On the phone with Julia Jacklin and Kevin Morby

Julia Jacklin is the singer songwriter from the Blue Mountains who seizes your heart with every note (Crushing, for sure). Kevin Morby is the boy from Nashville who’s been imbuing our ears with sweet nostalgia for some time now. Last night, they played the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. But before that, they spoke on the telephone and let us listen down the line as they talked making it, memory loss, and being an asshole versus tour fatigue.

Kevin Morby: Hi Julia.

Julia Jacklin: Hey. Where are you?

KM: I’m in Los Angeles, California. Where are you?

JJ: I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

KM: Nice. Do you live in Melbourne?

JJ: Yeah I do. I moved here a little while ago, still settling in.

KM: You moved there from Sydney?

JJ: Yeah.

KM: Cool. I’ve always wondered about Melbourne versus Sydney. And what they compare to in America. Would Melbourne be the Los Angeles and Sydney the New York? Can you speak on this?

JJ: Yeah well I feel like Sydney is like the San Francisco maybe and Melbourne is like the L.A. maybe but way more low key.

KM: Word. I love Melbourne, I love Sydney as well but when I’m in Australia I spend the most time in Melbourne and I always think, I could live here.

JJ: Yeah. It’s cool … like I’m feeling pretty weird at the moment. I feel torn between many places.

KM: I fully understand that.

JJ: Yeah … I don’t know I think just being a touring musician and then trying to find like a home base and really like lock into it. Especially a home base that’s not the place you grew up in or even like lived in for a long time. It’s a weird feeling. I know you would know that.

KM: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s something I grapple with all the time and I feel like touring you get these little insights and these little snippets into different cultures and people’s lives, and so many different things that are lovely to experience. It’s easy to imagine wanting to live in any of them and then when it comes time to choose, it’s very difficult. And you know, I know I’ve mentioned this to you before, but I moved back to my hometown in Kansas City after having lived in L.A. and New York for so long. And I really like it there as a home base but I always come to the conclusion that nowhere is perfect. It’s always going to be lopsided, whether it’s going to be too expensive, or you don’t have enough friends there or you have too many friends, it’s just always hard to decide.

JJ: Yeah. I think I’m having to like really swallow that pill right now. It’s a big pill but it’s okay.

KM: Jagged little pill?

JJ: (Laughs) Yes. I’m just kind of like okay I feel weird but I feel like maybe I’ll always feel weird. At this point in my life, like I’m never going to feel grounded. At this stage of life and that’s probably a good thing because I’ll look back at this time and go, ‘Wow I was so up in the air and now I’m like nailed to the floor’, for some reason you know?

KM: Yeah, it’s so crazy. It’s an insane thing that we do I feel like. I was just in Europe for a month and now I’m just in L.A. for one week on my way to Japan and then Australia, where we’ll play together in Sydney. Here I’m just aimlessly floating through Los Angeles trying to figure out what my name is.

JJ: (Laughs) I think what I’m also worried about is that, I worry that my identity and where I get my confidence and who I am as a human being, where I feel interesting and where I feel like a person is when I’m touring.

KM: Yeah. I totally relate to all of that. I think it’s a weird thing. I just saw Bob Dylan today and I know he’s been on a quote unquote never-ending tour, which I think he started in the 70s where he just went ‘I’m gonna go on tour and tour till I die’ and he’s just still doing that and you know I totally see why one would want to do that because, like you just said, I do get such a sense of purpose and sort of accomplishment …

JJ: Yeah. I think I’m just in the…I kind of just finished the big album cycle maybe like a month ago or no like two months ago… everyone’s kind of being like, ‘Oh how cool, just relax, it’s your time to relax have some time off’ And I’m like, I don’t know what that means and what? Should I go to Thailand, lay on a beach? I don’t get what I’m supposed to do to relax and I’m living in a city where everybody I know is working and doing things and I’m not really. And it kind of makes me feel like a bit of a loser … which is a good feeling though. It’s good to feel like a loser sometimes in life.

KM: We gotta feel like losers sometimes.

JJ: Yeah. I think I’m just figuring out … I’m only two albums in to this crazy world.

KM: That’s amazing! You’ve done so well for only two records.

JJ: Aw, thanks. Yeah it’s been good, I think, yeah. I just haven’t had heaps of reflection time so I think that’s what’s kind of hitting me right now.

KM: It’s a really weird thing to like, you know, have to process all of this. … the amount of people you come in contact with, especially when you’re in a position where people are expecting something from you or they in a way - not in a bad way, sometimes in a bad way - but mainly in a good way, they’ll want to sort of extract this energy from you …

JJ: Yeah … The other day I was walking with a friend and I ran into some people and they were like so familiar with me, they were like, ‘Hey oh my god how’s it going?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah great.’ But I have no idea who these people are and my friend’s standing there waiting to be introduced but they were talking to me like they knew me and I was talking to them like I knew them. And as we walked away I was saying to my friend I feel worried about my mental state sometimes when that happens, because sometimes touring so much makes my brain feel like a sieve. Like I can’t retain information like I used to. I just cannot remember – and then I’m like, am I just losing my mind? Is this aging? I’m only 29 but am I losing the ability to remember things? Or is it just that I’ve taken so much new information every single day of my life that some things fall out.

KM: Absolutely. I like to look at it sometimes, it’s like a bowl - our minds are a bowl and it can only take so much water before it starts to boil over.

JJ: It just made me feel like I was – you know because that’s such a trope of what people think of someone who’s successful, that they become this asshole who doesn’t remember people. And now I’m like, oh it’s so not me being cruel it’s just … my brain and my eyes cannot connect that many faces to memory anymore.

KM:  … It’s funny talking to you about this because when we saw each other in the airport, in Amsterdam, we ran into each other in the airport.

… I had seen a music video by [Jacklin’s other band] Phantastic Phurniture the night before running into you. And I was in some YouTube algorithm things are getting recommended to me and I was like oh that’s Julia Jacklin she has some other band and I watched that and then like an hour later something else on Instagram, and I had known you’d been in Europe around that same time I’d seen your tour dates. And I was playing this festival in Spain So I’d known that you’d been in Europe and then (?) had posted a thing of you two playing like singing a duet in Canada. And then the next morning I ran into you at the airport, and it was one of those weird internet like 2019 sort of things where I was like I saw this person on the internet in Canada yesterday and now she’s at this airport. And I remember thinking like she must be so tired.

JJ: It was crazy. I look back on it and I’m like what the hell was happening? I just felt pretty insane the whole time, I’d kind of gone through a breakup just before as well. So my head and heart were in 17 million different places.

KM: That’s a lot. Yeah, dealing with a breakup on the road it makes everything a little bit more amplified. The good a little bit better and the bad a little bit worse … I’m just picturing this article of the two of us talking in Rolling Stoneor whoever it’s for and just us being like, “It’s horrible, it’s so crazy”. (Laughs) But obviously I know we both love music because we were just talking about how we can’t stop doing it. It’s like being in the Mob, once you’re in you’re in. You know?

JJ: (Laughs)

KM: Let me ask you about … Well, we’re going to play together in Sydney, which I’m very excited about.

JJ: Yes thanks for playing. I was like, ‘Why would he say yes to this?’ This is amazing thank you.

KM: Yeah absolutely. It’s going to be a beautiful night. And I guess I’ve just been thinking, you know, obviously I don’t really know you but I know that you’re from Sydney and this venue’s like two or three thousand capacity and like you just said it’s your record. And I was talking the other day with a friend about when we were young we would see bands come through town and they’d play for like 300 and in our minds they were famous … But I guess my question for you is you’re playing this big hometown show and it’s in Sydney; it’s where you grew up. Do you have any memories of when you were younger and you were into music, I guess your first memories of going to shows and being blown away: you could never do that or maybe you thought you could do that. I’m just wondering what inspired you from a young age?

JJ: It’s funny you say that. Basically, for me, the venue that we’re playing in Enmore … has always been kind of the pinnacle of what I thought I would ever achieve, to play that venue.

KM: That’s amazing.

JJ: I never in my wildest imagination thought I would be playing a show, like I didn’t even think I would open a show at that venue …You know it’s just kind of where I’ve seen Nick Cave and I’ve seen … Laura Marling, the Shins and when Tame Impala first came out. So many of my formative musical experiences happened at the Enmore.

KM: That’s so cool … Well congratulations. Those moments that are once in a lifetime are really special. I moved to New York when I was 18 and I did a few shows at the Bowery Ballroom and that was my Enmore Theatre … Just so significant of New York, these people play there and I was in bands and would open shows there. But I always thought to myself if I could sell out the Bowery Ballroom I’ll have made it; nothing could top it.

JJ: Yeah. You’ll hang up your hat.

KM: Exactly. I could die peacefully.