Hi Juliet, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey Rafa, thanks for having me! All things considered, doing alright. How about you?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Follow The River”?
I’d love to J
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Not one event in particular, no. Sometimes when I write it’s very much a reaction to an experience I’ve had that I’m trying to make sense of through writing. This one was more about a feeling. I was thinking about the freedom that we have as children – to play pretend, to test our personas and the limits of imagination – and how there comes a time as “adults” when we’re expected to sort of suit up, say goodbye to Peter Pan, and act responsibly. And I think we lose some of our imagination and sense of adventure in that transition. When I wrote this song I was trying to reconcile that loss with the mantle of responsibility I saw my friends assuming all around me.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Oh my goodness. It was honestly one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done. The video was made by my wonderful mama, the artist Margaret Garrett (check her out @margaret_garrett). We shot it this fall in a nature preserve in my hometown. I’ve been living at home since August because of COVID and it was such a treat to have a project to get to work on together. And I cannot overstate how lucky I am to have such a talented filmmaker in the house!
We knew we wanted the video to feel sort of mystical, magical, an exploration into the natural world, so we set out in the trails to look for places that spoke to us and just started filming every time we said “wow!”. It was the fall, so the leaves were changing and everything was beautiful, so we stopped and shot a lot. But what we didn’t anticipate was how much walking was involved. I made the mistake of wearing new boots, so about halfway through I got a blister and started walking through the woods barefoot. It felt very ‘on-brand,’ but I can’t say I recommend it. We were exhausted by the end of the day, but we had a great time. Then, when Mom started to cut it together, we realized we’d completely forgotten to film whole chunks of the song, so we trudged back into the woods. This time I wore sneakers!
The single comes off your new EP Make Believe – what’s the story behind the title?
Essentially, I never wanted to stop believing in magic. ‘Make Believe’ is also the title of one of the songs on the EP, and it felt thematically appropriate as a name for this collection of songs. Where’s the fun if you can’t make believe in something?
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process for this song felt incredibly fortuitous. This EP was the first time I’d gone into a studio to properly record my own work, and I was a bit wide-eyed, and so graciously shepherded through the process by Fiona Cruickshank, who produced the whole thing. When it came time to record “Follow the River,” we were at the end of a long day at SNAP studios in London and about ready for a pint. Fi sort of nodded at me to articulate to the players what she and I had talked about during pre-production, and I’m not entirely sure what happened next. It felt like a moment of receiving grace. Matt and Chris and John just clicked into that flowing, ethereal quality I’d been hoping to communicate, and we got the instrumental in one take. They are really incredible players.
Did you approach this new solo project differently to your previous work in bands or rather a continuation?
That’s a really interesting question. I started off writing (and eventually performing) solo as a teenager on the piano. Songwriting has always felt personal and intimate to me, almost confessional. It wasn’t until college when I started playing in bands that I discovered music could also be this really collaborative, freeing, joyous process. I definitely miss the collaboration of writing through playing with other people, bouncing ideas off each other, but I also think the two situations create really different kinds of work. When I was playing in bands, I sort of forgot how to write on my own. So re-approaching songwriting on my own again has been a very rewarding process of self re-discovery. I definitely think I’m a stronger songwriter now through having taken that detour. Ultimately, I think it all feeds each other.
What role does Brooklyn play in your music?
I actually wrote most of this EP in Brooklyn. I lived in Brooklyn for years, and feel like I really started to come into myself as a musician while I was there. I learned to play guitar in my old apartment in Bushwick, much to my neighbors’ chagrin, and discovered just how much fun a music scene could actually be through the twilight years of the DIY Brooklyn scene. I used to write a lot while walking around my neighborhood and sitting in coffee shops. I moved to London and haven’t lived in Brooklyn for about two years now, so I suppose in my new writing it’s starting to take on a nostalgic role. I have really fond memories of my time living in Brooklyn and definitely don’t rule out living there again in the future.
Where did you find the inspiration for the song and lyrics?
Truthfully, I wrote the verses in an afternoon and they sat there, occasionally getting played, living in liminal draft space in my brain for about six months. In that time, I left my life in New York and took a one way ticket to Amsterdam where I began playing small shows around Europe, bartering gigs for free accommodations, and trying to get to 10,000 hours of performing (I was and am really lucky to have a day-job that allows me to work remotely). From time to time, I’d pull out Follow the River but I didn’t have the chorus yet (or the title!). I wound up in London that fall, where I read a book with the Bushwick Book Club (a wonderful songwriting book-club I am occasionally involved with that was starting a London chapter) that sparked this line for me. In it, a girl is remembering her father’s advice from her own childhood – to follow the river, follow the river home. He’s talking about the Thames, I think, but I grew up on an island and water has always felt like home to me. I loved that line and it resonated with what I was trying to say in the song – play with the boundaries, but remember what keeps you grounded. Remember what brings you back. Keep sight of the horizon line. Follow the river home. I loved that line and it tied the rest of the song together for me.
What else is happening next in Juliet Garrett’s world?
I’m writing a lot of new songs, but perhaps the biggest development in my world right now has been diving into Logic (the music production software) and producing my own demos. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with them yet, but it’s been really empowering and creatively freeing to start to understand the recording process from the other side. It’s opening up my writing a lot, and I’m really excited to see where it leads.
I’m also gearing up to shoot a music video for ‘Make Believe’ (safely!) and am hoping to share that with the world soon.
Track credits for Follow the River:
‘Follow the River’
Music + Lyrics by Juliet Garrett
Engineered and produced by Fiona Cruickshank at SNAP Studios and AIR Studios, London
Mastered by Cicely Balston at AIR Studios, London
Electric Guitar – Matt Calvert
Bass – Chris Hill
Drums – John Blease
Acoustic Guitar + Vocals – Juliet Garrett