The third instalment of our Community Journal series sees the introduction of Julien, the maestro behind untradition: a Toronto-based music collective that is breaking down the traditions around musical genre categorization. The Canadian-Caribbean producer, performer and musician injects invigorating and uplifting melodies of funk and hip-hop into the listeners ear, all while perfectly defining the random synergy of Toronto’s sound.
Introduce yourself and describe what you do.
I started a music project in 2016 called 'untradition'. The music is hip-hop at it's core seasoned heavily with blues and jazz elements. I write the lyrics, compose the music, produce my recordings, and engineer and record myself mostly on my own. I also play the role of musical director, casting and leading the band that we just put together to start playing live.
How did you get started and why did you choose the industry/career you’re in?
I started by making demos of my music and showing it to musician friends of mine who could play instruments really well and help me flesh out my ideas. For about a year and half I just wrote songs and worked on what I really wanted to do musically. Being an artist is in my blood. My Dad was a DJ and my mom sings gospel. My grandfather was a playwright, a photographer, and a musician himself. I like to think that this is a path that chose me instead of vice versa. There's little else for me in this world!
The transition into music came from a desire to get my ideas out faster! I'm impatient haha. Photography projects can take a long time to materialize because I primarily shoot people - so that's something I can't always control. I like the immediacy of sitting down and writing a song on the guitar and maybe even recording the whole thing by myself. It feels like I already have my reward.
What’s next? Anything cool you’re working on?
I'm in an 'anti-project' phase with my music. I put out 2 EPs and a bunch of singles in the last 3 years and I'm recharging from pouring everything into those projects, since making music is still so new to me. I plan to drop songs throughout next year and I'm always recording but I don't want to plan a lengthy, specific body of music right now. I like the freedom and the exploration that I'm feeling right now. I have album ideas always floating in my mind but it will be a while before I commit to a defined track list. It will be my debut album, so I want to really take my time to grow it like a plant. Look out for live shows! I want to play the music with the band that I've already released, expand on those arrangements and bring life to them in a way I haven't had the chance to yet - and make the live shows really special! COVID really threw a wrench in my plans, but we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now. That's the next chapter for untradition: live! Listen to the EPs and singles we've put out, and then come freak out with us!
Photographed by Nathan Legiehn
Check out Julien and untradition on Instagram at @untradition.