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Classical punk: Julia Marcell

INTERVIEW. The Berlin-based Polish Wunderkind is making a play for the Kate Bush crown: her new album, June, is incredibly ambitious and her stage presence is impressively theatrical, which you can see for yourself at Lido on Wed, Dec 14.

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Photo by Iwona Bielecka

Berlin-based Polish Wunderkind Julia Marcell is making a play for the Kate Bush crown: her new album June (Haldern Pop) is incredibly ambitious in a gynocentric manner and her stage presence is impressively eccentric and theatrical, which you can see for yourself at Lido on Wednesday, December 14.

Can you explain why you originally called your music “classical punk”?

Classical punk was actually a joke that me and my producer came up with after recording the first album – it was rooted in the way we were perceiving the album. If you look at it in from an objective perspective, then it is just piano pop, very acoustic with some strings, very ‘singer-songwriter’ kind of music. But the way we were looking at it – me and [producer] Moses Schneider – it was very punk to us.

We felt that every song has, like, this beat, a drive, a pulse. Even though there wasn’t much drums, everyone was kind of stomping to the beat and you can hear it if you listen to it very closely.

It was a big, fun project: we just recorded the songs a few time and then we had a party each night in the studio. We really felt there’s a lot of punk in that. Even though it’s classically influenced music, we call it our own punk. And punk, not coming from electric guitars and funny hairstyles, but punk coming from the kind of rebellion against perfection. It was all about the feelings. All the mistakes and everything was in there – it was kind of rough and that’s our punk. And with the new album, it’s totally gone.

Your punk edge is lost?

Yes, in the recording process, but I still feel a little bit like a punk musician, especially when I’m playing live. I love to get myself lost in the music on stage and freak out a little.

Of course, on my own level, I’m probably never gonna be smashing guitars around – you have to adjust it to your own world. I guess I get as punk as I personally can get on stage. I actually had a period in my life when I was a huge Minor Threat fan.

Is that an influence?

What they were doing, it was so, so simple and a totally pure energy. Actually, I kind of find it very funny! It was so straightforward. I love ideas that are brave by being completely over the top. It is angry. I never felt that way when I was listening to it though; I saw it as more of an energy outlet. When I listen to aggressive music, I don’t feel aggressive.

Is there something implicitly Polish about your music?

I never felt a part of any scene. Not in Poland and not in Berlin. I’m always kind of standing on the side. When I was growing up I used to always listen to singers who sang in English. It didn’t matter if they were from Britain or Germany or Sweden. When I was little I thought they all came from America, I thought there was this town in America where all the bands come from. That was my five-year-old kind of thinking.

And Berlin?

Moving to Berlin was a total accident. I came here because Moses Schneider was here and I wanted to work with him. I knew nothing about Berlin. Absolutely nothing. I had no idea this was such a place for artists and I just loved the streets, you know? Berlin is such a living breathing piece of artwork.

How’s touring going, anyway?

We just came back yesterday from a big tour in Poland, and right now we’re preparing a big show in Berlin  It was amazing.

I feel like we had a bit of hustle touring this new album – it was such a learning experience, but it always is. You play the old songs and then suddenly you have so many new songs you have to learn. You learn to play them not by being in rehearsal, you learn to really play them while playing them. You have to test them on the road and every night they become different – they change and they show you where they bloom and where they become grey and uninteresting. It’s like a living material. For us it was a very big challenge, but also a very fun challenge. And now after playing all those shows, it finally feels like it’s there. You have those songs living on stage.

You change the songs depending on their reception?

Absolutely. And they are so great. We’ve had people singing our new songs from the new album and it’s unbelievable! It was out recently but people come to the shows and they already know the lyrics. I would still say every night differs. Definitely when we play in Poland, I can communicate with people in Polish, and my viola player can only speak Polish so she feels very much at home there. And you can feel that, you know when you’re playing at home.

Julia Marcell w/ Orchid and Hound, Wed, Dec 14, 21:00 | Lido, Cuvrystraße 7, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schlesisches Tor,