Interview with LUPA J
Lupa J (AKA Imogen Jones) has been making waves in the Sydney indie music scene since her debut on Soundcloud and placing as a finalist in the Triple J Unearthed high school competition twice in a row. Previously a classically trained violinist, Lupa J experiments with her instrument to create new and thrilling sounds. She has recently released a new single, Keep Back, which is sure to keep your blood running and your legs thumping. You can check out the song HERE.
“I wrote Keep Back after recognising a recurring pattern in my personal relationships & friendships where I would often end up giving all of myself to emotionally needy people, and in turn let my own issues slip by the wayside. It’s about realising that I’m the common element of it all – that maybe I throw myself into other people’s problems as a way to stay distracted. So I wrote myself as this manipulative, vampiric persona that draws people in to hurt me then flips the blame back on them – a kind of twisted but serious parody of myself.”
Amnplify got to have a chat with Imogen on her upcoming E.P, wolves, and the importance of female voices in the music industry.
So, you just released your new single Keep Back. Just heard it a few days, ago – loved the music video for it! I noticed there was a change in your style. It was kind of like a ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the night club’ track. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
That’s a cool description. Well, I guess I was trying to make it a much more clubby dance track than I had before. There’s an element of darkness in the songwriting and it has a kind of strong meaning to it as well. It fits in well with the rest of my EP. It’s about recognising my own responsibility for a series of unequal or problematic relationships and realising I’m the main part of it.
You probably get this question a lot. I heard that your stage name Lupa means ‘she-wolf’. What does the name mean to you and what drew you to your fascination with wolves?
Have you heard of the film Princess Mononoke? It’s a Japanese anime about a girl who was abandoned by her parents and raised by wolves in the forest. She grows up with the wolves who are fighting against this human village cutting down the forest to mine iron to make guns and all sorts of things.
I watched that film when I was about 6 or 7 and I was really obsessed with her character. She was really fierce and kind of wild. I was really excited about her and used to dress up her all the time when I was growing up. I then became obsessed with wolves as well. The first time I called myself ‘she-wolf’ was because when I started writing songs, I really wanted to have a very fierce and strong persona. She embodied that to me growing up.
I know this sounds super cheesy, but it’s a question that I love to ask musicians. When did you first fall in love with music and was there a moment where you knew this is what you wanted to do with your life?
I played violin for a long time growing up and always enjoyed that. For along time I wanted pursue violin and be in an orchestra. But I never listened to violin or classical music on my own. In my teenage years, I started listening more to folk or alternative folk music, and pop music. I like that a lot more. But then when I was 15, my friend introduced me to Grimes and Alpines. I think that was the moment I fell in love with music and start making my own kind of music and style as well.
Yes, I heard you are a classical violinist! When it comes to making your own music what do you take from your own classical background into the song making process?
I started using violin in my music when I was making it because it really was the only instrument I knew how to play. I didn’t know how to play guitar or piano really which is kind of the main instruments people normally use to write songs with. So, it kind of felt natural to me to use violin. I kind of discovered that it’s kind of easier to incorporate with electronic sounds because you can do a wide variety of sounds with it and easily blend it with the way a synth sounds, which I really liked. I guess my training as well gave me skills in writing and harmony, writing melodies, and structuring music. I always wanna keep making music with violin because you can create interesting sounds with it.
When I read your Triple J Unearthed bio, it said that you are influenced by Grimes, FKA Twigs, Lorde and Laura Marling. You sing, write, produce your music and self-direct your own music videos. How important is it for female artists to have this control and what would be your advice to budding female musicians?
Yeah, I think it’s super important. I think the norm really is for women in music is for them to be the face of the music, the singer, and be in the imagery, but not really have a lot of control over all of that and not doing the background tasks. I think a lot of the things that happen in the background is actually really important and vital to presenting something that is synchronised with the emotions behind the music. I think the more women that start taking control over those aspects of their music, the better and more authentic women’s voices in music will be and portrayals of women in music will be and not just the very one dimensional image of women.
Growing up, I had my own insecurities about how I looked, how I was going to look and how to be a perfect woman. When I started listening to Grimes and seeing the kind of clothes she wore, how she presented herself, and danced in her videos, It made me realise I could be a lot more than what is normalised. So yeah, it’s so important for me to have that kind of control.
In the ‘Keep Back’ music video you have taken the role of self-directing your own music video. How does the creative process differ when you bring your own song to life as opposed to writing the song itself?
I really enjoy editing videos because it feels a bit similar to fiddling with Ableton and producing music and putting it together that way. It’s a similar process in some ways. The concept is creative when you write a song and then with a video you can add a double meaning to it or find the visual aspects that work with it. Actually, when I first write the song and finish an early form of them, I start getting ideas or images in my head about what the video could be for it and what the song could be. I think both processes are similar and intertwined for me.
What are your current musical obsessions?
This year it’s been Perfume Genius. He released an album this year called No Shapes and it’s really good. One of my favourite albums. And Arthur is another big one at the moment. And Lorde. I’m really liking her latest album.
What can we expect in your upcoming E.P, A House I Don’t Remember?
I think sound wise it’s a lot more dancey than my last music but also in some ways more experimental. I took all that aspects of what I do musically to greater extremes. I’ve also tried to make it tied together more conceptually than I have in the past. I always try to work at making my music into a body of work and making it more coherent like in the last one.
It’s [the EP is] called A House I Don’t Remember. I was thinking a lot about people’s memories of their childhood and whether they do remember things, or if they don’t remember things or why they remember some things and not others. Basically, how their childhood affects them now and in their relationships with people and how they behave and stuff. It’s kind of looking at few different people I know and writing about them and myself.
So, that’s all the questions but it was great talking to you and thank you so much!
Yeah, thank you so much for having me and hearing me!
AMNPLIFY – DB