We’ve been swinging on the hinges of a full pop-punk revival for a while. Claire Julian, A.K.A. no reception., may be the most authentic voice emerging.
Now a college sophomore, Julian recently released the EP ‘See Through’, four songs about her high school experiences. As the name suggests, there is a transparency to the lyrics and melodies that feels refreshing. The riffs hit you square in the face, the choruses make you want to chant along, and the beats were made for dingy dancefloors.
While pop-punk more or less became a parody of itself by the end of last decade, there’s been an exciting resurgence harkening back to the original, raw sound of the genre. Think less Fall Out Boy and New Found Glory – no reception. will remind you more of Best Coast and The Front Bottoms.
We caught up with Claire to ask her about being a feminist in the music industry, the evolution of her sound, and her ‘platonic’ obsession with Kristen Stewart.
Hi Claire – We reviewed ‘Door Mat’ and were big fans! What’s the story behind the song?
I was so amped about your guys’ review! All the songs on this EP are actually really old so the story of the song is a throwback. I wrote, “Door Mat,” at the beginning of my senior year of high school and I’m a sophomore in college now so a lot has changed in my life and music since then, but at the time I wrote these songs I was really excited about sliding into this pop punk niche that is pretty consistent throughout the EP. I also was doing rehearsals with some kids from my high school to perform ‘Mr. Brightside’ at a school event so the opening riff was in my head and I wanted to write a song that opened up with a similar arpeggio since I mainly stick to straight up crunchy chords in my music. The lyrics are about this girl who identified as straight, but was all like “ooo, ahhh, you are the only exception” for a couple weeks and then inevitably realised it wasn’t true and ‘Door Mat’ was me coming to terms with that and getting all my anger out over the fact that I was still invested and she had become uninterested.
So, how did no reception. start?
I started no reception. in middle school shortly after just starting to learn guitar. I had decided to learn guitar so that I could write songs so once I was writing songs I pretty immediately wanted to start a band. When it started it was just me writing songs, recording demos on Pro Tools where I played guitar and drums, and my friend Rachel singing. We made videos and posted them to youtube. Over the years it evolved to become just me, adopting the roles of bassist and vocalist as well.
What is the mission statement for no reception.? What would you like to represent as an artist?
The mission for no reception. is just to have fun, be passionate, and work hard. I really believe in working hard at the things that make you happy. I think that is the most important thing in anything you pursue: it should make you happy and you should work really fucking hard for it. Beyond that, I love using my platform to represent the queer community. There is something so powerful in writing a really gay song and putting it out there for the world and being like “I don’t give a fuck about heteronormativity!!”
What would you say is your biggest moment so far as no reception.?
Oh, this is a good one. Hmm, there are a couple moments that have been really big for me. I would say that a lot of things that came from my song ‘Moon Girl’ were big moments for me. That song received a huge amount of support and positive feedback and that was a really awesome feeling, especially since it is the song that I’m most transparent about my sexuality in.
I was living in Miami at the time and this company called She Life reached out to me because of that song and I got to perform it at this LGBTQ+ night life event to a packed club of queer people living their best lives and joining together and everyone on my floor at school came. It was really beautiful for me to have my community from school and the queer community all together in the audience supporting me.
A webseries called, “Take Two,” also reached out to me to use the song in their score and a lot of young queer women reached out to me to express how significant it was to them to hear my music and see me be so unabashed about my sexuality. When strangers reach out to tell me how my music has connected with them–that is the coolest feeling ever. I did this thing where I sent my Spotify followers ‘Moon Girl’ bracelets and I was sending some to Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Brazil. That was dope.
How does See Through differ from your first record?
See Through differs hugely from my first record. The songs on, Restless Heart, were a pretty random collection of any good song I’d written since I picked up a guitar. They were written over several years, completely disconnected from each other, and each one had a really different sound because I was just writing anything that came to mind. That is still sort of my writing approach, but because I’ve been writing and playing so much longer now, my music naturally has developed a consistent, lo-fi, pop rock, shoe-gaze type vibe.
Did you take a different approach in recording and writing at all?
Recording was pretty similar for both records. Since I’m playing all the instruments on the tracks, I have a system where I record guitar first to a click, then do drums, then bass, then vocals. I lay down the instrument stems on my own, recording the drums via midi on my electric kit, and then go into a studio for a producer to do all the mixing and record vocals. My writing became a little more about theory for See Through. The theory for my songs is not complex because it is all routed in three chord punk rock, but having more of an awareness of theory and what I was actually playing influenced the structure and melodies on See Through. I didn’t even know the chords I was playing for most of the songs on Restless Heart. That was kind of badass, but learning more about theory has definitely strengthened my writing.
Who are you biggest musical influences for no reception.?
Biggest musical influences is a hard one! Mainly because I listen to a huge variety of music so I’m not even exactly sure which ones influence my writing or if they all do in little ways. Bands I listen to that you can definitely hear flavours of in my music are The Front Bottoms, Green Day, and Best Coast. I listen to a lot of modern rock, 90s rock, and pop and I think those are the genres that blend together to inform my writing. I’m really into Sorority Noise right now, but I have conflicted feelings about supporting them after the sexual assault allegations. Similarly, I was going through an obsessive Weezer phase at the beginning of summer and then just got so turned off by all the sexism in their lyrics. Navigating the punk rock scene as a feminist is hard. I never know the right thing to do. I just wanna listen to music that hits but it is so much more complicated than that and separating the art from the artist is definitely not harmless.
As a songwriter, what are your favourite topics to write about and what draws you to them?
When I sit down to write a song it inevitably becomes about a girl if I’m not actively trying to write about something else. It’s just the truth!
My instincts when writing are to write about how any given relationship is making me feel at any time, and I usually gravitate towards the tragic ones rather than the happy ones. Capturing sincerely happy emotions in music is hard for me. I think it is hard for a lot of writers. Happy songs I write always end up sounding like cliches. I guess happiness is just a cliche!
I’ve been trying to get away from that instinct to write about relationships, though, because I think I have more interesting things to offer. I’m a creative writer, I write a lot of prose and poetry, so recently I’ve been coming up with characters and plots for songs the same way I do in my creative writing. It has bore a lot of really cool lyrics that I wouldn’t have written if I was only sticking to my life experiences. Something I really love about The Front Bottoms (and Weezer, before I dubbed them) is how they construct entire songs around the most random events ever. It is like they are just talking about anything that happens in their lives like normal conversation. Like the lines in The Front Bottoms’ song, “Rhode Island”: Everything you’re feeling is common/Even though you’ve never felt so alone/I could probably catch a ride to your house/And borrow a bike to get back home. I would never think to write those last two lines, but I love it.
Growing up, which artists had a lasting effect on you, and do you still listen to them today?
This one is easy because I practically have a rehearsed answer to this question because of my tattoo. On the inside of my left arm I have a tattoo of a cross that turns into a downward pointing arrow, piercing two cherries. It is an homage to The Runaways and The Pretty Reckless, the two bands that came into my life right around the same time and inspired me to become a musician.
I discovered The Runaways in 7th grade, because just like every other young gay completely oblivious to their gayness, I had a purely ~platonic~ obsession with Kristen Stewart. When I saw her play Joan Jett in the movie, I immediately made it my mission to fully engross myself in the world of The Runaways. They were so badass. My 13 year old self was amazed they were only a year older than me at the peak of their fame.
Shortly after that, I started listening to The Pretty Reckless and that was it for me. I don’t know exactly what it was, but the moment I heard the first Pretty Reckless record I knew I wanted to do music. Before that moment I always thought it was bullshit when musicians pinpointed a specific song or album and said it changed their life, but that moment is real! Every musician has the album and Light Me Up by The Pretty Reckless was mine. I honestly don’t listen much to The Runaways or The Pretty Reckless anymore because my tastes have evolved, but I saw Joan Jett live for the first time this summer and always go see The Pretty Reckless when they tour because I feel like I owe them so much.
As for live performances, do you have any plans to tour?
I don’t have any plans to tour yet, but I’m in the process of getting a band together right now for gigs. I just moved to LA a couple months ago and have been settling in and working a lot on the release of See Through, so I finally have time now to start thinking about a band and shows.
Finally – what can we expect from no reception. in 2019?
I don’t even know what to expect from no reception. in 2019! I’m just playing things by ear. I’m always working on new music and recording demos and shooting videos. I’m writing a book right now so that is taking up a lot of my energy as a creator. I’m always releasing vlogs on my YouTube channel. I spend a lot of time putting those together so that they are a dope little collection of what I’m up to, and I always put new and old music in them. I have a cover I’m dropping on YouTube when I feel like it is the right time, and am hoping to shoot one or two more music videos for songs on See Through. I’ve been releasing a loooooot of content recently so I’m definitely going to take a bit of a break so I can stagger releases. I think that putting together a band and getting some gigs under our belt will be my main focus for 2019.
See Through is available to stream on Spotify now.
More info can also be found on the no reception. official website.