Juliana Hatfield (born July 27, 1967 in Wiscasset, Maine, United States), is an American guitarist/singer-songwriter from the Boston area, formerly of the indie rock band Blake Babies. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Although Hatfield shared vocal duties with Strohm in the group, she quickly stood out due to her unique vocal quality; her somewhat thin, girlish voice gave the group a youthful, innocent sound that was nevertheless belied by often-caustic lyrics and a vocal delivery punctuated frequently by harsh, distorted screams (in live performances more so than on recordings). Although the group's early work was essentially punk-oriented, they quickly settled into a sunny, melodic, and slightly jangly pop style reminiscent in style of early R.E.M. and Neil Young. Hatfield and Strohm shared songwriting credits and often sang together in harmony or octaves, creating a memorable "boy-girl" sound rarely encountered in rock (except in the work of X and a few later indie bands such as Velocity Girl, Hazel, Quasi, Low, Mates of State, and Rainer Maria).
The group formally disbanded in 1991 but, largely due to the persistent efforts of Freda, reunited briefly in late 1999, performing a few shows in 1999 and 2000 and embarking on one last U.S. tour in 2001. Coinciding with the tour The Blake Babies recorded and released a new album titled God Bless The Blake Babies which received strong reviews. The album featured new original songs as well as renditions of songs by Ben Lee and Madder Rose. Frequent collaborator Evan Dando also made a guest appearance on the album. After the tour Hatfield released a Blake Babies EP titled Epilogue at her live shows featuring the band covering Fleetwood Mac, The Ramones and MC5.
Hatfield achieved alterna-rock stardom with the release of 1993's Become What You Are (recorded under the group name The Juliana Hatfield Three). Several songs from the album received regular airplay on major North American rock stations, with Hatfield's song "My Sister" becoming the biggest hit of her career with the video becoming an MTV staple. Another one of her songs ("Spin the Bottle") was used in the soundtrack of the Hollywood film Reality Bites (1994). Hatfield also made the cover of Spin magazine. Hatfield's popularity coincided with the success, in the mid-1990s, of many other female alternative rock musicians. Although she has always maintained that her gender is of only incidental importance to her music, Hatfield was pleased to have been invited, in 1997, to tour with the first Lilith Fair, a prominent all-female rock festival founded by singer Sarah McLachlan. Hatfield was profiled in a number of girls' magazines at this time and was embraced by many pre-teen and teenage girls as a role model due to the positive way she addressed serious issues faced by young women in her songs and interviews. About this period she says: "I was never comfortable with the attention. I thought it had come too soon. I hadn’t earned it yet." She gained notoriety in 1992 for saying that she was still a virgin in her mid-twenties in Interview magazine. In a 1994 interview for the magazine Vox she said she was surprised by the effect 'outing' herself had: "I think there are a lot of people out there who don't care about sex, but who you never hear from, so I thought I should say it. The magazine I did the interview for is full of beef-cake hunky guys and scantily-clad models, so I thought it would be really funny to say that I didn't care about sex in a magazine that's full of sex and beauty - but no one really got the joke."
In 1995, following the success of Become What You Are she released her followup album, Only Everything, in which she "turned up the volume and the distortion and had a lot of fun". One reviewer describes it as "a fun, engaging pop album". The album spawned another alternative radio hit for Hatfield in Universal Heart-Beat. The video featured Hatfield as an overly demanding aerobics instructor. Prior to the tour for 'Only Everything', Hatfield released Phillips and brought on Jason Sutter (American Hi-Fi, Chris Cornell, Jack Drag), as well as Ed Slanker (Thudpucker, Tinsel) on 2nd guitar, and Lisa Mednick on keyboards. Two weeks into the tour, Hatfield canceled the tour, which her publicist explained as due to "nervous exhaustion," and took a month long break. In her memoir Hatfield writes that in truth she was suffering from depression severe enough to the point of being suicidal. Hatfield disagreed with the decision not to be upfront about her depression. The drummer was, once again, replaced, this time by Phillips, and touring resumed with Jeff Buckley as the opening act.
In 1996 she traveled to Woodstock, New York where she recorded tracks for God's Foot, which was to be her fourth solo album (third if not counting Become What You Are, which was recorded with the Juliana Hatfield Three), intended for 1997 release. After three failed attempts to satisfy requests from Atlantic Records to come up with a "single" that the label could release, Juliana requested she be released from her contract. The label obliged, but kept the rights to the songs produced during these sessions (Atlantic had reportedly paid $180,000 to that point on the recordings). Two tracks -- "Mountains of Love" and "Fade Away" -- were eventually released on a greatest hits collection entitled Gold Stars, while still another, "Can't Kill Myself," was available for download from Juliana's official website. The remaining tracks have surfaced only as substandard bootleg versions (which do not meet Hatfield's approval) and she has rarely featured them in her subsequent live performances.
Following the traumatic experiences surrounding God's Foot, and now freed from her major label obligations, Juliana recorded a six song EP for indie label Bar/None in 1997 titled Please Do Not Disturb. Produced by Hatfield herself, the album featured several different musicians, including drummer Todd Phillips, guitarists Ed Slanker and Mike Leahy, and new bass player Mikey Welsh (Weezer) among others. The EP features a particularly tender song, "Trying Not To Think About It," which is a tribute to the deceased musician Jeff Buckley, who was a friend of Hatfield's.
Almost as a reaction to the seemingly endless studio sessions surrounding God's Foot, Hatfield recorded the album Bed in 1998 in six days, about which she says on her website: "It sounds as raw as I felt. It has no pretty sheen. The mistakes and unattractive parts were left in, not erased. Just like my career. Just like life."
In 2000, she released Beautiful Creature, an album which was among the most critically well-received of her career. This album left the rockier side of Hatfield's musical personality unexpressed, however, so at the same time she also recorded Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure with Zephan Courtney and Mikey Welsh, which she describes as "a loud release of tension", with "lots of long sloppy guitar solos. And no love songs...a not-at-all attractive reaction to the ugly side of humanity, specifically American culture." The two albums were initially released in a set as a pair. Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure was however received very badly by the critics. , who much preferred the acoustic songwriting on Beautiful Creature. On Beautiful Creature Hatfield worked with Austin-based musician Davíd Garza who co-produced much of the album. Wally Gagel a producer for Sebadoh and Tanya Donelly helped Hatfield record her most electronica influenced songs "Cool Rock Boy" and "Don't Rush Me" which added texture to the otherwise acoustic album.
2002 saw the release of Hatfield's first "best-of" album. The album, titled Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection, featured the singles from her solo albums. It also contained two of the songs from the previously unreleased God's Foot, a cover of Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart, as well as four new recordings.
In 2004 Hatfield released In Exile Deo, which was arguably an attempt at a more commercial sound, with input from producers and engineers who'd worked with Pink and Avril Lavigne. Hatfield did, however, produce the album herself with David Leonard receiving co-production credits on "Jamie's In Town" and the bright rocker "Sunshine." The critics loved it, with a couple calling it her best work since the start of her solo career.
By contrast, the 2005 album Made in China was released on her own new record label, Ye Olde Records, and has a much rawer feel. John Doe of the band X described the disc as "A frighteningly dark & beautiful record filled w/ stark, angular, truly brutal songs & guitars. This is surely a 'Woman Under the Influence', though I'm not sure of what." Reviews were very mixed, with some liking the lo-fi sound, but others seeing it as slackness.
In December 2005 Hatfield toured the United States with the band X, whom she idolized during her teenage years.
2006, Hatfield released her first live album. Titled The White Broken Line: Live Recordings, the album featured performances from her tour with X. This was Hatfield's third release for her record label.
Hatfield's new album, How To Walk Away, was released on August 19, 2008 on, her own label, Ye Olde Records.
Hatfield's musical influences are diverse, ranging from punk groups like X, The Stooges, the MC5, and The Replacements to more folk-oriented rock artists like Neil Young, whose songs the Blake Babies frequently covered in live shows. Her work has also cross-fertilized with some other contemporaneous indie rock bands such as Dinosaur Jr and Lemonheads, whose musicians are also friends of Hatfield's. From an early age, she has also had a special love for pretty-sounding pop music. In a 1998 interview, she stated, "I just always liked pop music and really good melodies and major chords. That's just the type of music that comes naturally to me" In a 1993 interview in Melody Maker magazine, Hatfield stated that her enthusiasm for the music of the pop group Wilson Phillips apparently led, at least in part, to the breakup of the Blake Babies
Hatfield has been based in the northeastern United States for most of her life, although she tried living for a short time (1999) in Los Angeles, an experience that left her disenchanted with that city's scene, which she found artificial and soulless.
Although much of Hatfield's output is exuberant and hard-rocking, Hatfield nonetheless describes herself as very shy and somewhat of a loner, and has said that "happy lyrics don't come naturally to me." She has also described her music and songwriting as a form of therapy, an outlet that helps her to overcome rough periods and depression.
In 2001, she joined with Freda Love and Heidi Gluck (of The Pieces and The Only Children) to form the trio Some Girls, with which she performs in addition to her solo work; the group has toured the United States twice and has released two albums. The trio is another outlet for Hatfield's more lighthearted material. Their first album, entitled Feel It, was released by Koch Records in 2003. The lead single "Necessito" is a funky affirmation of the power of music, sung in a mixture of English and Spanish. Some Girls' second album, Crushing Love, was released in July 2006.
In 2007 Hatfield signed the Boston (now Austin)-based band Frank Smith to her record label, Ye Olde Records. Along with releasing their 2007 album Heavy Handed Peace and Love Hatfield also recorded an EP with the band titled Sittin' In A Tree. The EP, produced by Frank Smith's Aaron Sinclair, features banjos, pedal steel, and other instruments normally associated with country music.
Hatfield released When I Grow up: A Memoir on September 22, 2008.
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