20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
With the release of her debut EP 2 steps back, singer/songwriter Julia Bhatt is excited to showcase her first time in the driver’s seat. “I’ve had a lot of shit happen in the last few months. These songs have been the constant. Maybe 2 steps back is my one step forward,” she says. “These are older songs that I’ve had in my back pocket for a while, but I feel these songs deserved their own little platform. I’m excited to start putting things out in a little more real time.”
Born in Boston but living practically the whole of her young life in Miami, Bhatt was raised on a stimulating and expansive musical diet. She grew up listening to everything from classic rock, American songbook standards, and bossa nova beats. She and her sister accompanied their mom, dad, and stepmom to numerous concerts, including The Beach Boys, America, the Dave Matthews Band, No Doubt, Sting, James Taylor, and the Rolling Stones, among many others. It was this variety of rhythms and melodies that helped shape the wide-ranging music she creates.
I got to speak with Julia all about her new music for this week’s edition of 20 Questions. We also talked about who and what inspires her the most, why she thinks she’s classified as a “genre-jumping” artist, why music is essential for getting our emotions out, and how a messy room equals a creative mind—among other things.
What’s one thing that made you fall in love with music?
As lame as it sounds, I guess the power of a song. The ability to make the listener feel sympathetic or angry or incredibly happy just from a couple of notes.
As a songwriter, which artists have influenced you the most?
I always mention The Strokes, so them. Also, I definitely attribute a lot of my writing style to bands like The Beatles, America, and the Doobie Brothers. Around that time, songwriting was very straightforward and usually a narrative.
At least one publication has described you as a “genre-jumping” artist. Which genres would you describe your music as falling into?
I have a really hard time answering that question most of the time. I guess if you wanna make things simple, you could say pop rock or alternative or alternative pop maybe. I really don’t know, but all those seem slightly out of place.
What time of day are you most inspired?
Usually when I’m in bed late at night and thinking a lot. I think that I should be more productive and I’ll get a surge of inspiration to write songs or play something, but alas. I’m a lazy person from hell, and I don’t.
Who is your style icon?
Ideally, my style is 2000s Strokes. Realistically, it’s a bad current Harry Styles knock off.
As an artist, what would you say is the general theme of your music?
Definitely getting emotions out. Expressing feelings in the best, most expressive way I know how.
Favorite book of all-time?
The Harry Potter series forever remains the best series I’ve ever read. I wish that world was real.
How would you characterize your latest single “Vampires Suck”?
A modern PSA about stranger danger.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Everyone always gives me shit about my room being messy, which it often is. Not to say I don’t clean up somewhat often, but I tend to throw things around when I’m looking for something, and I lose stuff a lot. Either way, I’ve always been embarrassed of it because I know how bad it can look, but one time, someone told me that a messy room indicates a creative mind. I don’t really know how to explain why, but I’ve always carried that with me, and I think it works in multiple aspects.
The last series you binge-watched?
Rick and Morty is my safe show so I watch it almost every day when I’m cleaning or making food or whatever. Also, the web show with drag queens Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamo.
Favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Window seat or aisle seat?
I used to be a strong window person, but as I’ve grown, I require the freedom of an aisle seat.
What does the word “beauty” mean to you?
My boyfriend, Diego. Love you, Diegster.
What is your favorite kind of song to write?
One artist you would love to collaborate with one day?
Favorite movie of all-time?
One song that you will never be sick of?
“New Slang” by The Shins.
One thing that’s been keeping you sane during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Don’t tell my dad I said this, but weed.
The best compliment you’ve ever received?
I’ve been told I have the coolest eyes someone has ever seen. That was very nice.
What can we expect to hear next from you?
New stuff! More genre-hopping.