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Julia Sage’s huge learning curve

“I don’t know the first thing about sound engineering”

Julia Sage: willing to be vulnerable about the love of her life.
Julia Sage: willing to be vulnerable about the love of her life.

A songwriter since early childhood, Julia Sage plays Chilean folk, blues, and Americana. She performs bilingual songs as a solo artist, as part of Grampadrew’s Flim Flam Revue, and with her band the Bad Hombres. Their debut album was recorded in 2018 and released the following year. Her new album Desnuda was recorded locally at Chaos Recorders with Christopher Hoffee, who plays percussion on the title track.

“We recorded three of the singles a long time ago now,” says Sage. “‘Ni de Aquí, Ni de All á’ was our first one, recorded in August 2018. We didn’t even have a drummer back then yet.” Tom Peart ended up playing drums on the next two singles, “Ahuevonao” and “Wondrous Woman,” both recorded in May 2019, previous to Peart’s departure from the Bad Hombres. “At this point, during the dark times we went through, music and songwriting saved me again. I wrote, recorded, and produced my own solo album Midnight Songs in the Time of Corona Vol. 1, which got nominated for the SDMAs [San Diego Music Awards] this year. It was a huge learning curve, because I don’t know the first thing about sound engineering, and all I had at home was an old Mac, GarageBand, and one good microphone. I’m still supposed to record Vol. 2, but this took the back seat for a bit because we were finally starting to be able to perform again.”

After playing a few post-pandemic shows with her band, solo, and as a duo with Matthew Strachota, Sage finally completed recording the Desnuda album by returning to Chaos Recorders in October 2021. Guest musicians include John Meeks, who plays horns on “I Shouldn’t Stay.” “As you can imagine, I was elated that we were able to finally finish the whole album. I just released it, a little over three years after we recorded the first song, and almost two months after my mother’s passing this year. It is a tribute to her, mostly, but also dedicated in my heart to both my parents and anyone — friends, family, new friends — who ever supported my music and my creativity. It also happened to coincide with the full moon, which has always been a very creative time for me.”

The title track “Desnuda” is a Spanish word. “I had basically already chosen [it] for the album title, and it means ‘naked.’ I wrote it in October 2019, under the original title ‘Mi Guitarra.’ It talks about how I fell in love with my first guitar, and it basically made writing songs become the love of my life — saving me, really, every time that I experienced emotional turmoil throughout my growing up, and beyond. I changed the song title to ‘Desnuda’ because there was always something vulnerably raw and naked about expressing everything I felt through songwriting.”

Sage’s backing band the Bad Hombres includes bassist Chad Pittman, drummer Clayton Payne, and percussionist Natasha Cruz, as well as Drew Douglas, aka Grampadrew (bouzouki, musical saw, background vocals) and Matthew Strachota (banjo, keys, guitar, background vocals). All are present on the track “Amor Universal,” which Sage says “talks about how all of us are connected through something bigger than us, no matter where we are from or what our beliefs are. Every other song, as most of mine, are really personal experiences and feelings.”

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Julia Sage: willing to be vulnerable about the love of her life.
Julia Sage: willing to be vulnerable about the love of her life.

A songwriter since early childhood, Julia Sage plays Chilean folk, blues, and Americana. She performs bilingual songs as a solo artist, as part of Grampadrew’s Flim Flam Revue, and with her band the Bad Hombres. Their debut album was recorded in 2018 and released the following year. Her new album Desnuda was recorded locally at Chaos Recorders with Christopher Hoffee, who plays percussion on the title track.

“We recorded three of the singles a long time ago now,” says Sage. “‘Ni de Aquí, Ni de All á’ was our first one, recorded in August 2018. We didn’t even have a drummer back then yet.” Tom Peart ended up playing drums on the next two singles, “Ahuevonao” and “Wondrous Woman,” both recorded in May 2019, previous to Peart’s departure from the Bad Hombres. “At this point, during the dark times we went through, music and songwriting saved me again. I wrote, recorded, and produced my own solo album Midnight Songs in the Time of Corona Vol. 1, which got nominated for the SDMAs [San Diego Music Awards] this year. It was a huge learning curve, because I don’t know the first thing about sound engineering, and all I had at home was an old Mac, GarageBand, and one good microphone. I’m still supposed to record Vol. 2, but this took the back seat for a bit because we were finally starting to be able to perform again.”

After playing a few post-pandemic shows with her band, solo, and as a duo with Matthew Strachota, Sage finally completed recording the Desnuda album by returning to Chaos Recorders in October 2021. Guest musicians include John Meeks, who plays horns on “I Shouldn’t Stay.” “As you can imagine, I was elated that we were able to finally finish the whole album. I just released it, a little over three years after we recorded the first song, and almost two months after my mother’s passing this year. It is a tribute to her, mostly, but also dedicated in my heart to both my parents and anyone — friends, family, new friends — who ever supported my music and my creativity. It also happened to coincide with the full moon, which has always been a very creative time for me.”

The title track “Desnuda” is a Spanish word. “I had basically already chosen [it] for the album title, and it means ‘naked.’ I wrote it in October 2019, under the original title ‘Mi Guitarra.’ It talks about how I fell in love with my first guitar, and it basically made writing songs become the love of my life — saving me, really, every time that I experienced emotional turmoil throughout my growing up, and beyond. I changed the song title to ‘Desnuda’ because there was always something vulnerably raw and naked about expressing everything I felt through songwriting.”

Sage’s backing band the Bad Hombres includes bassist Chad Pittman, drummer Clayton Payne, and percussionist Natasha Cruz, as well as Drew Douglas, aka Grampadrew (bouzouki, musical saw, background vocals) and Matthew Strachota (banjo, keys, guitar, background vocals). All are present on the track “Amor Universal,” which Sage says “talks about how all of us are connected through something bigger than us, no matter where we are from or what our beliefs are. Every other song, as most of mine, are really personal experiences and feelings.”

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