Music & concerts

Singer Julie Huard: ‘I feel at home on stage’

She has toured America with Lady Gaga’s band and won countless hearts with her French chansons. This month, the Utrecht-based singer Julie Huard will appear in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, where she gave her first ever public performance at the tender age of nine. ‘I feel at home on stage.’

She draws her inspiration from the glamorous, sultry style of 1950s nightclubs and femme fatales. Having said this, she doesn’t really think in terms of musical genres, but focuses instead on creating a particular atmosphere. ‘I sometimes combine my chansons with modern electronic sounds,’ says Julie Huard. ‘I want to pull out all the stops in my shows.’

What prompted your love of chansons?
‘It all started with my father, a Frenchman. He was a performing artist too. I was surrounded by French music from the day I was born, including people like Charles Aznavour. I started singing lessons when I was five and enjoyed acting in musicals. My father performed in the best theatres, such as DeLaMar, and I always tagged along as his biggest fan. I used to think: this is what I want to do later. I felt at home on stage. The French language is beautiful; they have so many ways to describe love, for example.
When my father died five years ago, I decided to focus my full attention on my music. It was a sad time, but music kept me going.’

When did you notice that you were becoming successful?
‘I took part in a concours and won the Liesbeth List Prize, and the gigs soon started rolling in. But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. I hate doing nothing and I wanted to stay in touch with my audience, so I set up my own YouTube channel. After the first few videos, I noticed that my music was reaching international audiences too. The American magazine Glamour got hold of my name and asked for an interview. We organised a Zoom meeting and I was amazed to ‘meet’ the singer Camilla Cabello, who complimented me on my cover of her song. I got lots of shows thanks to the YouTube channel, including one in Le Caveau de la Huchette, the best-known jazz club in Paris.’

And that’s when your New York adventure began.
‘Yes. I was asked to record a song in a studio in New York. That was incredible in itself, but then the producer I was working with introduced me to Brian Newman, the most famous trumpet player in America and band leader for Lady Gaga. He said: “I know you from you YouTube,” and invited me to make guest appearances at his shows that week. I was stoked, but managed to keep things professional by adopting a ‘let’s go, we can do this’ attitude. It felt like coming home. Just a few weeks later, I was doing my own show at the opening of a nightclub in New York.’

What should we expect from your Let’s go Paris show?
‘While I was studying and living in Paris for a year, I had the most magical night of my entire life. I went down a side-street of the Champs-Élysées and ended up in a nightclub with a round stage in the middle of the room. There were fiery jazz musicians, sophisticated people were sitting around drinking, and the dance floor was heaving. The place was on fire! It was like stepping into and old film. But when I tried to go back later with friends, I couldn’t find the place. So now I’m trying and create the same setting in the Dutch theatres. I play a combination of my own songs, familiar French classics and an old American Songbook, such as Frank Sinatra. The show has been worked out to the last detail. I intend to give everything I’ve got, both in the music and the outfits, so I’ll be wearing my most outrageous sparkly dress. I always get a bit nervous going out on stage, but I need that feeling to focus. It’s a bit like being in love.’

What do you still dream of doing?
‘I want to release an album soon. And once I’ve finished my Dutch tour, I’m going to focus on touring America. I’d love to perform in Olympia in Paris, and Las Vegas is another dream venue. There’s so much to discover, particularly in the US. Perhaps I’ll move out there… Or maybe I’ll stay in the Netherlands and create a new nightclub culture. I grab any opportunities I can. My father taught me that the most important thing is to enjoy life. I’m just happy that I’m in a position to do this.’

> 11 October 2023 and 7 January 2024, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

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