Having first come to the fore as the sassy and beguiling front woman for Fur Patrol in the early 2000s, the past decade has seen Julia Deans transition from iconic rock chick to glorious songbird.
Hatched in Wellington in the late ‘90s, Fur Patrol released three albums, two EPs, and the now classic Kiwi number one, Lydia, in 2000. The following year brought Deans and the band Best Single, Best Female Vocalist, and Best Songwriter of the Year titles at the New Zealand Music Awards.
Since her early rockstar days, Julia has worked with acts like The Adults, SJD, and Neil Finn; performed in an impressive array of art festival shows paying tribute to the likes of Jacques Brel, Joni Mitchell, and Billie Holiday; stretched her dramatic chops singing Shakespeare’s soliloquies in Play On, and as Mary Magdalene in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar; and worked with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra twice – first on a show of her own songs with Anika Moa, and then in a tribute to David Bowie.
Releasing two solo albums in that time, one could easily call Deans a Kiwi music icon and she has recently announced a nationwide tour to celebrate the release of her sophomore album release We Light Fire.
A tour like no other, Julia is using these shows as a platform to create opportunities for women musicians in New Zealand.
There are gender disparity conversations going on everywhere, at the moment. The music industry in particular has come under heavy scrutiny, over its long term issues. Disturbing figures in overseas studies have shown a distinct lack of female representation in the industry, especially the live arena.
“Throughout my career I have strived to be recognised as a musician first, but often being a woman has meant I’ve been looked upon as some kind of novelty. To me, gender should not be an issue. I strongly believe we need to foster an environment that not only welcomes women and encourages them to get involved, but which also encourages men to support women and embrace them as equals.”
Julia will be handpicking the support artists in each town on the tour and all will be locally appointed with a focus on female, female-identifying, gender non-binary fronted bands or solo artists.
Inspired by world events, friends, and family, We Light Fire is an album that examines both what it means to be human, and our spectrum of strength and vulnerability. A theme which is highlighted in her quest to find local support acts around New Zealand and give a voice to the women who may previously have been overlooked.
This will also be the first time audiences around New Zealand will see Julia perform her own headline tour with a full band in over seven years.