Enchanting songstress Julie Mintz’s voice sounds laced with whiskey, smoke, and honey. Her lyrics are like imitate passages from her diary. Themes of disillusionment, heart-break, loneliness and love define her style as Gothic Americana. This transformative musical artist bedazzled critics and fans with her latest solo album, Abandon All Hope of Fruition, and her most recent single, Purple Rain/Million Reasons, both produced by her longtime friend and collaborator, Moby. Purple Rain/Million Reasons, a Prince and Lady Gaga, mashup was quick to rise on the charts. Now, Julie has dropped her highly anticipated dance re-mix of Purple Rain/Million Reasons - Moby Minimal Remix, firmly cementing herself as an artist to follow. I spent time photographing Julie in the abandoned Immigrant Hospital buildings on the south side of Ellis Island; a location I thought most fitting for an artist that tackles themes of hope and abandonment. We spoke about the inspiration behind her new single, the themes she tackles in her music, how the Holocaust took a personal toll on her family, her very unusual after school job, and what shooting in the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital buildings meant to her.
AS IF: The last time we saw each other is when I dropped you off at your hotel in New York after our shoot on the south side of Ellis Island. That shoot was different than the ones you have done in the past. Tell me what it was like for you?
Julie Mintz: That shoot was probably the most fascinating shoot I’ve ever been a part of because of the location. The history of the place, combined by the education I got that day, was incredible. Also, my family came through Ellis Island, which added gravity to the day. Plus, it was a wet and rainy day, it was cold, we were shooting in the abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital buildings with no heat or electricity, and no lights…There was something about the atmosphere that day that made me connect on some level to what came before us and who occupied those spaces. You can really feel the importance of our country’s history when walking through those buildings. It was really humbling.
I chose that location not only because I sit on the board of the Save Ellis Island Foundation and want people to know about these incredible buildings, but mainly because your music has a depth of emotion to it, a melancholy, it makes you think, it makes you feel. It didn’t feel right to just throw you in a studio. Tell me about your music, why you write what you write, and what you are expressing?
My music has always come from a place of really deep emotion; it’s never been a frivolous thing for me. I’ve always been inspired to write music when I’m struggling with something dark. Shooting in the Immigrant Hospital buildings did feel like a really unique complement to my music because the sounds in my music have often been dark and haunting, and that’s a good descriptor of where we were shooting.
Why are you so drawn to singing the blues?
As a child when I first started taking piano lessons my teacher was introducing me to all the different types of music, and I was most drawn to the blues. The blues were the only thing I wanted to play.