[Giuliette Price on a secluded path near UCT’s middle campus. PHOTO: James Browning]

Giuliette Price is a Cape Town-based vocalist and songwriter who has wasted little time since their move from Johannesburg in 2021. Since then, they’ve played on stages with names on the level of Kujenga, MOONGA K. and Alice Phoebe Lou.

Giuliette’s music is an ethereal meeting of layered vocals and rhythms that betray their jazz training. Despite being self-described as ‘sad-boy bedroom pop’, Giuliette has been spending plenty of time these past months singing in the sunshine at festivals, or under dimmed café lights.

We met up with Giuliette for a walk around UCT’s middle campus to chat about their busy last year, bringing solo projects to life on stage, and an upcoming live recording.

Gifts and gigs

Giuliette knew from early on that they had inherited their mother’s gift of singing. “My mom is a vocalist and worship leader. Even when she was pregnant with me, she was jumping around on stage, worshipping, doing her thing,” Giuliette tells us with a smile.

But it wasn’t until they were bored and aimless on a gap year in 2018, having a get-your-shit-together moment during a psychedelic trip, that they resolved to pursue music.

“I could go into graphic design, I could go into photography, I could honestly do anything as long as it was creative. But in that acid trip I was like – you’ve got this voice, you’ve got this gift. Why not use it?” Giuliette says.

Giuliette Price
[“I think that people, when they see my aesthetic, they think it’s a punk kind of vibe. And I’m like, yeah no, not at all,” Giuliette Price tells us. PHOTO: Supplied/Giuliette Price]

Giuliette started training at Wits in 2019, then moved down to Cape Town to complete a BMus Diploma in Jazz Voice. Despite concerns about making money and finding gig opportunities, Giuliette now performs every week.

“Studying at UCT helped me so much with networking. So I’m very grateful for that because if I didn’t have that network, I would have been working way harder to get gigs,” they tell us.

Taking form

One of their regular gigs has been a residency at the Gusto Urban Italian Restaurant in Century City, which came after the booking agent stumbled on Giuliette’s Instagram. Giuliette played there weekly throughout 2022 and has now been booked to play their Friday evenings until the end of 2023.

“It’s amazing and so cute playing those gigs because it’s kind of like background music to a bunch of people who aren’t really listening. But I have the freedom to do what I want in those sets — which is really cool,” they tell us.

Giuliette’s first festival performance was at the Kunda Valley Festival in May 2022, where they played a relaxed set with friend Dan Gregory. Dan then set Giuliette up with a spot at Smalltown Beat, a three-day event hosted in Swellendam in November of last year.

“That was an actual dream come true. When I said that I was going to move to Cape Town, I didn’t know that my career was going to take such form so quickly. I felt like that was going to be a five-year kind of thing — then it fucking happened last year,” Giuliette says.

Giuliette Price
[Giuliette has some modelling work under their belt, and it shows in their comfortability behind the camera. PHOTO: James Browning]

Giulliete got to put on an hour of original songs, and tells us it was surreal to move from playing in isolation to being backed by a full band.

“It just breathes life into the music, and to hear these incredible musicians interpret my music the way that they do, bringing their own character and enhancing it to another level – it was a dream come true,” Giuliette explains.

On 13 January, they played with South African-based artist MOONGA K. at the KAYA Café. This comes after the two had been writing together for MOONGA’s debut album, and he insisted that they perform a co-written song together.

“I remember shaking before [the show]. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous for a performance before because it was such a small space and the audience was literally this close to me,” Giuliette says.

Situated on Loop Street, the KAYA Café is an intimate venue in the centre of Cape Town where musicians play right up against a seated audience. However, Giuliette tells us it went perfectly, with an audience that was wonderfully receptive to her set of sad songs.

“It’s a great little creative hub for all sorts of artists — whether it be fashion, whether it be music, or whether it be art,” Giuliette adds.

Main character moments

Giuliette got the chance to perform with local African jazz outfit, Kujenga, on 20 January, where they were opening for Alice Phoebe Lou. The We Here event, held at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, was Alice’s first show back in South Africa in three years.

Giuliette Price
[Giuliette Price at Old Biscuit Mill (left) and The KAYA Cafe (right). PHOTO: Supplied/Giuliette Price]

Giuliette had played on several of the same lineups as Kujenga previously, including Smalltown Beat, where the two connected. So when Kujenga was approached to play We Here, and the organisers asked if they could incorporate more of a femme energy, they reached out to Giuliette.

“And I’m going — are you insane? Are you actually playing a joke on me right now?” Giuliette tells us. “Because I’ve been listening to her music ever since moving to Cape Town, and she’s such an inspiration to me. I had to take twenty minutes to just be like — okay, fuck. I’m opening for Alice Phoebe Lou. What the fuck?” they explain.

Getting to open for an idol and bringing their own songs to life with Kujenga’s full horn section — Giuliette had to add another entry to the list of dreams that came true.

“I look back at videos of that performance and you can just see in my face how happy I am to hear everything that’s going on. That gig? Highlight. Big, big main character moment,” Giuliette gushes.

Confidence.

On top of everything else, Giuliette has also been quietly sculpting a new project together with Dan Gregory and Amith Ranjith. The band has been sneaking in some trial-runs at festivals, including Smalltown Beat and the Pangea Festival.

Giuliette Price
[Giuliette Price on stage with Kujenga on 20 January 2023. PHOTO: Supplied/Giuliette Price]

“That was the craziest month of my life. Headlining Smalltown, then I did a wedding gig in Joburg, and then straight after that, I flew down to Cape Town to play Pangea,” Giuliette says.

We’re told that the new band has a release planned for April. Giuliette will also be putting out a live album after recording her next show, which is this Friday evening on 3 March. They’ll be playing The Commons in Muizenberg, backed by a band of drums, bass, trumpet, and piano — played by the incredibly talented, Nobuhle Ashanti.

We asked Giuliette if doing the live recording was nerve-wracking at all, but they seemed eager to take it on. “Yeah it is quite scary, but I think because the Smalltown set went so well, we’re ready. Confidence.”

If you can’t make it out to The Commons this Friday, you can catch them at the first Metrohome event for 2023 in Woodstock on Sunday — alongside local hip-hop/RnB artist LUUKHANYO and fellow singer-songwriter Jabulile. 

To listen to their tracks, check out their Soundcloud or head out to Gusto Urban on Friday evenings. We’re told that ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is a crowd favourite, and the chance of a Giuliette rendition should definitely tempt you to make the trip out.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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