The 19-year-old singer-songwriter Julius Black has a gift for channelling complex emotions into deceptively simple alt-pop songs. After just two independently released tracks - ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Summer’ - the rising talent has been tipped by a range of new music champions, including premieres courtesy of Complex and DIY and a Hottest Track accolade from the Sunday Times. Initial playlist support has already resulted in over 250,000 streams.
After those two songs demonstrated his potential, Julius is set to cement his burgeoning reputation with today’s release of his debut EP ‘Dopamine’. The five-track set features his brand new single ‘Electric Blue’. Watch the live acoustic video BELOW:
Julius introduces ‘Electric Blue’ by setting lyrics of lovelorn heartbreak to a backdrop of gentle acoustic guitars. Never afraid to shift the tone, Julius drops one surprise after another after that plaintive opening. Multi-layered vocal harmonies bloom and surge while a torrent of offbeat electronica erupts as the production continues to evolve. The song’s immediacy is never weakened by those conventional touches, and the beautiful and dramatic finale feels like a journey that’s reaching its conclusion.
Julius says, “‘Electric Blue’ is about letting go of the great race, some ugly ambition that comes out of my ego, and just letting life flow without resisting it."
As well as ‘Electric Blue’, ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Summer’, the EP features two brand new tracks. The opener ‘A Form of Self Defence’ set the mood, with fragile emotions supported by sparse yet often exploratory sonic touches. Meanwhile, the title track twists and Julius’s raw vocals in a song that celebrates the rush of romance while being fully aware of the susceptible feelings that may follow.
Julius Black was raised in Shanghai before relocating to New Zealand. He’d always been fascinated by music spanning hip-hop, gospel and punk, but developed his own sound with the help of local musician Ezra Vine (‘Celeste’) before finessing it further with Struan Finlay.
Their experimental production gives Julius’s material a refreshing edge but the essence of his talents is time-honoured exemplary songwriting, as demonstrated by his stripped-back solo performance of ‘Summer’. Influenced by visionary musicians such as Frank Ocean, The 1975 and The Beach Boys, he’s now forging his reputation at home and abroad.
Listen to ‘Dopamine’EP - BELOW: