Since she was a teen, Julie Title has struggled with abuse and mental illness; she uses songwriting as an outlet to vent. Her upcoming debut EP ‘Green’ is a minimalist acoustic project, using a lyrical style and sparse but powerful vocals to convey themes of vulnerability, grief, compassion and hope. With echoes of Fiona Apple, Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love, Title is a fierce activist who can speak from the personal to the political in equal measure.
She’ll be performing at the Rivoli this Sunday.
We caught up with her this week.
SDTC: What was happening in your life when you were writing Green?
I started writing this EP after a bit of a break from songwriting. In the few years prior I had been writing a lot collaboratively but I felt like I really needed to go back to writing acoustic stuff so that I could have more privacy in my process. I was also in the throes of getting sober for the zillionth time so there were a lot of interesting feelings coming up.
What is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?
I’ve been meditating a lot more than I ever have. For 5 or 6 years I’ve been learning about mindfulness and using it as a tool in therapy but I could never seem to maintain a consistent practice. Lately I’ve been managing to sit for meditation every day and it’s been amazing.
What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
I learned that I’m capable of more than I thought.
What is a fun little-known fact about you?
I can tap dance like nobody’s business.
What book/film/show have you connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?
I love Big Mouth on Netflix. I’m an absolute sucker for dirty cartoons. It kills me.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
I am constantly getting hilarious, unsolicited career advice from non-musicians suggesting what they think is a quick and easy way to achieve massive success. Usually something like going on a reality show or making pop covers on YouTube. Recently my mom said she was going to DM Drake on Instagram. I’m sure I’ll be hearing from him any moment.
What is your motto at the moment?
I can’t say I have a motto, but if I had to pick a thought that’s helping me right now it would be something like “be gentle with yourself and others”.
Describe your ideal Saturday in Toronto.
This is pretty much what I do on all of my free days – grab a coffee and sit at the park in the sun. Maybe a walk along Queen looking around some vintage stores. At night I love going to see live music or comedy.
What are the qualities you like least and most about yourself?
I like that I am empathetic, goofy and creative. I am still struggling with self-criticism, addictive tendencies and severe anxiety.
Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?
I would say… keep trying. Things will get better. Stay away from drugs and alcohol as much as you can. Stay away from people who hurt you because there are wonderful people around you who want to help you.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
I feel like getting on stage and singing is courageous for me. I have been performing since I was a kid and I still get pretty bad stage fright.
What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?
My older sister and I took turns farting into a plastic bucket and then we made our little brother smell it! Poor kid. We were absolute monsters.
What unnecessary object would you love to own?
A melon baller. Ball up all those fruits. I guess I could get that pretty easily.
What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?
I don’t know if it’s much of a hack but I would have to say cutting out alcohol. I’ve been struggling with substance use on and off for years and I’m currently feeling really steady in sobriety. I feel so much more grounded and calm. My life is definitely better when I’m sober.
What issue do you wish people took more seriously?
There are so many horrible things happening politically right now that I could point to but the truth is I think so many of us do take them really seriously. I’m optimistic about the political energy of my generation and generation Z moving forward.
What outfit makes you feel the most you?
I probably wear black jeans and lace-up black leather boots 6 out of 7 days of the week. One of my Buffy the Vampire Slayer t-shirts would probably round out the outfit as being the most me.
Who has surprised you lately, and how?
There is this new artist Tamino who has absolutely surprised me. Sometimes you hear something new that just stops you in your tracks and this was that kind of experience. His album Amir blew my mind. I’m blown away by his writing and sound. I went to see him live at the Drake and everyone was absolutely entranced.