Join the discussion.

Inklings News

Join the discussion.

Inklings News

Join the discussion.

Inklings News

Kempner keeps music in the loop


Julia Kempner ’16 is not the typical singer. In fact, she isn’t typical at all. Arriving at the interview, arms full with colorful origami butterflies, Kempner said one thing before getting down to business; “Take East Asian [studies] next year.”

Besides her love for Spongebob episodes, though “only the old ones;” feminism and 78-degree weather because “it’s the perfect temperature,” there is one more thing that differentiates Kempner from the average musician; looping.

“The Complete Guide to Remixing” describes a loop as “a sample of a performance that has been edited to repeat seamlessly when the audio file is played end to end.”

As soon as Kempner heard this style, she was hooked. Soon after, she purchased a looping machine and began working on arrangements for hits like “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé to upload to YouTube.

“The looping machine itself is simple to use,” Kempner explained. “You just hook it up to an amp and a microphone, and you’re good to go.” By recording different phrases, Kempner is then able to layer them on top of one another. “That way, it sounds like many people singing, when it’s really only my voice.”

Originally interested in looping because of the incredible sounds a looping machine can produce, Kempner also found it to be an alternative way to accompany her songs. “I realized that it was a unique way for me  tosing without learning to play guitar or piano,” Kempner said. “And with all this new world technology, there is just so much you can do with vocals.”

While looping may be entirely new for Kempner, music is not. In fact, her sister Ellen Kempner ’12 has her own indie-rock band, Palehound. “It’s actually pretty popular in the indie-rock world, but, you know, it’s indie-rock,” Kempner said with a laugh.

One would think that because of Kempner’s family background in music, performing would be something that she had been doing forever. This isn’t the case.

“I actually have never had a singing lesson,” Kempner said. “Growing up, I was always more like a visual-art kind of person, and I was always kind of scared to get into music because my sister was so good at it,” she recalled. “But then, gradually, I started singing in the shower, and then family gatherings, and people told me, like, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you could sing,’ and I would say, ‘Well, neither did I,’” Kempner said. “Then I started performing in front of more people, and they seemed interested, so I wanted to do something even more interesting.”

Close friend Greg Von Der Ahe ‘16 was at a loss for words when he first heard Kempner looping. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” Von Der Ahe ’16 said. “And when she did sing, I was blown away at how a tiny machine and the amps and her voice could make such a distinct and cool sound.”

Looking ahead, Kempner’s creativity and talent suggest a career in the music industry. However, Kempner would prefer not to go that route.

“Music, to me, is a hobby. Going into the workforce would add an entirely new element to music for me,” Kempner said.

“There’s a lot of competition out there, and I don’t want to make it competitive,” she revealed. “I understand why people would want to play college or pro sports, because you only have a certain amount of time to do that,” Kempner continued.

“But music, I’ll be able to have forever, so that’s why there is no rush for me.”

More to Discover