The Dornsife Punk: Claire Julian heads grunge solo project

Claire Julian released a cover of Halsey’s “Nightmare” with her punk band no reception. along with a music video in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Claire Julian)

Sporting pink and purple hair, a long-sleeve T-shirt featuring characters from the animated children’s series “Rugrats,” pizza socks and a pair of Vans, Claire Julian arrived to her interview with the Daily Trojan in her own style — a scar near her eyebrow from a skateboarding incident only completed the look.

“I totally face-planted,” Julian said, laughing. “I had to get stitches, it was kinda cool. It really gave me a lot of skater cred.”

The junior majoring in creative writing represents some classic punk tropes, from her skating injury to her scattered tattoos. But her punk qualities transcend her appearance: her music follows the genre, too.

Julian, the frontwoman of no reception., started the new wave punk band as her solo project in 2015. Most recently, she covered Halsey’s song “Nightmare” in a music video she planned and filmed with her friend Crow Brennan in New York City. 

Just as visually compelling as her personal style, the video depicts Julian playing guitar and drums and singing in an all-white room. Some shots show Julian in a black tie, white button-up and slacks; in others, she is in her underwear with insults she has received written on her body in red paint. 

In the video’s caption, Julian posted a “manifesto” about what inspired her to make and film the cover, which condemns labels and encourages empathy regardless of identity.

“I think every artist has their own way of pushing boundaries,” said Brandon Douglass (stage name Brandon Movay), a senior majoring in creative writing and fellow musician, in response to watching the music video. “With her, it’s very visual.”

Beyond visuals, Julian stands out with her playful lyricism.

“Can I offer you a candy cigarette? I know you don’t like to smoke, it goes straight to your head,” said Julian, quoting her song “Penny.” “It’s kind of quirky. No one would ever do that.”

“Penny,” a love song about a fictional girl, shows Julian’s tendency to write about her experience as a queer woman, to which she said her fans especially relate. In the past, writing about her sexuality felt forced. 

“I felt like, ‘Oh, should I not write too many queer songs because then that’ll be my thing?’ But then I was like, ‘Well, that is my thing because I am queer,’” Julian said. “Now, I don’t even think about it, and it has resulted in my music being super queer, but it’s not something I’m trying to do. It’s just a reflection of myself.”

Although she says the writing aspect is natural to her, Julian expressed how much of a conscious effort she has put into improving her singing and musicianship.

“I’ve had to work really hard. It definitely didn’t come naturally to me,” Julian said, who practices in her studio apartment — complete with a drum set and recording equipment — daily.

Her friends, most of whom write and make music of their own, recognize Julian’s work ethic and drive to make her music the best it can be.

“She’s really, really talented and very, very dedicated,” said Rani Barlas, a senior majoring in jazz studies. “She spends all her time writing.”

Photo courtesy of Claire Julian

Julian’s dedication goes beyond her musical work ethic and into her personal relationships. Adi described her loyalty as one of her main traits as a friend.

“You could call her at 3 a.m., and she would be there for you,” Barlas said. “She’s really supportive and definitely pushes you to be your best self.”

In the near future, Julian hopes to go back to New York, release new music and go on tour with friends’ bands around the East Coast. She also mentioned being interested in potentially managing artists to help them earn more recognition, too, especially in Los Angeles.

Though a writer in other capacities as well, Julian expressed how she has been particularly drawn to put her words to music.

“I really felt like, ‘Oh, I really really have to do that,’” Julian said. “Once I got the idea, I couldn’t stop thinking about it since then.”

Since the Halsey cover music video, Julian’s peers are excited to hear what projects she has coming up.

“I’m definitely looking out for her next move,” Douglas said.