Julian Williams is a musician living in Melbourne, Australia. I came across his pebble arc album through a friend and I was curious to find out about this man, who seems to lead a busy life as a musician both solo and in the hi god people, and though his solo work. He also is involved in theater and publishing a magazine called from the same mother. I emailed Julian some questions over a period of a few months and here's the result.
Bryce: I have read on the spill website that you had an album released late last year. Can you tell me about it?
Julian Williams: well actually, it's still waiting to come out but it's due out before the end of the year. It's taken so long because of synaesthesia finding the money, but that's coming together. The album is called liquidambar and its round about my 14th full album. It's influenced by Richard Youngs idea of crossing experimental drone with melodious pop songs, although it sounds nothing like the old boys work. If I had to describe the music, it would be like a post punk beach boys playing with Tony Conrad in Berlin circa 1972, but that's only a little of the way to describe it. The thing took nine months to record, which is the longest I've ever taken. It was recorded in three homes and if anything shows that I move house way too often.
Bryce: how does it differ from your last album pebble arc, which I have enjoyed greatly?
Julian: in many ways the lesson I learned from pebble arc has been passed on to liquidambar. It was recorded in a month at my girlfriend's house. She has a piano and I wanted to use it, but I think it was too rushed. Some of the songs I don't think were very well developed. So I decided to take my time with the next one.
Bryce: in the press release of liquidambar you said you've released many solo albums covering a lot of styles, being as pebble arc was my first Julian Williams experience; can you tell me about them?
Julian: I've been playing music for over twenty years now. I started in the mid eighties in Perth, western Australia, which I believe the band pavement loved so much and wrote a song about it (pavement were hugely popular in the Perth underground scene). My first solo release was an ep called 'clatter' in 1990 , which was psycadelic pop heavily influenced by eighties flying nun new Zealand stuff. Since then I moved to heavier pop, then into squelchy noise music ,then into drone which got quieter as it went. My best 'experimental' album is called skylike affliction which came out about four years ago. Since then I've moved back into more song realms which started with 'take me to the golden sundial' in 2002 and has continued on to the work I'm doing now.
Bryce: can you tell me about the hi god people. I've seen stuff on you tube and it looks crazy?
Julian: the hi god people formed in 1998 when the band I was in called solids kind of disintegrated. The band has a nucleus of four people, but we do invite others to take part. At a couple of shows there have been 15 of us. We improvise mainly and we try to do something different every time we play. The sound varies from German 1970 esqe prog rock, to free jazz, Middle Eastern drone, quiet bell tonking and various other combinations. We also performed an evolution rock opera and a puppet show, and they have played the music to one of my theatre performances; it's incredibly diverse what we do. We've also recently had 2 split twelve inch records out, one with the dead c, the other with a local outfit of scuzzers called zond.
Bryce: tell me about your work in theater?
Julian: I guess I've always had an interest in theatrical realms, but it wasn't until 1996 that I finally started putting on performances. I've had a few shows at la mama, which is a well known theatre in Melbourne's inner suburbs named after a famous New York theatre. I've also had site specific pieces. One was in a disused underground carpark, another in a swampy lake at an environment park. My last thing was in a disused tannery. The work is often improvised and its movement orientated but with text being more like a sound source rather than the driving force f the work. I guess you can call it modern dance, but I dislike that term, maybe because it has weird connotations. I prefer performance theatre.
Bryce: what are you up to at the moment?
Julian: Siting here at the computer thinking about work, but apart from that, I've been busy musically. I have a new band called the inevitable orbit, and they are two guitars, bass and drums. I write the songs, sing, play one giutar and we've done about 5 shows so far. Look out for the my space web site coming real soon. Also I've been working on a new solo album which isn't as dense as liquidambar but its more pop orientated (as much as I can be). I've also been writing a lot lately and ftsm magazine 35 is out real soon.