NK: Black Rockers United! Shout out to BRU founder Nate and let’s welcome our guest Julie Outrage, Julie O!

Julie: Hey, what's up, what's up?

NK: Hello, hello! How are you, Julie?

Julie: I'm good, I'm chillin'! I'm just, you know, livin'...I'm alive.

NK: Vibe.

Julie: Yeah.

NK: Wavy, ehhh?

Julie: Not quite, not quite. I've been on my best behavior today.

NK: Listen, it's been a bittersweet year but what a great wrap-up, you know? Like for you to come up with your new EP, right?! [‘Wavy’], the latest song off your EP.

And your songwriting skills really came through! Can we hear about that?

Julie: Yeah, sure! So for that song actually, it was a really interesting situation. Basically, I had a producer from Montreal hit me up. And he was like "Hey, can I make a beat for you?"

Like "Oh, it'll be something just" like, whatever, "simple" or something like that. And I was like "Yeah, cool! Send it to me."

I wasn't expecting anything at all, like he was not really hyping himself up! So I checked it out and I was like "Daaamn! This is like, soundin' like some Kaytra[nada], you know beat or something like that!" And I'm like...

NK: It was!

Julie: Yeah so this bass line, that was great, the synth line so I just messed with a couple of things with it. But it was basically what he sent me—a person that I never met before, you know?

[Incredible how the universe gifts us.]


Julie: Umm, and I kind of like already was inspired to have some of the lyrics just upfront when I heard the beat, and that's just how it went.

NK: Vibe! So you already had your songwriting but then he mainly came with the sick beat! Oooh!

Julie: Yeah, yeah! Nah, yeah, I was—I was shocked! I was like "Why you downplayin' this song?? Like, this is..."

NK: Yeah, I mean it's hot! How did you feel, like, getting into the studio as it were and making it? It came out so solid.

Julie: So I recorded at my house so you know, I didn't have to go anywhere necessarily. So I got to experiment with a lot of things! I mean, I think with any song that I put out, I'm always like "Damn, I wish I could have done more with it"?

I think there's definitely more that I wanted to do with that song but I also know that if it was up to me, I probably wouldn't even be putting out music because I'd be like "I have to do this, I have to do this."

I would—it would take months for me to probably even put out one project if I was, if I was listening to my—to my thoughts on that process.

NK: Julie, my friend, that kind of piggybacks off of what my Nigerian-American friend Ayotunde was saying is that this year kind of—

Not necessarily downgraded the process of releasing albums, but forced into a space where you might not be as happy with what you come out with? But you still gotta put it out.

You know what I'm sayin'? A lot of artists, you know we've had to kind of shuffle around the space and the time to come out with what we want...but I'm really proud of what you made for sure. Y'know?

Julie: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I mean musicians are perfectionists to begin with so it's like you know...

NK: [Laughs]

Julie: Yeah.

NK: Yeah.


NK: Yeah, we chatted about artistry before as a process that's forever unexpected and it reflects our roots, and our state of mind very well.

Julie: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. Umm...I think that it's hard to write outside of what you're feeling? You know, so I know some people try to force things, like there was a time where I was like "You know, I really wanna make hype", you know, "happy music" and stuff.

And I was working with a friend of mine who's a guitarist. And it was just never really coming out, and I was like "Oh, maybe it's just 'cause my—the chord structures are not what I'm used to, or it's too downtempo."

 And he was like "Well, but if that's what you're making and that's how you feel", I mean, you know? [Laughs]

NK: How you feel.

Julie: If, if it's not coming out, it's not coming out.

NK: That's a vibe.

Julie: Yeah.

NK: They were right. You're always gonna grow as an artist. You're always [hopefully] going to have like, different mindsets.

Julie: Exactly, yeah. That's for real!

NK: But I like hearing from that because it's very affirming as I make my own music and for everyone listening out there:

You know, it's a process that you're gonna feel like a perfectionist about but it's still gonna shred. You gotta do it anyway! [Laughs]

Julie: Yeah, I definitely agree with that for sure. [Laughs]

NK: You do it, Julie. So can we hear the diasporic story from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to Brooklyn and The New School, and then D.C.?

Julie: Yeah! So I was actually born in uh, Dakar, in Senegal but I came here when I was really young. But my family is from Burkina Faso like I am.

Burkinabè, that's my citizenship and most of my extended family lives in Ouagadougou. And my immediate family lives here like my mom and my dad, and my sisters!

But yeah, pretty much all my family lives there. I've been back about, I'd say like, four times? And the last time I went back was for FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou). It's a Pan-African film festival [in Burkina Faso].

NK: Incredible!

Julie: And I actually missed most of it. I think I came really on the second to last day, so I didn't really get to see that much. But it was cool just to be there and to vibe with other filmmakers, like African filmmakers...

'cause I'm a filmmaker as well, umm, so it was just cool to link up with people from around the world too. It wasn't just African uh, filmmakers.

NK: But you're saying you felt that kinship and it was really cool to connect with people that were like you! But they were from the motherland too, different places.

Julie: Yeah, yeah, exactly! It was funny: that night that I came in, for whatever reason my mom was invited by the president of Ouagadougou at the time to go to his house for umm, the closing of FESPACO.

He invites all the filmmakers over on the last day, and I think my mom was invited along with my aunt who umm, knew about the event! So the first night I got there—

I don't even think I got to go home and change? I think I had to go straight from the airport to the president's residence! I was like, jet-lagged [laughs].

Like my French isn't even that great. My French is okay like I can speak to people but I was kind of like "I'm in an alternate dimension right now"! [Laughs]

NK: [Laughs] Exactly. Like there's a lot going on!

Julie: Exactly! Yeah.

NK: I bet that was really fun and exhilarating though, like once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.

Julie: Yeah, yeah, no, it was definitely a good time. I enjoyed myself for sure.

NK: Yeah, how did that diasporic connection feel: actually touching down on the ground, actually being there?

Julie: Yeah, I feel like when I go there—I've been there a couple of times—so I am kind of used to what I'm getting into, but you know my family still considers me an American, umm from there.

They're like, you know "You have an American accent, just American mannerisms, everything" so when I go back there, it is kind of like...I mean I'm accepted but you know it's still like "This is the American in the family".

NK: I get that. I really, I feel that and it comes out in your music, and as you're talking to me now. It's a mixture of being here but it's also being connected to and remembering Africa, you know without the hyphen. And that's—that's really cool!

Julie: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

NK: But here you are!

Julie: [Laughs] This is true!

NK: And your sound mixes back home and this uh, funk-blues-rock with kind of like the Afrobeat high life that came through in 'Wavy'. You must've had a really cool playlist and a youth as a Burkinabè.

Julie: Yeah, my—my dad actually listens to a lot of Afro-Cuban jazz. That's what he plays in the house a lot, umm. And I don't even know if that's a super-heavy influence in my music. But I mean maybe it still shows itself in there!

NK: Mmm! I guess just hints of it. Yeah, I'm just like "Oh! Yeah!" When I realized you were from there, I went and did my research.

I listened to some of the soul that was playing in Burkina Faso and Mali at the time? I was like "Julie was so connected to that even if they weren't necessarily listening to it".

Julie: Nah, nah, that's for real. Yeah, there is/was a lot of good music coming out of West Africa for sure!

NK: Yeah! How does recording all come together, like where do you typically start? In media res, in the middle or do you have a particular...?

Julie: Yeah, for me, I usually start with the instrumentation. Umm, and then I write from there. Sometimes I'll have like, in my phone—like, in my Notes app, like a scattered level of lyrics that I've written.

That I'm ready to put together into a song and sometimes I'll have like, a song that's done but the instrumentation is not what I want and I'll use those lyrics to put in another song.

Like, some of those lyrics from 'Wavy' were in a completely different, very like lo-fi hip-hop song that I was working on.

NK: Nice!

Julie: Umm then I decided to transfer the lyrics over to 'Wavy'! So sometimes it's just the lyrics that I have down, or, or—but it's usually kind of a little bit separate.

I used to sit down and play guitar, and write the song at the same time but now my music is a little less just solo guitar. And it's more like collaborations with other producers.

Sometimes, someone will send me something and I'm like "Oh, I already feel the energy for this song!" Like "I already know what I wanna write for it".

NK: Yes! Yes, I love that coming together moment: eureka where y'all just—yeah!

Julie: Yeah.

NK: It's the perfect note. Perfect collaboration.

Julie: Yeah, definitely.

NK: Are there any songs that you feel like that about or any projects in particular where it's just like "Dang! Everything worked out perfectly"? Cool.

Julie: Yeah, I feel like I have some. So I have a single ['Slow Down'] coming up hopefully by the end of the month with some of the guys from Aztec Sun, the horn players! Saxophone and trombone.

This is a song that I feel like I've been working on for two and a half months, that has been changing off and on. And I finally, I got to the point where I was like "This song is like there's something missing".

I was like it needs something else! And luckily I had someone who put me in touch with Aztec Sun and who organized the studio session, everything.

And Aztec Sun was down with it, the guys specifically Wes and Graham. And I got their tracks a couple of days ago, and I was like "Oh, I love this!"

I've always wanted horns on my songs. You know in general, I just love horn sections! If I could like, be in a horn band, if I could perform with a horn section all the time, I would do that.

NK: [Laughs]

Julie: So yeah, this is cool.

Watch from here!

Julie O.    

Check out their new single 'Slow Down'!