Julia Pratt has never stayed in one place for too long. She spent her childhood years moving around the country and overseas for her mother’s job. At 23 years old, Pratt is still on the road, performing sold–out shows and opening for her favorite artists and bands. Amid the chaos of change and the plight to find home, for Pratt, music has always been a constant. 

On an early Saturday evening, Pratt and I take shelter from the rain in the basement of World Cafe Live, a familiar venue for two Philadelphia natives. Pratt would be playing a show in the Music Hall at WCL later that day, opening for Angie McMahon. “I’m happy to be home,” she announced later that night as she took the stage.

Before I have the chance to introduce myself, Pratt wraps her arms around me. She exudes the same warmth and comfort as her music does. Pratt sits across from me in the WXPN studio, dressed in all black with her hair delicately slicked back into a bun. 

Jazz music was Pratt's first love, ignited by days spent listening to instrumental jazz with her father. Growing up, Pratt played saxophone in her school’s jazz band and wrote poetry in her free time. In high school, she found a way to combine her passions for playing music and writing poetry: songwriting. 

When she began writing songs, Pratt turned to her most beloved jazz vocalists for inspiration. While she regards Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra as the “greats,” Pratt's biggest musical inspiration is Amy Winehouse. “[Amy Winehouse] combined this jazz that I grew up listening to and pop,” she says, “She was a big influence for me to start writing my own songs and figure out my own sound.” Pratt’s Spotify playlist, titled, “songs that rewired my brain,” ranges from jazz classics to indie up–and–comers like Eloise, quinnie, and Madison Cunningham

Pratt released her first song, “All the Girls are Crazy,” when she was 17 years old during her senior year of high school. At her Connecticut boarding school, the idea of pursuing a career in music felt like a distant fantasy. “Doing music wasn’t really an option discussed with me outside of going to a Berklee or a Julliard,” she says. After graduating from high school, Pratt took a gap year and began producing her first EP Fallout. Then, she spent a year studying at Loyola Marymount University before she realized that music was more than a hobby. 

Now, Pratt is a student at Berklee Online, the virtual campus of Berklee College of Music. Pratt chose an online music program because it allows her to get a college education while touring. “Sometimes after a show, I have to just take a shower and do my homework,” she says with a laugh. After changing her major three times, Pratt settled on Music Business. “I enjoy it because all of the classes directly relate to [my experience],” she says, “I get to learn a bit more about the members of my own team … I actually feel like it’s brought me closer to my team.”

Julia Pratt (Isa Merriam/34th Street)

In 2023, Pratt released her second EP Two to Tango, which she describes as a “hodgepodge” of music. The four tracks range from solo projects in her boyfriend’s basement to collaborations with her favorite artists. “A Little Love,” the album’s lead single, features Matt Quinn, the frontman of indie rock band Mt. Joy and fellow Philadelphian. “I’m a longtime Mt. Joy fan,” Pratt admits, “Matt is a really big songwriting inspiration to me, so I was very flattered and stoked when we got connected.” 

After performing a song with Mt. Joy at The Mann Center in 2022, Pratt shared her demo folder with Quinn. Quinn’s favorite song on the demo was “A Little Love,” an airy and harmonic tribute to the end of a relationship. “When [Quinn] told me he liked the song, I, like, shit my pants,” Pratt jokes. She performed the song solo later that evening, her velvety vocals enveloping the quiet, swaying audience. “A little love ain’t s’posed to be this hard,” she repeated. 

The other songs on Two to Tango include “Hopeless Romantic,” “Julia, Baby,” and “Backseat,” a collaboration with producer and songwriter Ehren Ebbage. That night, Pratt asked the audience: “Has anyone ever been the problem in the relationship?” Several hands shot up, and she dedicated “Julia, Baby” to making this confusing and, often, painful realization.

On March 15, Pratt released “Carolina,” marking the shift into a new era of her musical journey. The song tells of a bittersweet road trip to North Carolina in 2022. This was Pratt's first time returning to the place she called home for her middle school years. “I think I was just hit with this realization that [North Carolina] wasn’t my home anymore, even though it was so impactful to me,” she says, “I wrote the song pretty shortly after that experience, and it means a lot to me because I think it was the first time I articulated those feelings out loud.” 

Pratt's relationship with “Carolina” is a complex one. While she recognizes the ways she’s grown since they were last acquainted, her time living in North Carolina will always be a part of her. She pleads: “Well, I’d hoped you’d love the same / And accept the ways I’ve changed, Carolina.” 

For Pratt, releasing this song lifted a weight off of her shoulders. “I identify myself as being from Philly, but, then, there are parts of me that were made by living in the South and living in the South as a brown person,” she says, “I think that “Carolina” was a really big step for me in realizing that so many things can be true at once.”

In her upcoming projects, Pratt plans to remain vulnerable, expanding on her childhood and the people and places who raised her. “I think I’ve been pulling a lot recently about my family and my upbringing and, kind of, dissecting those really formative relationships that we have early on,” she says. Pratt credits her “ceaseless self–reflection” as a driving source of songwriting inspiration. 

When I ask Pratt to describe what home means to her, she responds “messy.” However, her unique definition of home has shaped her as a musician and as a human being. “I think that it’s made [the music] really nuanced because I don’t think of home as a comforting thing because there was so much turmoil around it,” she says, “... a lot of my perspective comes from a place of being unsure, so I feel like that is hidden in everything.” 

Pratt toured for the first time in 2023 with Australia–based Vancouver Sleep Clinic. This year, she began touring during the second week of January and has been on the road since, supporting flipturn, Angie McMahon, Mipso, and Sammy Rae & The Friends. Pratt describes the tour as an experience with a “huge learning curve.” 

While Pratt is well–versed in adjusting to new cities and surroundings, her moments in Philadelphia have been most precious. Last month, she opened for Sammy Rae & The Friends at The Fillmore, located a walking distance away from her Northern Liberties dwelling. “Playing at The Fillmore here was the best,” she says, “I love it so much, and I wanted to play there forever.”

Pratt encourages college–aged creatives to pursue their interests, whether it be playing gigs on weekends or a full–time career in the arts. “I think if you love something, you owe it to yourself to try it,” she says, “It doesn’t have to be all–consuming … but don’t deny yourself the experience of doing something that brings you joy.” 

Julia Pratt doesn’t know what the future holds, but she is optimistic. She asks the universe for a collaboration with Florence Welch, tour dates in Europe, and the opportunity to release as much music as humanly possible. In the meantime, Pratt will anticipate her first–ever headlining show at The Foundry in May. 

While Pratt still struggles with the idea of home, she feels the comfort of belonging in little moments: at home cuddling with her cat, traipsing between her piano and bass guitar on stage, and sharing her heart through words and melodies.

Julia Pratt is performing at The Foundry on May 11, 2024, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.