Studio Essentials: Julia Wallace

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Studio Essentials: Julia Wallace

Words by Will Brewster

We tour the emerging WA prodigy's musical space.

There’s got to be something in the water over in Perth.

Whether it’s something to do with being one of the most isolated cities in the world or simply just sheer coincidence, the Western Australian capital has produced a huge number of prodigal musicians over the last few years – think Kevin Parker, Stella Donnelly, John Butler, the list goes on and on – many of whom have gone on to become recognised as some of the best artists Australia’s got to offer.

If her new EP is anything to go by, young gun Julia Wallace might just be the next best act to join these ranks.

At just 20 years of age, she’s established herself as one of the state’s finest young musicians, with her mind-boggling trumpet playing earning her an entrance scholarship to WAAPA and even a spot at the highly competitive Brubeck Institute of Music in California.

On her debut release Place In Mind, Wallace steps out to showcase her uncanny instrumental chops, gorgeous arrangements and intimate lyricism with four stunning self-recorded compositions, created over the span of the state’s lockdown last year before being sent off to Jono Steer to finalise each track.

With Wallace performing all instruments on the EP bar drums, the project makes for one hell of a first impression on her talents as a multi-instrumentalist, while her distinctive vocal timbre and poignant songwriting positions her as one to keep an eye on over the coming years.

To get to know Julia a bit better, we stepped into the studio with her to receive a look at her humble home setup and find out more about how Place In Mind all came together from the confines of a small shack in Western Australia.

Julia Wallace: ‘With interstate travel not possible last year, I tracked my EP with my humble gear at home. I surprised myself that I could track decent stems with my home recording set up. It wasn’t a perfect setup and process that’s for sure, a lot of trial and error, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out!

‘I sent the stems from my shack out the back of my family home in Perth, to Jono Steer at The Perch Studio in Castlemaine, Victoria, who made it sound real good.’  

Presonus AudioBox Interface 

I was given this very interface for my 12th birthday that came with Studio One DAW software. Years later, I am still using the same little blue two input AudioBox and Studio One to track.

It’s seen all the below average songs I wrote as a 13 year old and the covers I used to make. Even though an upgrade is overdue, I am glad this interface was used to track my first project.

Rode NT1-A Condenser Microphone 

I used this mic for everything on the EP. I bought it on a Boxing Day sale a few years ago. My vocals and trumpet sound good in it, and I also managed to record some piano on it.

I’m glad I don’t have photo evidence of the piano recording process. I wouldn’t recommend putting a heavy microphone on the end of a cheap plastic mic stand above an upright piano…

Upright Piano

My Dad bought this piano as a present for my Mum many moons ago, and I know I’m biased, but it seriously has such a beautiful tone. 

Nord Electro 6D

When my precarious piano recording set up was getting too hard, I used upright piano and synth sounds directly from the patches already on the Nord out of the box. 

Bach Stradivarius Trumpet 72 (the silver one)

Quote on quote from my Dad: ‘one of the best days of my life’ when he bought me this horn (best gift ever thanks Dad). So cute! I generally write the horn parts to my songs as I’m recording.  

Yamaha Flugelhorn 631 (the gold one)

A flugelhorn is essentially a trumpet with a different shape, larger piping and bell, making an extremely warm rounded tone.

I bought this horn and recorded all the horn parts to the final track on the EP ‘You’ll Love Her Again’ the same day. 

Place In Mind EP, the debut offering from Julia Wallace, is out now.