This year was a really beautiful and empowering year for me but also was punctuated with moments of facing my demons. My album Chthonic was released in April, and as I had been sitting on it for close to a year and a half waiting for label arrangements to be worked out, that was a huge relief. For me, this album was a big step forward in developing what my body of work will be about. I was very glad I waited for the business end of things to be arranged properly because working with Keeled Scales was wonderful. They really helped me look for and step into a new level of presenting my work, and they helped bring my music to a much wider audience than I was used to. Prior to Chthonic, my music life was mostly based in Austin and based around my group of friends. So this year has been an interesting transition out of playing music for and with friends to playing music more for a greater audience. That shift was what I always wanted, but I have to say it’s also been bittersweet. It coincided with my particular, small local scene here in Austin getting a bit dissipated as people began to tour more. It’s what we all want, but it feels like an end of an era, and I’m still mourning that a bit.

This year has also been about trying to get back into balance, and that’s been a long, slow process. I did tons of touring last year and was away from Austin nearly nine months total. It started out powerfully positive. I felt really excited, brave and capable. But the last few months of it I was in tatters emotionally and had to abruptly stop, even calling off two upcoming tours. My 20s were so full of ambition and fire, and now I’m reaching this point in my life where I want to keep working on things and feeling engaged, but I also want life balance. So I’m currently trying to navigate that line–when to work hard, and when to let go.

The tour for Chthonic was amazing. I’ve done lots of touring, but I’ve always played the role of the touring band rolling into town totally unknown and a couple locals liking it by the end of the night. This tour I worked hard on the promotion, and we did our first tour as a full band. People were coming to the show to see us and meet us, and that was really special. I believe you should make art for yourself, but when there is energy from other people who are excited by what you do, that makes it feel like there’s some sort of greater movement happening. There’s a lot of power in being heard and being seen. It helps me feel excited about the next album and makes me feel like when I release it, there will be people who are ready to hear it, and that feels good. The shows were really beautiful. I’ve played all kinds of shows, so for there to be a nice audience, a competent, professional venue staff–these things are really helpful. It makes it so much easier to perform when you feel supported by the space.

I’m working on a book now about music, and it’s helping me clarify my thoughts on how I want to work and live, and how I want to approach this whole endeavor. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I’ve pushed too hard, or held back too long. I’ve tried to be someone I’m not. I’ve put myself down. I’ve gone off in the wrong direction. But because of all my mistakes I feel I’m getting a clearer picture of how to go about this life of being a musician.

Listen to Julia Lucille’s latest album, Chthonic, here.