Sled Island guest curator Julien Baker gives Calgary music lovers plenty to discover

While she’ll only play one show during the festival, Julien Baker will be a ubiquitous presence at Sled Island 2019.

She is, of course, the guest curator for the fest, with some of her selections include JPEGMAFIA, Bully, Death Bells, Hop Along, Japanese Breakfast and Tasha.

She also planned on being in Calgary to take in much of Sled, prior to her Saturday, June 22 at The Palace, where the 23-year-old Memphis artist will showcase the achingly personal, hauntingly pretty folk-pop featured on her pair of standout studio albums, 2015’s Sprained Ankle  and 2017’s Turn Out the Lights.

Before she hit town, she spoke with theYYSCENE on a variety of topics.

On being chosen as the guest curator

“Obviously I was very flattered and excited and said yes. But it was also a little bit daunting because it’s so much responsibility to be in charge of what music comes to a festival for a whole city.”

How she chose the artists

“I tried to balance my own personal tastes with an awareness of what might be stimulating or challenging to an audience, not necessarily just what would be entertaining or what would suit a festival environment. Because I think of course you need to choose bands that play a lot of festivals or bands that are currently popular, but I felt like from what I had read about previous guest curators and what I had seen about how they went about that process, Sled Island is a discovery festival. And avant garde is too extreme of a term, but it’s not just your average big-box festival and it seemed like a chance to have an audience that would be willing and excited to hear an artist that they really weren’t so familiar with. And that made me really excited.

“So I tired to choose artists that weren’t just my favourite artists but specifically people who defied the parameters or the boundaries of their genre and made something that was very unique.”

Her acclaimed side-project boygenius with Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers

“Even if they weren’t two of my closest friends they would still be two of my favourite artists. And the fact that they are two of my favourite artists and two of my closest friends feels like the universe has just smiled upon me endlessly.

“Lucy actually described it pretty accurately she said it’s one third of the pressure and three times the reward.

“So it’s good to have this collaborative … path shared by three people and not feel that all of the onus is on you as the soul creator.”

What’s inspiring her music these days

“There’s been a lot more living inside of my life, not as a musician, and figuring out what that entails, so I’ve been writing a lot from that and just personal experience. I guess like every record that an artist puts out, it’s the same but different …”

Julien Baker performs Saturday, June 22 at The Palace Theatre as part of Sled Island.