As guitarist in rock band Little Fish, Julia Sophie Walker had her taste of rock & roll fame. Stepping back from the limelight she has tried her hand at making everything from soap and apple juice to film soundtracks as well as rocking out in electro-pop group Candy Says with life and band partner Ben Walker.

Now Julia and Ben are set to have their music heard around the world again after the west Oxford couple recorded tunes for a new Netflix film, Close.

The movie, directed by Oxford’s Vicky Jewson, stars Noomi Rapace from Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and tells the story of a female bodyguard.

The band recorded a song of their own, called Beautiful Feeling, and an electro cover of Kate Bush’s anthemic Running Up That Hill. The song received the blessing of Kate herself, who insists on vetting all covers of her work.

For Julia, who counts herself as a massive fan, it was a heart-in-mouth wait for approval.

“Recording a cover of anyone’s song is a nerve-wracking experience as you are reinterpreting the work of someone who intended it to be played a certain way,” says Julia.

“But this was especially nail-biting as I love Kate Bush. I’ve always been a fan; she’s pretty amazing and is an icon. I was nervous about whether she’d like it, so it was amazing to get her blessing!”

The project follows their music for the film Burn Burn Burn in 2016 alongside composer Marc Canham, who was also involved in Close.

“The film is brilliant, says Julia. “It is totally action-packed and based on a true story based of a female bodyguard, which is something completely new to me. I didn’t even know women could be bodyguards.”

Close is Jewson’s third major project, following 2008’s Lady Godiva and 2015’s Born of War.

Filmed at Pinewood Studios and in Morocco it also features Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse who starred in Monsieur Lazhar and as Liesel in The Book Thief.

 

“Vicky is absolutely great to work with,” says Julia. “And it is a great film. I absolutely love it.”

Julia has been on a virtual roller coaster since the days of Little Fish. She and drummer Neil ‘Nez’ Greenaway got their big break when spotted by 4 Non Blondes’ Linda Perry at The Wheatsheaf, off Oxford High Street.

Perry, who was responsible for hits by Gwen Stefani, Pink and Christina Aguilera, took them under her wing and whisked them off to California to record album Baffled & Beat.

They found themselves living a rock and roll fairy tale, playing LA’s Sunset Strip, rocking crowds at Knebworth and Reading Festival and gigging with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Alice in Chains, Eagles of Death Metal and Juliette Lewis. But while it was fun to start with, Julia admits she burned out and was left wanting more.

That came in the shape of electro-pop group Candy Says alongside Ben on keys, drummer Mike ‘Micky Sticks’ Monaghan and singer Eliza Zoot. Taking their name from a Velvet Underground tune, their irresistable lo-fi chic-pop took off, with album Not Kings leaving the critics drooling.

Slimmed down to a two-piece with just her and Ben, they proved a hot local live favourite. They have also helped new bands get a foothold by running their own suitably eccentric record label – releasing music on cassette.

Beanie Tapes have released cassettes of Jordan O’Shea, 15 year-old Max Blansjaar, Premium Leisure and a Michael Fox EP produced and co-written by Julia.

They also released a new Candy Says EP, You Are Beautiful; We Are All Beautiful. The EP will be released online in April.

“It was our best selling release to date,” says Julia. “The first pressing sold out in a day, the second in a week.”

The band will celebrate with a clutch of live shows, including a gig at The Pitt Rivers Museum for LGBT History Month on February 23 and supporting local heroes Kanadia at the O2 Academy Oxford on March 2.

Candy Says. Picture: Greg BlatchfordThe Oxford Times:

It sees Candy Says, now augmented by drummer Silke Blansjaar from the band Self Help, moving in a new direction.

“We wanted to make it more upbeat, groovy and fun,” says Julia.

“It’s like Candy Says meets Little Fish. It’s less quirky than what we have been doing, with more electro-rock.

“It’s more energetic and I have embraced my inner rage. I’m playing the guitar more and we have Silke on drums. She is like my long lost sister!”

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She goes on: “I needed a break but it’s nice to come back.

“We are bringing some positivity to life. The national mood is heavy and there is sadness, but you’ve got to get on whatever happens.

“You’ve got to remember who you are, try not to change, and stay beautiful.”

Their Beanie Tapes label follows the same hands-on philosophy which infused their apple juice and soap-making ventures.

“It’s in our nature to make things,” says Julia. “That’s where our passion lies.

The Oxford Times:

“We wanted to help artists get to a certain level and allow them to release music on a physical format. It’s more ‘real’ than downloads and cheaper than vinyl. And the process of listening is completely different. You have to listen from beginning to end and can’t skip tracks.”

And they have proved hugely popular – with tapes flying off the shelves at Oxford’s Truck Store record shop.

“It’s gone brilliantly,” she says. “People ‘weirded out’ looking at tapes to start with but are now buying them at gigs and Truck Store, and we have sold out of every run we have done.”

She adds: “We are not trying to start a tape revolution. It’s just fun and allows people to listen in different ways. Though there is a big tape scene out there... so maybe we are the ultimate hipsters!”

She laughs. “Really though, I am just happy to roll with whatever happens.”

Running Up That Hill by Candy Says will be released tomorrow. Close is released as a Netflix Original the same day.

More on Beanie Tapes from beanietapes.club