Interview with harpist Julia Mascetti

julia mascetti 1Vicki Anne interviews harpist and singer-songwriter Julia Mascetti, inspired by her love of alternative music and fashion, Julia rebels from the usual classical music played on the harp and opts for rock, metal, anime themes and J-Pop tunes – as well as her own original songs.

julia mascetti 3First of all, how would you describe your music?
A kind of dark pop with strong folk influences.

Can you tell me what styles of music influence you?
So many! Singing in choirs has been a huge part of my musical life since I was very little and classical choral music still influences me. The harp has a very strong folk tradition and I think you can hear that in the harmonies and the harp playing style in my songs. I listened to a lot of metal and goth as a teenager and I think that’s where my music gets its melodrama and some of the darker lyrical and musical style. Experimental female singer-songwriters are an inspiration (Kate Bush is my idol!) and I enjoy chart music for a catchy tune and a bit of a dance. I’m also a big fan of electronic music (Nine Inch Nails and Placebo are two of my favourite bands) and I have been starting to experiment with that recently by collaborating more with producers. Have a listen to my track ‘Iago’ produced by the incredible Laurie Smart. I’m hoping to do more collaborations like that, I think the harp has a lot of potential in electronic music.

The harp can be considered quite an unusual instrument in modern music, how did you get into playing it?
I never know the answer to that question! I honestly have always wanted to play the harp for as long as I can remember and I don’t quite know why. Perhaps I saw one in a concert or on TV and fell in love with it. I’m half Welsh and the harp has a much bigger presence in Wales, so maybe that’s where it comes from. It took years of begging my parents to let me start learning though, I had my first lesson aged 10 or 11.

julia mascetti 4Do you play any other instruments as well as the harp?
Aside from singing, I play the piano but not very well.

Your youtube videos feature a large range from original songs to covers, which do you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoy both for different reasons! Original songs take a lot more work usually, because I am creating everything from start to finish, whereas with covers I am taking someone else’s idea and putting my spin on it. I guess with originals I can express myself more fully and I feel a real sense of achievement, but I am proud of a lot of covers I have done too. Taking a song you love to listen to and making it your own is a lot of fun and gives you plenty of opportunity to be creative.

The lyrics in your original songs are very deep, where do you tend to get inspiration for them from?
Ha ha, I am going to take ‘deep’ as a compliment 😉 I never self-consciously try to be ‘deep’ but I guess that’s how some of the songs turn out. I get inspiration from all sorts of places, books, plays and personal experiences either from my own life or the lives of those close to me.

julia mascetti 5What was it like for you to play at Enchanted?
Well the lolitas were certainly the best dressed crowd I have ever played for – and I’ve been performing at weddings for six years! I had a wonderful time, lovely appreciative audience, gorgeous venue and I really enjoyed meeting the band Heroine Syndrome who performed after me! I really like their music and they performed a great set. We’re hoping to collaborate in the future.

How do you feel about Lolita fashion?
I love it! I would never call myself a Lolita but I think it does influence my style and I own several items of brand clothing and a few Gothic and Lolita Bibles. Some of my close friends are lifestyle Lolitas and they always look stunning – I just couldn’t commit to one style or putting that much effort into my appearance every day 😉 I’m glad that many people do though, Lolita fashion makes me smile and injects a bit of beauty, fun and fantasy into everyday life. When I visited by boyfriend in Japan last year I dragged him around some of the brand shops in Tokyo and it was a magical experience just to look at the beautiful clothes and beautiful lolitas. For Enchanted, I wore a skirt from Mana’s label Moi-même-Moitié, that I bought in Tokyo.

julia mascetti 2You are performing at London Anime Gaming Con in July, can you reveal any sneak peak titbits for this?
Yes, I’m really looking forward to it! As for sneak peaks, that depends on you 😉 Readers, what JPop songs or anime and gaming soundtracks would you like to hear on the harp? Tweet me your requests @JuliaMascetti and I will try to fit them into my set.

Aside from London Anime Gaming Con, do you have any plans for the future?
I have a very exciting concert coming up on 20th June, where I will be performing with two other songwriters who use the harp in the incredible venue of Asylum Arts Chapel in Peckham, south London. I’m super excited about performing in this venue – it’s a renovated asylum chapel which has been taken over by two artists who curate fantastic arts events. We have called the concert ‘Harpicide at Asylum’ and we are trying to present a different side of the harp than the ‘angelic’ stereotype 😉 If you’re interested, more information and tickets can be found at harpicide.eventbrite.co.uk. I hope to see you there!

Thank you for a lovely interview Julia, remember to follow Julia Mascetti on Facebook, Twitter @JuliaMascetti for all her latest news and updates. You can also suscribe to Julia’s YouTube channel. Below is a beautiful rendetion from Studi Ghibli’s Spirited Away.