A lot of artists blend a variety of genres in order to create a more unique sound within the mainstream. Some put hip-hop and rock together, others try electronic and rock or even country and hip-hop, but very few work to incorporate elements of classical composition like newcomer Julius. The Huffington Post is proud to exclusively premiere Julius' third release, "Sandstorm."
It was John Williams' score for "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" that first caught Julius' attention. Determined to one day write his own scores for films, he taught himself piano, eventually taking composition lessons with teachers that steered him toward crafting contemporary, avant-garde classical music, the last of which was Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. From the age of 16, Julius was commissioned to write for groups such as the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and has been involved with the New York City-based Bang on a Can festival.
"What's weird is I didn't really know anything about pop or hip-hop music at all growing up," Julius told HuffPost. "I barely heard the radio ever and didn't know any of the big artists or even indie ones. It was only after someone started making me listen to Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' that I even realized how much you could do, on a symphonic scale, within that more pop medium."
It is now Julius' goal to create music that takes listeners on a journey resting within a pop framework. While there's a pop sensibility to his vocals and songwriting, he avoids any distinct hook, opting for production that takes listeners on a "much bigger emotional and visual trip." It's just what he would prefer to hear blaring through his car stereo.
Combining distorted trombone blasts and Justin Vernon-styled vocal melodies, "Sandstorm" sounds like an old Western movie soundtrack that got transported through the Stargate, something one might listen to while cruising through the canyons of Mars.
"I worked with Benny Cassette on this, who's a producer over at Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music," Julius said. "It was our first of a bunch of songs together, and I was just really inspired by his sound. I wanted something huge. We started with a beat he had pitched to 'Ye, but we made it completely different. I laid down that keyboard part, finding synths and distorted cello sounds that evoked my orchestral tastes but have a grittier more angry sound behind them."
Julius continued: "Lyrically I was thinking about how sometimes you feel like you have to put on a facade for people, and how we have to get back to the real part of ourselves if we wanna actually be happy. So, the song is about that, although it's all a metaphor. You're in this sandstorm of fake people and bullshit and you have to get back to the river of your own soul and truth."
The rising artist also recently released a mashup and re-imagination of Drake's "Heat of the Moment" and ILoveMakonnen's "Tuesday." Julius definitely has collaboration in his mind, currently working with Boston rappers OG Swaggerdick and Michael Christmas, where Julius started out. He'd also love to work with Raury and Azealia Banks.
"I think a track that takes you through multiple different artists' features has a lot of more potential to give you that kind of journey I'm really after," Julius said. "Like, you hear one rapper over one type of production, then all of a sudden the song opens and up and a verse starts, then a hook by a different artist, then after the song's done it actually goes on for another two minutes and towards the end there's another rap feature. More people can say more shit. That's the journey I'm after."