Julie Neff on Music, Confidence & Tackling Big, Life-Defining Choices

Julie Neff’s spare acoustic sound and vocals (think Leslie Feist and Florence Welch) explore the cycle of desire and heartbreak, picking up the pieces after everything has fallen apart, and the ways we find a path back to ourselves when we’re lost.

Neff is about to release a heart-wrenching EP, aptly called Catharsis, on October 17 at The Painted Lady (218 Ossington Ave.) We asked her about what was happening in her life when she conceived the album, her go-to song for getting shit done, and her ALL-TIME fave singer-songwriter.

SDTC: What was happening in your life when you were putting together this latest EP?

JN: This EP has come together over the past two years while I was really finding my footing and beginning to make some big, life-defining choices. I started a concert series and music hub called Eclectic Comfort, which encouraged me to play and write much more frequently. I got my heart broken a time or two. I quit my job and went freelance. I dove into the music scene and travelled to seven new countries to play and work in music. It has been a time of major shifts, major risks, and major rewards on a soul level.

Fave singer-songwriter of all time and why?

Do I really have to choose? Okay, I would say Nina Simone for her insane musical ability, her raw performance and lyrics, and her incredible body of work.

What’s your go-to song for getting stuff done?

Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman,” but this is more of a precursor to getting shit done than the song playing while I’m doing things. I’m not sure how one would NOT dance while this song is playing.

What advice would you give to your fourteen-year-old self?

Don’t be shy.

Who has made a big impact in your life recently, and how?

Emily O’Quinn, my friend and business partner at Eclectic Comfort. She has shown me what confidence and determination look like and has been incredibly supportive and encouraging of my music.

What does your ideal Saturday look like?

A Tim Horton’s steeped tea, a walk in the neighbourhood, and an evening of music with friends.

What’s the best part of being your current age?

I give less f***s, and I believe in myself.

What do you hope people take away from your music?

Whatever they need to take away or experience at the time. My music tends to be very emotive, and I know that can bring out different things in different people. That’s the beauty of art: we all come at it from different angles, at different places emotionally. I want people to feel what they’ve been needing to feel.

What/who is currently inspiring you?

Kimbra—GET IT, GURL. I love her new album and she always does weird and wonderful things. She also seems to truly enjoy what she’s doing and lifts others up along with her.

What artwork would you love to have in your space/on your walls, and why?

I’ve been working with an incredible artist and illustrator from Chile, Tomas Ives, and he’s made the artwork for this album along with a couple other pieces for me. It’s such amazing work that I would love to have full-size versions for my house.

Fave rainy day comfort food? Or activity?

Mac and Cheese and a bunch of movies.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A paediatrician.

What was your favourite game/toy as a child?

I loved to make and design dresses. And also mermaids. All the mermaids.

What adult task would you like to get better at?

My taxes.

If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?

Portuguese.

Grab tix to Julie Neff’s release party here.

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