Juli Tapken is an actress and a contributor on TBAP who has offered us great content in the past. And her talent doesn’t stop there! She was signed as a music artist with the Platinum Planet Records and recently launched her debut album, Denim with Diamonds. Juli graciously offered to share her new journey as a music artist with us, letting us know some of new things in the entertainment industry that she’s picked up along the way. Take a look!
Miranda ~ Hello Juli! Excited to have you on as a guest on TBAP today! Please tell us a bit about yourself that we don’t already know.
Juli: Surprisingly, I have found that many did not know that I sing. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you the new and exciting direction this career path has taken. I honestly never dreamed that I would be promoting an album of songs that I had written. I have always been a sort of poet. I love poetry and verse. When I was in high school, my sister gifted me a book of Best Loved Poems of the American People. It’s still my favorite source for inspiration and edification. I sporadically would write my own, just as a way to understand my own growing awareness and emotion. I never considered that it might be an outlet to share. I only started writing songs three years ago. Justin Peters, president of Platinum Planet records, saw me in the movie, Mission Improbable. He reached out to me about signing on with his label as a songwriter. I wrote my first song, Mama Says. When I sang it for him he decided to sign me as a recording artist.
Miranda ~ Is there a special story of how you became a Christian? We’d like to know!
Juli: I was raised in a Christian home. My mother truly exhibited what it means to trust in Jesus no matter the situation. I gave my heart to Jesus in the spring of 1980. I was five years old. I remember, for some reason, being allowed to be with my sisters in the youth department. They were singing worship songs and started singing, Jesus Loves Me. I can still feel the impact of realizing in that moment what that song meant. I started to cry as the Holy Spirit fell on me. (I’m crying now in the recall.) My sister got concerned and asked me what was wrong. I said I didn’t know; I just felt like I wanted to know more about how much Jesus loved me. I’ve been learning that very thing ever since. I’m prone to wander and wonder, and to test the boundaries. But every time, the Truth of God’s Love through Jesus has always stood in the face of every doubt and disobedience. The fact that I belong to Him gives me purpose every day. Every time I’m weak, the assurance that He is strong lifts my head.
Miranda ~ When did music become a part of your life?
Juli: From the moment I first heard it, I suppose. Lol. As I mentioned above, that simple song, Jesus Loves Me, changed the course of my entire life. Music is so woven into the fabric of every memory and every emotion. I learn best when things are put to music. (I can still sing you all fifty states, and most of the presidents from songs I learned as a child.) I was influenced by the easy listening and southern gospel tastes of my mother, the country/honky-tonky tastes of my Aunt Betty (a very important presence in my young life), and the classic rock tastes of my siblings. I was involved in choir which exposed me to arias and complex harmonies, and band and orchestra which versed me in jazz, chamber music, classical, and Sousa marches; and drama, which opened the world of musical theater. Not to mention, I grew up in the ’80’s, so all of those pop artists and bands are woven into my life’s soundtrack.
Miranda ~ Did you ever have conflict in choosing between Christian music and mainstream?
Juli: I have been spiritually edified by both. I believe God can use any vehicle He chooses to reach an individual where they are. So, my music like my life, has the structural foundation of eternal truth wrapped in the vulnerable package of humility. I want people to connect with my music at first on a fun, relatable level. Then when it becomes familiar, the deeper meanings start coming into focus.
Miranda ~ You have a new album now—Denim With Diamonds. What inspired this title?
Juli: I’m so glad you asked this question, and I will do my best to explain. The album is multifaceted—like a diamond, but simple as your favorite Saturday blue jeans; it’s soft, yet durable; hard, yet tender; it is tears from blue eyes that betray a sensitive spirit with an unbreakable resolve; it is weighing what the world values against what God values; it is finding the beauty in the process of pressure and time—the awareness that as the world changes at break-neck speed, God remains the same yesterday, today and forever. And He delights to give us the desires of our hearts when we seek Him first and remember where every good and perfect gift comes from.
Miranda ~ What has the experience being like so far as a music artist, and how is it different than being an actress in the world of entertainment?
Juli: It’s the same in that I’m still telling stories, but it’s different in that they’re my stories, my actual emotions and perspectives. Instead of manufacturing a character, I am discovering and developing my own actual character—what I truly believe and how I honestly see the world. It’s extremely freeing, and I find myself drawn to work more and more in the medium of my own reality than someone else’s fantasy.
Miranda ~ What do you hope to offer listeners with Denim With Diamonds?
Juli: Musically, I hope it gets their toes tappin’. 🙂 Lyrically, I hope it reminds people of wisdom passed down for years from front porches, and that it inspires a sense of purpose in the smallest tasks. I hope listeners connect with my heart, and the heart of The One who made them. And I hope it ignites a passion to sing your own song, write your own play, paint your own picture, and share who you’re becoming, fearlessly.
Miranda ~ Is there a method/process to your songwriting?
Juli: When I write on my own, I generally have a phrase or a tune that rattles around for a few days or weeks. That phrase turns to a chorus, which turns to a verse, which leads to a bridge, until it becomes a song that feels like I’ve heard it my whole life. When I collaborate with other songwriters, we pick a theme or work with a hook phrase and throw out ideas and words and rhymes, until we all feel comfortable with what we’re trying to say.
Miranda ~ What is your underlying principle for songwriting and, when do you know a song is ready?
Juli: Listen and try. I’ve learned to experiment and give myself a break as I learn. I’ve only been writing for three years, so I have a long way to go. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to learn from, and collaborate with people who have been in this business, successfully, for years. So my underlying principle is, “You can’t learn a thing if you think you know it all, so shut-up and listen.”
I know a song is complete when I sing it all the way through and it makes me cry. Like I just gave birth. This thing that is part of me—tangible, but not. Promised, but still awaited—slowly grows to have a life of its own.
Miranda ~ How has your perspective changed since joining the industry? How has this experience affected you personally? How has it drawn you closer to God?
Juli: The music business is hard. But it’s rewarding. I never would have pursued this course on my own, but I’m so grateful to have this outlet for my creativity and praise.
Nothing draws you closer to God than getting out of your comfort zone and saying, “Where You lead, I’ll go,” then taking that first shaky step into the unknown. But nothing is more rewarding than watching as God takes that tiny seed of faith and grows it into an orchard.
Miranda ~ What do you have to say about the popular perception about the music industry, especially in regards to money, hard work and fame?
Juli: I guess I would defer to the words of Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I fought against going mainstream for just this reason, but in all honesty, my motivations aren’t based on what this world can give. I only desire to have a voice that speaks truth and encouragement. That showcases the fallacy of my own efforts and elevates the infallibility of God and His plan. He called me to this platform for a season, and when He calls me to do something else, I’ll do that just as happily because, I truly have found the supreme value and worthiness of pursuit—in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Those are the rewards I’m working for. Those are the only goods of value I have to share, and share them I will, regardless of the earthly return. I am dust. Nothing at all to be idolized, but I possess the breath of life. And with every exhalation I’ll lift up the name of Jesus. If He desires to elevate mine, I’ll endeavor to show even more how much greater He is.
Miranda ~ What would you like to see change on the Christian music scene? What do you believe that you in particular can offer the world and add to the music scene that isn’t already there?
Juli: I’m just centered on the change that needs to happen in me. I guess all I have to offer is transparency. I don’t want to be seen as a super saint or as someone who has attained the higher plane. I am a traveler. I am a seeker. I hope that through the filter of my most heart wrenching experiences and missteps, someone can gain a foothold of hope. That if God can use this jacked up actress, He can use anyone. I want people to understand that holiness is a lifelong pursuit. It’s a journey of failings and falls, but through it all, from the fire to the ashes, He is there, and we are being refined. Individually. I’m done comparing my walk to someone else’s. I’ll walk my pace, and share what I’ve learned along the way, at the same time learning from those who walk ahead.
Miranda ~ At this point in your career, what are you most grateful for?
Juli: I’m grateful that I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to create. I’m so very grateful for my family, my husband and son. They are the cheerleaders. They are the barometers. They see the real, ugly, unfiltered day to day struggle. And they love me. And so then, how much more does God? That gives me the confidence to press on.
Miranda ~ What advice would you offer a person who’s just starting out in the industry?
Juli: Get up. Show up. Shut-up. Gear up. It’s a long hard ride, my friend; but that’s never stopped us before!
THIS or THAT (The Fun Qs!)
Coffee or Tea? Coffee with cream and sugar. I used to drink it all day, but now I try and limit my intake to only five or six cups. 🙂
Gym or Outdoor? I love to be outdoors. I wouldn’t even know how to use a gym
Sneakers or Boots? I wear tennis shoes most days.
Running or Walking? Walking. I wouldn’t run even if it started raining.
Cereal or Fruit? Cereal with fruit!
Movies or Books? Books Books Books!!!
Summer or Spring? I love spring, new life, new beginnings. Plus I was born (and reborn) in the spring so I feel a special connection to that season.
Rain or Snow? Rain, a soft steady soaking rain, wrapped in a blanket with a book!
Blazer or Leather Jacket? Cardigan sweater 🙂
About Juli Tapken
Juli Tapken is a multifaceted entertainer. She is a Singer/Songwriter with deep roots in acting. Juli has just released a debut EP, Denim With Diamonds, with Platinum Planet Records in Nashville. It features her soulful classical vocals to a county/bluegrass feel with lyrics that tell a personal story. Her experiences acting seem to give each song layers; like that multi-dimensional character in a great movie. Being Individual to each participant is what drives Juli in acting and songwriting.
Ms. Tapken has earned multiple nominations and several wins in the Best Actress category of many festivals across the nation for her work in Feature Films. She is also appearing regularly on television shows and often in commercials. Her beginnings were in Oklahoma where she performed leads and strong supporting roles in musical and musical comedy shows leading her to Branson, Missouri to professionally pursue that passion where she worked for 10 years. This lead to film and television acting opportunities for which she quickly collected over 50 credits in various video media projects. A movie is what brought her to the attention of Platinum Planet Records and soon she signed as a Songwriter and Recording Artist.
Singing has always been her passion and she is ready to take it on professionally with the same vigor and willingness that internally drives her in acting.
DENIM WITH DIAMONDS was released world-wide in February, 2020 by Platinum Planet Records in Nashville, Tennessee. It is produced by Justin Peters. Juli Tapken writes on all songs and Justin Peters co-writes on five of the songs with Kirsten Nielsen joining in on one. Incredible Musicians on this EP include Bryan White, Steve Brewster, Gary Lunn, Wanda Vick, Judy Rodman, Dave Isaacs, Dennis Morgan, Justin Peters and more. Recording Engineers are Sam Detone and Brently Parrish. Mark Capps is the exceptional Mixing Engineer. DENIM WITH DIAMONDS can be found on most on-line digital music stores.