Julia Klee steps out

By Brianna Wellen

After singing backup with Chicago’s Joe Pug on a Lollapalooza side stage last summer, Julia Klee is coming into the spotlight and moving forward on her own. She’s sold out local shows with her piano-driven songs and strong vocals. She now hopes to reach a national audience with her newest album coming out sometime this winter.

The classically trained vocalist has been compared to Neko Case and Kelly Hogan but is working to maintain a style uniquely hers. Pulling from an alternative country background, jazz and classical music and her professional technique, she’s carved out her niche in Chicago’s music scene. The Chronicle caught up with Klee to talk about her personal influences, singing on stage at Lollapalooza and an upcoming tour.

The Chronicle: With your music, do you pull a lot from personal experiences?

Julia Klee: A lot of the songs I’ve been writing lately have definitely been influenced by my relationship. I think life is always influencing what you’re writing.

The Chronicle: How has your classical background helped the music you’re making now?

JK: I think just having a good technique and studying a lot when I was younger definitely was a good foundation for what I’m doing now. I can manipulate my voice more to get the sounds I want, which are all technique. So I think that influences it a lot, just having experience pretty

early on.

The Chronicle: What was the experience of singing at Lollapalooza like?

JK: I sing backup for Joe Pug, he’s a local musician, and it was exciting. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. It was scary, but it was really fun.

The Chronicle: What’s the process of creating the album been like so far?

JK: I’m just trying to sort through the material I’ve been writing. A lot of times I get really attached to a song, and I think it’s great. I’ll hear it again a couple weeks later, and I won’t be so attached to it. So I’ve been trying to go through everything I’ve been writing and try to find ones that are above the others.

The Chronicle: Are there any themes running through the album?

JK: As far as themes are concerned, I kind of go through more musical themes than subject matter. I think a lot of times when I’m writing, stuff just kind of comes out. When I pick a subject and try to write about that subject, for me, it’s really harder to get an honest message across. I listen to all kinds of music. I like jazz, I like classical. I’m going through an alt-country-like ’60s folk phase. I think I go through themes that way, that kind of rubs off from whatever I’m listening to.

The Chronicle: What’s the next step for your career?

JK: I’m really hoping to tour. Right now the album is my main focus, and I’m just trying to put all my energy into that. Then I’m really hoping to hit the road with the band this summer or next fall.

Julia Klee will be performing with Alison Breitman at Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark St., on Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. They will be performing each other’s songs. The show is free.