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An Exploration Of Youth Culture and Modern Rock; Sitting Down with Julia Bullocks from the Foxies

When Julia was two years old, she was bobbing her head to Ozzy Osbourne in her diapers. When she was ten, she dyed her hair bright red and went to her first rock concert to see Green Day, and felt utterly electrified after the show, thinking to herself that maybe one day, she could also make it. A few years later, after starting her band The Foxies, she got on TikTok and leaked their upcoming single "Timothée Chalamet," dancing to it with great enthusiasm. The feedback was colossal and introduced the band to a generation of fans who can't wait to eat up whatever they will put out next. It definitely seems like the ten- year-old-post-concert Julia's wish to be a successful musician, was granted.

The Foxies are a Nashville-based power-trio that proves rock 'n' roll isn't dead. They have their own refreshing sound that they like to call Goth Disco. It encompasses some classic rock elements like very loud, all-up-in-you-ears guitar riffs, and energetically delivered vocals. However, their rock sound isn't costume-y; the charm of their music comes from mixing and matching a big variety of genres to create a modern pop sound that fuses post-disco inspired synths and punchy beats.

Creating refreshing soundscapes isn't their only strong suit. The Foxies have an amazing social media presence, where they share the process of their music making very transparently each step of the way. If you follow them on Instagram, you can expect to see a lot of stories from their recording sessions. On TikTok, you'll see that the fans are heavily involved with the decision-making process. Their last single, "Timothée Chalamet," was released upon the overwhelmingly positive feedback that they got after leaking the song. The fans chose the artwork, which made them feel like they were personally involved with the band, which is a relationship that The Foxies try to establish. "I don't like to call our listeners fans because it is way more than that. We are a family and I want everyone to feel like they are our equal," Julia says. They know how to use their platform to reach people and they know how to be relevant.

"HIIII!" screams Julia as soon as our Zoom conference starts with a huge smile on her face, welcoming me into her virtual space in the warmest way possible. Some people just shine, and Julia is definitely one of those people. After struggling with connection problems and my horribly timed power outage, we surely were tested a bit but managed to have an amazing conversation nevertheless.

Janset: You portray the theme of "young adult crisis" so well through your songs. For example, everybody thinks that "Antisocialite" is the best quarantine anthem; however, to me it sounds more like a very reflective track where you talk about the expectancy of having figured everything out, which is relatable to almost everyone who might be struggling with the transformation that you have to go through to become a real adult. In that sense it's almost like a Lorde song. How was your relationship with the concept of becoming an adult when you were an adolescent?

Julia: When I was young I never wanted to grow up, and I still don't want to grow up. You look at yourself when you're fourteen years old and you look at other people who are twenty and you think, "Oh my god, they have everything figured out - they are old!" When you become twenty, you look at people who are thirty, and once again you're like, "Oh my god they have everything figured out - they are old!" and then you hit twenty-five and realize that they are all trying to figure out this thing called life. Adults put on a mask; they don't know what they are doing either, as we're all constantly learning. I think that was the biggest concept that was portrayed on "Antisocialite" and in that whole EP "Growing Up Is Dead".

Janset: Considering the relatability of your music to young people, it was very smart to leak "Timotheé Chalamet" on Tiktok, an application heavily used by Gen-Z. How do you think the feedback that you get from a younger audience differs from the feedback that you get from others?

Julia: When we were first starting out, we had a lot of listeners who were in their early twenties and thirties. When "Growing Up Is Dead" hit, we've seen a change. We've had a lot of new listeners from twelve to thirty. So we thought, "Okay! Maybe we're doing something right, lets keep it going." It's very interesting to see how they interact with our music.

Janset: I feel like The Foxies is a little tricky to label in terms of a specific music genre. When I listen to your music, I hear some splashes of disco, punk, and some glam rock that are blended into a modern pop sound. What does a regular recording and production session look like?

Julia: Before COVID, we were taking trips to Los Angeles four times a year for writing and recording, and we would go to our co-writers house and spend all day there, write a couple songs and do it again the next day. Now that traveling is a lot harder, we do everything over Zoom. When we were recording "Timothée Chalamet," we had a screen on with Sean and Alex, our co-writers, at the side and they were basically telling us the drum tone and the type of vocal tone that needed to be used.

Janset: You call your sound "Goth Disco"; can you explain what that entails?

Julia: It's basically all our inspirations combined. I really really really love Joy Division, The Smiths, and The Cure, but we also want to keep that dance element of Bowie and Blondie in our music. That's how we found the name Goth Disco. We've been using Glitter Punk for a while though, as it kind of has that same vibe; its shiny, its pop with an "I don't give a fuck" element.

Janset: Even though The Foxies are a Nashville based band, you've lived in New York for some time. Did living somewhere as hectic and dynamic as New York effect the way you want to do music?

Julia: It definitely did. I've always wanted instant gratification, and I want to have something when I want it. Being in New York was awesome in terms of stepping out and being patient. When I first moved there I was just turning twenty-one and I didn't know time management nor money management; I didn't know anything except the fact that I knew I wanted to be in a band. When I was in New York I worked four jobs and never had the time to spare for my music, and I lived very fast when I was in New York. It thought me to organize my priorities though.

Janset: New York encapsulates the American Dream imagery in every way possible. It's the meeting point for everybody who wants to "make it." Were you overwhelmed with that concept?

Julia: Oh yeah, that's exactly what I felt. I went to New York and was like, "Oh my God I did it, I'm going to do whatever I want and its going to be very easy." And then I said, "Wait a minute, this might not be the place to be right now." I'm glad I left when I did, because I went to Phoenix later on and that's how The Foxies was created. I've been in Nashville for five years though; I want to go back to New York.

Janset: In an Instagram caption that your bandmates have written about you for your birthday, they make it quite clear that you're the one who ties the band together. How did you go from having a solo career to starting a band where you brought three different people, including yourself, to a common place where you share everything you do?

Julia: It was very hard. I've been in a band since I was thirteen and I did X-Factor when I was eighteen, which kind of gave me a taste of a solo career. After that, I was stuck with a crazy contract for two years and then I tried the solo thing in New York. At the time, I also dabbled with wanting to be in a band. When New York didn't happen, I went to Phoenix. I've had some band members who weren't as passionate as me. I needed a passionate band because I wanted to be the next No Doubt! When I had this opportunity to come back to Nashville, I'd found my bandmates. I'm telling you right now that when we were playing together for the first time, I had a big hesitation. Then, after the third show, I said, "I would never trade these boys for the world." These boys are my brothers now.

Janset: I'm also super curious about your backgrounds, because you said that you guys were pretty diverse when it comes to upbringing.

Julia: We are the most different. Jake's family is Middle Eastern; he is from Israel. He grew up in Philly and he went to Berkeley. Rob grew up in Syracuse, New York. He is super northern, a hardcore old school skater kid, and you've got me who grew up in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. The thing that unites us it the fact that we all want to make this our career for the next thirty years. Our families are all very supportive of us and what we do. It's amazing when you have a band of completely diverse people with one common passion whose families also share that passion. We would never give up on each other, as we've got some very strong roots holding us down. We totally have our days where we get a bit mad with each other, but we know when to talk like this and not to talk like that.

Janset: Okay, so I will share my hypothesis with you concerning the ethos of The Foxies, and you're going to answer yes or no: "That rock ’n’ roll, it just won’t go away." Once said by a very self-assured Alex Turner in his BRITS speech. Iggy Pop slathered peanut butter all over his chest in Cincinnati and the Riot Grrrls encouraged their listeners to talk openly about the sexual assault that they had been experiencing at concerts and to hold men accountable. All these things inspire the ethos of The Foxies. If the answer is yes, how so, and if its no, why not?

Julia: Yes! I think so because I feel like if you're in a band and don't speak up about what you believe in, why are you in a band in the first place? What is more punk than speaking your mind? That's rock. I stand by that for sure.

Janset: The music industry has known some very powerful women-led bands, like Paramore, Alabama Shakes, Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney. What would you like to add to all the things that they have achieved within the industry as a frontwoman?

Julia: Oh man, that's so hard because they have done so much in the industry that defines what rock is for women today. They are fearless, unapologetically themselves, they use their voice, they are sexual because they want to be sexual. For me and how I perform, I don't want to be sexual because that's what people want to see. I want to be sexual because I do love being sexual on stage, that's my prerogative. Don't objectify me for performing the way I perform, see that as art. It's self-expression. It's about knowing who you are as an artist and as a person. Eventually, they intertwine with one another.

Janset: Your music video for "Antisocialite" looks like a modern take on a John Hughes movie. I can definitely imagine a group of seniors getting drunk and dancing while listening to the song. If you could pick a movie where your songs would be used as a soundtrack, which film would you choose?

Julia: I feel like the definite answer would be The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink, but I would LOVE for our music to be the soundtrack to The Lost Boys. Vampires, baby!

Janset: Last but not least, what do you want to say to Tonitruale readers before you go?

Julia: We're really big on stressing the fact that our listeners are not fans, but they are our family. In this time more than ever, people need to talk about their problems and issues. The only way to get that soul-relief is talking about what you're feeling, and having conversations. As The Foxies, we want our music to be a safe place. As individuals, we also deal with OCD and intrusive thoughts. We want to be open about these matters so other people are encouraged to be open about it too.

The Foxies would have been touring Europe if COVID didn't hit. We wanted to prepare a cute illustration that could serve as a manifestation / vision board for the band, and hopefully pump them up for what is yet to come.


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