Eight Questions With Julian Velard

Julian Velard’s smoky Noo Yawk baritone drew me in from the moment I heard him open up for The Damnwells awhile ago. This keyboard-wielding, genre-hopping singer/songwriter was kind enough to sit down for a little email interview with me, and he’ll be in town at Jammin Java this Friday, August 10th.

Obviously, your songs are distinctively piano-based - but at any point did you ever get the urge to pick up the guitar and go the more conventional instrumentation route?

Not a huge guitar guy. For some reason the sound makes me bored, especially acoustic guitars - they tend sound to like plastic being scraped. 20th century audiences have been beaten to death by six strings. Three hundred years ago, people musta felt that way about harpsichord. Personally, I’d rock out to harpsichord all day. Oddly though, I listen to mainly guitar-playing songwriters. Very few piano-based guys make it into my world (Ben Folds, Harry Nilsson, Tom Waits… NO BILLY JOEL!...okay maybe a little). I’m a weirdo, I know.

Whom do you consider your biggest influences, instrumentally and/or vocally?

You got a few right there [see above]. Also Steve McQueen, Bill Murray (there are movies where they sing - check ‘Baby The Rain Must Fall’ and the ‘Star Wars’ sketch on old SNL). Huge Dylan fan. Been in a deep Dylan phase recently. He seems to come around for me every 8 months or so. Plus we are brothers in jew-fro.

Do you have any favorite tracks off of your current album, The Movies Without You? It’s OK - I won’t tell your songs you picked one over the other - I promise.

I go back and forth on this one a lot. If you had to force my hand, I’d say the one that gets the least love, ‘You Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me.’ He’s a lonely child and needs his father’s support.

Characterize your music in three words or less, using no verbs.

Bedtime explosion hovercraft

What are a few current bands/artists you’re digging right now?

I’ve got a few faves, mostly people I know. Maybe it’s cause I’m so burnt on music, but I have a much easier time getting into my friends’ music.
Ian Love is great. Trevor Exter is another friend and amazing artist, and I saw this incredibly tight band in London called Haunts. They rock!

So what’s this I hear about you heading back to the studio later this August?

Yeah, I’m headed back in to turn the EP into an album. Got a bunch of new tunes. You know, making the magic, being the magic man and all.

What do you hope people will take away from your live show?

A date, cause most guys look pretty flabby after seeing me on a stage. I’m buff.

And just so she doesn’t kill me, my girlfriend desperately wants to know if you’ve ever been compared to Lou Rawls…

No, I’ve never heard that before. Tell your lady she’s an intuitive genius. Seriously consider getting her tested for extrasensory powers. I love Lou Rawls, he is the pimp!

Julian Velard’s tracks, like “Joni” and “A Dream” over at his MySpace page here. You can catch him at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA this Friday, August 10 with Shane Hines & the Trance and Getaway Car (acoustic).