Name: Juliane Wolf
Occupation: Producer, DJ, label founder at Wizarding Wolf
Recent release: Juliane Wolf's Interlagos EP is out via Poesie Musik.
Recommendations: Loreena McKennitt: The Dark Night Of The Soul; Krys Ancholic (AI artist)
If you enjoyed this interview with Juliane Wolf and would like to find out more about her music, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing in 2008, back then with vinyl. Around 2012, I started to get into producing. I had my first release in 2015.
My first influences as a DJ were the artists in the region where I grew up, in Thuringia in the east of Germany: Mathias Kaden, Marek Hemmann, but also the producers and DJs from Leipzig like Daniel Stefanik or Mathias Tanzmann from Moon Harbour Records. At that time I loved the percussion and housy bass lines.
Later, I got more into progressive and melodic house and techno, and acts like Max Cooper, Stephan Bodzin, Gui Boratto and Jerome Isma-Ae got me into producing. Progressive, organic house and melodic techno are perfect for me as they combine groove with the melancholic melodies and chord progressions that are now always present in my tracks.
[Read our Max Cooper interview]
[Read our Stephan Bodzin interview]
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
When I produce music, I sometimes see movies of situations in my head. When that happens I realise that it's a good idea.
There's a meme where a woman walks through a grey city with headphones and when she presses the play-button on her walkman, it turns into a fairytale landscape. When I listen to my recent release Interlagos on Poesie Musik, it immediately makes me feel warm and transports me to a festival scenery with sunny weather.
And this is only one of many sides of what music can do to your mind. It’s so incredibly powerful!
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
In the beginning it was a real problem for me to find my own sound. But there were a few drastic experiences in my life. These hard times I went through shaped me and my personality, and therefore also my sound. I don't let myself be distracted by anything anymore and I don't ask myself questions like: Will this track sell well? Will label XY want to release it?
Since then I've been doing better than before and amazing labels like The Soundgarden, Poesie Musik, YION and many more want to work with me which I’m really thankful for.
So in the end I can only thank these negative events in an ironic kind of way.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
Sometimes I’m more interested in the music of someone if I like the person who made it. There is so much music today that the character of the person behind it becomes more important.
Of course in the end music always speaks for itself, but for me it’s also important who is behind the music. I don't like listening to music by an artist who I know has a bad character.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
The key idea behind making music for me is processing my emotions. I really see it as a privilege to be able to transfer happiness, anger, sadness or heartache into music.
The best music I made was when I was in a really bad mental state. I recommend listening to my recent release on M.planet Music together with cellist Polina Faustova. I would never have made this release the way I made it if I wouldn’t have been so sad. Experiences like this help me to accept sad moments in my life better. I think that also applies to other art forms.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Wow, the questions here are very deep! So I think it’s hard to make something that hasn’t been there yet in some kind of way. You can’t know every piece of music, every chord progression, every melody that has been made. So I’m always interested in new tools, software, synthesizers and AI approaches. But I’m also teaching myself music theory and mixing / mastering.
For example last year I did a mentorship with Pippi Ciez who released on All Day I Dream. It was very eye-opening for me regarding my creative process and my mixing skills.
It’s an often used phrase, but I can only recommend to everyone to never stop learning.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
In earlier times I was really keen to learn everything about analog synths, especially the old ones. I worked for german magazines Beat, Amazon or SynMag and tested synthesizers, but also software. It helped me to gain more knowledge and hands-on experience.
Now I started to work with instrumentalists. I worked with amazing people who played Duduk, Cello or Bandura. It’s a new organic richness of sound that I’m discovering right now. I’m combining that with VSTs like Omnisphere, TAL U-NO-LX or Eventide’s Blackhole that you can hear in almost all of my tracks.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Since the pandemic I have a part-time job as an online editor, which means that I have to structure my day around it.
So on weekdays I’m getting up at 7 am, have a coffee and a bit of breakfast. Then I’m working on music in the studio from 8 to 10 am. After that I work in my job as editor until 4 pm.
Then I continue working on music, recording DJ sets for radio shows, preparing my gigs or doing business things like writing invoices or answering interviews like this one (it’s now 4:15 pm).
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
On my current release "Walk Through Fire" on M.planet Music there is one track called “There Is Still Hope”. I made it in April this year and in the track I processed my feelings and thoughts about Putin’s war in Ukraine.
It was the first time I worried about someone not being alive the next day. That made me feel angry, helpless and sad. My studio computer was broken at that time and I only had my small MacBook Air from 2011. But still, I really felt the need to make music. So I made some break beat drums, chords, a bass line and some melodies.
I had a lead melody in my head that I thought would sound nice if it was played by a Cellist. I thought it would be nice to find a Cellist from Ukraine to play it. So I looked online and found Polina Faustova from Kharkiv. She played a beautiful Cello line that is now the center of the track.
The title “There is Still Hope” is inspired by a scene in Lord of the Rings when in The Two Towers Aragorn says “There is always hope”. The message behind it for me was, we never know what will happen, sometimes we can’t promise anything, but hope allows us to get through this, like in the music, the Cello line should carry the listener through the track.
This is how music is created sometimes. Made out of a lot of emotions combined with human support. This music is the best.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
To be honest, I haven't done a collaboration with another producer for years. There is no real reason behind it, it just didn’t happen. The only collabs I did is with instrumentalists.
But I have something in mind already, which could work well. I will come up with the details later (everyone says that, but I really will come up with them).
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
As a music producer and label owner I see my self as a medium.
The last release on my label Wizarding Wolf was made by upcoming artist Hillmer from Ukraine (near Dnipro). I met him online because of a video I found on Instagram where he played his beautiful track “Extent”.
So we started talking and after some time he sent me an emotional track called “Lily”. I loved the chords and mood of it. So I asked if he wanted to release it on my label.
These connections happen because of music and I think that’s also one crucial role of it: to connect people. The other one is to transfer emotions into art.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
My music and creativity is always connected to what’s happening outside. As an artist you’re constantly processing what happens to you in everyday life.
Take my track “Serafina”, which was later released on Einmusika’s sub label EIN2, in the middle of the pandemic. I just wanted festivals and club nights to come back, which is why I made a track that reminded me of it. Also the child of a friend of mine got just born and she named her Serafina. Of course that made me very, very happy.
So there is always an influence from the outside, and, like I mentioned above, the best music is made in the most extreme emotional phases in life.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
I’m a big science freak, I like physics and all that. And music is science because it’s based on physics, simply. ;)
But still there is a lot about emotions and the brain that we can’t explain, so I like to see the process of music as a sacred and abstract journey that I don’t want to analyse too much.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I have an automatic coffee maker where I only have to adjust the strength of the coffee and press a button and then the coffee comes out. If I would be making tracks like that I would have 2 or 3 finished every day, because that’s how many cups of coffee I drink. It would be a dream, but also not very complex.
In music we can express a lot, and artists shouldn’t forget all the tools they can use. In my track “No More Darkness” that will be released on Dear Deer Recordings later this year I included my own spoken words: “One day, we shall meet in a place where there is no more darkness.” For me it had such a power at that moment.
I love coffee, but these powerful moments while making music give me more energy than 30 cups of it.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it is able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
As I already mentioned in a previous question, I don’t know and I don’t want to. Music is mysterious and sacred for me, and that’s perfect.