How Julien Bracht Has Found His Signature
Julien Bracht, solo musician and one half of Lea Porcelain, released his debut LP Now Forever One last year. Our editor-in-chief Martin talked with Julien about his album, his way of making music, and what kind of music he’s exploring next.
Born in Frankfurt in 1991, Julien Bracht grew up in Spain. He already began producing at 16, and his first releases followed only a few years later, for example on Cocoon and Playhouse. When he was 24, he and vocalist Markus Nikolaus founded the band Lea Porcelain, with Julien serving as the producer of the Berlin-based duo. ‘It was a big cut for me to stop doing techno and start with Lea Porcelain,’ Julien says talking to Martin.
His way of making music has indeed transformed completely over the last 10 years. ‘When I got into techno, I used to do everything in the box – I did all with plug-ins and samples.’ After starting Lea Porcelain, he was doing more and more recording, and his approach changed. ‘Instead of combining existing samples into a new sound, I started making my own sounds: first creating a sound that feels right, playing with it, and then building a track around it, around that feeling. The process is much more intuitive that way, so also more fun I’d say. By now, I’ve found my signature,’ he concludes.
Listen to Julien Bracht's "Street" from his 2021 LP Now Forever Young
At the beginning of 2021, Julien restarted his solo project by releasing a remix of Grimes’ song ‘My Name is Dark.’ Just a few months later, in July, he released his debut LP Now Forever One on his own label System Records. The album includes songs like ‘Streets’ featuring Enyang Ha, and its title refers to change: developments during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the frequent changes in his life. The release was followed by several remixes of his new tracks, including producer Vril’s remix of ‘Breaking the Waves’ and a remix of ‘Streets’ by DJ Stingray. For the remixes, Julien says that he approached people whose music he really likes listening to. ‘It’s fascinating to see what they make of my songs, and I really like the outcome.’
After the release, he took a short time off to get to know himself better and try different things. ‘For the album, I got very deep into the whole track and emotions thing, the emotional side of music. So, it turned out to be a sort of listening electronica.’ Now, Julien says he’s focusing more on dance floor and festivals, big stages. ‘The next step is making an EP that’s really functional so that other DJs can play it as well, while still transferring my emotions.’ However, this is a very different way of making music than what he did for his album, and it took a while for him to adapt. ‘I needed some time to get back from the emotional thinking to the functional dance floor way of thinking: how long is a break, how to make the build-up, when to put the drop for a nice climax.’ He also enjoys this way of working because ‘it’s so much fun to see what can happen on a dancefloor and how you can guide people through music.’
By starting Lea Porcelain, Julien distanced himself from this ‘whole techno, dancefloor, big raves thinking,’ as he puts it. ‘When you’re into something too deep, I think you lose yourself a little and can’t figure out how to get ahead.’ Now, he has come back to this type of music with a completely new perspective. ‘I’m in a different mindset: My feelings towards music have changed, and I’ve gained experiences like performing live on stage with multiple people. And I’ve learned to appreciate both worlds: solo tours in a techno/rave surrounding and the band life together with others.’
His new music is shaped by different influences – like drums, which Julien has been playing since he was only 6 years old. Now, the intuition from playing the drums and the technical skills of producing music have come together as he challenges himself to incorporate the ‘rock, live character of drums’ into techno. ‘It’s fascinating how with techno today you don’t know what to expect – there are so many different approaches. Classic techno still works, and I’ve tried breaking it up a little. Using live drums adds a different energy to techno.’
When it comes to making tracks, Julien usually works on several projects at the same time. ‘That helps me not to be too narrow-minded and work step for step because I can return to each track with a fresh ear. I make several versions of a track, listen to them on repeat, and see what aspects of them I like best. It’s definitely a process and can take weeks or even months. It rarely happens that I’m done after doing the first version.’ So, how does he know a track is finished? ‘For me, when I enjoy thinking about a track and get the right feeling, then it’s done. And when I don’t like thinking about it yet, then I know it’s not quite finished and that I need to work on it again.’
When Martin asks Julien if it plays a role where he is while making music, he replies that this has become very important over the past 6 months. In 2021, he spent some time in Spain, where his parents live. ‘I came to Spain without expectations, made myself comfortable, and had to adjust to the new situation. Then, I realised that I really thrive here, my mind is open.’ He established a daily studio life for himself there and got into his new routine of starting to work at 11 am. ‘When I’m going to the studio in the morning, I’m in a creative mindset and get into the flow easily. In Berlin, I would often go to the studio distracted, my mind full of other things.’ Julien learned that it’s important for him to structure his day, and he used the past 2 years of the pandemic to develop a certain discipline that his work benefits from. ‘Other artists might do it differently and work with chaos, but I need a clear mind and structured life, so that good chaos can take place in the studio.’
Listen to Julien Bracht's new single "Across the Ocean"