MY NAME IS JULIANA HATFIELD.


I grew up in a small coastal Massachusetts town. As a young girl, I was enamored of Olivia Newton-John and I saw Grease six times when it came out in theaters. But when I discovered the Replacements in high school, it was true love. With these as my two main inspirations (Replacements and Olivia Newton-John), I set out for the big city and the Berklee College of Music in hopes of starting a band. There I met John Strohm and Freda Love and we three teenagers formed the Blake Babies. We put out a few records, toured the country a few times, and then broke up in the early 90’s. Since then I have been on my own, except for a Blake Babies reunion tour and album (God Bless the Blake Babies) last year.

My first album was
Hey Babe. The title wasn’t a sassy ironic come-on (though it did land me on the cover of Sassy magazine) or a quasi-empowering take-back-the-phrase kind of thing. It was an earnest plea to be accepted into the rock-and-roll boys club continuum. And I thought I had made a rock-and-roll record. "Hey babe," sang Lou Reed. "Hey babe," sang J Mascis. I was just trying to continue the tradition but I knew that as a girl it was hopeless and that I would never be accepted on equal terms. The almost universal misinterpretation of the title and of my intentions was the first in a long line of misunderstandings.

Become What You Are was my first major label experience. It was a really simple concept: capture me and my touring band (Dean Fisher and Todd Philips) playing the songs we had been doing live over the past year or so. It happened to be a moment in time when girls with guitars were all the rage, and so, though the higher (than my) industry standards of (commercial) success were never something I aimed for, I was given a taste of it. The singles "My Sister" and "Spin the Bottle" broke through and I was swept up in a relative whirlwind of publicity and sold-out shows. But I was never comfortable with the attention. I thought it had come too soon. I hadn’t earned it yet.

Next came
Only Everything. I turned up the volume and the distortion and had a lot of fun blocking out the world with some cryptic lyrics (including a song in crude French that I knew no one would understand) and sing-along melodies. It featured the single "Universal Heartbeat" ("A heart that hurts is a heart that works") and the accompanying video in which I play an evil aerobics instructor trying to push my students until they collapse.

For my next project I went to Woodstock and made what I called
God’s Foot. I produced it and played a lot of the instruments myself. My record company at the time seemed underwhelmed by my masterpiece so I begged them to let me go. The bloom was off the rose and I didn’t want to stay where I wasn’t appreciated. After my weeklong hunger strike, they finally assented to my departure, with effusive tears and hugs and good wishes. But they didn’t let me take God’s Foot with me. They held onto it and never released it. "Mountains of Love" and "Fade Away" are from this album.

At first I was traumatized by the idea that God’s Foot would never be heard. Then disillusionment set in and I took to my bed trying to figure out what to do next. I knew from the early days in the Blake Babies that if no one wants to help you out, you do it yourself. So I booked six days in a studio in a converted firehouse in Providence and made
Bed, the album. It sounds as raw as I felt. It has no pretty sheen. The mistakes and unattractive parts were left in, not erased. Just like my career. Just like life.

Beautiful Creature started as a bunch of demos for what I envisioned as an acoustic album, utilizing the myriad producers and musicians in Los Angeles during my year-long sabbatical there in 1999. As the recordings progressed, I realized the demos themselves could work as an album. But when I returned to Boston, I felt unsatisfied. I needed to express a darker side. This was my idea: a loud release of tension featuring a rock drummer and bassist (Zephan Courtney and Mikey Welsh) and lots of long sloppy guitar solos. And no love songs. The result was Juliana’s Pony: Total System Failure, a not-at-all attractive reaction to the ugly side of humanity, specifically American culture.

Gold Stars is my eighth full-length album. It contains songs from each of the previous seven plus two covers (one by the Police, one by Neil Young). Oh, and there’s a song from my 1997 Please Do Not Disturb EP. Got it?

In the past ten years, trends have come and gone, money has been made and spent, what went up came down, and I have continued to do what I love, which is making music. Creating something out of nothing. Learning by doing rather than by calculating and strategizing. This is my own version of success, on my own terms and in my own time. I sort of tried to play the game for a while in the mid-90’s, but I was disqualified because I wouldn’t smile for the camera. The pressure to be something I was not was constant and unrelenting. It was a battle to maintain a sense of authentic self when that self was still in the developmental stages.

I will continue to write, record, and perform my songs as long as I can and as long as it feels right. I am still motivated by the same things I was in the beginning. The goal has always been to just be myself.

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