A melodic architect of the heart and mind, it makes sense Julia Bardo would name her debut album Bauhaus, L’Appartamento. Unlocking a space of her own after laying foundations in a foreign land, it is an intimate bell jar containing the twists and turns of her journey so far from Brescia, Italy to building a new life in Manchester, and traces her unfolding blueprint of thought processes along the way.
“Bauhaus, L’Appartamento is about loneliness, solitude, separation but also unconditional love,” reveals Julia of the record’s overarching themes. “Family, emotional dependency, mental health issues, feelings of emptiness and numbness, feelings of not being enough, inability to be in control of my own emotions, self-doubt, self-reflection, past traumas and dealing with them.”
Disarming listeners with its honesty, Julia’s debut EP Phase was deeply personal, each song unfurling like the pages of a diary. Bauhaus, L’Appartamento continues that tradition within its freewheeling alt-rock temperament and unflinching melancholy. Any remaining walls are brought tumbling down with layers of rhythm guitar and a wild heart on her sleeve. It is an album that brings focus to feeling and sees Julia unconsciously uniting art with everyday life as she grows closer to discovering her true self. “The name “Bauhaus, L’Appartamento” comes from the apartment complex I lived in when demoing the album’s recordings,” Julia recalls. “L’appartamento means “flat” in Italian; it was important to include my roots in the title, it’s a big part of myself and my personality.”
Showing absence makes the heart grows stronger, after the pandemic grounded Julia in lockdown far from family; between painting, writing love letters to her home, and watching the dreamlike and artistic films of Federico Fellini or Michelangelo Antonioni, homesickness crept in and the clouds of a once complex relationship with her place of birth began to part. “These days I want to scream to the world “Sono Italiana!” without feeling ashamed,” she affirms of the tension release. “I am an Italian woman; my emotions are raw, real and always at the front. I am how I am, and don’t need to explain myself.”
Recorded on tape with Julia’s band between the nick-nack covered walls of Greenwich’s Vacant TV studio, Bauhaus, L’Appartamento was produced and mixed by Younghusband’s Euan Hinshelwood, with engineering and mixing by Ric James (Foals, Yowl, Toy); and each track opens a new door. ‘The Most’ is a declaration of truth as Julia sings, “‘cos time goes fast when I love you the most” whilst the twinkling, gauzy guitars of ‘Do This To Me’ offer chimes of support as Julia’s arresting world-weary tones attempt to seek resolution. “Music for me is sad or sexy. Never happy,” she affirms.
The off-kilter distortion of ‘Impossible’ and its spoken word in her native tongue sees Julia’s Italian roots become entwined with the 90s American artists whose music continues to inspire her. Whilst previous covers EP The Raw provided a glimpse into Julia’s ever-expanding record collection, Bauhaus, L’Appartamento delves deeper, with Julia’s appreciation for Yo La Tengo, Violent Femmes, Duster, Aerial M, and Salad found within. It is hypnotic like Galaxie 500, fuelled by the impetus of Pavement or Sonic Youth, and picks up pace like The Pixies with Television tension and the Velvets’ intent. ‘No Feeling’ even hints at The Breeders as Julia snaps a stern ‘no’ with the bite of PJ Harvey, St Vincent, or Karen O.
Proof that getting your shit together is the same in any language and music transcends physical plains, nothing is lost in translation whether Julia sings “this is not love, this is much more,” on ‘Love Out Of Control’ or when she speaks up for causes close to her heart; raising awareness of good mental health with single ‘It’s Okay (To Not Be Okay),’ joining other women to celebrate the life and work of Nico in her beloved Hebden Bridge Trades Club (another home from home since performing there as a former member of the band Working Men’s Club) or embracing inclusive opportunities for the under-represented as Italy’s winner at the Music Moves Europe Awards presented at 2021’s Eurosonic.
The Bauhaus, L’Appartamento butterfly has been cocooned for too long; she is ready to break its glass ceiling and set herself free and without question, Julia says, she is ready. “I hope 2021 will finally be my year, touring, meeting new people and being happy.”