Last Friday, I saw Den-Mate at an event at Black Cat hosted by Brooklyn Brewery. The show consisted of three somewhat local artists, with Den-Mate (DC), Wild Honey (Baltimore), and Natalie Prass (Richmond) on the bill. Following the show I had the chance to catch up with Jules Hale backstage.
Unfortunately, much of our conversation wasn't recorded due to my phone's data being full. But I'm going to go from memory as much as I can!
Right off the bat, Jules and I started gushing over our passions for Aldous Harding and animals. Hale, having opened for Harding at her DC9 show about a month ago, stated that she feels that Harding is one of the best, if not, the best performer of our time. I couldn't agree more, but I'd be remiss to leave out that Hale's performance evoked some of Harding’s eccentricities. Her persona on stage is different than the Jules that I was speaking with. On stage, she is confident and intimidating. But once she steps off, Jules is one of the sweetest and kindest human beings I've met.
At 23-years old, Jules refuses to let her surroundings or circumstance define her- through her music she has found autonomy and a voice. Having grown up with epilepsy, Hale has always had a different perception of the world around her. Music has also provided her with a safe haven, acting as a stabilizing element in her mental health.
She described to me how her life with epilepsy has strongly influenced her work as a musician. Similar to how artists with synesthesia report different perceptions of sensory stimuli, Hale described to me that her experience with epilepsy has allowed her to access a completely different area of senses that are not available to others. She explains that these senses allow her to feel more, in emotional terms as well.
We got into talking about mental health, and how there is still stigma surrounding it. Hearing Hale discuss this topic made me realize why I'd found myself connecting to Den-Mate's music in the first place- it is the epitome of authentic. Despite the difference between Hale's persona on-stage and off, every aspect of Den-Mate is an extension of her. This is even true of her older works.
Den-Mate's next album, which should hopefully be released sometime over the course of the next year through DC's own, Babe City Records, was actually recorded about a year ago. I asked Hale if it felt like those songs were still representative of herself now or if she feels like she's changed at all. She feels that despite a song's location in her personal timeline, it will always be an extension of herself. Although, on newer works, she is allowing others to weigh in on the creative process. She is still creating the basis for the songs, but has opened the floor for other band members to add their perspective voices to the conversation.
When asked about what's next for Den-Mate- specifically what goals she wants to achieve in terms of success in her field, Hale's answer could not have been more genuine. She told me that after their set, a girl had come up to her at the merch table, and told her that a friends had gone through a difficult time but listening to Den-Mate really helped them get through it.
Jules tells me that moments like these are what make life and music fulfilling for her. It’s not about playing a certain venue, or gaining critical acclaim, but rather, it's about connecting to people. She doesn't want to expect anything when it comes to what she does. She says she's seen people get disappointed and that she would never want to feel that way about her music.
Hale's words carry a great sense of wisdom for someone so young, yet she manages to keep an air of wonder about her. She doesn't take anything for granted and when asked about upcoming releases and touring, Hale says she is excited for it all.
Her band is currently on tour, playing shows on the east coast. Make sure to keep an eye out for new releases in the near future, and check them out live if you have the chance. Their next shows will be in Hadley, MA 10/28 and Baltimore, MD 10/30.