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The project of multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer/songwriter Julie Campbell, LoneLady creates a stark yet emotive blend of post-punk, dance, and funk. Campbell's love of the crumbling ruins and abandoned industrial spaces in her hometown of Manchester, England translated to the wiry, poetic songs of her acclaimed 2010 debut Nerve Up and 2015's funkier, more fleshed-out Hinterland. With 2021's largely electronic Former Things, Campbell heightened her music's danceability without sacrificing any of its nuance or intelligence. Raised near East Manchester, Campbell taught herself how to play guitar at 16, and knew how to play mandolin, keyboards and cello by the time she was 18. While completing her Fine Art degree at the Manchester School of Art, in 2004 she began working as LoneLady, recording songs with her guitar, keyboard, drum machine, and 8-track. Inspired by the Fall, Wire, Gang of Four, Throwing Muses, and other post-punk legends, she introduced her raw, minimalist music with June 2005's single Hi Ho Bastard/Fear No More on Filthy Home Records. She followed it that October with the Have No Past EP, which added touches of folk to her stripped-down sound. That year, Campbell also started performing live around the city, at first accompanied only by her drum machine. LoneLady's scope began to grow in 2006, when Campbell played her first show outside of Manchester at that year's South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. She fleshed out her backing band with a drummer and keyboardist, and LoneLady's next Filthy Home release, Army/Intuition, arrived later in the year. In October 2007, LoneLady inaugurated Too Pure's singles club with Early the Haste Comes/Joy; released in a limited edition of 500 copies, it marked Campbell's first sessions in an official studio. She signed with Warp in 2009, and began work on her debut album with Laika's Guy Fixsen, who engineered and co-produced the album with Campbell. Recorded in a former mill in East Manchester, February 2010's Nerve Up won critical acclaim for its taut, atmospheric songs. The following year, Campbell collaborated with Jah Wobble and Keith Levene on the album Psychic Life. As part of the 2012 Love Architecture Festival, she created The Utilitarian Poetic, an installation that embedded a previously unreleased LoneLady song in the Mancunian Way, an overpass on the outskirts of Manchester's city center. While writing her second album, Campbell built her home studio Concrete Retreat, where she recorded, produced and mixed the majority of its songs. She then put the finishing touches on the tracks at Benton Harbor, Michigan's Key Club studio with engineer Bill Skibbe, adding layers of acoustic and electronic percussion to give the music more depth. Drawing inspiration from Brutalist architecture and her childhood as well as Parliament Funkadelic, Arthur Russell, and Prince, March 2015's Hinterland offered a fuller-sounding take on Campbell's music that once again met with strong reviews. That July, she participated in a studio residency that was part of Station to Station, an art and music event presented by London's Barbican Centre. When the Hinterland tour concluded, Campbell started work on her next project. In 2016, she moved to London for a residency at Somerset House Studios Rifle Range, an 18th-century shooting range converted into an art and performance space where she recorded all of LoneLady's third album by herself. Two years later, she created Scrub Transmissions, an installation in the Miles Platting area of Manchester that embedded the previously unreleased song "Little Fugue" in a tower of rubble for listeners to hear on headphones. The following year, Warp released her cover of New Order's "Cries and Whispers," which Campbell recorded in 2012. Arriving in June 2021, her third album Former Things boasted some of LoneLady's most personal lyrics and electronic sounds.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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