Over the past couple of moths, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising, 19-year-old Baltimore-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student Julien Chang (pronounced Chong). Chang surprised his peers when he quietly began releasing original music during his senior year in high school. Initially only thought of just as a trombone player, the Baltimore-born, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s earliest material found him playing multiple instruments while meshing pop-leaning melodicism, psych rock and jazz fusion-leaning experimentation and improvisation with a sophistication and self-assuredness that belied his relative youth.
Now as you may recall, those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, and the label recently released Chang’s highly anticipated full-length debut Jules last Friday. So far I’ve written about the album’s two previously released singles — “Of The Past,” a sleek, early 80s-like synth funk-based track centered around dexterous musicianship and pop melodicisim and the slow-burning, Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Butterflies from Monaco.” Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Memory Loss” is centered by syncopated blips and bloops, a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths and Chang’s plaintive falsetto and a yearning for an unreachable and halcyon-tinged past. And while seemingly influenced by 80s synth funk, the song continues a run of incredibly self-assured singles featuring some dazzling musicianship and big hooks.
“A worsening memory is something I’ve always been worried about,” Chang explains. “The song was made with a kind of structural rigidity in mind, and about memory’s natural lack of it when having trouble putting faces to names, for example. It’s easy to be frustrated by that feeling, but being left with a sudden emotional reaction sparked by some stimulus for an unclear reason can be as lovely as it is disorienting.”
Directed and shot by Haoyan of America, the recently released video for “Memory Loss” is shot through a disorientating and lysergic haze with a wistfully nostalgic air, as it’s centered around memories of a lover, dreamy and easygoing summer days and trippy imagery. “The ‘Memory Loss’ video was shot by Haoyan of America. The vision was totally his, arrived at after spending some time talking to each other about the song,” Chang explains. “That’s what I wanted to do when we first started looking for video directors—find an artist that I trust and have them commit to their own path of inspiration. I think a lot of music videos require the visual artists to bend to the will of the musician. It was really exciting to see Haoyan work as an artist creating something that both augmented my song and stood on its own an independent and magnificent visual piece.”