“I wanted to shock people,” says Julien Chang. “"I wanted to make something in secret, with no expectations, something that would challenge an image of me that people had become familiar with."
With his stunning debut album, ‘Jules,’ Chang has accomplished all that and more. Entirely self-recorded and self-produced, the collection showcases the nineteen-year-old Baltimore native’s remarkable vision and breathtaking instrumental chops, fusing infectious pop melodies and experimental psych-rock with progressive jazz improvisation and sophisticated classical construction. The arrangements twist and turn, toying with expectation and reveling in the freedom and discovery of youth. At the same time, Chang’s subtle, restrained vocal delivery suggests a deep thoughtfulness, one that belies his youth as he grapples with love and friendship, growth and change, memory and regret. The result is an album that boldly defies categorization, a trippy sonic collage that dares you to keep up as it tips its cap to everything from Stevie Wonder and The Beatles to Tame Impala and Robert Glasper.
Things change: relationships, musical tastes, the ways we create. Max Bloom knows that. After eight years as part of Yuck, touring with the likes of Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Alvvays, and playing festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury – things changed. Bloom’s own taste was moving away from the ‘90s indie rock that had informed his songwriting with Yuck, and the breakdown of an eight-year-long relationship was the catalyst for him to start making his own music in 2017. Facing severe depression, the end of a long-term relationship and a migration back to his family home, Bloom started crafting solo material as a way to process those changes. Writing without the pressure of an established audience or a predefined sound allowed him to explore different ways of creating. Taking cues from classic songwriters like George Harrison, Elliot Smith and Harry Nilsson, Bloom began experimenting with more expansive instrumentation, rather than focusing on the distorted guitar sounds that characterised his work with Yuck. Writing with the kind of new perspective that only emotional upheaval can bring, Bloom’s lyrics are open, honest and conversational, resulting in a new sound that’s full of intimacy and truth. Sometimes change can be good.