Juliane Hooper, Neo Soul singer and songwriter, dives into her emotions and transforms her feelings into art through music. After the release of melancholic and danceable tracks, such as “Soulless” and “Wasting Away”, she now presents her long-awaited debut album, titled “Soulful”. The disc, which combines songs in English and Portuguese, reflects the personal and artistic journey of the artist, who sought authentic sounds and lyrics that fully represented her.
Initially planned as an EP, the project evolved over a year of production, under the direction of Julio Mossil. Juliane realized the importance of each track written and decided to expand the work to a full album, which allowed a greater connection with her musical identity. During this process, the singer also made changes to the order of the songs, seeking to represent the emotional roller coaster that we all experience, instead of following a linear progression from sad to happy.
“Soulful” opens with the title track, a visceral song that addresses the experience of having all your feelings mixed up. The album also takes a political approach in “Se exhausted… it’s been a while”, exploring the discomfort and exhaustion of living in a capitalist society with false promises of freedom. In “Ainda Dói”, the only track not written by Juliane, the artist honors her deceased father, complementing a poem written by Mônica Paixão. The emotional journey continues with songs about breaking up, growing up and reflecting on adulthood.
With “Soulful”, Juliane Hooper invites listeners to embark on a real and profound experience of self-knowledge, offering a candid portrait of her personal journey through music.
How did you discover your passion for music and what motivated you to pursue a career as a Neo Soul singer-songwriter?
I don’t know of a specific moment, but I didn’t start as a child or have anyone’s influence on art. When I was about 23, 24 years old, some people heard me sing at home or in informal situations, and they started to encourage me by saying that I had a beautiful voice. And then I started singing in a band, but something very informal and unprofessional. After a while, I realized that I liked it more and more and wanted to buy a guitar, learn to play, without depending on other people. At first I gave up playing, it seemed too difficult. But then I continued and it worked. I also set out to play an instrument in order to compose, which was another need I felt while doing covers.
I wanted to create something, and it’s a wonderful feeling. About the style, to be honest, even today I think I’m a mix of many, and as I’m still on my first release, I think it’s getting more and more defined over time. Neo Soul is what defines the most at the moment, I went for this style thinking about my influences, timbres, everything I would use as a sound reference. It was Soul, and during production we arrived at Neo Soul.
Can you tell us a little more about the process of creating your debut album, “Soulful”? What were the main inspirations and challenges during this period?
My main objective with this album was to create a work that completely represented me, that had my face. I wanted my first work to be able to show the listener who I am, what my vocal and sound identity is, and the things I feel and think. They are strong lyrics and melodies that I created without rules and patterns, in the most diverse ways. Until I got to this job, I had other recording and production experiences, but they weren’t exactly what I wanted and didn’t represent me.
Then I got to Julio Mossil, listening to the productions he had made, and I really liked it. We identify ourselves in the art, in the sound, and as people. This identification is essential for me, even in my band with the musicians who play with me. I like to have a good relationship and identify with them. In short, all good people haha. Those things are part of sound and art too.
You mentioned that the tracks on the album were rearranged to convey a more authentic experience of the emotional highs and lows. Could you explain how this change added meaning to the project?
I pretty much reversed the narrative order of the album. Before, Soulless would open and close with Soulful. But during production this no longer made sense, the narrative and presentation of the album is that our emotions are not linear, from sad to happy, but a roller coaster. The songs talk to each other, the themes are related and complement each other, and this narrative and new order that I defined tells the story well. For those listening in order, the transitions also make sense.
What is the central message you want to convey with the lyrics of your songs? Is there a recurring theme or story you’re telling through them?
That all feelings are valid and must be experienced. Sometimes we want to avoid sadness, loneliness, emptiness…, but they exist and do not nullify positive feelings. The album talks a lot about depression, grief, and a person going through it and reflecting on it, coming to their own conclusions.
Most of the themes I’ve written are about things that have been going on for a while, have been completed. I find it easier to write about something that has passed, but it is not a rule. The most current ones I would say are “Soulful and If Exhausted… It’s been a while”. “Se Esgotou” was the last lyrics I wrote for the album, not long ago. The track “Ainda Dói” was the only lyric I didn’t write. It was a poem that my friend Mônica Paixão wrote about mourning her father who left us. She sent me these poems, I loved this one so much and decided to make a song, she loved the idea. This song already had 4 or 5 different versions, I tested it in different ways with other melodies and instrumentals, chords… and I wasn’t satisfied with anything. Until I got the instrumental of a song I had in English, and I inserted the lyrics of Still Hurts into it. So this melody from Aind Dói was an English sound before. I believe it was perfect, in the best possible way, I edited some words, added a paragraph and this was the result.
“Soulful” is a song that talks about some of the feelings of “Soulless”, but with more power, autonomy and independence. Being imposing, knowing who you are, how cool you are and must be selective with situations and people.
“Se Exchotou… Faz Tempo” is about feeling exhausted in the society we live in and with the impossible demands and expectations that the system throws at us. Even if we don’t have time, (we are always trying to survive and work to pay rent) and that nothing else matters, I don’t accept the superficial and the mediocre. I talk about myself, in a moment of realizing that our naivety or innocence is “fading” with time, as we age. And don’t come back. You get smarter, you know the reality of things, but not in a pessimistic way, but being aware of that.
Some of the other tracks talk about mourning and overcoming a relationship that had to end, and I reflect on the events.
What was it like working with producer Julio Mossil to create your album? How did this partnership influence the sound and artistic direction of the project?
It was amazing! It totally influenced. Julio was a producer who managed to extract my essence, and the best of my compositions, without “changing” me, but making me grow and mature. Do exactly what I wanted, a sound that represented me and that was my face. I couldn’t have made a better choice, the result is perfect, he did the production and Flávia K did the vocal direction. I learned a lot from them in the studio, the evolution of “Soulless” and “Wasting Away” to the other tracks is clear. They were the first ones we recorded and produced, and I see a big evolution for the other tracks. I love them all, but I see a difference. Anyway, I learned a lot inside this studio, I will definitely miss it, and who knows we will even make other sounds together. I loved the process and the atmosphere in the studio is really good. For example, if I was having a bad, sad or tpm day (or all of them hahaha) I would go there to record and come back someone else, with a different mood. This is the definition of the art we made there and the ideas we exchanged.
You sing in English and Portuguese on the album. Is there any difference in how you express yourself in these two languages? How do you decide which language to compose your songs in?
I think this has become more and more equalized, it’s a question of what I listen to and what influences me at the moment. Before, it was easier for me to write and compose in English, due to influences, I learned English by listening to music and watching movies, so I had an attachment to that. Today I think it’s balanced, I just think our language is richer and that’s why it’s more complete for me, fitting the melodies. But it depends on what I’m listening to the most.
I don’t know if I decide, I just let out what comes to mind. Some I choose, when I start I think about it and what the objective is, what I want from that song.
In addition to music, you mentioned that you found in art a way to express your emotions. Could you share a little bit about this relationship between art and emotion in your life?
Apart from music, I really like cinema, series, and that totally influenced and always brought out feelings. For me, this is art. The art that touches me is the one that moves, that provokes, that talks about important things, that reflects.
Your album release is approaching. How are you feeling about this important milestone in your career? What are your expectations and hopes for the launch?
I’m really happy with the release, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to and wanting for a long time. I am happy to have achieved the goal of a work that represents me as much as this one. My expectation is that it will open doors and be just the beginning of many other works.
How do you imagine your music can impact and connect with the public? Is there a specific message you’d like people to take away from listening to your songs?
By identifying with the themes I mentioned, I want people to feel and identify with it, maybe because they have already felt that way, or until they reach some conclusion going through some moment in their lives. But everyone has their own interpretation when listening and reading the lyrics, and that’s really cool. If anyone listens to the song and has a different interpretation than I do, I think that’s awesome and would love to know. It is interesting to see the different ways that messages can arrive and be interpreted.
I would like you to carry the message that you are not alone in feeling any emotion. That many things are not in our control, and that doesn’t have to be negative.
What are your future plans in music? Are there any special collaborations or projects you would like to undertake?
About future projects, yes, I have some collaborations I want to do. But the biggest current plan is for the album release show, scheduled for August 6th at Whiplash Bar at 6pm.
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