By Andy FIDEL
Entrusted by Interscope Records and many professionals in the music industry, Julia Simone has over 10 years of teach- ing experience. A Berklee College of Mu- sic graduate, she is helping singers, actors, and dancers in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles achieve their vocal goals. She was featured in commercials for Canon, Sony, Pepsi, BVD, NTT, and Disney. Julia is one of the lead singers for the powerful electronic world music band Clash of Civilizations.
TVM: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in the music industry?
Julia: Music and voice and all of that really started as a passion. I got into it pretty young. I think officially and professionally at about, let’s say, fourteen/fifteen. I started in France, in my home country. After that, I really wanted to take everything to the next level, so I went to the U.S. and went to Berklee. I wasn’t looking to be a singer. I wanted to know what I was singing, to know how to read, compose and arrange. I do a lot of private lessons. It was so great to teach and inspire, but I was also taught a lot about myself and was inspired by these students. It’s about getting mid-professional to professional level singers to the next step. I’m also a singer which is why I think I can relate so well to my students.
TVM: Many singers believe they don’t need vocal training. What are some things they may not un- derstand about their voice that could cause them damage?
Julia: Who says that? (Laughs)— you need to send me these people! Umm…No, everyone needs vocal training. Self-confidence comes to you a lot easier when you look at yourself and you are happy with what you see. As an athlete, you’re not going to run a marathon with- out proper training, it’s impossible.
I apply the same rules with voice. The more you know about your- self, the more people can really get out there and take risks! Know your limits, and then work on them from there. I always tell my students: What happens in this room stays in this room. I want to hear all the mistakes here. I want you to spit, I want you to push yourself. Not just in your shower, or in your car. Because we all do the same thing (laughs)—believe me. The most im- portant thing is to know your lim- its, aim for more, but with the best technique possible so that you can stay a healthy singer. Training will help you no matter what. It’s like that with everything.
TVM: So what would you say is the key to vocal health?
Julia: There’s not one key, there are multiple keys (laughs). When it comes down to it, I think you know your body better than anybody else. Work on your breathing. Always, al- ways support as much as you can. Do not scream, don’t push. And of course, yeah, have a healthy life- style. It doesn’t help when you sing with tired cords and you are tired, or sad, or you ate too much or you drank too much the night before. I mean (laughs)—we’ve all had these good times. But the next day, you pay. It’s little details and knowing yourself that are probably the most important, if not the major keys.
TVM: Who is your vocal inspiration?
Julia: My students and musicians. I am ex- tremely inspired by their ability to create. And by singers who are emotional- that can be a little kid on Youtube (laughs). As a kid though, I looked up to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Burns, Billie Holiday, Dinah Wash- ington. Whitney! (Laughs) Mariah, Prince, D’Angelo…To be honest with you, as long as you move me, I will go there with you. And that happens with my students.
TVM: What makes a good voice then?
Julia: It’s not what makes a good voice. It’s what you can give and share, and how you can move your audience. You can be the best ever, but if you have no emotion— I don’t care. I would rather have someone who’s off-pitch at times that I could fix or they could fix themselves, than someone who is excellent at what they do, but they’re not feeling it. Emotion is the one thing I will always fall for.
TVM: Is that why you think Youtube is so popular?
Julia: Everybody who has talent can upload stuff and get out there. That’s the beauty of it and record labels really have to re-think the way things are now. It can also be dan- gerous. Now, everyone is a musician, ev- erybody is a singer, but rightfully so—you should be, if you have the talent. It’s just amazing to see how much talent and inspi- ration you get thanks to Youtube.
TVM: Could you share with us your expe- rience coaching Christophe Willem from The Nouvelle Star?
Julia: Christophe is great! He had this amaz-
ing voice, so unique and so raw at the same time. Beautifully raw. With him, it was more about the performance and how to help him project the way he wanted to, how to connect the emotion with the tune itself.
TVM: Who have you always dreamt of working with and why?
Julia: I’ve never been star-struck. As a vocal coach, anyone who needs what I have to of- fer at that point. One of the reasons I don’t teach full-time anymore is because I want to pick and choose my students, to work with whomever I have the best chemistry.
TVM: Could you tell us about your singing career, The Clash of Civilizations?
Julia: Ah-ha! The Clash (laughs). They are kind of more apart, but I loved working with them. I really needed something that kept me grounded. In L.A. you’re driving to the craziest parties and doing the craziest stuff. You see people you’ve always dreamed of seeing, but at the end of the day, you come home and you’re by yourself, or with your significant other. And that’s when I started volunteering. I just wanted to keep it real.
TVM: And finally, where do you see your- self five years from now?
Julia: I think of myself as a citizen of the world almost (laughs). I’ve always been the most impulsive person ever. Now, I’m done being a nomad. I really love Boston. I will keep on doing what I love which is sing- ing, teaching and being in music. As long as I’m happy with what I do, I know it’s silly (laughs). Do what you love. Do what you want to do.