An Interview with Juliana Hatfield

Paul Caparotta
The Juliana Hatfield Three (Credit: Johnny Anguish)
The Juliana Hatfield Three play The Chapel on March 15th, and we had the fantastic opportunity to ask Juliana herself a few questions about choosing venues, crowdfunding and collaborations. Tickets are still available as of this posting, so be sure to buy yours while they're still available here.

SFBAC: Blake Babies, Some Girls, Juliana Hatfield—you’ve done some great work with a variety of different collaborators. What is it about working with Dean and Todd that created that special sound you captured on “Become What You Are?”

Juliana Hatfield: It's hard to explain musical and personal chemistry. It just works, Dean and Todd and me.

SFBAC: The Chapel is a great, intimate space. Looking at some of the other places on your tour—the equally cozy but sonically killer Boot & Saddle in Philly, etc.—did you intentionally choose places where you can connect more powerfully with your fans? I’m asking in particular because I’ve caught a few of your shows at the Cafe Du Nord before and it seems like you really brought that space to life.

Juliana Hatfield: I did not personally choose the venues, generally. My booking agent is the one who looks around to see what is available and suitable for us in each town. There are a few places around the country which I strongly dislike playing, and I tell my agent not to book us in those places, but apart from that, I let him use his judgment. I enjoy playing a variety of different-sized and different-vibed venues, large and small. Size doesn't matter!

SFBAC: A number of artists have embraced crowdfunding for new releases, but it feels like you’ve done it in a really authentic way. How do you walk that line between working directly with fans to bring your vision to life while maintaining your sanity?

Juliana Hatfield: It seems like everyone is a critic these days, even more so when people contribute money to a project in progress. I just try to pace myself so that I can do all the work in an orderly way and not get overwhelmed with too much at once. I am very good with repetitive, interminable grunt work tasks--I find the factory-like activity of packing CDs one by one into cardboard mailers to be calming, soothing, Zen--so I am great at fulfilling obligations to crowdfunder people. I think people appreciate that I am doing the work myself and I am not removed from any part of the process.

SFBAC: On your site it says that the new album is “unsentimental” but if feels like there are smiling moments of joy between the sighs—“If Only We Were Dogs” being one of those examples.

Juliana Hatfield: I think a person can be unsentimental and joyful at the same time.

SFBAC: Speaking of dogs—who’s that puppy on your home page?

Juliana Hatfield: That is my dearly departed mutt, Ozzy. I found him--a stray--on a beach in Puerto Rico. He had a great but too-short life up in Massachusetts with me and my other dog . He died a year and a half ago of kidney disease.

SFBAC: Listening again to “Become What You Are” I’m struck how so many of the songs capture the feeling of being in between spaces, in transition. “Feelin’ Massachusetts” always gets me with visions of walking and falling and floating—everything’s shifting, including the sky. What were some of the things you were going through as you recorded that record? That song?

Juliana Hatfield: I was a confused, kind of miserable young woman. I had a lot of emotional problems and mood swings and I couldn't seem to find my right place in the world. I loved music and was very dedicated to expressing my honest feelings/searchings in a rock/pop context. I am from a smallish town on the southeastern shore of Massachusetts. The town was kind of cut off from the exciting bigger world and I always really wanted to get out and find my way and find somewhere to belong. Music helped me.

SFBAC: Juliana, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us and we're looking forward to your show here in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. Have a great tour!

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