Julia Easterlin Performs at Lollapalooza, Students Intern at Kidzapalooza

By
Margot Edwards
June 7, 2011
Julia Easterlin
Photo by Tammy Jean Lamoureux

Berklee alumna Julia Easterlin, who graduated just a few weeks ago, has been tapped to perform at the venerable Lollapalooza festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The lineup includes Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket, Deadmau5, A Perfect Circle, Cee Lo Green, Damian "Jr. Gong," Marley & Nas, the Cars, Ween, and many more. Lollapalooza takes place August 5-7 at Grant Park in Chicago. Easterlin performs Saturday, August 6, 12:00 p.m.

Julia Easterlin is one part Regina Spektor, one part loop scientist, and a sophisticated musical mind that can wield composition, production, and performance in one fell swoop. Not only is Easterlin a versatile singer-songwriter, vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, but her looping machine also makes her into a virtual one-woman band. On songs like "Go Straightaway," she loops her vocals, building a multi-layered song live on stage, track-by-track. Her voice combines seduction with a haunting jazz edge and her music weaves story with an otherworldly vocal dance.

The coveted gig came about as part of a relationship developed with Lollapalooza by Jeff Dorenfeld, Berklee professor of music business/management and faculty advisor to student-run label Heavy Rotation Records (HRR). In addition to offering an internship opportunity at Kidzapalooza for Berklee students to work under the guidance of festival cofounder Tor Hyams, producers C3 also agreed to include a Berklee act in the lineup.

For Dorenfeld, choosing an artist wasn't as difficult as he imagined. "I decided to pick someone from the annual HRR concert," he said. "There was no doubt in my mind after that night. She blew the crowd away. She has performed at the Berklee Performance Center three times and got a standing ovation every time." He continued, "In addition to the looping, what she does so well is the explanation. She tells the story about the song and what she's going to do in the performance, drawing you in and making you interested in what she's doing."

Easterlin has been making waves since she came to Berklee to study music production and engineering and electronic production and design on full scholarship. Recent performances include Berklee's SXSW events in Austin, Berklee's CMJ Music Marathon showcase in New York, and performances in Havana, Cuba, with the Berklee Interarts Ensemble. Two of her songs were featured on Dorm Sessions 7, HRR's most recent compilation CD. She will also appear on the label's upcoming Under the Influence project, putting her unique stamp on classic songs by Radiohead and the Pixies.

Six Berklee students will also work as interns at Kidzapalooza, Lollapalooza's family-friendly fest within the fest that offers a host of fun activities, including a drum circle, hip-hop dance workshops, body painting and temporary tattoos, and double Dutch jump roping. The students, who are all music business/management majors and work at HRR, will run a Berklee Kidzapalooza passport where they will meet kids, hand out the passports and escort them to the different stations in the festival to get their passports stamped.

One Kidzapalooza attraction the Berklee students are well suited to facilitate is the silent concert. For the silent concert, the students will be paired with kids on different instruments—including bass, guitar, keyboard, and electronic drums—which they will play while wearing headphones. The instruments are connected to a laptop with a Pro Tools program and outboard gear through which a student mixes and engineers the concert. The engineer then sends the performance out to mixer/amps for the audience to listen through headphones. Says Dorenfeld, "It's great because it's interactive but it doesn't disturb anything. It is its own environment."