Athens recording artist Convict Julie announces release date for visual album

Athens Banner-Herald
Athens Banner-Herald

After receiving the first-ever Emerging Black Artist grant from the Athens Area Arts Council back in December 2020, Camilla Sims expressed an intent to "set the bar in a nice place."

One year later, after performing at several local venues and festivals that culminated in seeing her stage name, Convict Julie, appear on the marquees of The 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre, Sims is prepared to break even more ground.

"Exquisite Pain," Convict Julie's visual album, is scheduled to be released on Feb. 18. The first single and accompanying video, "Battle Cry," will premiere on Jan. 14, with a performance later that evening at Normal Bar.

Visual albums are far from the norm for independent artists, the most well-known examples being Beyoncé's "Lemonade" in 2016 and "Black is King" in 2020. Sims told the Banner-Herald that the decision to create videos for each of the tracks on "Exquisite Pain" came from a desire to communicate more closely with her audience.

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"I wrote all these songs about what I was feeling in 2020, from the activism and isolation and how I coped with all of that," said Sims. "I wanted people to hear the songs, see the videos and make their own creative assumptions about what I'm depicting."

Last fall, Sims met director Tim Hardiman of Black 22 Creative and left quite an impression with the self-produced music videos on her YouTube page. After offering to shoot a video for a Convict Julie track, Hardiman listened as the Athens-based musician described her vision for the album concept.

Once Sims wrote the storylines for each video, Hardiman was inspired by her ability to perfectly capture the energy of each song, and realized the project could be completed in a short amount of time. All seven of the videos that make up "Exquisite Pain" were shot in one eight-hour day in Lebanon, Tenn., in late October 2021.

"As a director, I'm always looking to work with new acts who are doing something different. (Convict Julie) is exactly that," Hardiman told the Banner-Herald via email. "I couldn't be happier with the final cuts. I'm excited for (her) as she enters this chapter of her musical journey."

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Sims said that she doesn't consider herself a photogenic person, but having played the starring role in all of the album's videos made her more comfortable being in front of the camera, which positively impacted her outlook on producing more music videos.

Though "Exquisite Pain" is slated to premiere on the Convict Julie YouTube Channel on Feb. 18, Sims hopes to find an Athens venue that will host an outdoor screening of the album. After performing local shows in support of the record, Sims plans to tour in May.

"The album will give people a look into my creative process, but it also tells a very real story about things I've experienced," said Sims. "I feel like this kind of vulnerability will be something the audience will relate to, and I hope it inspires other artists to step out creatively. There's so much more to the music."

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