ANNOUNCES DEBUT LP, JULES, OUT 11th OCTOBER 2019 VIA TRANSGRESSIVE
Nineteen-year-old multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Julien Chang recently signed to Transgressive (SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma, Neon Indian), and shared his debut single “Of The Past,” which earned praise from the likes of Annie Mac at BBC Radio 1, The Guardian, Stereogum, Dazed and more. Today he announces his remarkable debut album, Jules, for release on 11th October 2019. A Baltimore native and current university student, Chang (pronounced Chong) surprised his peers when he began quietly self-releasing music during his senior year of high school two years ago. “The record was brought to life by uncertainty and experimentation, just like most everything else in life is during the summer before senior year,” Chang explains. “Even in the last weeks of recording, I was unsure of what kind of album it would turn out to be, but I think that was the point of making it – to follow inspirations indiscriminately and to whatever extent I felt.”
The self-produced, self-recorded and almost entirely self-performed debut album shows Chang’s fusing infectious pop melodies and experimental psych-rock with progressive jazz improvisation and sophisticated classical construction, all while spanning multiple instruments. Now Jules will get a proper release – pre-order it HERE.
Alongside the album announcement, Julien Chang shares a new track “Butterflies from Monaco.” Coloured by the earthy textures of American blues and roots and inspired by the concept of the butterfly effect, “Butterflies from Monaco” can be heard now via The FADER. Listen and share HERE and view the visualiser HERE.
Julien will embark on his first ever tour later this year, with dates including two London shows at Bermondsey Social Club on October 28 and Servant Jazz Quarters on October 29, and a set at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right. All dates are listed below and tickets are available from julienchangmusic.com.
1. Deep Green
2. Of the Past
3. Two Voices
4. Moving Parts
5. Candy Cane Rainbow
7. Memory Loss
8. Somerville Demo
9. Butterflies from Monaco
10. A Day or Two
Julien Chang tour dates
10/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
10/28 – London, UK @ Bermondsey Social Club
10/29 – London, UK @ Servant Jazz Quarters
10/31 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Witloof Bar
11/01 – Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden
“I wanted to shock people,” says Julien Chang. “”I wanted to make something in secret, with no expectations, something that would challenge an image of me that people had become familiar with.”
With his stunning debut album, Jules, Chang has accomplished all that and more. Entirely self-recorded and self-produced, the collection showcases the nineteen-year-old Baltimore native’s remarkable vision and breathtaking instrumental chops. The arrangements twist and turn, toying with expectations and reveling in the freedom and discovery of youth. At the same time, Chang’s subtle, restrained vocal delivery suggests a deep thoughtfulness, one that belies his youth as he grapples with love and friendship, growth and change, memory and regret. The result is an album that boldly defies categorisation, a trippy sonic collage that dares you to keep up as it tips its cap to everything from Stevie Wonder and The Beatles to Tame Impala and Robert Glasper.
Chang, who currently attends university, grew up studying classical and jazz performance at the Baltimore School for the Arts. While he enjoyed creating beats for local hip hop artists on the side, most of his classmates and teachers knew him only as a trombone player, and a reserved one at that. Few in his life had any idea that he’d actually been teaching himself to play a whole arsenal of instruments at home, and even fewer were aware that he’d assembled an entire studio in his basement with money he’d saved up working at a local grocery store.
“I didn’t want to lessen the impact of what I was making by talking about it or sharing anything while it was in progress,” says Chang. “I wanted to tap into the power that comes from releasing something nobody sees coming.” In fact, Chang didn’t even make much of a fuss when he initially self-released the collection last year, posting it online and producing a small run of CDs. However, the record gently spread across the Baltimore music community – and eventually found its way to London, catching the attention of Transgressive Records who flew out to meet Julien in New York City and offered him a record deal shortly after.
Chang was 17 at the time he began work on Jules, and the collection reflects all the evolution and exploration that comes with life on the cusp of adulthood. “The summer before my senior year was a really formative time for me,” he explains. “I got exposed to a ton of revelatory music, all sorts of stuff like Pink Floyd and Tchaikovsky and 70’s Afro-funk and Gregorian chants. At the same time, I finally started doing the kinds of things you’d expect a 17-year-old kid to do.”
That combination of carefree personal growth and eye-opening artistic exposure fueled a prolific period for Chang, who would often begin writing tunes by improvising on whatever instrument happened to be most handy. With no one looking over his shoulder, he gave himself permission to take big artistic risks without fear of failure. That reliance on spontaneity and gut instinct would guide Chang throughout the project, and it infuses the record with a freewheeling energy from the outset.
“I called the album Jules because it’s a nickname that no one ever actually calls me,” Chang explains. “Nicknames can give you something to grab onto, a sense of familiarity with someone, but in this case it’s actually a false familiarity. Just like people thought they knew who I was but had no idea what I was creating in that basement all summer, you might think you know me well from listening to this record, but the truth is that there’s a lot more going on below the surface.”
It’s yet another sleight of hand from a consummate showman, one who’s only just begun to truly reveal himself.