Julia Jacklin on new “Pre Pleasure” single

Julia Jacklin on “PRE PLEASURE”

“I Was Neon,” the third single from PRE PLEASURE, the third album by Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, is a catchy, largely guitar-driven examination of oneself, exploring a dichotomy between acceptance of self and fear of losing that very acceptance. This track’s refrain—“Am I gonna lose myself again?/I quite like the person that I am”—perfectly encapsulates the themes and rhythms of PRE PLEASURE: an album all about openness and self-acceptance.

“Songwriting is all a process,” Jacklin says, “processing things and hoping that you will write a song and emerge at the other end with more understanding. This is true sometimes but I think most of the time, it’s not that cathartic.”

The pitfalls of “pre pleasure”—meaning if you work hard enough on things (music, relationships, life), you’ll eventually get to enjoy them—guide the album forward. Can we enjoy life in the moment? Where does this process of loving and acceptance begin and start?

“Sometimes you just have to enjoy things for what they are in the moment. There’s basically never anything on the other side of that,” reasons Jacklin.

Recorded in Montreal with Jacklin’s touring band and producer Marcus Paquin (The Weather Station, Arcade Fire), PRE PLEASURE came together rather quickly. Jacklin wrote 60 percent of the record at home in Melbourne, 40 percent in Montreal, and spent a lot of time in the studio arranging the tracks with her band. In Montreal, Jacklin would write in relative isolation in an apartment, mostly on a keyboard—a songwriting process that was fairly new to her.

“I was a bit like, ‘Oh, should I do this?’ And then I think Tamara [Lindeman] from The Weather Station was just like, ‘Oh, that’s what Leonard Cohen used to do. He used to write songs with the backing tracks from a Roland keyboard.’ So I thought, ‘If it’s good enough for him, I’ll give it a crack.’”

Throughout our conversation, Jacklin is articulate and honest with how she’s managed to write songs in the face of vulnerability.

“I think in the way that I’ve made the record and the way I’ve made all my records, I try to keep it very insular,” she says. “We don’t leave the studio until it’s done, which I think helps with tricking yourself into believing that no one is going to hear it.”

And PRE PLEASURE is Jacklin at her most open. There are tracks that confront religion, sexuality, death and mortality, and parenthood. “Too In Love to Die” is a solemn, organ-backed reflection on how fearless we feel when we’re in love, when we give someone a part of ourselves. “Moviegoer” paints a vivid picture of pretentious artists, and asks the question of who gets to make art. “Ignore Tenderness,” a song that Jacklin feels most proud of, is effortlessly funny and revealing. It’s largely driven by Jacklin’s lyrics (the sparse guitar and drums are mere punctuation), which describe masturbation, guilt, and coming-of-age. “Ignore the tenderness that you crave/Be naughty but don’t misbehave,” Jacklin’s voice soars at the song’s conclusion. “That’s just one of those songs that I always wanted to write,” she explains. “That song is very close to me and my tastes, and I probably wouldn’t have put that on my last record.”

When asked if she notices a difference in her songwriting on PRE PLEASURE versus her first album, 2016’s Don’t Let the Kids Win, she says yes, but more in the way she works. She recounts a story of being confronted with her entire discography one morning at a cafe in Australia.

“I realized that the cafe was playing my music,” says Jacklin. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is a bit uncomfortable.’ It was a playlist of my songs in no particular order. I think it was the first time in my whole life that I’ve sat and listened to my discography. And I honestly feel like that was the first time where I was like, ‘Oh, you’ve really improved.’ There was this weird experience of being genuinely proud of myself for the first time in a long time, just sitting there, listening to my own music and being like, ‘Oh, wow, you’ve written a lot of songs and they’ve gotten better.’”

On that first album, Jacklin says, she was in a recording studio for the first time. When she listens to those songs she can hear the timidness in her voice. “I can hear how much I’m holding back because I’m embarrassed that the engineer’s gonna think I’m stupid or something.

“I feel grateful to be a recorded artist, because of the ability to have these little time capsules in my life. Not many people get to have that. If I wasn’t doing this, I’m not sure I would have recorded my life in that way.”

Julia Jacklin 2023 North American Tour Dates:

7/14 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground*
7/15 – Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
7/16 – Buffalo, NY – Asbury Hall*
7/17 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop*
7/21 – Indianapolis, IN – Hifi Annex +
7/22 – Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Music Fest
7/23 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Ballroom +
7/25 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown +
7/26 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar +
7/27 – St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway +
7/31 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel =
8/1 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle =
8/3 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar =
8/4 – Woodstock, NY – Levon Helm Studios =
8/5 – Holyoke, MA – Holyoke Arts Center =
8/6 – Montreal, QC – Osheaga Music Festival
9/6 – Ogden, UT – Ogden Twilight with Noah Cyrus

Tour Support:

* Black Belt Eagle Scout
+ Macie Stewart
= Kara Jackson

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