An Interview With Julia Ziementz


Roopa Shah // MHS BOPA

Julia Zeimentz is a senior at Middleton High School, recipient of the Tony Award given to outstanding high school thespians, winner of a National Young Arts Association Scholarship, and an astonishing vocalist. However, before she walks across the stage to accept her diploma and attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall, The Cardinal Chronicle had the opportunity ask a few questions about herself and her interest in music.  


The Cardinal Chronicle: Who is Julia Ziementz?


Julia Ziementz: Oh, that’s hard. I don’t know that I can even answer that! I don’t really know who I am. I know what I like, or what I’m about. I’m really involved in music, so I guess you could say I’m a musician. I’m a lover of literature. I can tell you my interests, and like, what I’m into, but I haven’t really had the chance to figure out who Julia Ziementz is.


TCC: So, what are some of the things you’re interested in?


JZ:  Yeah, I love music. I sing and play classical piano. I love to snowboard, I like to hike, and I love dogs. I’m probably going to go into religious studies. I think that the study of human interaction, especially through religion is really important. I’m a social activist.  I think human rights are really important and need to be advocated for now more than ever.


TCC: Focusing on music more specifically, what is your favorite genre of music, and who are some artists you particularly enjoy?


JZ: It definitely depends on the day; I listen to everything! I’ve been really into French rap lately, which is such an obscure genre. The sound is really smooth and kinda beautiful to listen to. No specific artist there, just anything that I can find. I like jazz a lot. I really like Snarky Puppy. I think they’re really cool, and I like Amy Winehouse a lot, kinda on that neojazz style. I’m pretty into rap. I like Kendrick Lamar, Rob Curley, the classic–or the originals like Biggie and Tupac. I also dabble in the 90’s Hip Hop. It just depends on the day. Yeah, I’m a lover of everything. Sometimes I listen to classical.  


TCC: What are your top three albums?


JZ: Yeah, the top three albums that I listen to are: Amy Winehouse’s Frank EP, Jazz by Etta James, and To Pimp a Butterfly, by Kendrick Lamar.


TCC: When did you begin playing music?  


JZ: I started playing classical piano when I was six, I think. I grew up in Colorado and played piano there for a while with a teacher. Then I moved here and took lessons with a UW [University of Wisconsin-Madison] music student which was really fun and great. I started taking lessons from Judy Farere, who’s been amazing. She’s just such an amazing person. I still play piano. I also sing; I’ve been singing for a long time.


TCC:  Who have some of your music teachers been?  


JZ: My piano teacher, Judy Farere has been amazing! She’s an amazing person—amazing teacher. Tom Mielke was the MHS choir director, and now it’s Justin Wilder. Both have been really great.  


TCC: How was your upbringing influenced you in a musical sense?  


JZ: My parents have been really influential. They love music; my dad played piano for a long time. Music was always on at home; I was always listening to something. My parents have just been really open to things as far as my career and my music life.


TCC: What music classes are you involved in right now? What is your opinion of the Music Department at Middleton?


JZ: I’m in Concert Choir now, so that is in class. I also do Chamber Singers, and that is outside of class once a week. I sing for one of the school’s Jazz Bands – the 7 O’clock band. I am also the leader of an acapella group called “Bristol Street” which is really fun.  


The music department here, I think, is incredible compared to a lot of other schools in the area. Compared to other departments at the school, we don’t have the highest funding, but I think compared to other schools in Dane County, we definitely have the upper hand. I think we have an amazing Performing Arts Center and a really, really talented band, orchestra, and choir. I think on the whole we are doing really, really good work here. There’s always room for improvement, but, I love being a part of the music department here.


TCC: When you want to relax do you turn to music to relax, or do you find yourself doing other things to take a break?


JZ: Yeah, the thing is, I don’t really ever take a break from music. I know that sounds strange, but I’m always listening to music, performing music, or playing music. It’s always on, or I am always doing something with it. Music is always an aspect of my life.


TCC: How do you balance practice, school, friends, and work?


JZ: It’s definitely more difficult to balance those things being a music student because when you love something that much, you definitely put a lot of yourself into it. It’s hard to put so much of yourself into music, but also into high-level classes, and into work, and colleges, and life. It’s hard to balance, but when you love something that much, you find ways to do it.


TCC: What type of people would you encourage to involve themselves in music?


JZ: Every single person. I think music is a universal language; a language of all people. If you can’t play music or don’t want to try– I think everyone has the ability in them; they just have to be exposed to it. But even then if you don’t want to play music, at least listen to it, and at least expose yourself to different genres and experience life through music. There is so much that music can teach you that you can’t learn through any other medium—so every single person.


TCC:  When you are in an ensemble, what character traits do you look for in fellow musicians?


JZ: Yeah, creativity is a big one. Individuality, I think, is an interesting one that people don’t think about as much. Obviously, with choir, it is a little bit different. Because you want to be a uniform voice, so in that situation, probably just more hard working able to blend having the vocal ability having the knowledge of music. Just being good workers and good people is really great to work with people in that type situation, but in a smaller ensemble or in a jazz band.

Similar work ethic, but I also look for creativity, and I appreciate creativity and individuality a lot more because I think it definitely influences the way the group and how the music turns out.  


TCC: Do you currently have any projects or pieces that you are working on?


JZ:  I’m always writing music or messing around on the guitar. Oh, yeah, I also play the guitar. I like messing around with different instruments and stuff. But I’m not writing for a project specifically right now.


TCC: Finally, this last question is controversial, and, obviously, there is no one correct answer, but in your opinion: what is Jazz?


JZ:  In my opinion, Jazz is a feeling. It’s obviously a type of music, unlike any other. You cannot convey that type of emotion through any other type of genre. If you can see somebody’s soul through the way that they play the saxophone or the way that they play the drums or the keyboard, then you know that you have reached that deep level, and I think you can only reach that deep level through Jazz–this deep, emotive type of music. Obviously, it is a genre that can be defined, but for me, but it is really a feeling.


TCC:  Thank you very much for your time. It is greatly appreciated.