Julien Mier is an experimental music producer who hails from the Netherlands. Currently residing in Sydney, Australia, Mier recently released his LP Shiny Silver Lining on King Deluxe Records. The album, which Mier describes on his SoundCloud page as “the color of transformation”, features seven tracks that deal with finding the positive in a sea of darkness. Julien Mier and I recently sat down to talk about his new album.
Carly Bernstein (MusicMap): What inspirations did you draw from to create this new album?
Julien Mier: It was mostly because I moved from places. I used to live in a forest before, where I created my previous album called Out Of The Cloud, so it was a bunch of new circles that ended. My grandmother died and my mother emigrated from the Netherlands back to France where she’s from. Basically a lot of renewal, and nature that retakes old civilisations and stuff like that.
Did you do most of the writing for your new album before you moved to Sydney?
Most of it was already finished. I wrapped it around last year in September/October.
So you were still living in the Netherlands when you wrote the material for the album?
Yeah. I lived temporarily in Amsterdam and also temporarily in Apeldoorn. Basically I say temporary because it was just six months to three months that I had been there. I didn’t really settle down yet.
Would you say that where you were living influenced the sound of your album in the way that when you were living in the Netherlands in the forest it influenced your previous album?
Yeah it did. This one is more like me trying to cope with a new stage of my life and that kind of resulted in living somewhere else, literally at the other side of the world actually.
So I watched your music video for ‘Sea of Decay’, and I was wondering how you came up with the idea for it?
So basically the guy that made the video is a really good friend of mine, and he lived 10 minutes from me by bicycle in Amsterdam. We’ve basically known each other a really long time already, and we wanted to do something together. He makes these really really cool underwater visuals in a fish tank. That’s like his normal thing. And this song was inspired by the Sea of Decay, which is a reference to Studio Ghibli. One of their oldest movies called Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, it’s from the ‘90s and it refers to this really big garbage, fungus kind of forest that is toxic for humans to breathe in. They called this the Sea of Decay. So that kind of felt like it was appropriate, as a reference, and also that’s why I asked Kamiel to make the video for this one. That’s why he chose those kind of colours. If you look it up it’s kind of like a green, turquoise hue.
Does the title of the album Shiny Silver Lining have a particular meaning behind it?
Well yeah, I just came out of a really long relationship, and I just came across my girlfriend, who is from Sydney, so it’s kind of like that’s quite remarkable, kind of a silver lining after a sort of remorse period. Also my grandmother died the moment I was on tour in Japan. That was last year in September and I wrote a good part of [the album] in Japan actually so it is sort of like you are seeing all those new discoveries and those nice, new experiences and at the same time it’s something else that’s closed down. It’s kind of like coming out of a really bad period, but still trying to see the positive lining beneath that.
Were you close with your grandmother?
Yeah. She was one of the only creatives from my family. She’s a pretty famous painter from Paris. She was the president of the art academy in Paris, so she was pretty influential. I think she really encourages me to make my own art so yeah in a way we were close.
When you sit down to work on your albums do you have a certain creative process that you follow? Or is it different every time?
It is quite different every time, but also it’s sort of the same. It’s just like this really big picture book of music that I have already made, and sketches. Sometimes a piece is already on the table for six years and there’s nothing really to tie it together to finish it and suddenly during the creation of a new thing it just comes together in a different way. Then I finish it and it might become a real different piece or just a little part of it will end up in it, but it’s sort of like a lot of pieces have different stages to it.
How would you describe those stages?
At first they are drafts. I just work on them for sessions. One session will take like four or five hours. Sometimes a piece is finished within that time and sometimes just a draft and I have no idea how to finish it. Then another session will come in and I will take that sketch and think ‘hey that’s actually really suited for this release because it kind of underlines the concept and idea I was following in a release.’ Then it just fits in like a little puzzle piece. After two or three sessions it’s kind of finished.
So I read in a previous interview that you’ve been working with electronic music since you were 15. I was wondering how you would say your sound has evolved from when you started into what it is today?
I think when I really just started that the music sounded a bit more naïve and also more electronic. I think I started kind of like an inexperienced person and the older I am I come across things in life and things that everyone is experiencing, but it just matures the sound a lot. Maybe just the sorrow seeps in as well a bit, which makes it a bit different but not a lot different. I also try to keep the spirit mostly because when I started out making music I just did it for the joy of creation. It’s just like being this child and creating something really nice and pure out of joy of creating it, and that’s something I really try to keep so that’s something from the past as well.
Do you have plans following the release of your album?
I am working on something new. It’s going to be a more psychedelic, pop album because I want to do something slightly less experimental and lately I’ve been really influenced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala and Black Moth Super Rainbow, who use electronica in a very psychedelic, really wavy kind of way. I really want to do something about environmental, almost activist kind of music. Just in a sort of sceptical, cynical way. Also, I want to work more in the traditional band kind of setting, so vocals, guitars and drums. Tour-wise I probably in August will do a little tour in Melbourne. I am setting it up at the moment.
You said you want to do something environmentally active with your music. Do you have something particular in mind?
Not yet. It’s just this concept project. I am calling it Floral Grenade at the moment. I want to do something about the fact that we are actually making war on our nature. People don’t realise it, and they are not going to realise it until it’s too late. I mean a lot of music I’ve made in the past [is] based on nature a lot as well, so I felt like I wanted to be more active in a political, opinionated way. I want to do something with my music in a more active way.