They say that a star is born everyday in the world of entertainment.
One minute its doo-wop pop star, Meghan Trainor, the next it’s Cardi B—when she is not throwing shoes and beefing with Nicky Manaj—or Machine Gun Kelly, when he isn’t trying to stir up drama with hip-hop kingpin, Eminem. The point is, new names and faces come and go in the world of entertainment and music.
For every Milli Vanilli there is Sam Smith. For every one-hit wonder such as Vanilla Ice, there is also a diamond in the rough such as Norah Jones. With music evolving almost every day, perhaps singer-songwriter—and Moby muse, Julie Mintz is the next great talent.
Set to make her debut, Los-Angeles-based record label, The Artist Method is set to release her debut full-length Abandon All Hope of Fruition on digital platforms on October 5 with a vinyl edition to follow. The album was produced by Moby and David Jerkovich. One week later, Julie will guest with Moby and Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, at a special LA Fest performance at Disney Hall.
Mintz’s moody and wistful music style is reflective of her upbringing in Corpus Christi, TX, where she landed her very first job as a hearse driver. “I was a cheerleader in high school, so I used to show up at the funeral home in my cheerleading uniform.” She picked up guitar and piano at a young age and was drawn to the chord progressions of the country greats like Patsy Cline, who was constantly being played in the house by her father.
After moving out to California, Mintz rented a tiny house near Lake Hollywood. Upon catching a stranger blocking her driveway with his car, the perpetrator embarrassingly invited her into a party inside a literal castle directly across the street where she met her new neighbor – platinum-selling electronic music artist/producer Moby. The two hit it off and she found herself playing keyboards with his band on several late night TV appearances, and also collaborating together on her own music. Moby championed Julie as a recording artist, and also helped her overcome stage fright.
“Moby really helped me produce my music and brought me out of my shell a lot in terms of performing,” Julie Mintz said on KTLA’s Spoken Dreams series. This creative partnership led to her 2015 EP The Thin Veil, produced by Moby and consisting entirely of Julie Mintz originals.
“What’s most beguiling about Julie is that she looks like a sun kissed, golden lady of the canyon, but she and her music have such a dark heart of sadness and longing,” commented Moby.
Abandon All Hope of Fruition may seem like a morose album title, but it is taken from a Buddhist mind training slogan featured in Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart. “It’s about letting go of the hope that things are going to be different in the future, and moving toward an appreciation of where you are right now,” explains Mintz.
Five songs were produced by Moby, including the Moby-penned “A Time” and “The Sorrow Tree,” the latter of which appears on his brand new album Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt (albeit as an uptempo arrangement, Mintz’s vocals intact). “It’s funny because even though I wasn’t there when Moby wrote that song, it completely fits with so many of the themes I tend to write about,” say Mintz of the haunting and hypnotic tune.
Her cover of John Denver’s “Country Roads, Take Me Home,” the video for which debuts later this month, exemplifies her gift as a song interpreter. “Even though John Denver’s version is so jaunty and upbeat, the lyrics feel so melancholic to me. I changed some of the chords to minor and took everything into that darker direction you hear in the song now.”
The remainder of Abandon All Hope of Fruition, “Country Roads, Take Me Home” included, was produced by musician David Jerkovich (Kind of Like Spitting/Novi Split). The album features pedal steel guitarist Ben Peeler (Father John Misty, Dawes, Shelby Lynne), vocalist Mindy Jones, and Moby’s longtime drummer Tripp Beam.
Julie Mintz – Abandon All Hope of Fruition
1) Tired to the Bone*
2) Want to Feel Wanted*
3) Country Roads, Take Me Home*
4) A Time#
5) Bow and Arrow*
6) The Reason#
8) Hard Needle to Thread*
9) The Sorrow Tree#
10) The River*
11) Til She Disappears#
*Produced by David Jerkovich
#Produced by Moby
All songs written by Julie Mintz except “Want to Feel Wanted” and “Bow and Arrow” (Julie Mintz and Caroline Brooks), “Country Roads” (John Denver), “A Time” and “The Sorrow Tree” (Moby)
With her delicate yet commanding vocals, Julie Mintz has a rare ability to turn the most nuanced of feelings into songs that captivate. On her forthcoming full-length debut, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter muses on longing and disillusionment and romantic confusion, an exploration made all the more enthralling by her moody and luminous take on Gothic Americana. But in choosing a title for the album, Mintz landed on Abandon All Hope of Fruition— a phrase that speaks to the transformative power in trading yearning for acceptance.
Born and raised in the South Texas city of Corpus Christi, Mintz grew up on the bittersweet balladry of classic country artists. “My dad loved Patsy Cline—her greatest-hits album was always playing when I was a kid, so now my ear naturally goes to that old-school-country chord progression and the melody that comes along with it,” says Mintz. Learning to play piano as a little girl and later picking up a guitar as well, Mintz also held true to country’s emotional tradition and gravitated toward “sad songs about love and heartache” as she began crafting her own material.
They say that the road to stardom and fame is paved with potential detours and pitfalls. Based on her own unique background and experiences, Julie has no problem in making her own path.
Through the years, she’s also found the mood of her songwriting deeply informed by her first-ever experience in the workforce: an after-school job working in a funeral home on the Gulf of Mexico, which included driving a hearse with a body in the back. “I was a cheerleader in high school, so I used to show up at the funeral home in my cheerleading uniform,” Mintz recalls. “At the time it was all really scary to me, but I think it ties into me eventually writing this very Gothic music and this thread throughout my songs about the idea of dying alone.
While attending Emory University, Mintz studied neuroscience and behavioral biology, but ultimately decided to forgo medical school in favor of pursuing her music career. Still, Mintz points out that both fields of study have shaped her approach to songwriting. “I’ve always had this desire to understand the inner workings of my mind and other people’s minds, and that’s so much of what I’m doing with my songs—just trying to work out those curiosities,” she says. Along with releasing The Thin Veil, Mintz has spent much of the past few years on the road with Moby, recently joining him onstage at the Hollywood Bowl for a show presented by legendary English DJ Pete Tong, in addition to appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Now gearing up to join Moby for his debut performance with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic in October, Mintz is planning a summer release for Abandon All Hope of Fruition. And in reflecting on the emotional experience of making the album, she expresses a hope that the songs offer some sense of solace to each listener. “It seems like a lot of people struggle with the same kind of issues I’ve written about, so I’d love for the album to help them to appreciate the present instead of being stuck in hoping for something different in the future,” says Mintz. “But at the same time, I’d also love for them to just feel like someone else understands what they’re going through, and to take comfort in realizing that they’re not alone in that feeling.”
With her album set to drop in the next coming weeks, I caught up with Julie to ask her about her start in music, the inspiration behind it, Moby, songwriting and the story behind her dark and moody music.
How did you get your start in music? I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, playing piano and singing in choir, and after getting my college degree in Neuroscience but deciding not to got to medical school, I moved to LA and was writing songs and playing small singer/ songwriter venues to limited fanfare. My first sort of break came when the abandoned castle across the street from my rental house was purchased by Moby.
He moved in, and we became friendly as neighbors. He would offer me songwriting advice on new tunes I was working on and eventually asked me to sing backup for him and play keyboards in his band. Our friendship and working relationship has just grown from there, and he’s produced the majority of songs I’ve released. He’s really been my biggest champion in the music business.
Tell us about you Abandon All Hope of Fruition out on October 5th? Abandon All Hope of Fruition is a collection of songs that I wrote when I was really struggling with feeling like I didn’t have the things I needed in order to be happy, specifically a romantic relationship. I had gone through several relationships that weren’t ideal whether it be the one detailed in “Want to Feel Wanted” which is about being with someone who is still in a relationship with someone else, and wanting to be with that person anyway. Or “Hard Needle to Thread” dealing with not being able to figure the other person out and where they stand with you. You can hear the thread of loneliness and frustration throughout these songs.
What inspired your album? The title of the album is inspired by a book called “When Things Fall Apart” by American Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. One of the chapters in her book of Buddhist mind training techniques is entitled “Abandon All Hope of Fruition.” I’m not a Buddhist. I was raised Jewish in a predominantly Catholic small town named (in translation) Body of Christ Texas. I have a fascination with a lot of religious teachings and especially find beauty in religious iconography.
But this particular teaching spoke to me in that it encourages us to let go of any future ideas of how things needs to turn out in order to feel fulfilled…to be satisfied with what we have right now. That seemed to alleviate some of the very acute longing for a relationship and a family that had been troubling me. So I try to abandon the hope of fruition, to let go of thinking I know how everything needs to go in order for me to be happy.
How has Moby influenced you musically in the creation of your new album? It’s hard to innumerate the ways! A few things that come to mind are his help in pushing me away from perfectionism. The songs that Moby produced for me (The Sorrow Tree, A Time) were done in one take, and it’s very freeing. He doesn’t let me labor over things the way I would sometimes like to which is ultimately a positive lesson.
What’s the songwriting process usually like for you? My best songs come from a need to express an emotion, often born of a situation that is troubling me.
Songwriting helps me to make sense out of things I’m going through. Ideally, I’ll find a chord progression I like that matches the feeling I want to express, and I try to go line by line creating the chords and lyrics simultaneously. That feels most natural to me.
Your music has dark undertones yet your image is very southern California beauty – how do you combine the two? It has never been a conscious effort to combine my dark inner world with my more light, golden-haired exterior—that’s just truly who I am as a person. I know it surprises people to hear my music because I do have a seemingly sunny disposition but I think often a smile masks deeper secrets just under the surface.
Your music video for your newly released single a John Denver cover of Country Roads uses a unique approach to the storytelling with users able to view it in a 360 degree experience. Tell us about the process? I was so lucky to have made this video with my talented friend, director and DP Oden Roberts. One of my favorite ways to make creative projects is guerrilla style. Just Oden and I drove out to horse country outside of LA in his vintage yellow 1970s Camaro.
He has worked extensively with 360 VR, so he set up the camera on the hood of the car with a crazy rig that he built himself while I did my own hair and makeup and changed into my vintage dresses in the backseat. We found an abandoned country road, and I drove up and down and sang the song while the cameras rolled and the natural light was at magic hour. I think it turned out beautifully.
What has the process of creating your album been like? High and or lows? Well since you know I love to focus on the lows in my songwriting, I’ll mention the highs in the making of the album. I had so many amazing musicians play on the record. Mindy Jones, who also sings in Moby’s band, sings harmonies on the record, and she is fantastic. You really get to hear her wail on “Tired to the Bone.” My amazing guitarist/producer friend David Jerkovich also produced many of the tracks on this record and we got to work out of his new studio, Balboa Recording Studio, which is a restored home in Glassell Park. Another highlight is the pedal steel and weissenborn playing from Ben Peeler who has graced the records of artists I love like Shelby Lynne, Dawes, and Father John Misty.
How important is fashion as a way to tell a story to your music? Fashion has always been a very important form of self-expression for me. I definitely inherited any sense of style from my mother who was a real deal beauty queen in the 1960’s and would literally pick us up from school in the 80’s in full hair and makeup in rhinestone studded jumpsuits with shoulder pads. I think that style really add to the picture that I’m trying to paint of a gothic, beautiful, old-world, Victorian meets modern feeling. And fashion is such a fun and creative way to do that.
Share with us one fun fact about yourself? My first after-school job in high school was working at a cemetery and funeral home. One of my responsibilities was driving the hearse, occasionally with a body in the back. And I often had to go to work straight from cheerleading practice (I AM from Texas after all), so you could see me cruising the cemetery grounds behind the wheel of a hearse in my red and white gingham cheerleading uniform.
Special thanks to Ms. Julie Mintz, Marisa Hebert and Marisa Hebert PR for their assistance during this interview.