Julius Dolls has been making music for a long time but now he’s ready to take over the scene with his blend of pop and experimental sounds. Dolls dropped out of school to pursue his music career full time. He’s now based in Chicago. PATTERN recently had the chance to catch up with Julius Dolls at Soho House to discuss his passion for music and his future projects.
Allie Coppedge: I saw your video for Beach Goth just came out. What was it like shooting that?
Julius Dolls: It was really fun. Lorenzo Diego, who’s staying with us in Logan Square right now directed it. We shot it in LA and I just had fun with it in that it wasn’t planned out as much shot by shot as the other videos I’ve done, it was a lot more free form.
AC: Are you back and forth between here and Indiana a lot?
JD: Not as much. I went to Indiana University for two years and then I ended up leaving to do music full time. I’m originally from a suburb south of here. But I’m in Logan Square now with like seven people packed in there. Our studio is there and we all work together though.
AC: Given that you dropped out of school to pursue a music career, what are your thoughts on aspiring musicians going to college?
JD: It really depends on your situation. I like education, I’m definitely an advocate for it. But it’s different person to person. If you’re going to school for the technical side of music, engineering or business, I think that college can really help. Personally, if I met Pharrell, I don’t think he’d ask me if I had a degree, he’d ask to hear what I’ve been making. So for me, when it comes to creating and producing music, the best teachers have been people like Pharrell and Kanye and all of the artists I listened to. Of course my parents really want me to go back though.
AC: Were you studying music at IU?
JD: I was studying communications and film. However I did take a few music classes but I didn’t like them or learn much. College is a lot of money and a lot of commitment. I’m the kind of person that if I’m pursuing something, I want to give it my all. But at school I wasn’t giving it my all. Maybe one day I will go back to school for something else, but for now this is where I’m at.
AC: Having one foot in Indy and one in Chicago, what are some differences you see as far as your audiences?
JD: In Indiana we play a lot more house shows. We just played on Thursday in Bloomington. Since it’s a college town, people are more inclined to come to whatever because they just want to go out. So you’ll meet people a lot quicker. In Chicago it’s definitely tougher sometimes to get a bigger show or get on the bill. But when you do it’s great because everyone in Chicago is really awesome too. If you get a chance to showcase out here, it’s beneficial. Overall, it’s a different vibe though. It’s a lot more competitive, but it increases your drive. In Indiana people just show up, but that’s great too because it gets my name out there.
AC: How would you describe your sound?
JD: That’s tough. All of my friends say I should name it something because I just call it pop music or experimental pop music, but there’s hip hop and rock in there too. I like to take risks with my music and don’t want to do the same thing. But if I had to categorize it I’d say pop. Just go listen to it!
AC: It’s been a little over a year since your album ‘Life is Beautiful Sometimes’ came out. Any reflections on that?
JD: I had never done an album before. I was in a band for a couple of years before doing my own thing. I wasn’t really singing as much either. So that album really taught me how the whole process works; how to keep everything organized, get my money together, arrange everything. I learned a lot about what to do, not to do, how to do things better, and what I like about the process.
AC: You sing and play guitar, but are you a part of any other process?
JD: I am. I produce too. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12. I start there and make cords, then I can transfer that to a synthesizer or piano. We have a studio at our place and I go to classic studios as well.
AC: When you were first starting out, how did you find the right people to work with?
JD: That was the hardest part. I did what every kid did, I tried playing sports. But I wasn’t very good. I got involved in theatre growing up too, and I was actually pretty good at that. Then I didn’t mesh with anyone in it. So that’s when I started playing guitar for like eight hours a day. I really wanted to play in bands but I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do it as much as me. Everyone was kind of interested, but only wanted to practice once a month. Eventually I started meeting people and playing and found guys that were also really interested. That didn’t end up panning out because of different opinions and directions though. Then some people in my past reemerged when I went to college and I also met my roommate, Ryan. He plays on almost all of my music now and is as dedicated as I am. It’s weird, it all fell into place. Everyone now sees it like a full time job.
AC: Having a career in music requires some significant commitment and dedication.
JD: Yeah. At the end of the day no one is going to do it for you, you have to do it for yourself. I just kept going and those who wanted to keep up, kept up. It took eight years but I’m finally there.
AC: What kind of response did you get from friends and family when you first started playing music?
JD: I don’t think anyone thought it was that serious at first. I was really bad for a long time. Everyone thought of it as a hobby. Then in high school, when I said I was really doing it for real, I remember my sister tried to talk me out of it. I was in a band and she thought that’s what I was going to do and she said I had to get a career. My parents were of course really concerned. People didn’t really know what was happening. I’ve kept at it and taken it as serious as the day I began, if not more. Lately people have been more encouraging because they trust me. They now know I’m not going to quit.
AC: What’s your favorite show you’ve played so far?
JD: We played the Miramar in Milwaukee. I have a big following there right now because a lot of the guys I play and work with have a studio up there. The Miramar is a pretty big venue that we played with King Louie and some other rappers. There were a lot of people there for me and knew the words to my songs, so that was really cool. And the sound was good, which is hard to get.
AC: What’s next for you?
JD: In the winter I have, what I call, a “soundtrack to life” coming out. And I’m working on another album which will be released in the summer. I also have really cool merch I designed that’s coming out. Originally it was going to be a fashion line but I don’t want to call it that, it’s more of just really well designed merch. Overall, I’ve been working really hard to create new stuff for next year. My whole team has a lot coming up. 2018 is going to be a huge year.