The Records That Made Me: Julia Holter

By in Features





With The Records That Made Me, VF uncovers the vinyl releases that have influenced and shaped our favourite musicians, DJs and artists. 

Few artists can claim a run as accomplished as Julia Holter. The composer and singer-songwriter has been serving up extremely thoughtful, expressive sonic explorations that continue to expand and challenge since her vinyl debut, 2011’s Tragedy.

Holter’s relationship with vinyl began with exchanging music with her friend and collaborator Christina Quarles. “It was with my friend whose painting is used on the cover for my new record. Her mom had vinyl and we would listen to it when I was like 8 or 9”. In those days, the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and classics by The Beatles were on rotation.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

In the years since, Holter’s own music has, of course, found its way into the vinyl essentials of many, many collections. “The first time I had my music on vinyl was when I released Tragedy through Leaving Records”.

Until this point, the LA-based label had exclusively released on cassette. The experience of having her first vinyl release made a big impact on Holter.  “I started sobbing,” she laughs. “I got into my car and I just was like staring at it. It was so crazy for me, I had so much appreciation for something I’d done being this big work of art. Records are very beautiful objects.”

We took a trip to East London’s World Of Echo record store to find out about the records that made Julia Holter.

Cocteau Twins



Cocteau Twins’ Treasure was my first Cocteau Twins experience. My friend gave me a copy of it and it’s so good. The atmosphere of their music has entranced people for years, but it was really formative for me. I feel like it got me way more into production.

When I first heard Cocteau Twins, when I was younger, the choruses and the reverb felt so formative. I relate to Liz Fraser’s approach to lyrics and the mix of actual words and words that aren’t used for the meaning but for how they sound. I really relate to this music, just like a lot of people.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

Alice Coltrane

Journey in Satchidananda


This Alice Coltrane record is not one that I talk a lot about, but Alice Coltrane is very important to me. There’s a lot of harp on it and I think it might have been the first record of hers that I heard. It wasn’t one that I was immediately drawn in by, but I’ve come to love it.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

The harp swirls around all the other instruments and it just has this whole crazy-like texture that is like nothing else. It’s sparkly and spiritual. I feel like it’s very different from my music or what I would do, but I’m inspired by it.

With all the sleigh bells and the sparkly sounds, the record really makes an ecstatic journey.

Arthur Russell

World Of Echo

(Upside Records)

Arthur Russell is so interesting because he did so many different things and it’s all just so unique and singular. World Of Echo is so influential for so many people with its simple use of delay echo and that beautiful dark cello. The cello as a harmonic instrument used to accompany the voice, it just feels like its own thing that he built this world around.

It’s echoey troubadour music. I just love Arthur Russell’s vocal delivery because it’s a little heavy or something. It’s not easy to listen to for me, but in a nice way, there’s just so much richness in his voice, and so much of a story there–maybe a lot of pain and melancholy.

Hiroshi Yoshimura


(Temporal Drift)

Hiroshi Yoshimura is something that my husband Tashi [Wada] has put on a lot recently. We put it on to chill out our daughter or when I need to chill out myself. It’s crazy, like music therapy, it just like makes you chill the fuck out. It’s also interesting, though, it’s not just like background music.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

It’s fun to listen to how the rhythms move. With minimal music, it’s all about how the little things change and how the patterns of the synth lines move a little here and there. It’s just really good. I’m not an expert on Yoshimura or anything, but we’ve listened to it a lot recently, so it seemed important to bring it up.

Brian Eno

Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

(Island Records)

I spent a lot of time listening to this at that formative time, just like the Cocteau Twins, when I was catching classic records that I hadn’t known before.

There’s such a playfulness to it. The music I like tends to be playful, and that’s what Brian Eno is. I know he is often known for ambient and a lot of the theory behind it but I love Roxy Music and this whole era. There’s just so much experimentation and I hear things all the time where I’m like, “Oh, it’s just like so inspired by Brian Eno”.

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan

This is cool rock music, but it’s also just weird. I didn’t even have the vinyl. I think my friend made me a CD-R, honestly.

Robert Wyatt is on here, and he’s a real favourite of mine. It also features Portsmouth Sinfonia, and they were a group of people that played instruments that they didn’t know how to. There’s so much good stuff on this record–we’ve also got a little Phil Collins. Obviously, a legendary record that most people who pay attention to records would know, but it’s just important to me.

Photos by Daniel Sheehan.

Julia Holter’s Something in the Room She Moves is set for release via Domino on March 22.  

Read more of The Records That Made Me series here.