Talking with Jules aka Innerpunk
I met Jules/@Innerpunk in Seattle in 2019. We were both at a point where we were moving on from some personal upheavals and Jules used the Diminishing candle to cut ties from something that was no longer serving her (you’ll have to read the interview for more on that). We thought a candle that represented healing and moving on was apt when we were chatting during 2020, and so, here is our collab; inspired by John Waters’ film Crybaby.
GG: It was really fun to do a little event with you in Seattle. You’re a tattoo artist, but what’s your favorite medium?
Jules: Photography actually. I don’t do it anymore, but when I was a teenager, I was really into dark room photography, analog stuff. It’s literally a matter of having the space and all of the equipment to do it. If I still had this stuff or had the room, I would totally do it. But skin is a cool medium too.
GG: What gets you really excited to create?
Jules: I just looked up at my bookshelf in front of me and I have two Russian prison tattoo books that I love, a book of photos by Francesca Woodman. She’s my favorite photographer. I think she was active in the sixties for a short bit. And like, it was some post-mortem fame, Emily Dickinson, but photography vibes.
GG: What kind of photography did she specialise in?
Jules: Black and white, medium format… Mostly self-portraits and portraits of friends, but they’re really haunting and spooky. I have her handwriting tattooed on my arm. Actually, it’s an Elliot Smith quote, but it’s in her handwriting. I think I discovered her through Tumblr when I was like 13, but her looking at her stuff really inspires me. And also vintage porn.
Jules: Or just like, any kind of sixties or seventies erotica, or not even erotica, just interior, which I feel is erotica.
GG: It’s so weird that you say that, I made a blog back in Tumblr times that was half sixties/seventies interiors and sixties/seventies porn. Haha. I’ll have to send it to you.
GG: All the porn has been banned now, so I abandoned it. But, it was so good.
Jules: Oh man, I miss those days of Tumblr where there was just like, porn everywhere.
GG: Ha, ‘The Porn Days….’ so good.
Jules: It was great. That brief window of internet time, of less censorship, or did we just find things less offensive? Which brings me to, duh, how could I forget: weird Catholic art. I love, I love… my whole bedroom is weird little religious tchotchkes. Old paintings and stuff like that. Like a Baroque kind of dark, spooky shit, but also Catholic, religious, any kind of scrawny, white Jesus stuff. I’m just a sucker for it. That’s the stuff I love to tattoo.
GG: How about creative blocks? What’s your way of blasting through them or getting rid of them?
Jules: I’ve been in a block. I got asked to do vocals for a band and I have not, I don’t know how to blast through this one. Normally I can, depends on what the block is. If it’s a writing block, I’ll listen to music that I like, if it’s a drawing block, I’ll look at other tattooers or look at my friend’s art. But this one that I’m in right now, I’m taking suggestions, cause I cannot fucking bring myself to do it… Normally I have some kind of like, I don’t know, spark, [I] get really caffeinated and watch something or listen to something. Honestly doing the candle illustration got my brain to kick in a little bit, cause I wasn’t drawing at all. Before we collaborated on the candle I was stuck in a 2020 lockdown haze. It was good to have a project with someone else to get me out of my funk.
GG: Having a deadline and a constraint maybe is good? Sometimes when it’s like so open slather, you’re like, ‘Oh shit.’
Jules: I think that’s what I keep running in to. Like with writing lyrics for this band, there’s no time crunch at all. I don’t know when shows are going to happen again, but drawing something for a tattoo, if I’m like, ‘God, I don’t want to draw that’ or ‘I don’t know what to draw’, I’m like, ‘Oh my appointment’s in two days… Okay, cool.’ [I] need a little bit of structure. Some kind of deadline, preferably not in a few days, but some kind of deadline I feel helps a lot.
GG: I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who’ve had serious blocks and because of Covid, it’s almost like, ‘I get to do whatever I want. I wanted do this. And ‘I’m in iso, I can do all of the shit that I wanted to do,’ but it’s actually harder now?
Jules: I know. I had so many big ideas, so many grandiose ideas at the beginning of Covid. I was like, wow, all this time. I wanted to start making clothes. I wanted to start making music. I’m chipping away, but I haven’t been as productive as I thought.
GG: Ah the pressure to be productive still lingers… the world is melting, but we’re still looking to quantify our time! Have you got any regular practice or a ritual to help you through?
Jules: Oh yeah. America’s Next Top Model. (laughs) There’s something so grounding to me about really bad television. I blasted through all of Rock of Love, Daisy of Love, I Love New York, Flavor of Love, all of it. And then I was like, ‘Oh my God, what now?’ Then I started America’s Next Top Model. I pop it on, bake some banana bread and it’s almost like the beginning of quarantine all over again.
Actually, on some spiritual grounding shit, I have an altar that I tend to. I put it up the beginning of October 2019 because my great great grandmother’s death date is early October. And also, it’s that time of year where the veil’s thin and when the seasons change, especially when we’re going into fall. I always feel a really heightened awareness of the other realms and shit. So I set up an altar this time of year for all of my ancestors that have crossed over. I like to have a picture of who I’m trying to get in touch with. And flowers. And I offer them water and tobacco. What else do I have on there? I have tequila, sage; a bunch of stuff.
Jules: That’s really before I go to bed, that’s what I do to be like, ‘Okay. I’m grounding…’ A big part of my altars are candles too.
GG: I always have three going at a time. There’s something about how a flame can help you to focus.
Jules: Yeah, totally.
GG: Going back to the day-to-day, what’s the hardest for you: starting a project or knowing when something is done and moving on from it?
Jules: Starting a project, definitely. There’s so much relief in it being done, even if it’s something I love doing or [it] turned out really good.
GG: Let’s talk about the Crybaby candle. It says ‘Heavy hangs the head that last night wore the crown’ and talks about drinking your tears. Oh and I’m so happy that working on it broke you out of your creative rut…
Jules: Yeah, for sure. It cracked the seal.
GG: I’ve always thought that when you mention Crybaby and John Waters, if the person knows what you’re talking about, then it’s like, ‘You’re my people!’ When did you first watch it?
Jules: Oh my God. Okay. I have such a visceral response. When I think about the first time I watched Crybaby, I was at my babysitter’s house and she put it on for me. Maybe I was nine or 10. I was old enough to be like, ‘Whoa, what’s up with Johnny Depp?’ And young enough to still be like, like this is whimsical. And it’s a musical, but they’re cool and tough. Still to this day the last time I saw her, she brought up how she put Crybaby on for me and how it changed my path. Probably [laughs].
GG: I think everyone’s got like a story about when they first saw Crybaby. What other impressions has Uncle John – as I like to call him – left with you? Do you have any takeaways from his creative approach?
Jules: My best friend lent me a CD, which is like a mixtape, but by John Waters. It’s basically a mixtape that he made as if he was making it for a loved one. And it’s the coolest thing ever. I think the whole time I had my very first car, that CD was in the CD player. Oh my God, what songs did I… ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ was on it? And ‘Tonight You Belong To Me’. Those were the two that I was like, I’m going to put these on all the time. And now I associate them with John Waters and feeling in love. When I think about him, I think of, like, a neon sign and blue fishnets and… he’s just… I want to hang out with him.
GG: We’re going to have to do Baltimore trip then.
Jules: Hunt him down. Pick his brain about how to make a good mixed tape and what the fuck is up with Divine.
GG: I’ve got all the books that he’s written. In one of them, he writes about why he loves LA: because it’s so trashy and so glam.
Jules: That’s exactly what I think of when I think about him, trashy and, like… he kinda makes you uncomfortable. But you like it, you know, you’re like, ‘I don’t know why, that mustache though – it’s working for me.’
GG: In the film, Allison collects her tears in a glass and then drinks them. We were really keen to capture that when designing the candle. What does the jar of tears mean to you?
Jules: I love that idea. You brought that idea to me and I was like, Holy shit. I haven’t thought about that scene in that movie in so long. And I haven’t actually thought about it as an adult, knowing the things [I know] or feeling the way that I feel now. For me the scene where she’s drinking her own tears is like… ‘the problem is mine’, but in a powerful way, if that makes sense?
GG: Like taking responsibility?
Jules: Yeah, exactly. Like even if somebody else created the mess, at the end of the day, it’s up to me, if I’m gonna drink my own tears or not. It’s kind of cool, collecting your tears in a jar, the idea of that. Like, I can’t let any of my emotions go to waste.
GG: Or let’s get a visual representation of your pain.
Jules: Quantifying your pain. Like, ‘This is a cup’.
GG: I wanted to talk about how Allison and Crybaby – spoiler alert – end up happy together by the end of the film and how all of their miscommunications were worked out and understood. What are your tips for moving through that kind of thing, finding a resolution or tending to a fractured relationship? It doesn’t always end up happily ever after, of course, but there are ways to move through?
Jules: Well, if your man gets locked up, you have to go down to the jail. [And make a] crazy sexy dance party situation happen. That’s like the easiest way to mend a broken relationship. That solves every problem.
GG: Definitely. Just dance with the phone. You’ll be fine.
Jules: Yeah. Dance with the phone. And then smash the glass. When you hit me up to do the candle, it was shortly after my ex – now partner – and I had, like, reconvened. We were broken up for 9 or 10 months and lived our separate lives and did our separate things. Miscommunication was definitely a problem. I used the Diminishing candle to cut the ties on that [laughs].
I mean, it’s so simple, but it’s so hard, right? It took us two years to say I love you, you know? But just say what the fuck you want to say and sit and say it and mean what you say, mean what you say. At the end of the day, that relationship was mended because I realised personally that I don’t owe anybody shit. And I deserve the best. And then it was like, Oh, okay. You respect that I don’t owe you shit. And I think you can provide the best for me.
GG: That’s beautiful.
Jules: [So it’s a] candle about communication and miscommunication and love lost and quantifying your pain. I thought that was so timely because we had just gotten back together.
GG: We’re also witnessing a lot of collective pain at the moment. What are your tips for moving through that, big picture? Do you have anything that you recommend, if we’re all hurting?
Jules: I’m doing stuff around Seattle, marches and stuff. And it’s weird how it’s developed, I guess, over however many months it’s been going on now. But today, somebody organised just hanging out in the park, playing kickball, food drive. Everyone was hanging out and all of these different cliques [from] around Seattle got together today just under the context of ‘we’re going to do some mutual aid, but we’re literally just going to hang out and have fun, AND build community and learn how to trust each other. We were all strangers at the beginning of this and now we know each other really well, but only in the context of being at this heightened [level of] like, ‘Oh God, imminent danger.’
I feel the collective grieving right now is going to require collective healing. Taking a day to go play kickball with a bunch of people. It’s so simple, but it was so beautiful.
GG: It’s so important to raise the vibration, although that’s such a trope.
Jules: Yeah. But it’s true. You got to keep morale up somehow, things are really dark right now, things are really uncertain.
And just like creature comforts: if you can do it with other people, do it with other people.
GG: You’ve been attending protests and getting involved in that way. How’s that been for you? Has it been rewarding and in what way?
Jules: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like the beginning of COVID brought out the worst in everybody, you know? My perspective and the way that I was interacting with people was so different. I spent, I don’t know how many years living at this punk house and having punk shows and then COVID hit. And I was like, damn, I kind of don’t align with you guys. And I was like, that sucks. I don’t want to have to walk away from this but I think I have to. And then I was like, well, what now? And then I get involved with the activism. It’s been super rewarding getting to know brand new people [whose] morals align with mine. And they’re striving for the same shit. And they’re obviously just as passionate because they’re still out here doing it. It’s been so cool. Getting to know people that I otherwise would not have. Like there’s no way our paths would have crossed in any other way, you know.
My core friend group has totally changed, people that I thought I would be friends with forever and ever, I’m not really friends with, but then people I met through activism, I’m like, wow, you’re fucking cool.
GG: How do you regenerate and recoup? What’s your go to method to create and live in this fucking crazy dimension that we’re in?
Jules: Holy shit. I don’t even know. I surprised that I’m like… a bouncy ball. How have I been recouping? Definitely just listening to my body. If I don’t want to go out or if I have to cancel or whatever, I just do it. I just stay home. Do whatever I like, whatever feels right.
Maybe my balance lately has been three actions a week. On my days off I try to not look at Instagram, even though it’s really hard. And if I do look at Instagram, I don’t look at that side of Instagram. I look at videos of people doing their nails and shit like that. Instagram’s full on, so [I] kinda turn it down, not off, but turn it down. I’m gonna take the day off. I’m going to watch America’s Next Top Model. I’m going to bake and sleep, sleep, sleep. There were points a couple months ago that I’d go out every day. And then I would have a day off and I would sleep for 14 hours. [So] just listen to your body and lay down. Rest, eat whatever you want to eat, sleep as long as you want to sleep. Cause if not, you get burnt out.
GG: You’ve opened a tattoo studio during all this as well. Congratulations. It looks really cool. Is that you on your own? Tell me a little bit about the shop?
Jules: Thank you. I love her. I love her so much. It’s so good. It’s kind of like the first tattoo that I did there almost felt like pre COVID times. I was tattooing my friend and I spaced out. Cause it’s kinda like this weird moving meditation for me. And I forgot for a good five minutes what was going on in the outside world. I love it. Creating gives me a nice little escape.
THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU JULES <3 <3 <3
You can purchase the Innerpunk x Girl Grease candle here. May you heal and metabolise any disappointments when you burn it x