Music gives people an outlet to feel, dance and express themselves, shared 27-year-old musician, Lava Dreams. She’s dreaming of doing the same.
Hailing from Kansas City, Julia Hamilton grew up surrounded by music and officially became a solo artist in 2018, now performing as Lava Dreams. In 2020, she released her EP, “GOOD ENERGY + FOCUS,” and now is in the midst of unveiling songs from her self-titled album, “Lava Dreams.”
Check out Startland News’ Q&A with Lava below to discover plans for her new album, the inspiration behind her style, and the advice that keeps her moving.
What was your relationship with music like growing up?
As a kid, I was always surrounded by music. My dad plays guitar, he sings, and some of my brothers played guitar too. So we always had a band room in my house growing up. And as far back as I can remember, I’ve always written songs and been drawn to music.
How did your family react when you told them you were releasing your EP last year?
They were excited. They’re always excited about what I’m doing. I think they definitely weren’t surprised. I mean, I’ve been recording my songs for quite a few years now.
My EP [“GOOD ENERGY + FOCUS”] was in collaboration with my really good friend Duncan Burnett, who is also a producer. He produced all of the music. He took my songs and ideas and really helped me execute them in a way that I wasn’t able to do before.
Click here to check out Lava Dreams’ website.
You released a music video from a song on your EP, right?
Yes! “Rhythm” is my favorite song on the EP, so I wanted to do a music video for it. I got a bunch of my friends to be in it. I wanted it to be really joyful and evoke a feeling of freedom.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
I would describe it as dancey — guitar-based, with a lot of electric guitar. I would say the vocals are dreamy, and then the music itself is very electric and rhythmic. Also, it has some really cool drums because Duncan, my producer, is an amazing drummer.
When do you plan to release ‘Lava Dreams’?
The way I’m releasing this album is pretty unique… Because of online streaming like Spotify, people have such short attention spans now. Rather than releasing a couple of singles and then putting out the whole album, I am going to be releasing all the songs as singles throughout the year.
The first song is called “The Amazing Wave,” and that’s already out. And then the second song will be released in February.
Where did you find inspiration for this album?
The overarching theme of the album is the evolution of the self. All of my songs are very personal, so I’m always writing from my own emotional state. Listeners can expect themes of feeling and perseverance — having the strength to be vulnerable and keep going.
Pre-pandemic, what were your favorite music venues in Kansas City?
My favorite KC venues were the RINO and recordBar. I’m dreaming of the day I can play live shows in front of an audience again and attend concerts too!
If you could open or collaborate with any musician, who would you choose?
I want to make music with Janelle Monae. I appreciate her as an artist because she has always used her voice for a positive impact and she is an incredible performer. She has great vision and execution and she’s very theatrical, which I love. I feel like we could relate to each other, her coming from KCK and me from KCMO. We are both a little androgynous and brave enough to be different in our expression. I feel we could create something special together if I ever get the chance to work with her.
Between your day-job and making music do you ever feel burnout? How do you deal with it?
I do feel burnout sometimes. The way I deal with it is rest and taking time off to focus on myself. But it doesn’t happen too often. I am really creative — that’s when I do the best.
With my work in video production [with Stellar Image Studios], it’s for other people; it’s not necessarily for me. So it kind of takes off some of that pressure of decision making and things like that. [My job and making music is] totally different. They are both extremely creative! But I love that. I just love to create things. It’s fun for me.
Has there been a piece of advice that’s really stuck with you?
The main advice that has helped me — and it’s still what I have to remind myself with every day — is just to be confident and acknowledge that what I am creating has value.
What piece of advice would you give to young musicians?
Keep doing it. If you want to be a great singer and a great guitar player, then start doing it now and do it every chance that you can. You don’t have to wait to get to a certain spot to fulfill your dreams or ambitions.
Then the other thing I would say is try to get to know other people who are interested in the same things as you. I met Duncan at a show I was playing at with another artist and he was producing her at the time … Obviously, we can’t get out as much as we used to be able to, but even through social media, or online, you can network work with other musicians and artists in your area. I think that’s a great way to continue to be encouraged and inspired.
Lava Dreams’ latest single and EP can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.