JULIANNA BARWICK with VASILLUS, CHRISTINE DUNCAN and CASTLE IF at Double Double Land (209 Augusta), Wednesday (April 16), doors 8 pm, all ages. $8-$10. RT, SS.
Brooklyn-based solo artist Julianna Barwick's otherworldly sound depends on the dense vocal layers she creates in real time using a looping pedal. At times she sounds like a choir of alien angels, and is able to conjure an impressively transcendent feeling. In fact, Barwick admits that she might never have become a professional musician had it not been for that one piece of gear.
"That was definitely the key," Barwick explains, from her parents' home in Oklahoma. "That was the turning point where I went from just having fun singing and playing electric guitar to being really excited and enthusiastic about making music. I like to work very fast and have stuff just happen magically, and that's what happened when I started using it."
Her songs definitely evoke that magical feeling, and her sound got even more ethereal on her most recent album, Nepenthe (Dead Oceans), thanks to production help from Sigur Rós's Alex Somers. However, she didn't let the outside influence change her songwriting approach.
"I would create the songs like I always do: just plug everything in and make everything up on the spot into the Loop Station. I would jam by myself with my morning coffee for an hour and come up with a bunch of stuff to show Alex, and then experiment from there."
Considering how dependent her sound is on the looper, it's a good thing the thieves who recently stole her phone, laptop and iPad while she was on tour left her live gear alone. She's also never experienced a major technical malfunction onstage.
"I have not, and that's a terrifying thought, actually. That's probably why my dad is always asking if I have extra fuses or whatever, and of course I don't."