Lupa J, otherwise known as Imogen Jones lives the life of a superhero; by day, she’s an Australian Arts Student, and by night is an indie-electronic singer-songwriter. Well, maybe she’s a bit of each all at the same time. In a year since she’s begun uploading songs to Sound Cloud, Lupa J has amassed a large following thanks to her integration of electronic music and interesting timbre. Her peculiar instrumentation and the incorporation of her classically trained violin skills into her music makes her all the more different. At the young age of 17, Lupa played the Mountain Sounds Music Festival in 2015 after becoming one of the finalists in the Triple J Unearthed contest, and later entered the Songs Alive Australia competition and won the prestigious Parramatta prize as well as Youth Song of the year, both for her song “Statues”. With the release of her debut EP Virus, Lupa J works towards becoming Australia’s next breakout artist. We got to sit down and interview Imogen over the phone to talk about many things, including her new music video for “Waiting for Her”, her roots in pursuing music, and her advice to those wanting to follow.
So Imogen, when and why did you start to pursue or to “do” music, so to speak?
Well, I started off being classically trained on the violin which I still love. I experimented with writing music and trying to work with different sounds and things like that. And of course, I go to an arts school, which accounted for some of it. I think I started off with more of a folk sound before I started to listen to electronic and indie music. And when I found out about looping pedals for performing live, it was a completely different feeling.
In 3 words, how would you describe your sound/music?
Probably electronic with violin!
What made you pick Lupa J as your alias?
Lupa in Latin translates to wolf or more specifically, she wolf. But I originally kept my name as just Lupa which I didn’t know was already taken by another artist who contacted me afterwards and I had to just add the J to the end. I grew up watching a TV show with a wolf in it and I think from that point on, I was always fascinated with wolves. I still am!
Do you think that living in Australia has affected your music?
No, I think that living in Australia hasn’t affected my style or sound that much… or at all.
Who from the music industry influenced you the most?
Well I think it might be Laura Walsh. I heard her music and it was completely different from those top 40s type of songs. And she just doesn’t really follow boundaries. And I think also Grimester and Radiohead.
What about from your own personal life?
Definitely my friend Mara, she just always pushed me into music and I’m grateful for it. She performs with me live now and it’s great.
Well… Do you think that the internet has played a big part in your music?
Oh definitely. I started off just posting little songs on soundcloud and things like that and I managed to gather a significant following for that. But I know that back in the day, you would have to perform live and do a bunch of gigs to even be able to record or make original music. But I think now, it’s almost like the opposite. You have to have a decent following- which you could probably only get by going online- first and only then can you perform live.
So the first time I heard your music was in a series on YouTube by the large travel company Contiki for their Contiki summer trip. How did/do you feel when these big corporations reach out to you basically saying, “I want your music”?
Oh yeah, I was contacted by a lot of other companies to use my music. But I think when they do; it’s almost kind of surreal and crazy when a company that big finds someone like you.
If you had to the chance to record a song with any artist, who would it be and why?
Probably FKA twigs as of now. She just is so incredible. She does a lot of the things by herself, including production and all of that. And she has just, such a unique sound to her that if I were to listen to her on the radio I would recognize her immediately. So yeah, probably FKA twigs.
Moving onto more recent things, what made you decide to take full creative control on the production of the “Waiting For Her” music video?
Well, I’ve always done most of the things with myself. I get someone to film and my mom and I just sit down and edit it. Of course, with the newer video “Virus” it was kind of a decent amount of work. We had to get those dancers and all the lights and all that stuff. But with music videos, I think it’s better when the artist has most of the creative control.
Did you expect to win the Parramatta prize for Statues?
Oh, no I didn’t expect it. My singing teacher actually recommended that I enter that competition and the outcome was just surprising. I went into the competition thinking that the judges weren’t going to like it. All the other contestants were poppy and I was the only darker, more indie sounding artist. But yeah, definitely surprising and winning all of the other awards… it was just crazy.
How would you describe your live performance at the Mountain Sounds concert?
Well, it was my first time doing such a big venue. I mean, there were quite a few people at the place when I was performing, but I think the area kind of made them look smaller. Of course, with the big popular bands in the afternoon, the areas would fill up. But with my performance, the audience was also very down-beat. It was a little too chill, I think. And it just felt as if the atmosphere was a little dry. I mean, it was fun but just not the experience that I imagined it to be.
So, last question- What advice would you give to people who want to go into music?
I think my piece of advice would be to not change your sound and what you do for anyone. If you like what you do and what you sound like, you should stick to it. If it be pop or rock, just stick to your own!
You can watch Lupa J’s most recent video for “Thinking of her” here: