Julia Crafton is a teenager who wears fuzzy socks, pulls all-nighters writing songs in the basement, and answers the phone with a cupcake in her mouth, mumbling “I’m at the studio!” She released an album, “Woodstock Child”, on January 24, 2021. She sang for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and performed at New York venues The Bitter End and The Cutting Room. Called “the product of mature musical choices, fearlessness, and fun” by Walter Parks, an award winning guitarist, Crafton’s past year has been a whirlwind.
Crafton, a 10th grader, lives with her twin brother, parents, and her labradoodle, Penny. She’s part of a tight knit, rural community surrounded by lakes and empty vacation cottages, where she hops on a school bus and winds her way through the hills to the township’s high school. After class, she turns to music. Working on her second album, she takes trips in the family minivan to record vocals in New Orleans and the family studio in New York City. In conversation, she shared what goes on behind an album while also maintaining a life with essays to write and a need for sleep. The following questions are edited excerpts.
You worked on your album during quarantine, so now being back in person, what’s changed?
My whole first album was recorded virtually. Musicians would send in tracks from wherever they lived. We didn’t record in the studio except for drums, horns, and guitar. Now that the studio is open again, we’re able to go track there. It’s crazy to go from being isolated during the album making process to being in the same room as everyone.
Crafton poses for her first photo session, complete with daisies from the grocery store. Album graphic courtesy of Julia Crafton.
Your album is titled “Woodstock Child”, so what’s the connection to Woodstock?
My dad toured with Richie Havens, the opening act at Woodstock 1969, and produced and recorded his last albums. Richie was one of the first people to hold me when I was a baby, and his music has always been a huge part of my life. I wrote “Woodstock Child” as my way of appreciating my musical influences. After I released the album, Richie’s partner sent me a letter, and it really felt like everything had come full circle.
What was your first photoshoot like?
The photo was taken in a field five minutes away. It was a foggy day and couldn’t have been more perfect. I had to sit on a plastic bag so my pants wouldn’t get soaked through, and my mom went to Acme to buy daisies. The photographer, Dennis Dalelio, was wonderful. He made it a positive first experience! I get anxious before doing anything visual like photos because I’ve struggled with body image, so I was thankful the pictures were fantastic.
How do you balance your career with 10th grade?
I’m a to-do list junkie. It will be like, “recording session at noon, don’t forget history notes are due Tuesday!” It’s a lot, but having ways to organize everything visually has been a way to balance. Being a bit of a procrastinator, it’s stopped me from making excuses when I’ve already written down times to do things.
Your song “Hiding Place” covers school shootings. Tell me about it.
I wrote it when I was fourteen. I was about to go into freshman year at a public school after being homeschooled since fifth grade. There’s always that fear when you hear the news about everything happening in schools and how as a society, it’s as if we’re becoming desensitized. I wrote the song as an outlet for coping with that anxiety. I decided that I wanted it to be as unfiltered as possible. The power behind music is the ability to bring your thoughts into a reality. I had the opportunity to speak with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, so I was honored, because they have continuously provided an outlet for younger voices to share our experiences.
What’s the impact your music has on young listeners?
It’s important that young people, especially girls, have role models that parents can rely on to be good influences. Part of what I’m trying to do is be a role model that young people can relate to. No matter what position you’re in, you’re always being observed.