Photos by Anneliese Henjak & Liz Reed
There is something intrinsic about delving in deep to an artists entire discography. Rummaging through the tracks that consume this persons life in short three-minute doses gives us an innate sense of intimacy that can make us feel like we’re sitting across from them drinking a beer and having a retrospective chat.
Melbourne native Jules Sheldon has always been drawn to nostalgia. Whether it be in his musical taste or his own writing style, antecedent influences have played a major part in his development as a musician. Now, after a decade performing locally and internationally, Jules is bringing his three distinctly diverse, genre-bending solo albums to stages across Australia. The ‘Retrospective’ tour will be covering venues in Beechworth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide throughout the month of March and Macedon in April. Tracks from his self titled debut album ‘Jules Sheldon’, his second release ‘Football, Trams, Parties, and Other Highlights’ and latest offering ‘Bloodshed & Serenity’ will be included in the retrospective sets that span from the year 2010 to now.
We had a chat with Jules about the upcoming tour, his previous collaborations and what is next.
Did you always know you would be a performer?
Always had a sneaking suspicion. I never felt like I fit into what constituted a “normal” life, so I knew since I was a kid that I’d do something slightly strange and probably make a life out of it. Just happened to be music.
Growing up on your parents record collection, who were your major musical influences during this time? How have they shaped the musician you are today?
Bowie, The Velvets, Iggy, Roxy Music were the big ones. They made me want to explore, experiment, and challenge myself. Their works are pure art. I try and be as chameleonic as possible thanks to their influence. I hate artists starting new solo projects to accomodate for new styles of music. Embrace your own adventure and wear it under your name, doing that takes guts and I respect that a lot.
You have previously collaborated with legendary figures in Australian music Spencer P. Jones and Brian Henry Hooper, who both sadly passed away last year. What was it like working with such incredible talent? How have their legacies left an impact on you?
I would be nothing without them. I miss Jonesy and Hoops so much, and everything I do in music has their influence. They were bloody hard to work with though. Spencer and I never saw eye to eye while making my first album (which he served as producer), and Brian irked Spencer during it’s making as he wanted to produce it himself! But with them it was what they taught me in the quiet moments. Moments where we’d be at a BBQ and the three of us would be hanging out, playing guitars, arguing, or just telling stories. We worked out early on that a musical involvement wasn’t wise, but their influences as my rock n’ roll uncles is the stuff I cherish. Despite living hard lives and struggling with addictions, they strongly dissuaded me from that path and showed me that music was more important. ‘Do as I say not as I do’ was Spencer’s mantra. And now that I’ve been sober for two months and off ciggies for over a year, I hope I’ve done them proud.
You are currently preparing to hit the road, performing all three of your studio albums live across the East Coast and Adelaide. Where did this idea for the Retrospective Tour come from?
A few factors. Losing Spencer and Brian made me think of my first album and where I came from as a musician. The other factor was that I wanted to tour again in 2019 but didn’t have a new album to do it for, so I felt like the time was right to do a retrospective tour, as this year also marks a decade in the music industry for me.
Your musical career spans over 10 years from 2008 to 2019. How has your sound changed and developed in this time?
Massively. Folk pop, slacker pop, to karaoke synth pop has been quite a journey. I’m proud of how my singing and guitar playing has progressed mostly. The moment where the exact sounds you imagine in your head start coming from your voice or guitar is an amazing one.
Do you have a favourite album or song you’re most looking forward to playing live on the Retrospective Tour?
I’ve been enjoying playing ‘Child Star’ off my second album a lot. Added a bit of oomph to it that was missing when I originally recorded it. The songs off my first album have been really fun too as my voice has progressed heaps and I can do them proper justice.
Your most recent album Bloodshed & Serenity only came out last year, but can we look forward to any new releases in the near future?
I’m writing songs for album #4 at the moment but have no time frame except hopefully sometime in 2020 for it’s release. I’ve actively tried to stop getting stressed about trivial stuff such as album releases, so my one word answer is ‘some fuckin’ time’.