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Julia Jacklin would like some space, thank you

Since the release of her debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, Jacklin has become less concerned with social politics. Her needs come first, her self-awareness has grown, her friends are far and wide.

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Nick McKk

These are the overarching themes of Crushing, Jacklin’s second album, released this month. Jacklin’s sophomore record encompasses an awareness many twenty-somethings have first-hand experience with these days; the need to be given space and a need to ask for it. It’s a process she’s become well-acquainted with since her debut. Sure, being selfless is a noble pursuit, but it’s futile if you’re lighting yourself on fire to keep others warm. 

“With Don’t Let The Kids Win, I was selfless and willing to give and now I’m just like ‘back off!’,” she says with exaggeration.

“Obviously I want to make people feel good but not to the detriment of my own happiness. I used to think that’s what being a good person was; that you constantly gave things and constantly made sure people were comfortable and it didn’t matter if you felt bad. It didn’t matter if you were struggling.”

The aptly titled ‘Body’, as well as a handful of other tracks all deal with agency, but it was an underlying theme she didn’t know was there until the album was finished. Having people touch her and having people want things from her all became too much. She started to care less about pleasing everyone in her network or keeping to her space.

“There are so many things that contributed to me feeling that way and little interactions actually matter because they build into bigger feelings,” Jacklin says.

Following her Australian circuit, Jacklin is heading to Europe and the US. She knows it’ll involve copious amounts of time with the same people in unfamiliar spaces. But this time she’ll feel a little less worried about what her tourmates think of her if she asks for her own hotel room once a fortnight.

“If you’re not more active and aware and you’re not asking for space – even the little moments that might not seem like a big deal – it can just start to build and build in your own head until you feel like you’ve got nothing to yourself.”

Another part of growing up is dealing with loss. ‘When The Family Flies In’ is a piano-laden track that ponders what you should do during the unspeakable time of losing a loved one.

“There’s something so scary about [the family flying in] ... now as I’ve gotten older I’m like no, there’s actually something quite amazing about that, if you can all be honest about it,” she says.

When she had to confront her inspiration for the song – a dying friend – Jacklin had no idea what to say. 

“The person I wrote the song about, I didn’t really know what to do and it felt so foreign to me to talk to someone who knew they were dying,” she explains.

If it happens again, she’ll know a little better. You can skirt around the edges all you want but it doesn’t cleanse the fear radiating from the hospital bed. That’s why you “have to let them dictate” the conversation, she says. Otherwise it’s an injustice to them.

“It’s our fear of death that stops us from talking to people about it. And it’s not necessarily that fair for someone who’s going through it because it must be so terrifying and so isolating.”

Knowing what to say, when to say no or when to shut up entirely is a marker of getting older. Jacklin was on the uphill of her twenties when writing her first album. A few years later, she’s finding the perfect balance of selflessness and self-agency, proving one doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of the other.

Julia Jacklin's new album, Crushing, is out now. Jacklin will launch the LP at The Forum on Thursday March 14. Head to the venue website for tickets.