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Colin Bracewell Details "Julia" and How His Opera Major Has Helped His Music Career

By Alicia Urrea | 8 December 2023

On November 24, Minnesota-based singer-songwriter Colin Bracewell released a heavy, magnetic indie rock track titled “Julia.” After playing hundreds of shows around his college town and even performing as a supporting act for Sun Room, Bracewell is tapping more into his rounded creativity, evergrowing charming personality, and musicianship. I was given the pleasurable opportunity to talk with him over a Zoom call to learn more about him, as well as more about “Julia” and other notable accomplishments of his career thus far.

The News Stan(d): So, starting off super easy. Let’s start with an introduction… Who is Colin Bracewell, and is there anything you feel is important to know about you? Or any fun facts about you?

Colin Bracewell: My name is Colin Bracewell, I was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, so I have dual citizenship now which is nice. I sing opera, and I’ll be graduating college in like three weeks.

TNS: You sing opera? Really?

CB: Yeah, that’s technically my degree that I’ll be getting. It’s like vocal performance in classical studies.

TNS: I never would’ve guessed that from listening to your songs.

CB: Yeah it’s weird, my control definitely comes from the amount of training that I’ve done, but when I’m singing I definitely don’t sound like I sing opera.

TNS: Follow-up question then, do you incorporate what you learn at school in the music that you make?

CB: I think [my schooling and music] both come together, but there’s definitely two different voices that I whip out. It’s weird because there’s characters too. Sometimes when I sing – especially when I’m recording – I really think about what kind of character I'm playing. It’s weird, I don’t read into it too much but it’s definitely something that I think about, whether I’m instinctively doing it or not. Sometimes it just happens, and I have to be like “Okay…what am I doing here?”

colin stares into camera with arms crossed
@colinbracewell on Instagram

TNS: Do you channel a persona based on the song you’re recording?

CB: Yeah, I think it depends on what the topic is about and how intimate I want it to be. Like, I’ve recorded songs very close to the mic and it sounds very personal. “Julia” is a perfect example of a very intimate song in that way.

TNS: What’s the process of creating the songs that you make?

CB: A lot of it is just thoughts popping into my brain whether I’m falling asleep or in-between classes. I’ll wait and hold off on the ideas for two or three weeks and then I go back and listen to all these voice memos and just try to piece together what I was thinking. Sometimes that’s my process. Other times I can just write a song in an hour. After I record a demo, I usually bring it to my band and see if they like it, or if I like it enough to do the song regardless of their opinions I’ll do that. And then after that we just perform the song a few times and it’s time to hit the studio. That’s been the process so far. I don’t know how efficient it is though, because I’ve only put out two or three songs this year.

TNS: When you have an idea, do the lyrics or melody come to you first?

CB: There’s an overarching theme that I poke fun at. Sometimes what I do is I’ll sing a melody over and over again and put different lyrics over that melody and see what flows the best. I’m starting to realize that melody is way more important than lyrics. I think I just try over and over again to fill in the blanks. Sometimes after I introduce it to my band, I’m really able to hone down on what I really want to say. It’s definitely a process even up to the moment we’re recording it. With the song I put out before “Julia” called “Falling 4 U,” I completely changed the second half of the second verse just because I was listening to it and I was like, “I feel like I could do something better here.”

TNS: When I was listening to “Julia,” I got a lot of FINNEAS vibes, Daniel Ceasar, Alexander 23 vibes… are those any of your influences, or do you have any musical inspirations like that?

CB: Totally, I mean FINNEAS and Alexander 23 were like my 2018, 2019, and COVID era of music. I’ve always been such a fan of Daniel Ceasar. I drove all the way to Milwaukee by myself to watch him perform like two months ago because he wasn’t coming to Minneapolis. Big influence there. I’ve really been into Charlie Burg lately too. I try to take inspiration from everything and nothing at the same time, though. There’s a lot out there, and you can be influenced by so much. I was actually just talking to my friend about doing a thing where you don’t listen to music for like ten days and just write just to see what your sound really is. That’s something that’s been happening with the songwriting I’ve been doing lately. There’s just so much surrounding you at all times and I’ve really just been trying to nail getting five songs for the next project.

TNS: What would you say is the biggest difference between your first musical release up to the release of “Julia?”

CB: I think I’m definitely much more dynamic with my emotions. I’m also able to poke fun a lot more at myself as well as the things that I’m talking about. I’m leaning more into my personality. Before, I would write about things that I’d been through or things that my friends went through, and it’s always been a blanket; like, this song is a sad song. I feel like my songs were very surface level and just told the story, but it didn’t go deeper into how I was feeling in the moment. Fast forwarding to now, “Julia” is probably the perfect example of focusing on the feelings in the moment and then narrating that story looking back at it. Even when I songwrite now, I try to be more relaxed. I definitely say things more bluntly and I like to poke fun at myself, it’s more fun that way. But, you know, give me six months and I’ll probably just write sad songs again for a bit.

colin holds the mic in his hand, mid song, while performing
Captured by

TNS: Your tracks “Autumn” and obviously “Julia…” you can correct me if I’m wrong, but they’re about people, right?

CB: “Autumn” isn’t a certain person, more like different experiences packed into one. That one was co-written with another artist, so she added her own taste and stuff. When I do write songs solo, like “Julia,” that was about a person. It was also written from an awkward point in my life where I was dealing with a lot of different things with relationships, and using dating apps for the first time because I hadn’t been in the dating culture yet. So, that’s what that is, but… there is in fact a person named Julia.

TNS: So does Julia know the song is about her? When you wrote the song, and even writing songs back then, are you ever scared to release something or write something because the person will find out?

CB: I’m never scared. But I don’t tell them either. For “Julia,” because [my band and I] have been playing it for the past six months now at shows, people really liked it and it became our most popular song to play. We did a release show, and a lot of people came and we played that song. Then, someone that was a girlfriend of one of my friends that was friends with [Julia] told her. Julia ended up texting me like, “I heard you wrote a song about me.” And I was just like, “Oh, I wouldn't read into it, there’s a lot of Julias out there.” So that happened, but she’s not upset or anything. If anything, she might like it just a little bit. One of her friends just so happened to hear it and brought it to her attention, being like, “Hey, is this about you?” and then she figured it out. 

TNS: So you mentioned you’ve been playing a lot of live shows recently. Do you have any pre-show rituals that you do with just you or with your band?

CB: We definitely do the circle huddle thing. It depends though, sometimes the band is all over the place and we just have to come together and get on stage. I think for me, I always forget to write a setlist. So what I do is I’ll grab a piece of paper and a Sharpie and just hide in my car and write my setlist, and sometimes I have to make multiple copies for my band or whoever wants them. So that’s my ritual, even though it’s something I just forget to do that’s very important to do.

TNS: When you’re playing to a crowd who isn’t familiar with who you are, do you have anything that helps you get in the mindset of winning them over or easing nerves you might have?

CB: Whether I like it or not, I think I always end up just being myself. I know that’s a very blanket statement, but I’m a talkative, anxious person. I’m also very aware of what’s going on on-stage or off-stage, just with the crowd and stuff. So sometimes when someone says something, like “What’s your name?!” or like “You’re so attractive!” or “Your bassist is so hot!” I feel like we get a lot of those, which is – I don’t know – probably a good thing? Anyway, I’m always just like “Thank you!”

CB: The last two big shows that we did were opening for [the band] Sun Room and Giant Rooks. Both of those shows were great, and all we had to do was be ourselves and have fun. I’m always so grateful when I get those opportunities because it’s literally your chance to introduce yourself to a bunch of new people that didn’t even know you existed. I think another thing is just being able to show that I am just a normal human being. The last time I did that I had said on stage, “Hey guys, I live like four blocks away.” I feel like it just builds that connection and it helps not taking yourself too seriously.

TNS: How was opening for Sun Room?

CB: Oh, it was crazy. It was crazy. There are still people from that show that come to our shows now. We’ve been playing so many shows since then and there’s so many people that have met me at the Sun Room show that have come to every single one of my shows since. They make me bracelets and stuff [Bracewell held up a handful of bracelets at this point to show me]. Sun Room has a crazy fan base and it’s so nice that we were able to make that happen. 

TNS: What’s your favorite song that you’ve ever put out, and do you have a favorite lyric from it or a favorite lyric you’ve ever written?

CB: I think “Slopes” was a step in the right direction for me. I put out music back when I was in high school and stuff and I was just trying things out. But, I studied abroad and had a lot of free time, and I made it a priority to perform and songwrite while I was there. I ended up playing two shows which was kinda cool, in Vienna. I wrote a bunch of songs too, and “Slopes” was the one that I felt was the strongest. It seems like everyone’s digging it, and it’s still the most popular song by a longshot. And I mean, it’s a good song. I think as a songwriter with an acoustic guitar, it works. That was the first time that I felt confident in making a song that can just stand on its own. I think that song – not intentionally – has a surface level theme. I think it ties together really well with the themes of love and what I was going through at the time, but also making a fun reference and comparing it to skiing. It was nice because I was also in Austria, so I kind of had a mountain theme going on and I thought it was nice.

TNS: What’s your favorite part about being a musician, and do you have any goals you want to accomplish with the new year coming up?

CB: It’s always a mental battle, but it’s nice to see progress especially from like a year ago to now. Like, [my band and I] just played First Avenue, which is the famous venue of Minnesota. I set that as a lofty goal in the middle of this year, and then we got a DM from a headlining band [at the venue] and they were like, “Hey, wanna open for us?” So yeah, that was really cool to see progress with. As far as goals for this upcoming year… since I’ll be graduating, I just want to try different things. I don’t want to focus too much on the future, because when I do, I’m very sad and unproductive. If I focus on little spurts and little urges everyday – like today, I felt inspired to songwrite which inspired me to then make a demo out of it – it goes a lot further. In turn, that’s basically preparing for the future. Hopefully, we get to tour again and play a show out in Los Angeles. I’ve only ever made music videos out there. I want to go back to Nashville… maybe finally play a show in New York. Also, side note, Spotify has been putting “Slopes'' on a bunch of Discover Weekly playlists and I’ve gotten a couple DMs from people saying “Hey, come to New York!” [laughs].

CB: The ultimate goal is just to keep this sustainable. And then maybe play our biggest headline show. There’s a 650 capacity venue that I’ve never played here [in Minnesota] and we’ve been headlining the same 250 capacity venues for the past two years now, and it’d be really cool to get close to selling out the next step.

Colin stands in wifepleaser shirt, guitar strung across his chest, in a recording studio
@colinbracewell on Instagram

As cheesy as it may sound, Bracewell’s lyricism and charisma exudes the energy of a man who was written by a woman. As someone who is a sucker for sad love songs, Bracewell’s discography was right up my alley. He’s able to capture that feeling of infatuation with another person and the longing for someone through his words and the intensity of his instrumentation. “Julia” in particular is one of my favorite tracks he’s ever released, and furthermore one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. It’s an example of just how much Bracewell has learned to be more vulnerable in his songs. It’s something he’s progressing toward with the releases that are to come next year, along with far more live shows in Minnesota (and hopefully across the country and parts of the world as well).


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