Julia Breen: Similar Kind
What was your first experience with music?
JB: My first experience was a punk show at School of Rock. I got a guitar freshman year and my parents signed me up. Nothing really came of that, but it made me want to be in a band more because I met other kids that were in bands. My first actual band experience was sophomore year. It was really surprising how many gigs we got for a first time band. It made me want to be in a more serious band and do more shows.
It’s cool that music has always been a community experience because for some people it’s more of a solitary experience.
JB: Yeah, totally. I even did musical theatre in high school which is still a community of people.
So did you think you were learning as you went because it seems like you got gigs right off the bat?
JB: Yeah and looking back it seems like all those people I was in that band with all agree that the old videos are pretty rough. I’m glad we just went for it because it is so necessary to get a ton of experience. I’m really grateful that I was able to be in a band with other kids who were also at the same experience level and we got to just practice and fuck around and learning how to book a show. It was nice to figure it out in a judgement-free zone.
Yeah and even the Ramones weren’t the greatest musicians, but there is such great energy when you listen to the music and you see live shows. The point of music is to feel that connection.
JB: Completely. There are bands you could be listening to and not necessary love, but you can see them live and form a game changing connection.
Similar Kind is now segueing from purely live performances to doing more studio work and recording. How has that changed your connection with making music?
JB: I love the song writing process and recording, but playing live shows is my favorite part by far. Now that it is December and it is looking like we are going to have shows within 2021, I am looking at the recording we are doing now as more of a bridge until then. So many bands do not have the luxury of being able to record so I am grateful that we can do that and we weren’t stuck.
What is the song writing process like for the band?
JB: Most of the time Ben, our guitarist, figures out a chord progression he likes. He goes to school for audio engineering and he has a home studio, so sometimes he’ll make a little demo out of it and shares it with everyone. We jam on it and figure out our parts and the structure of the songs. I’ll then record it and write the lyrics and the melody.
You guys have a really cohesive style and all the different instruments play off of each other really well. Did you discuss bands you wanted to draw inspiration from or did you inherently all have a similar sound?
JB: In the beginning we never specially thought of a sound we wanted to have. We didn’t start by saying we wanted to be an indie pop band, but we started doing covers of Rex Orange County and Paramore. We all have different music tastes and never talked about it, so it developed without us really talking about it.
“Nobody Loves You” is arguably your biggest hit so far. How do you feel about the reaction to that song? Did you think this was going to be your most popular song to date?
JB: Honestly I didn’t really think it was going to be the most streamed out of our songs. Our producers at Factory Underground Recording Studios definitely did and when we were almost done recording it they wanted to take the advertising of that song more seriously. I wasn’t expecting the commercial success we achieved with that song.
It was "Nobody Loves You" that helped you to land a record deal from that song as well, right?
JB: We made a TikTok and that’s how they were able to find us. It got around 200K views and it took us five minutes, so funny. So many people found us through that and we’ve gained so many Instagram followers. It broke us in the sense that people from more random places listen and follow us. We had a lot of people locally who knew who we were and even though we played shows outside of Connecticut, most of our shows and followers were from Connecticut. This one girl DM'd me and naturally I thought she was from Connecticut, but she was from Brazil. So that really tipped us to go a lot further than just Connecticut.
I really like the song “Maria” which is one of your older songs - it’s cool that people can use “Nobody Love You” as a way to explore your earlier songs.
JB: Yeah we’ve definitely gained more traffic to us in general. A song will blow up because it is on a playlist, but it doesn’t get more monthly listeners. This song has actually gotten us more streams to our other songs and people are more interested in the band as a whole. I’m really thankful it has brought more attention to us in general.
Going forward in 2021 are you going to focus on finishing the album and touring?
JB: We aren’t looking at any shows until the Spring and we’ve been working on 6 songs. We want to get those recorded and put out an album before the summer and then play a bunch of summer shows.
So a World Tour in 2021?
JB: That’s the goal.
Indie bands are getting more mainstream and there’s a resurgence of having real guitars and instruments instead of everything being done through the computer. What do you think about this movement?
JB: I feel like a few years ago you would hear pop songs and there wouldn’t be any drums or anything. 16 year old me was like, “no we are moving away from real music”. It was just a phase and obviously now we are moving away from that. I think that real type of music isn’t going away like some people think.
You can almost equate that to the 80s where everything was so synth heavy and most songs included drum tracks rather than live drums. Then after that you had grunge music, so the pendulum swings back.
JB: Yeah that is so true. I feel like every time music shifts away from more instrument based people think that this generation will lose guitars, but it is just a phase.
Yeah and the live concerts totally have a different feel to them. Digitally produced instruments give more of a club vibe rather than a concert.
JB: Yeah, completely.
Can you talk about the live stream show you have?
JB: We went to the Tarrytown Music Hall and recorded an acoustic set. It was just Ben and me. That venue is really beautiful, it is such an old theatre and the acoustics are crazy. Preferably you would want to play to an audience, but we just played to Colton who was the sound and video guy. It was just great to be able to play at such a beautiful venue. I’m grateful to be able to play a show in general.
It is interesting you did this acoustic. Avril Lavigne said that when she did acoustic shows it brought out different qualities to her songs, is that the same for you?
JB: Yeah. Ben and I have done a couple acoustic shows for various reasons and I forget how much I love hearing our songs acoustic. Typically if I’m gonna have the option to listen to an acoustic or regular version I’ll listen to the regular. Hearing some of our songs acoustically I wish I could hear more of that. I especially love to hear our song Faces & Places acoustically because it gives it more of a coffee shop vibe. Playing them acoustically really shows the songs in a different way.
Yeah like an MTV unplugged concert. Would you consider an acoustic album?
JB: That would be so cool and I feel like people would really love them. We did an acoustic version of “Nobody Loves You” that was on Spotify for a little bit, but we are re-releasing it. I want to tap more into the coffee shop playlist scene.
Check out Similar Kind!