I recently had the privilege of interviewing pop/CCM artist Julianna Zobrist via email as she unveils her debut full length album Shatterproof on July 1st. We discussed the album, what Julianna wants listeners to hear and gain from these honest and inspiring melodies, as well as her favourite songs to record. Check out the interview below, and be sure to check out the new album at Christian music stores, on iTunes and other streaming services in a couple of weeks.
- Given that Shatterproof is your debut full length album (previously, you released 2 EP’s titled Say It Now and The Tree), it must have been quite a ride and journey over the past few years. As you gear up for Shatterproof to release July 1st, what is the one thing you hope listeners will take away when they hear this album? What has God been showing you through the creation of these inspiring melodies?
Over the last couple years of writing and recording this record, I have been learning what the concept of being “Shatterproof” means to me. And I hope others walk away with the same freedom I have found. We often live our lives in fear of what others think of us. We allow their approval or disapproval to weigh into who we are. But being shatterproof means finding your identity, your security, and your authority in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- For those who are not familiar with your style of music, or even how you came to Christ, can you give us a quick synopsis of your testimony, and whom you would say that you sound like musically and lyrically in the CCM industry? Personally I think you sound similar to Superchick and Fireflight!
I was raised in a Christian home and was taught Biblical truths from a young age. I loved God and loved His creation, but also loved being popular and had a hard time sticking up for what I knew was right. That was because what I knew in my head was not yet what I truly believed. When I was a sophomore in high school I knew I could not keep up my two personas any longer. God, in His mercy, opened my eyes to His truth and gave me faith to truly Believe!
My music is a reflection of me. And that’s what makes it inevitably unique. Every song I wrote because of something personal in my own life. Sonically I write music that is fun, upbeat and accessible. there are definite pressures to write music that sounds like this or that, but I want to write what I like and what I think is a reflection of me. Truth packed in a fun upbeat and sometimes quirky package.
- Musically, there’s quite a lot on this album for everyone- CCM, pop, electronic, dance as well as slow-tempoed ballads; when making the album, which music style came to you the easiest, and which style did you feel brought you out of your comfort zone in a good way?
If you were to ask me what genres of music I like, I would tell you that there isn’t a genre I’ve met that I have not found some sort of appreciation for. I grew up singing classical music, so I really enjoyed using that element of my voice to create pads and loops in the tracks. I was stretched in a couple songs by the way my vocal producer was having me explore more of a relaxed, conversational approach to singing.
- Which song on Shatterproof has been your favourite to record/listen to?
“Promises” was an exciting song to record because it was such a journey. I really struggled with it for a couple days and then a light bulb came on and we figured out what was missing in the track. A song can take on a different light by simply changing one chord.
- As an independent artist, what have been the challenges as well as benefits in terms of radio and listener exposure to your music- what has God shown you about Himself and yourself through being an unsigned artist?
Being a signed artist has its challenges and perks. Really it’s about finding what is the right fit for you. Ever since Ben and I got married we vowed to do this life together, and with Ben having an extremely demanding traveling career, I’ve never wanted to do anything to compromise our time together. I have a fantastic team around me that acts as my label, and then the flexibility to work my tours around Ben’s schedule. I know that I will never regret sacrificing some career success in order to keep my family first.
- What has been the overall highlight of the whole process of making the new album? Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
“The Dawn” was a difficult song to write. Our friend from church had emailed us the morning of my write, informing us that he had been told his wife only had 24 hours to live. He thought she had the flu and her entire body went into septic shock. I went into my writing appointment that day completely broken for them. It was amazing how my perspective changed in an instance from one of logistics, get where I’m going, what I need to get done today, pack lunches etc. to a perspective of eternity. None of us are exempt from darkness. Whether that darkness is your own sin, sin done to you, or health struggles, our hope lies, not in an absence of hurt here on earth or an absence of sickness, but in Christ. That reality hit me hard. The Dawn is Christ. He is newness and brilliance and color and He cuts the darkness.
- Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
It’s always amazing to see which songs people connect with. That’s the brilliance of us all being so unique and having come from different places, different circumstances…even the car ride conversation from your house to the show can play a part in how you hear lyrics. That is always such an exciting part to me, to talk with people after a show and see how God is so intimately involved in each of our lives.
- Who do you look up to in the music industry (CCM, or mainstream), either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice?
I would say you have to know WHY you want to be in the industry. As an artist, it’s important for me to know my goal and my motivation. I love making music that is authentic to who I am. I want each song to have a message that will challenge you to wrestle with truth and I want to be authentic in the way those things are communicated. I feel very lucky to get to keep doing music, not because I have to, but because I want to.
- For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
Some of us are better at hiding our pain than others, but you are not alone. No one is a stranger to pain. No one is a stranger to discouragement. But God is rich in mercy. He calls you His child and takes your shame. The punishment that you feel you need to pay or the punishment you feel another person needs to pay, was already paid for at the cross. Jesus absorbed our sin and in turn, gives us His righteousness. This doesn’t mean your discouragement is going to disappear over night, but it does mean that we can rest in the truth that we are secure in Christ. Things around us change, circumstances are hard one day and easy the next, but your salvation and your identity is being held in the hand of your loving Savior. Rest and breathe and find your security in Him.
- Any parting words, encouragements or anything else you want to share to listeners of your music that you haven’t discussed in this interview yet?
I hope listeners walk away with encouragement to be who they are. Or encouragement to begin that journey. I hope they walk away with res wide open to the way we try and live for others approvals. I hope they walk away feeling joy and love and acceptance. Cause we really all just want to be known and accepted…My acceptances come because of who God has said that I am.