Julius Black’s debut EP ‘Dopamine’ took the young singer-songwriter from his roots as a bedroom producer in Christchurch, New Zealand, to picking up attention right across the globe. His creative slant on alt-pop engaged the interest of numerous influential tastemakers, leading to premieres from Complex and DIY, a cover placing on Spotify playlist The Local List NZ, and his first million streams.
Suddenly he was being name-checked alongside leading talents as varied as Frank Ocean, Phoebe Bridgers and Rex Orange County.
Seven months later, and the 20-year-old’s sound is already evolving in new ways as proven by his brand new single ‘Do You Still Dream?’ Today, Julius shares a live acoustic video to accompany the single. Filmed on the bund in Shanghai-Pudong, it’s where Julius used to hang out with friends after a night out. It’s the first track to fuel anticipation for his upcoming second EP ‘Together We Go Down In The Dark’, which follows on November 19th.
‘Do You Still Dream?’ is a brighter, bolder production than what he unveiled on the anxiety-ridden ‘Dopamine’ EP. Luscious waves of suitably dreamy vocal harmonies weave around an instantly compelling melody, providing a cocktail that’s two-parts Ashe and one-part Beach Boys. The classical leanings of his songwriting are matched by the inventive touches to his production, with a wide range of reverb lead vocals, bursts of programmed beats, and a spiralling guitar taking it into the alt-pop landscape.
And while ‘Dopamine’ was introspective in nature, this song instead reaches out to a lost love. There’s nostalgia and reflection in abundance, but this time there’s also a fresh, lighter edge to his previously existential lyricism.
Julius says, “‘Do You Still Dream?’ is a nostalgic song about a previous relationship, romanticising a first love and remembering the best parts about it. I started the song after watching the Taiwanese drama ‘A Sun’. In one of the scenes, the main character is running down the highway by himself, which inspired the opening lyric ‘Walking on the overpass like I was lost, the drivers start to flip me off.’ I thought it was simple and funny, and the song came pretty quickly after that.”
‘Do You Still Dream?’ was written and produced by Julius Black, with co-writing credits for his key collaborator Struan Finlay plus Siobhan Sainte (‘Burn It Down’) and Joe Faris (Ezra Vine).
Julius Black was raised in Shanghai before relocating to New Zealand at the age of thirteen. Hip-hop and punk became his first musical passions in his teens, but his palette soon ventured further, covering everything from gospel to R&B. Struan Finlay and Ezra Vine helped him channel his own unique sound, while his dedication to constant improvement is inspired, in part, by his family’s work ethic - if music was to be his plan, he had to go all in.
The pandemic wrecked his initial plans to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, but he views it as a blessing in disguise. His life in Christchurch instead provides the foundation and freedom to explore his creatively entirely independently. ‘Dopamine’ proved that it could take him places, and his reputation is only going to soar as ‘Together We Go Down In The Dark’ comes to light.
Watch 'Do You Still Dream (Live Acoustic)' - BELOW:
‘Together We Go Down In The Dark’ tracklist:
1. ‘Do You Still Dream?’
4. ‘Red Flags’
5. ‘Together We Go Down In The Dark’
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