Interview: Julie Marghilano
Julie Marghilano is a name that’s likely familiar to anyone with a deep understanding of contemporary minimal music.
Based in Berlin, the U.S. native is the woman behind the Sol Asylum imprint, a label that’s come to prominence of late courtesy of Marghilano’s own exceptional productions as well as the many she’s signed to the label. As likely to feature more established acts as it is emerging ones, the label houses a discerning and infectious sound that’s hard not to fall for. What’s more, we’d a lot to speak about with Julie. A self-trained musician, Julie is also an accomplished violin player as well as a label owner, DJ and sometime party promoter in Berlin. We’d a lot of things we could have asked Julie, but here’s what happened when we checked in with her recently…
“….we don’t really here violins in electronic music these days… “
Hi Julie, thanks for catching up with us today. I suppose it makes to start with the label. So…Sol Asylum. What’s in a name?
Sol meaning the sun or your spirit and Asylum being a safe shelter or a place where your mind and body can go crazy, this was the idea behind the SA.
I originally thought of this name because the party started as a Sunday daytime open-air party in 2011 so this synonym just made sense. I opened the label then after 3 years in 2014 to have a platform for artists that Jools and I respected and a place to showcase their ideas.
Is there a certain ethos that courses through a Sol Asylum record. If we were to send you a demo for example, what would you be looking for before you sign it?
In the beginning of SA we were just looking for artists that we felt made more timeless high quality forward thinking music but now before I sign an artist I prefer to get to know them and form a friendship, see what their expectations are, what their vision is for the future, their output ect.. for me it is very important that the person I am signing is a well rounded artist that is up for collaborating and working for future goals together.
And do you generally only listen to tracks once they’re finished and decide then? Or do you give certain artists free reign to do as they wish for the label?
I am happy to give my feedback and help any artist on my label if they want constructive criticism but in general I prefer to hear tracks that are finished. Making music is not only creating sounds but part of the art of it is also the way these elements are constructed together. Most of my best tracks were the least amount of sounds but put together in a clever way.
The label has no obvious sound, and is sure as likely to house straight up house sounds, as it is minimal house, techno or tech house. Is the label becoming pigeonholed something you’re very conscious of?
People usually think in boxes so I am sure the label is being pigeonholed by some people but I prefer to keep and open minded vision on the music we can release regardless of the style. Its about quality music and art for me and always will be…
Most of the great labels of our times work in similar ways, and just sign any music so long as it’s good. Are there certain individuals or labels you really admire in this regard? And if so, have you met any of these people? And what sort of advice do they give you?
The first label that comes to mind that has done a great job at signing quality forward thinking music of different genres is Perlon. I have met Zip but I see him usually in the club so we have never spoke about label business, I am usually too busy enjoying the music. Another label and artist I respect is Titonton Duvante’s Residual Records. He is a very inspiring artist, I love his label and one can only hope to have the longevity that his label has had over this amount of time.
We read that you’re a trained violinist. Is it a sound you ever incorporate into your own electronic music works?
Yes it is in almost all my productions but you might not realize it’s a violin because I like to do a lot of sound design with my instrument.
Despite it being really popular back in the day, we don’t really here violins in electronic music these days…
It is not easy to incorporate the violin in electronic music and not have it be a bit overdone or become cheesy. I have done things in the past that now I am not so proud of but it was all a process of learning and growth. I still play my violin but lately I use it in a more simplistic way with a loop machine and a cloud granulator. I do not think I will ever get bored of doing experiments with my instrument. If you listen closely to the track “Mercury Jasmine” my granulated violin is there in small doses but as an effective surprise” do you hear it?
Did you classical training make adapting to electronic music relatively straight-forward? Or did it confuse things a bit?
I think it made my music making process a bit more complicated. Less is more is still a lesson that I have to learn when I sit down to make music and I think I enjoy more complex music like jazz because of my background and training.
A lot of DJs say they don’t listen to electronic music in their spare time. Is that something you’d agree with personally? Yes and no. And if so, why not? And what music do you tend to listen to outside of the club or studio?
I think it is important to get out of the techno bubble especially if you are producing music, so yes I think its important to listen to other genres but there are other genres also in electronic music that can be inspiring. It is easy for us to stay in one comfortable area but the real magic happens when you go out of your comfort zone, that goes for listening and creating. I listen to a lot of musical genre’s when I am outside of the club. Jazz, hip hop, funk, and also electronic but usually more ambient or experimental. I have a new years resolution to go to one non dance club event a week and its been a great source of inspiration and I think its personally healthy for my mental state of being in General.
Lets talk about your production process. How often do you get to the studio? And when was the last time you’d a really special moment in there?
I have my studio at home so I am there quite often. A friend of mine borrowed me his MPC1000 and I kind of fell in love with it so I have invested in the MPCX and I am in the process of learning the software and hardware. It is quite a complete machine so I have been enjoying looping my violin inside and routing it through my modulars, sampling some old records and experimenting with all its possibilities. I was waiting for an all in one device like this one for a long time. I am a self-trained electronic musician so my process can be a bit slower than other artists that have been professionally trained in this field but I guess I make up for that with my determination.
Do you have to be in a certain frame of mind before you make music then? Do you have a daily ritual that you keep when getting to the studio?
I usually do yoga first thing in the morning and this does help my daily process for making music and dealing with daily label stress like distribution and party organization.
So what aids your creativity? And what stifles it?
This is a really hard question that I wish I had a formula for, but I am inspired when I am feeling depressed or angry, when I am in the best of spirits, after a long walk in the park or even just looking at the moon from my studio. There is no logic to my creative process but I do believe it is a form of communication for me. I prefer to get my feelings out in music rather than talking most of the time. Sometimes it flows and sometimes I have a day that I feel like a dog chasing her tail, ok in my case, a cat.
Your latest release is out now on Sol Asylum – can you give us some insight into the vibe you were going for with that one and the production process behind it…
This EP was a special one because normally, I give the cover artist the music when the tracks are finished to see what their imagination makes of the project but this time Olka Osadzińska and I were passing ideas back and forth and we really channeled a lot of energy from one anothers ideas. Her flowers and style helped me come up with the final names and vibe of the EP. Looking at her work inspired me to think of what flowers would sound like on other planets. It was a beautiful exchange and I loved this new way of working and being inspired. Check out her work she is an extremely talented artist:
Illustrator & Art Director at ALEOSA – www.aleosa.com
Lastly, if you could achieve one thing in 2018, what would it be?
I would like to get my analog set up live up and running. Its been a struggle to figure out how my perfect set up would be and I am still learning but I hope to lock into something that works for my flow in general and for a future live set up. The beauty about music is if your open to learn, it can be an unlimited source of growth and knowledge. Thanks for having me!
Julie Marghilano’s “Mercury Jasmine” EP is out soon on the Sol Asylum label. PRE ORDER