Julia by Gal Musette is a classically heartfelt song that drips of persona experience, and specifically one that was full of lessons and learning. The piano across the length of the song, and the singer’s soft, Melanie Martinez-esque vocals give it an almost French/European feel.
The face behind Gal Musette is Grace Freeman – a musician hailing from San Clemente, California. She has been performing in open mics since she was 10, and even opened for The Magnetic Fields when she was only 14! And hence started a lifelong adventure rooted in music.
Gal Musette’s Julia opens with a brooding, ominous piano. Her vocals are soft and almost orchestra-like. Once you reach the chorus, the song gets bubbly with bells jingling and a host of bright instruments and effects. However, the lyrics give a song a lot of dimensions when the sonic experience can trick the mind.
The wonderfully bright melody of the song is only a backdrop for a story being told from a third-person perspective. The protagonist is obviously a girl by the name of Julia. However, it seems that there is more to what seems on the surface. Julia is somehow expected to make things magically fall into place. Julia seems like this person who is always there, but suddenly she is missing in action where the narrator looks for her. There is clearly a lot to be read between the lines in this song. I’d tell you more myself but I think Gal Musette herself does a much better job so let’s hear it from her!
In conversation with Gal Musette
Ques. Your music has a French countryside charm, and you have been playing piano for as long as you can remember probably. Where do these influences come from?
Gal Musette: I grew up more of a dancer than a musician. However, I was 10 when I discovered the piano at my grandpa’s house and that was the end of my dancing career. Further, my mom is a professor of French, so I grew up second-hand listening to her broad range of French pop and chanson- anything from Francoise Hardy to Stromae. My grandpa and father each taught me to play piano by ear in their own ways- my grandpa taught me old standards like Blue Moon and Chloe (Song of the Swamp) on the black keys. And my dad taught me some of his melodic instrumental compositions. I feel I have my dad’s right hand and my grandpa’s left when I play.
Ques. Where did the inspiration for Julia come from? Is it a person in your life, or a friend, or a stranger?
Gal Musette: Julia is a personal song, but I will admit it is about an experience with a person in my life.
Ques. The song has a few themes – longing, missing a friend, and more. What would you like the listeners to take away from the song?
Gal Musette: It’s about the struggles of obsessive-compulsive disorder and the loneliness it can lead to. There are two characters in this song- “she” and “Julia.” “Julia” is a symbol for the person you depend on like a crutch when anxiety overwhelms you- either a real person or an imaginary friend.
Ques. You’ve beautifully juxtaposed an almost melancholic melody on the piano with this super happy song. How do you do that? And how do you generally go about the creation and production of your music?
Gal Musette: That’s interesting that you call it happy, because to me it feels like one of my darkest songs. It makes sense because I think that the judgment of the creator is often clouded to what the rest experience. I love songs that contrast musically and lyrically- sometimes you can’t tell how dark a song is until you read the lyrics because the chords and/or melody sound lighthearted. The chord progression for ‘Julia’ came first and then the lyrics – which is unlike the order of my typical writing process. I always tend to write the melody first, sometimes to a fault because then the lyrics feel more rushed, and not as intentional. Jon O’Brien produced my upcoming album and I couldn’t be happier with our collaboration. His instincts are gorgeous. I’m so excited to work with him again on Album 2!
What’s next from Gal Musette?
Ques. You’ve got an album set to release in October this year, so what should we be expecting?
Gal Musette: The album is called “Backwards Lullaby” and it’ll be out on October 1st. I originally thought Lullaby would be a pretty name but it didn’t quite catch the subtle dissonance. We’ll be printing limited edition vinyl copies for late 2021. The title is taken from a line in the final vocal song on the album ‘It Could Be Sin.’ Ironically, it happens to be the first song we started recording for the album! There’s a lot of hidden reverse effects, glitches, and tape echo implemented throughout the record, which also supports the title.