Julie Geller’s Thoughtful, Melodic Life: An Interview

Julie Geller, Trader Joe's enthusiast (juliegeller.com).

Julie Geller, Trader Joe’s enthusiast (juliegeller.com).

Denver’s Julie Geller lives a thoughtful and melodic life. The singer-songwriter not only writes and sings her own music in English and Hebrew, but also teaches, in addition to raising three kids with her husband. She recently agreed to speak with Acculturated about her music and being an artist:

What inspired you to sing professionally?

In 10th grade, a friend played a chord, and within a month, I was writing songs. At Harvard, I tried to find people to perform my music but never could. Junior year, I bought a guitar and taught myself to play. I couldn’t find a singer, so I started singing. I always thought my strength was songwriting, and I didn’t want to perform. Over time though, I’ve realized it’s important for me to sing my songs. The soul of the music is what people connect to when they hear me sing.

 

Why describe your music as “original, uplifting songs” and “healing the world one song at a time”?

As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to utilize my gifts in a way that helps the world. Part of my job is to uplift people and make them feel something or laugh; I take that seriously. My songs are meant to be healing, so I’ll often tell audiences to close their eyes and go where they need to while I sing. That’s my gift to the world.

 

Could you discuss the Holstee Manifesto? Is life really simple?

The Manifesto’s on a bulletin board in my office. One day, I was singing a melody while looking at it. It began as filler words, but then I liked it as a stand-alone song and kept it. Life isn’t simple, but it’s a lot simpler than many of us make it. We complicate relationships. We complicate our lives. We sabotage ourselves. Once you get rid of those things, life is simpler. Also, when you’re aligned with your higher purpose, life is much simpler.

 

After watching the “I Believe in Miracles” video, I wondered how you define ‘miracle’?

My favorite way to think about it is from spiritual leader Marianne Williamson, who said, “a miracle is a shifting of thinking.” That resonated with me. When you stop fighting life, moving to acceptance and openness, that’s a miracle.

 

You recently blogged about 11 self-sabotaging behaviors you shed. What prompted that change?

It took many years. I went through a difficult experience, and I emerged a different person. Music was such a struggle for so long because I knew since 10th grade that I wanted to do it, but there’s no set path. After performances, I’d feel ashamed, so I stopped performing. Now I enjoy it. I’m totally focused on the listener and this sense of service. Before the whole focus was on me, do people like me, do they think I’m talented? It’s much more fun and powerful now.

 

You blogged about the creative process and getting stuck. Could you talk about your process and how you get unstuck?

It’s the 80/20 Principle. I can write 80% of a song really quickly, but the last 20% is a slog. The moment things fall apart, a huge part of it is acceptance. I always ask: why is this so bad, and what’s missing? I keep working until I know if I should dig deeper or abandon it. Ultimately the truth will reveal itself – if it’s not working, if I need help – once that’s in place, suddenly, it works. If I’m blocked, I often put songs aside and go for a run. That gets things moving.

 

How do you handle negative comments?

A video’s not successful until I’ve got a thumb’s down or negative comment, because then I know I’m reaching new people, and that’s a good sign.

 

All artists face rejection. Do you have advice for young artists about coping?

I don’t really care about rejection. Most of the world is going to reject me or not care about what I’m doing. An artist’s job is to create something great for people who want what you have, then find those people. I’m rejected a lot more than I’m accepted, but I don’t need big numbers to be successful. I’d tell new artists, “Go you! You’re amazing for doing this really hard thing that the world needs you to do.”

To experience Julie’s music or read her blog, visit www.juliegeller.com.

This article appeared in Acculturated.

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