2012 Q. & A. With Julie LaMendola
1. I know you go to Europe and sing in some production(s) sometimes.
Is that still going on and what is that all about?
I'm a performer for an experimental theater company called Nature Theater of Oklahoma. About 4 years ago they asked me to be a part of an epic experimental piece called Life and Times. I didn't know what I was getting into but I really liked the directors when I went to speak with them about the project. I sing dance and act in it which is dreamy, but the job is good for me because it pushes me artistically and physically. The people in the company have similar artistic heroes as me and it's challenging and good to use that as a springboard for the performances I do. And now the company includes Dan from Ching Ching and his husband Dany who does a lot of dancing with us so it's good to be around those guys even if we aren't doing our own show.
The show is 11 hours long when all episodes are performed together. We've done it once and we'll do in in a couple of weeks too. I thought I wouldn't be able to do it, I sing for about 5 hours. It's really energizing. It turns out I really like doing things that I don't think are possible.
2. How many musical projects are you currently involved in and what
are their names?
I haven't been able to make musical projects a priority this past year because of the touring with Life and Times. Ching Ching is in the process of making some dreams happen. I'm going to sing with Johnny on tour as The Johns. There's something in the works with Angela Carlucci called Shanana Who. And there are other folks who I would really love to work with now that I'll be in Brooklyn for a while.
3. I heard a rumour that The Wowz were breaking up.
Is that true, and if so why?
It came as a total shock to me that the guys weren't rehearsing or playing any shows. Right after The Wowz (including me) had returned from this magical tour with Herman Dune I had about a year of touring with the theater company ahead. Sam was finishing up school and said he needed a couple months without shows and rehearsal. Those couple months turned into a year now and Sam won't return Johnny's emails or mine. There was some talk about this being about his wife being hurt by some things we said. But I don't really know. I can't really imagine that's the only thing. Mysterious why bands break up sometimes. A lot here has changed in the year that I've been gone and The Wowz just slipped away. It has been really sad and difficult for me and I'm sure for Johnny and Simon too.
4. You have a great voice. Such power and precision.
Have you been singing your whole life?
Can you explain a bit?
I have been singing since I was really little. And listening to my mom sing my whole life. My parents put me in drama camp when I was eight or so, we lived in Littleton, CO and they were getting a divorce. I stayed home from school a lot but I think I made it to that after school program. When I started to audition for parts I would have my mom and sister lie on the couch while i sat on the armrest and sang. We had codes for if I sounded nasal or off key. This was the beginning of my self discipline with my art. Then in high school in Iowa I started to take voice lessons. My coach told me I would have to un-learn everything he was teaching me because he was teaching me technique. If you aren't careful you hide behind that. I think that's true for everything. If you want to cultivate it, you can learn technique but there is so much more than that to make a person compelling to listen to or watch. I think that discipline and commitment to transcend the form you're using is what is important. That's what will change other people and yourself. I also have had so many mentors who just absolutely lived the lives they dreamed of. Maybe that helps me sing too.
5. You come across as quite uninhibited in a lot of ways.
What was your upbringing like?
Are your parents that way too, or very different from you?
Probably more courageous than uninhibited. I feel compelled to do things that are impulsive. My parents are really kind and loving people and I've watched them become that way. They taught me a lot just by having troubles and making it through them. I watched them suffer. I guess I caused some suffering too. They are way more eccentric than they would like to admit and I suppose I see that part of them and it helps me. Some of those things that parents tell their kids but never really mean i took to be THE WORD so i did them. Like follow your heart and your dreams and they wanted me to do things that make me happy. but you know i have enough gumption to -over the years listening to them be like get a job with benefits- you know i just ignored that.
But we moved around every couple years until my parents were divorced and my mom took us to live in Iowa. My dad worked a lot teaching. I think also too he is doing some top secret world saving. He's a musician too. We've played at the sidewalk. Our band is The Daily Planet and it's my uncle, dad, and husband. My dad and uncle hadn't played together in forty years when we had our first show.
Growing up my mom was getting her degree in painting. She is a painter and a writer. She paints and writes without ever showing anything or getting any recognition or anything. She also teaches GED students.
They are really great people and sort of punks. Both of them have partners now and that makes me happy too. They have love.
6. What are you currently up to?
For now I'm resting, playing Zelda and cooking. Hanging out with people when I can and taking care of my health. Listening to johnny play the drums and the wind chimes blowing in the backyard.
7. Where would you like to be 5 years from now physically and
artistically speaking (provided you would not like to be dead)?
I have an idea for a show I'd like to write. I might like to tour it. I want to have a kido. I'd like to be playing music with my friends. I don't have any idea what's really in store. I've never been one to think ahead. I've always felt like I shouldn't have a goal because I will never be satisfied with it. Dreams aren't as final as they seem like they will be and whenever I get to a place it just seems like a new place is illuminated up there in the distance. There's no real point for me to say I want this or that cause there are so many things I don't know about. And what if they show up and I can't see them because I'm blinded by my ideas of what I want. I don't want to be dead in 5 years! But that's the most real ending isn't it. Just plugging along trying to live a life beyond my fondest dreams until it happens.