Lupa J chats her upcoming debut album and shares a playlist for MusicNSW

Having worked her magic around Australia for years now, Lupa J is finally preparing herself for the release of her debut album Swallow Me Whole. Heralded by two daringly good new singles, Drift and You’re In My Headphones, it seems Imogen Jones is feeling more confident in her music than ever.

We recently sat down with Jones to discuss Swallow Me Whole, why she took her writing process in a new direction, and her ongoing work with local legends MusicNSW.

lupa j interview Nathan Moas you're in my headphones musicnsw
Photo: Nathan Moas

Lupa J chats us through her debut album Swallow Me Whole, explains how it will be different from her older tunes, and shares a playlist saying Happy 20th Birthday to MusicNSW.

HAPPY: Hey how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

IMOGEN: Just lying in bed, listening to music and answering these questions! Trying to relax a little before my 6:30am shift tomorrow.

HAPPY: So you’ve released two singles now, Drift and You’re In My Headphones from your upcoming debut album, Swallow Me Whole. There’s a clear directional shift in terms of the mood and messages behind both releases in comparison to your previous work, could you elaborate on what has influenced these changes?

IMOGEN: I feel like I’ve just grown up a lot more, I’ve been through a lot of life altering stuff over the last year since I wrote my previous EP, and I was writing my album to process it all. Writing has always been a way to articulate what I’m feeling to myself, to become more in touch – it’s like I vomit a mess of emotion out into a song, and then it’s there right in front of me as something that actually makes sense.

I guess I would say this album is largely about me becoming more in touch with desire, and what that actually means to me… it’s called Swallow Me Whole because a lot of the songs are about me completely, almost desperately, throwing myself into things, or indulging in forms of escapism, and I think the general pace/mood of the album reflects that. Overall I think it’s a lot more upbeat and ecstatic sounding than my music has ever been.

HAPPY: You’ve been releasing music for a number of years now, so what’s different about these two singles from a songwriter and producer’s perspective?

IMOGEN: With this album I forced myself to work a lot faster than I ever had before, so I think if anything the process was just more enjoyable and maturing for me because instead of mulling over tiny production details for months I just pumped out heaps of demos really quickly. It was much more of an emotional outpouring; forming itself before my eyes before I had even really worked out what I was writing about.

I understood what it was I was trying to say better and better as all the pieces came together. And as it started to make sense to me, my life started to reflect what was in my music; the things I was tentatively writing about actually began to happen. In the past I would get bogged down in fine tuning things, and so I don’t think I ever developed as much as a writer/producer, or as a person, and I never made anything as cohesive as this.

HAPPY: Drift and You’re In My Headphones are taken from your upcoming debut album… do you find you approached writing a full-length album differently to an EP?

IMOGEN: Yeah definitely, just mainly in that I gave myself a deadline and was like ‘I have to write A LOT’ – so I wrote the most I’ve ever written in one go, also in the shortest amount of time. So I think that naturally made it a more developed, coherent body of work.

HAPPY: We love the music video for Drift! Could you walk us through what it was like shooting that clip?

IMOGEN: It was actually so fun! It was just me and my friend Nathan, and we kind of had zero expectations because it was a really last minute decision to film at Mardi Gras. The security around the parade area that we filmed in was fairly intense so I had to sneak in after multiple attempts, and Nathan had to lie to some police about having permission.

I filmed all the shots of people in their costumes getting ready for the parade, but that was super easy because everyone was proud of their outfits and really happy to be on camera. Then the rest of it was just a lot of fun, no one questioned why I was jumping around with headphones on because there was really loud music playing and literally everyone was dancing.

HAPPY: You’ve previously taught a Women In Electronic Music masterclass for MusicNSW, right? Could you tell us a bit about this?

IMOGEN: That was a really really great experience!! I love teaching women/GNC folk who are interested in getting into electronic production. They were all just so excited to be there and getting to look closely at some gear and see how I do what I do. I remember being so overjoyed at the infinite possibilities of what I could do with electronics when I first started out and realised that it was something I COULD do, so I love being able to give other people that experience.

HAPPY:  MusicNSW have a history of supporting local musicians… how have they impacted your career?

IMOGEN: They’ve definitely helped give me confidence in what I do as an artist, and also my ability as a teacher! If someone had have told me two years ago that I would be getting asked to teach classes like that I would have been so shocked! I think it’s especially important to support female artists in that way, getting us together in groups like that REALLY helps build confidence – which I think is where a lot of the imbalances in music stem from. I also received a grant from them to travel to Bigsound last year which was a massive massive help – I wouldn’t have been able to do the festival without it.

HAPPY: There’s been an evolution happening in terms of the Lupa J sound with regards to your most recent releases, could you tell us what we might be able to expect from your debut album, Swallow Me Whole?

IMOGEN: Basically just many more danceable, energetic tracks, I think my live shows are gonna be heaps more fun now. But there are also a few (maybe unexpected) emotional ballads.

HAPPY: What else does the future hold for Lupa J beyond the new album? Any other exciting plans in the works?

IMOGEN: Right now that’s all I’m focusing on – getting it finished and released, then organising some shows to coincide with it :)

HAPPY: Thanks for the chat!


Lupa J’s new single You’re In My Headphones is out now. Find out more about MusicNSW here.