Pop music is an international language – one understood everywhere melody is heard and appreciated. Natasha Jane Julian comes from a small town in California, and the sun-baked dreaminess of the Golden State sound is apparent in her songs. But the multifaceted singer has also lived in Europe, and she’s performed in the UK and Finland. Her travelogue has left its traces on her mixes: her productions radiate the sophistication of her Paris home, the fearless electronic experimentation of Scandinavian music, and the immediacy that has always characterized popular music made in London.
Now, Natasha Jane Julian – or NJJ, as her fans know her – is back in Southern California, where she’s immersed herself in the entertainment industry. Her partnership with Grammy-winning UK producer Dom Morley continues to bear fruit. Earlier this year, Julian and Morley enchanted listeners with “Bathin’ In Your Garbage,” a moody, synth-spiked, wholly immersive slice of alternative pop. “Mechanical Heart,” their latest collaboration, builds on that success. The new single opens the sound up further, taking inspiration from confessional art-rock, trip-hop, and film soundtracks. Morley, who has also worked with Kate Walsh, The Verve, and Amy Winehouse, is a master at matching thoughtful singers with settings. Here, he provides Julian’s tale of modern alienation with the pulse it needs to get hearts racing.
Natasha Jane Julian has also looked to England to bring her artistic vision to the screen. Director Zachary Denman is a Londoner to the core, and he makes his city one of the stars of the “Mechanical Heart” clip. Through his camera, the UK capital positively gleams. Sometimes it’s inviting, sometimes it’s impersonal, and sometimes it’s downright surreal. Julian walks these streets and Metro tunnels like she knows them intimately (which she does) – yet there’s a kind of detachment to her performance, too. “Mechanical Heart” is, like much of her songwriting, topical: she’s got something to say about the rush of technology and the complicated world we’re making. On camera, she strikes a remarkable balance between sensual allure and open-hearted compassion. It’s the same tightrope walk Julian executes so effortlessly on her singles; it’s her signature, and it marks her as a pop artist with unique appeal.