In an industry that demands commitment, Julia Wyszkowska, professionally known as Jelia, sows her successes with perseverance, humble confidence, and an easy smile.
Since late 2021, the 21-year-old has been reaping the gems of her hard work, including her latest single, ‘LIES’. In the ambient R&B and indie pop fusion, her husky alto vocals dance with smooth jumps, blending in with the muted synths.
So far, Jelia has written professionally, performed with her band in festivals like The Great Escape in Brighton, and organized her own R&B concerts. Between all that, she designs programmes for young musicians at True Cadence while preparing for her first EP. More than ready to shine, the singer-songwriter is just getting started.
What got you into music, and have you always wanted to be an artist?
Definitely not! (laughs) I’m not one of those who had been singing their whole life. I was more academic-oriented, and I intended to study psychology and philosophy. BIMM was the only university that I applied to for music, and I went to BIMM!
I was originally on Popular Music Performance for vocals but after half a year, I changed my course to songwriting. I had literally started writing songs a month or two before I changed the course, but I was really happy with it because I met some amazing people, like multi-instrumentalists, producers and songwriters.
How would you categorize/ describe your music, seeing as it fuses R&B, pop, jazz, and synth styles?
That’s true, I do have a big mix of genres in my music, but I feel like my voice is characteristic enough for it to stay cohesive. My first single ‘each time you fall’ is a blend of indie pop, R&B, and D&B. ‘LIES’, on the other hand, could be described as pop house and EDM with indie pop influences. Recently, out of the songs I recorded, one’s Neo Soul R&B – another spectrum – and one is noir pop, meaning alternative ‘dark pop’, influenced by Lana Del Rey.
How did The Expression Project at True Cadence affect your journey in music?
I joined [The Expression Project] as a participant this March. After I changed to BMus Songwriting, the course didn’t offer performances anymore, so I thought, if I want to perform with my band, maybe let’s work on that too. I’m still on the programme, and now I’m working here too!
Has the Project impacted your performing skills or songwriting process?
Less on songwriting, but performing skills, yes. From the Expression Project I learned a lot about getting out of your comfort zone on stage and pushing forward, no matter the venue, occasion, or audience. Practice and visualisation are the key – you can’t be a good performer without consistency. I’ve seen the difference between my friends from uni who were going to open mics nearly every day – within a few months, their confidence and stage presence improved massively! On the other hand, some people keep on waiting for an invitation. The reality is that in the UK, there are too many great performers for you to wait for somebody to discover you. Nobody will if you won’t give them the chance to.
In terms of songwriting, I’m working on either my own songs or I write for other artists at Diverse Media where they match me with various producers and singers. Other than that, I have my own projects and collaborations – I just do a little bit of everything, I guess! There’s also a new project at True Cadence called We Create, and I’ll be facilitating as a songwriter, which is really exciting too.
How does it feel working at True Cadence as a Project Management Assistant?
Yeah, it’s really fun, it was like a quick journey up, (laughs) but I’m really happy with how things are going. The first We Create session will be on the 26th of July, so right now I’m just writing the programme and discussing all the details with Manny and others involved. We already have a few people on board, but we’ve started recruiting more participants.
Practice and visualisation are the key – you can’t be a good performer without consistency.
What’s been your favourite gig so far?
It’s always hard to find a favourite! Last March, though, I organized this R&B night in Camden. I got to headline, which was amazing. There were other amazing acts, everybody had so much fun, the capacity was full… I loved it. I really like organizing concerts, so it’s great because at True Cadence we get to do it every month.
What about your biggest challenge?
Probably getting into the industry. Obviously in London, it’s already one of the biggest music scenes, but it is still a relatively small world. You need to get to know the right people because you don’t really have open applications for jobs like that, you know? It’s quite hard at the beginning and you need to find a way to get in there.
You write, and write, and write; you let your mind open and let it all out.
In your debut single, you express bittersweetly how ‘it’s kinda easier each time you fall in love’. Does it get ‘kinda easier‘ the more you do songwriting?
(Laughs) Yeah, definitely. It’s not constant, and development doesn’t look like an upwards slope, but more like inconsistent steps up. But definitely, it’s getting better, the more I write. Last year, I wrote around 300 songs, and most of them go to… well, they don’t have to go to the bin, but I keep them in my little notebooks, like this tiny little one for example.
What advice would you give to young artists starting out in the music industry?
Just keep writing. I’ve been writing songs professionally for like 1.5 years now, which is quite short, but I know people who do it every day. Sometimes I write 2, 3 songs a day, sometimes every other day. When you just do it, it doesn’t even have to rhyme. You write, and write, and write; you let your mind open and let it all out. Practise, if you can, every day. Even if you’re not able to write the whole song, just do it and you’ll get slowly there. Set small goals to work on each month, like chord progressions, rhyming, or structure.
Until you’re Rihanna or Celine Dion, you have some work to do.
When can we expect new songs?
Over the summer. I have two demos I’m working on at the moment, and soon I’ll be announcing what they are called. Releasing music is much more than just the songwriting part. When you want to put something on Spotify, you need to work with a lot of musicians, do the mix and then master, get feedback from the right people. It’s a whole process, but you can expect a new tune over the next few weeks.
Are there any new musical directions you want to try, or any artistical aspects you’re looking to perfect going forward?
Good question… I hope to keep on writing songs, and see where that takes me. You can always get better – as long as you practise, you have to get better. I keep on saying that, until you’re Rihanna or Celine Dion, you have some work to do.
The future is bright for the dedicated singer-songwriter. If you are looking to improve your music-making through practice, check out True Cadence’s free programme We Create for some musical fun this summer, where you might get the chance to work with Jelia on the craft of songwriting! Meanwhile, catch Jelia’s new single ‘LIES’, now streaming on digital platforms.