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'There's Always A Piece Of Me': Julia Holter On Storytelling

Julia Holter's new album,<em> Have You In My Wilderness,</em> comes out Sept. 25.
Tonje Thilesen
Courtesy of the artist
Julia Holter's new album, Have You In My Wilderness, comes out Sept. 25.

Julia Holter wants to be known as a good storyteller, not just someone who makes pretty music. She grew up studying classical music and listening to pop, though her songs don't easily fall into either category. Holter recently sat down with NPR's Ari Shapiro to discuss two characters on her new album, Have You In My Wilderness, that showcase her storytelling acumen.

Based on the Colette story Chance Acquaintances, "Lucette Stranded On The Island" takes a side character off the page and brings her to center stage.

"Lucette is like this woman whose lover carries her away on a ship, but he ends up attacking her and stealing her jewels and then leaving her on the Balearic Islands, I guess. And it's really awful," she says. "I wanted to capture the moment of someone waking up from being unconscious, and they're slowly regaining consciousness and remembering a chain of events."

Holter says she often finds inspiration in stories that already exist. She recalls taking particular interest in Tiburcio Vasquez. "Vasquez" takes its name from the 19th-century bandit, as well as the California park that bears his name.

"Somehow it just seemed like a compelling story, because there's this sort of law versus outlaw," she says. "The question is, 'Is the bandit the bad guy, or are the guys chasing him the bad guys?' What is exciting to me about stories that, some of which already exist, some of which I make up — a lot of the songs I make up — there's always a piece of me in it, for sure."

Hear more of Holter's conversation with Ari Shapiro, and selections from her new album, at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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