Julia Maisel-Berrick on being in two bands, live performances, creative productivity

Courtesy of Julia Maisel-Berrick '24 via Spotify

Julia Maisel-Berrick ’24 is involved in nearly all aspects of the music scene on campus. I got to sit with her outside, physically distant on the quad and inquire about one of the rising musical talents on Vassar’s campus. A student musician who has her own music out on streaming platforms and an active member of the bands Fowlmouth and Delia, she can be found either in a practice session or out in the Blodgett courtyard performing.

From memorizing songs off of the CDs in her dad’s car to scribbling down lyrics in her elementary school notebook, songwriting comes easily to Berrick and is a true passion. When asked about her favorite original song so far, she responded, “There’s a song from my last EP called Asteroid 6984…I was thinking about it the other day because it’s really inspired by the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ which was like my favorite book as a kid.” Often inspired by the media she consumes, her ethereal voice matches the poetic nature of her lyrics. She posts her  latest releases on her Instagram and can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud. Her latest release was this past February, called “Something Cosmic”.

Berrick ended up in Fowlmouth, an all first-year folk band, last semester after meeting one bandmate, Rachel Ostrowski inat her high school her senior year. They ended up in the same student fellow group in Raymond House once they both arrived at Vassar, which led to meeting fellow bandmate Lauren Pacheco. This resulted in a jam session, and after one thing led to another, they started holding weekly events for the band. Since then, the band has performed at several campus events., and tThis upcoming weekend Fowlmouth and Delia will be bookending the First Year Carnival on Sunday, May 16. 

Berrick is involved in another band, which came about in a similar manner. All band members are a part of the Vassar Student Musician Union (StuMu). Berrick met fellow bandmate Danny Lombara ‘24 through having two classes together this semester, and learned about each other’s musical talents via a list StuMu has of other student musicians.  After a successful jam sesh with Lombara and Eli Cuomo ‘24, and then finding their drummer Karun Krishnamurthy ‘24, the band Delia was formed. Berrick expresses, “I’ve never been in a band before and it was always my dream, and now I’m living my dream times two.”

Berrick expressed, “Live performances feel very productive and I think it’s hard to feel productive in this day and age. And like you’re practicing, but what am I practicing for?” Especially with warmer weather allowing for spaces like the Blodgett courtyard, the library lawn, Joss Beach and other outdoor areas to be utilized for COVID-safe concerts, student musicians are able to gain recognition for their skills and talents. Berrick added, “When you have a goal that’s really nice…it’s nice when people come up to you afterwards and compliment you and it makes you feel good. You form a lot of connections from that in a time where it’s very hard to form connections with people.” 

Concerts have been an escape from pandemic burnout. Performances overall this semester have been a staple of physically distant, yet relaxing events for students to connect with each other in a meaningful way. Berrick’s favorite performance so far has been the women and non-binary centered concert held at the Loeb; “It was in daylight which feels good because you can see the people and they can see you and it was just like it was a good space. Folk Fest felt very professional and like a real festival.”

When it comes to balancing practices and performances with the workload of being a Vassar student, Berrick stated, “Leading up to shows we have to practice…  you just gotta know that it’s going to work out and you do have time in your day.” For a member of two bands and a full-time student, Berrick’s calm mindset towards her hectic schedule was shockingly simple: “Make time for things you like doing.” Between classes, projects, studying, extracurricular activities and sports alongside a social life, continuing to engage in these passions is a nice reminder that you truly are in control of your time, and that what truly brings you joy is worth prioritizing. 

And if you thought Berrick was done in her musical endeavors, she also listens to folk music to curate for her radio shows, Onion Hours and Sad Folk for Sad Folks by Sad Folks, for WVKR. When listening, her attention is “very lyric-centric for me.” This dedication to lyricism comes through her music, with elaborate metaphors over folksy instrumentals forming a dreamy sound.

In the future, Berrick wants to write and record original songs for both Fowlmouth and Delia and have more available practice spaces, as well as more performance opportunities in the fall. “After I release things, I can move on to the next thing because it feels like that has been preserved and memorialized now and it’s not forgotten by the passage of time,” she expressed.  “Hopefully people are listening to these shows and being like, ‘Man, I wish I could hear that song every single day.’” Berrick speaks of music in a thoughtful and meaningful way, and I can’t wait to see her next performances, with whichever band she is lined up to play with that day.

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