December/January 2024

by Silke Hartung

Expat Files: Jupita

by Silke Hartung

Expat Files: Jupita

The offspring of Kiwi pop royalty in musician/producer Ian Morris and singer Kim Willoughby,  Julia Morris and her twin sister Maude briefly had a pop act called Lexxa, dating back to 2018. Five years on Julia has released her own pretty cool debut EP called ‘Want You Back’ under the adopted artist name Jupita, while building a life and professional career in London. She answered a few NZM questions long distance.

What actually happened to Lexxa?

We kind of retired that band after the release of our debut EP at the end of 2019, but maybe a comeback is in order! I am also part of the Auckland indie pop band Beachware. We released our debut album in 2023 which was very exciting!

How did you come up with the project name for Jupita?

It was actually one of many nicknames I had when I was a kid. I feel like every member of my extended family has a different name for me, but this one felt cool so I decided to go with it.

Of all the places to choose to build your music career, why did you choose to go to London?

I wanted to go somewhere big and new and London felt like an obvious choice. I am lucky enough to have a British passport because my dad was born in London, so it’s also an easy place to go for me without needing visas etc. London had always been on the cards but I finally took the plunge and actually did it in July 2022, so almost a year and a half ago now.

I work for a company called Apple Corps Ltd, it’s the company that The Beatles founded in the ’60s and it still exists now. We basically just manage all of The Beatles’ assets and deal with the licensing and archive and new releases (like remastered albums and stuff) etc.

There is something to do in London, all the time. Multiple things actually. And there is always someone who wants to do something, no matter what day or time.

How much musical gear were you able to with you?

Omg, I basically brought nothing with me because I only had 23kgs. I didn’t even bring a guitar. I did fit in my tiny MIDI keyboard and a couple of guitar pedals, even though I didn’t bring a guitar. Since I’ve been here I got myself the shittiest mini Squire Strat and a little Marshall amp for £100. It doesn’t stay in tune and the intonation is horrible but it kind’a has a little bit of a sentimental value to it now because it’s travelled with me to all five of my houses that I’ve lived in in the last year and a half. That’s a lot of houses.

What sort of set up do you use to write songs?

My home set up is literally just me and the guitar. I usually lie on my bed while writing songs. I love lying down. Most, if not all, of the songs I write start with me and a guitar. I then take them to a producer with ideas about what I want the music to sound like and we build from there together.

Whereabouts in London are you based?

Very interesting question because I arrived back in London and am now flatless. I have spent most of my time here in Hackney. I love Hackney, it’s cool and it feels like it has cool culture, despite the gentrification.

What are the music places you frequent?

I love Moth Club in Hackney, they have cool gigs there. I spend a lot of time in Camden as well and there’s always gigs going on there. There’s a cool new venue called Katzpace which kind of reminds me of Whammy. Feel like I could walk up the stairs and be on K’ Rd when I’m in there!

What part of life in London did you find most challenging, and how do you deal with that?

It may be a cliché but London is definitely a little bit lonely. Everyone is always doing their own thing and on their own schedules. I am lucky that I have found a few good friends that I spend my time with. I also play football and do trainings twice a week, and have games on Sundays, so that helps. I don’t mind doing things alone though, so I guess London being lonely is okay, sometimes. I guess I also struggle with the amount of time it takes me to get anywhere. If I come back, I’d never take my six-minute drive to work in Auckland for granted again.

Your EP ‘Want You Back’ is so very personal! How do you deal with performing songs that sound like diary entries in front of an audience?

It is a bit of a struggle. Especially in front of people I know and in front of people that the songs are about, hahaha! I think putting such personal songs out there is kind of nice. I feel like even though the lyrics are pretty specific, they are also pretty relatable. Songwriting is definitely like a diary for me though, and it’s scary emptying your brain like that. Sometimes I’m not sure if I want people to know how I feel, but at the same time, if my songs resonate with just one person, I feel like I’ve achieved something.

Who did you work on ‘Want You Back’ with?

Me and my friend Levi Patel worked on it in his studio in Matakana just before I left NZ. He produced the EP for me. My friend Justyn Pilbrow did some additional production on the songs, as well as my sister Maude. It was definitely a team effort!

The EP is out over here now, what’s your plan for it over in the UK?

The UK music industry is scary and I haven’t figured it out yet, so right now, it’s out in the world but I am mostly just promoting it in NZ.

What’s on the cards for both Jupita and Julia in 2024?

I am going to continue writing, making music, playing more gigs, and figure out my next goals! Maybe an album will be on the cards….

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