Actress and singer-songwriter Julia Weldon played a show April 14 at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge downtown, opening for Los Angeles-based artist Adrianne Gonzalez. She began making music and acting alongside actresses like Meryl Streep from a young age. Weldon has kept herself busy by pursuing a master’s degree in music at Columbia University, finishing up a tour across the nation and working on a new album that will be released this summer.
Contributing Writer Karla Lopez talked with her after the show about how she got involved in music, acting and queer activism.
Karla Lopez: You came all the way out here from Brooklyn to play with an artist from LA. Have you thought about moving there?
Julia Weldon: Yeah, I thought about moving there, and I’m really glad I didn’t, because I still do acting, but Brooklyn is a great creative place for doing music. I had a lot of support, and I had been writing songs since I was like 15, and I played at the college cafe at Vassar [College]. So it was really amazing to go from that to people really getting behind my music. I didn’t write for eight or nine months after college. I was actually trying to act a little more, because I got the part on “Law & Order: SVU” in 2005, and I was like, “Oh I should be acting.” And then I was like, “Maybe I shouldn’t be?” When I was really young I did an indie film, and then I was in a really big film where I played Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson’s daughter. It was awesome. The film is called “Before & After.” It’s on Netflix. I was on regular “Law & Order” when I was 15, and then I was in an “SVU” episode when I was 22.
KL: Why not do both?
JW: That’s kind of what I’m doing, and I’m in a lot of indie films now, which is great. I’m doing a lot of music in films too. It’s cool, I’m overlapping. But I will say that the music thing has definitely taken a front place in my brain in terms of my passion. I’ve been on tour for a week and a half or two. So I did a little West Coast stint, came back here, but when I finish my master’s, I can quit my job, and the plan is to go on tour. A lot. Because I have this album coming out, and this is my big piece of work I want to put out into the world. The album is called “Light Is A Ghost,” and it’s a 12-track album that’s produced with so many beautiful sounds and instruments on it. I’ll probably release it in the summer, hopefully.
KL: What did you write about when you first started playing?
JW: To be honest, I wrote a lot about knowing that I wanted to be with a girl and, you know, being pretty desperate about that in high school, like in terms of not having accessibility or meeting other people.
KL: What is it like mixing music with queer activism?
JW: I almost exclusively play college shows for queer groups. I just played at [Rochester Institute of Technology]’s [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] conference. I play for a lot of queer groups, and that enables me to play and get paid to travel by the college group. And then on top of that, like at Stanford, I hung out with the college groups afterwards, and I just get to talk to them about what they’re going through. I played for Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Network before and other queer organizations, and it’s important to me obviously, as a queer artist, to be able to be there for youth that are going through what I went through when I started writing songs, when I started experiencing how difficult it is sometimes when you’re 15 and queer and coming out and all that. I was really lucky, I was really fortunate I had really accepting parents and people in the community, but I know that’s not the case for everyone, and music is a super important part of that.