominee Scott Rockenfield (who is also the drummer with renowned US band Queensrÿche) writing film music.
Her song Black Velvet appears as a co-write with global superstar DJ and Producer Ferry Corsten’s 'Twice In A Blue Moon’. Ferry’s last album was #1 on the Dance Charts in the USA.
Her song Like a Magic Show was also used for a Wii Nintendo game, and other songs have appeared in documentaries, reality TV shows and film.
De:bug claimed Myamisumi, Julia's first solo 12" vinyl, as ‘the best vocal album ever to come out of the Cologne electronic scene’.
Her album ‘And We Danced’ is a well crafted studio album recorded in Germany with some of the songs produced with just herself, and others co-produced with Felix Wolter (PFL) and Christian Decker(Fury in the Slaughterhouse). This is one of her most intimate albums to date, being songs all written and conceptualised as solo “singer/songwriter” songs (as opposed to collaborations). It’s a move away from the norm of her clear electronica and jazz arenas. Here, she strives to connect to a timeless and classic space. A space where people can get out of their own heads for a moment and experience a song – a sense of time standing still. A sense of connection, love, movement and life inspiration. Her biggest sense of joy is to have people connect to what she creates. Music is a selfless act in this life of monetary gain and success. She says ‘You don’t become a lifelong musician not knowing what you are getting yourself into. There is always more to learn and more joy to be had in the process, and hopefully this can be felt by both listeners and musicians alike.’
Julia is accustomed to singing all over the world. Among others, she has performed for the Handover Ceremony in Hong Kong, supported Afro Celt Sound System at the Galway music Fesitval, achieved 5 star reviews two years running at the Edinburgh Festival, toured extensively throughout Germany including the World Expo in Hannover and for more than one Grand Prix including private parties at the famous ‘BMW Pavillion’ in Munich. In 2009 she was invited to sing at speak at the New York Global Film and Music Summit. Some other venues and festivals include: Summerjam (Germany), Lovefield, Cologne Exhibition Centre (KoelnMesse), Filmhaus, Gebaude 9 (Cologne), SlamDance, S.O.M.A., Zollverein, Kumberland (Hanover), Popkomm (Germany), The Glamour Bar (Shanghai), Woodford (Australia) among others.
She was invited to Helsinki to sing with Jazz Maestro Iiro Rantala on the ‘Midsummer Night Train’ which travelled through cities of Finland. This all night event was telecast live throughout Europe.
She was also flown to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to perform at Jazz club Alexis for two nights.
She performed a show at the prestigious Beethoven Festival in Bonn. She also received a rave rewiews in the Rheinland Newspaper after a sell out show at the Jazz Kellar in Krefeld. Her tour consisted of studio work with the likes of Scottish guitarist Ian Melrose (Clannad) and Manfred Leuchter (one of Germany’s top producers and producer of it’s biggest male star Rheinhard May)..
In Melbourne Julia is a regular at the renowned Bennetts Lane Jazz Club (touted as the best Jazz Club in the Southern Hemisphere, and also where Prince chose to perform when he was in Melbourne). In Melbourne Julia has received rave reviews from all her sell out shows at the much-touted 'Salon' at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
“You can hear nods in her singing to the legendary women jazz and blues singers such as Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughn but Messenger has a distinctive stamp of her own and her voice has reached an enviable maturity.” Australian Stage Online
Julia’s songs So Complicated and And We Danced were finalists in the prestigious ISC - International Songwriting Contest.
Julia has 4 solo album releases (including one Jazz album).
She graduated with her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Melbourne Conservatorium in Opera at the top of her class. The Victorian State Opera had a reserved spot for her, but she chose a different path...
As well as a passion for collaborating with producers all over the globe, production and writing itself is one Julia's passions. When she is in Australia she spends most of the time in her studio 'Milk Bar'.
Julia is consistent with her work and skills and is unwavering in her passion to bring quality music to her fans. She has been widely reviewed as a ‘world class-performer’.