The summer is off to a HOT start and our society is still adapting to the “new normal.” But, as we adapt to this “new normal,” one aspect of our society that should not be overlooked is mental health. Talking about such issues out loud and finding new remedies are great ways to bring comfort to the mind. Music has always been a solace of healing – spiritually, physically and mentally.
And, one artist who is creating music that delves further than the normal messages is Jules & The Howl. Jules & The Howl’s Blues Rock music is cathartic and meditative – like an instrumental elixir for the soul. Her latest track “Enough” pierces through the pain of not feeling worthy – something we all need to hear as we continue to shelter in place and open up to another normalcy. In this interview, you will learn what how Jules came to be known as Jules & The Howl, the backstory to the song that reaches one’s core, and how a Blues legend inspired an artist of today to literally turn the stage into an experience right here, right now, on #WCM.
What is your full name Jules (if you do not mind me calling you that)?
Hello! My full name is Julianne Quaas. My nickname is Jules.
Hello! When a fan first sees your stage name, one immediately thinks of a band, but you are a solo artist, right?
Yes, Jules & the Howl is the name of my solo project. I want my audience to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves united by a common purpose. Like a wolfpack and their instinctual need to express themselves through the Howl. Howling is also what I do on stage with my voice. Howling comes from the deepest part of my being, it’s what the blues singers did to express their pain and sorrow through their voice and electrify the souls of their listeners.
So, the Howl is a reference to Blues legend, Howlin’ Wolf, what made you take that name with you on your musical journey?
Howlin’ Wolf is a prominent figure in Chicago Blues history. His wild theatrics and growling vocals mesmerized his audience. He used the entire stage during his performance, leaving the audience to only guess what he would do next. Coming from a musical theatre background, my performance style is extremely theatrical and larger-than-life, and so his legacy contribution to blues and 1960s rock really resonated with me.
I cut my teeth in the Chicago music scene. Blues is an integral part of Chicago’s culture and history, and the blues paved the way for rock n’ roll. Were it not for the innovation of Robert Johnson and the passion of Howlin’ Wolf, we would’ve never had Woodstock and the rock revolution of the 1960s. The sound I connect to the most is from that era, and the way that the blues cuts right to the heart of the listeners resonates profoundly in that music.
It is great that you still utilize that element of surprise that many artists today fail to exhibit but many legends held that as important to their craft.As a Chi-town girl who relocated to Los Angeles (LA) for the music, how has that affected your music tapestry?
Moving to LA is admittedly NOT something I wanted to do; in fact I had avoided relocating for years. I love my home city and the eclectic vibrant music scene there. Moving to LA forced me to grow both musically and personally in indescribable ways. I essentially left Chicago in shambles and rebuilt myself and my career when I moved to LA. Today, my music tapestry is filled with genuine hard working musicians, many I’m blessed to call my friends. I’ve found my second calling in Gritty in Pink, a new platform empowering women in music. I’ve spent most of quarantine growing Gritty in Pink with our founder, Shira Yevin, and the rest of our amazing team.
Which brings us to the MUSIC – your latest single “Enough” is very cathartic and unapologetically inspiring. You said, and I quote, “I was devastated and broken when I wrote this song. No matter how hard I worked I wasn’t Enough.” With so much going on today to preoccupy the mind, when was the turning point where you decided – ENOUGH?
I can’t quite pinpoint an exact moment. Honestly this past year has been one slow but momentous journey towards believing the fact that I am always enough. When a lot of people hear the song, their first reaction is “Jules of course you are enough!” And I know that. But when you’re in those moments of utter despair and hopelessness, you don’t feel enough. I wrote ‘Enough’ during a string of those moments.
And, how do you advocate for mental health other than your music?
I’m very open when it comes to talking about my experiences with mental health - be it through social media and real-life conversations. Whether it be my struggles with anxiety and depression or my experience with therapy and medication, I believe the more I open myself up to questions and discussion, the more I can help destigmatize mental health. And more importantly, the more likely I can help someone realize that they are never alone.
Your line “it’s lonely being perfect” really stood out to me – it reminds me of accepting being perfectly imperfect – is that what you were meaning here?
Great question! It means that trying to wear all the hats and achieve all the goals that come with being a musician/entrepreneur can be an isolating experience. No one will put in as much blood, sweat and tears into your career as you will.
No one knows how hard you fight and how much rejection you face on a daily basis just to meet those small goals. Especially on social media where there’s a need to present your “perfect” life, comparing your progress to others can make you feel extraordinarily alone and destitute.
This is so true Jules. And, that is why your music is such an oasis in a stagnant, image-driven, industry. Your vocals are very powerful, and that raw emotion is illustrated in your video. And with the song itself being dramatically balanced, it is not over the top animated, which makes it effective in getting the message across to the masses - similar to how Freddie Mercury executed/performed his lyrics on Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever.” So, I’d like to say that If Freddie Mercury was alive in 2020, this is the type of live-out-loud music he would be recording!! Were you going for that effect?
OMG FREDDIE MERCURY IS ONE OF MY HEROES!!!!! That’s one of the hugest compliments you could give me, thank you!! Yes, absolutely. I want my music to reflect how I strive to live my life - raw, honest and authentic. The more vulnerable you are, the deeper human connection you can make with your audience. And ultimately that’s the point of music in my humble opinion - to express the innermost emotions of the human experience so that we feel a little less alone in what we’re going through.
And, going back to your artist name Jules & The Howl – your tribe – your wolfpack is an important element to your being FREE, can you expound on that?
Absolutely! The Howl is that communal release of our deepest feelings into the atmosphere. When you’re a part of a community as strong and supportive as a wolfpack, you feel that you can let go of your inhibitions because you are safe with your fellow brothers and sisters. You are a part of a tribe, an emotional experience of something bigger than yourself. The Howl gives you the freedom to let it all out in a scream, dancing or singing. It’s the physical release of everything pent up inside you. That release is liberating.
So, do you consider yourself INDIE and if yes, what are the positives/negatives about INDIE?
I do consider myself an indie artist. The best thing about being an indie artist is that I decide all aspects of my music - production, release date, marketing, distribution, etc. I also get to keep all my sound recording rights, which you often give up when working with a label. The downside is that it’s a lot of DIY and trial and error, a lot of grassroots work. Wearing all the business and creative hats can be extremely overwhelming at times.
Agreed! What else do you think the music industry needs to do to better represent womxn?
I think there needs to be more spaces for women to connect with and hire other women in the music industry. So often women are pitted against each other, as if there’s only room for a few of us. And those few have to be an exact type that is predefined by men’s definition of beauty and talent. In reality, there’s room for all shapes and sizes and genres of us. That’s why I’m so proud of the work we do at Gritty in Pink. During our live and virtual events, we’ve brought together women of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations and genres onto one stage.
We encourage each other and cheer on each other’s successes and support each other through our weakest moments. That’s what we need in the industry - a sense of community and empowerment. The chance to meet and work with other female musicians, producers, engineers, managers, and other professionals. To feel inspired and united.
So we should be getting a full EP from you soon from you?
I’m actually going the singles route. I’m releasing a full revamp of “All Along the Watchtower” this fall and a new original called “Love” either the end of this year or early 2021. “Love” will be a power anthem where Lady GaGa meets Freddie Mercury, I’m so stoked to release it!
Oh, I cannot wait to hear “Love” – that’s going to be wicked! Last question: when did you last give yourself permission to let go?
I’m in the process of doing that now actually. I had a terrible panic attack the other night and had to reckon with some deep-seeded issues I didn’t even know I have. My fiance witnessed the whole thing, and was so understanding, and yet I was so immensely ashamed and embarrassed. Now I’m slowly letting go of the shame and anger I feel toward myself and practicing forgiveness and generosity towards myself.
Janis Joplin once said, “Who you are is what you settle for” and clearly, Jules & The Howl has not settled for less and IS an inspiring artist who recognizes the need for great music. Her music fills a large void in our society. We are glad to go along with her on this Blues Rock ride. #LEGEND
CONNECT WITH JULES AND THE HOWL :
Written by Lakisha “KiKi” Skinner :
Lakisha “KiKi” Skinner is a USA-based Indie Music journalist and freelance writer who has been crowned a “word-craft artist” by her global following of Independent music artists. She is a part of an Alt. Rock band and is the owner of Klef Notes entertainment business blog. Lakisha has been the editor for a Backstreet Boy and has been featured on Dr. Jimmy Star’s blog. If she is not crafting words, you can find her buying another pair of shoes to place in her over-cluttered closet. You can read her work at www.KlefNotes.com and find her on https://twitter.com/The0riginalKiKi.
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