[Originally posted on April 2009]
Julia Kent was born in Vancouver, Canada, studied cello at Indiana University, Bloomington, and lives in New York. She has joined Antony and the Johnsons, playing on and contributing string arrangements to the group’s records and touring worldwide. In addition to her ongoing participation in Antony and the Johnsons, she has performed and/or recorded with many other artists and ensembles, including the Angels of Light, Ben Weaver, Burnt Sugar and Devendra Banhart. As a solo artist, she has released her amazing debut “Delay”, 2 years ago.
How did you start to play cello? When your passion for music did come about?
I started playing cello around the age of six or so… my parents took me to a Rostropovich recital and that was it. But I never saw a future as a classical musician, and I’m glad to have found another way. I do feel really grateful to play the cello, because it has such a wide range, and such a distinctive tone.
What is your musical background?
I studied classically and went to the music school at Indiana University, Bloomington. Once I moved to New York, I started playing with rock bands. I played for a long time in the cello-rock band named “Rasputina” and I’ve done lots of work sessions here and there.
Could you please let us know more about your first solo album “Delay”?
“Delay” was inspired after spending a lot of time travelling and touring; I became fascinated by airports as spaces that are totally generic but also can give rise to intense emotions. When you’re travelling, you’re in a state of limbo but also in a state of transition, as you’re being transported from one world to another, in a way that’s beyond your control. With my record, I tried to translate into music specific emotional states that were intensified by the dislocations of travelling. I named all the pieces after airports, and I incorporated field recordings made in airports all over the world.
What was your best live experience?
I’ve had the privilege of playing many amazing shows with Antony. We’ve performed in a lot of spectacular and special venues, some historical and beautiful, like Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall, and some that just had a particular energy because of the audience. On my own I’ve played some amazing venues as well, but it’s always the interaction with the audience that creates a great live experience.
What’s the craziest/funniest story that happened to you when travelling around with Anthony & the Johnson’s band?
Well, we’ve had a few crazy but not particularly funny stories, like the time in the UK during the era where you weren’t allowed to have any carry-on luggage, we had to check everything we owned, then of course the airline lost all our luggage and instruments and we arrived to play a show with literally nothing. And we’ve had some really beautiful times as well, like dancing on the beach in Santa Barbara, and staying in marvellous places where you wake to a vista of the Adriatic or the Bosphorus. Probably one ends up taking it for granted at some point, but I feel really lucky to get to travel to beautiful places and play music.
Is there something that makes you excited as much as music?
I’m passionately interested in visual art. I’m grateful to have the chance to check things out all over the world.
Are you interested in fashion? Why?
Who isn’t interested in fashion! I am fascinated by it’s being ephemeral but at the same time absolutely important. It’s all about desire and fulfilment. And, especially while on tour, I feel like clothes are my armour.
Is there a film you’d love to do the soundtrack? Why?
I’d love to do a soundtrack, that’s it. People have used my music in films, but I’ve never had the chance to match personally, music to image.
What would you recommend to do during a weekend out in New York?
I’ve hardly been in New York recently, so I’m a bit out of touch, but I love my neighbourhood, the Lower East Side: within a few blocks of my apartment there are great galleries, like Number 35 on Essex street and Miguel Abreu on Orchard; amazing bars and restaurants, like White Star, WD-50, and Falai; and also some incredibly old-school businesses and food stores; it feels like the last real neighbourhood in New York City.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
Joie Iacono: artist and icon.
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