The last EP I ever expected to hear was one where Moby helped produced 60s girl group style lush orchestration over classic country melodies, but that's where we got to today. We had a chance to chat with Julie Mintz
about her new EP, The Thin Veil
, and what it was like working with such a titan of electronic music as her producer. The EP itself is absolutely worth the time of anyone that loves Dusty Springfield or Emmylou Harris. It may seem like a contradiction that it even exists, but the results are undeniably beautiful. Below is the music video for one of the EP's tracks, "Wildflower," so you can be as excited for the new record as we are.
There's very much an influence of 60s female vocalists (Dusty Springfield springs to mind) with classic country as well on the EP. What was it like working with Moby -- who produced the EP on genres that seem so far outside of his wheelhouse?
Julie Mintz: I had complete confidence in Moby as a producer because he understood and appreciated the vulnerability that I was trying to communicate when I wrote these songs. He also had a surprising knowledge of classic country and very specific vocal treatments, for example, that were commonly used during that time. He immediately knew the 60s sound that he wanted to bring to the 3 part harmonies, which you can hear, in particular, on "Lodi." And because Moby and I have a strong friendship outside of our working relationship, making music together seemed like a natural extension. Oh, and a year before we made this record, I had started gifting with him mixtapes named "Moby's Gone Country" that were a selection of my favorite classic country songs, so he was prepared.
Speaking of those classic sonic influences, who were some songwriters/vocalists that had the biggest effect on your growth as an artist?
Joni Mitchell had a huge influence on my songwriting in terms of striving for poetic lyrics and interesting, beautiful melodies with range. A bit later I discovered Emmylou Harris. When I was just starting out singing and writing songs, an established artist who had harmonized with Emmylou Harris told me that my voice had similarities to hers. That was massively encouraging to me, particularly because I have a distinctive vibrato that had received mixed reviews at times. From then on I devoured all things Emmylou. And I can't leave out Patty Griffin. Her songwriting has been a touchstone for me.
You covered a Creedence Clearwater Revival song on the EP. What made you decide to tackle a song by someone as illustrious as John Fogerty?
Moby gets the credit for suggesting "Lodi." He felt that the desperation in the story would be a match for the natural vulnerability in my voice. I have loved so many of John Fogerty's songs-- "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" is a favorite. I had also read that he is a notorious perfectionist, having destroyed masters with which he wasn't satisfied, and I felt a sort of tortured-kindred-spirit in an artist with that level of self-criticism.
Fusing rootsy music with more orchestral arrangements is a choice you don't see very many rootsier acts make these days. What was sort of the thought process on working to mesh those two sounds?
Those beautiful orchestral arrangements came from Moby, and I think adding that element helps to reflect that, in addition to being an artist with rootsy musical influences from growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, I also have this very vulnerable and emotional side to my writing. The strings served the purpose of adding drama and climax to my intimate Americana songs. The blending of those two musical elements are what enabled me to ultimately end up with dramatic and even cinematic versions of my originally simple, acoustic guitar songs, which was really exciting for me to hear.