Julia Kent is a New York City-based cellist, composer, recording artist, and in-demand session musician. First known as a member of the initial line-up of cello-driven rock group Rasputina during the 1990s, and as a member of Antony & the Johnsons since the early 2000s, she made her solo debut with 2007's Delay, a collection of solo cello compositions enhanced by electronics and found sounds. Throughout the 2010s, she continued releasing solo works such as 2015's Asperities, in addition to scoring films such as 2012's The Boxing Girls of Kabul.
A Canadian native, Kent was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. She studied cello at Indiana University in Bloomington. Upon completion of her studies, she relocated to New York City, where she became an editor for alternative newsweekly The Village Voice. She was an original member of the pioneering rock & roll cello trio Rasputina, with Melora Creager and Agnieszka Rybska. Donning Victorian-era costumes and performing their own brand of gothic chamber pop, this version of the band recorded Thanks for the Ether in 1996; Transylvanian Regurgitations, an EP including remixes by Marilyn Manson, in 1997; and How We Quit the Forest in 1998.
Kent left the group after the latter album's supporting tour, and began a long period of session and concert work with other musicians. She joined Antony & the Johnsons in the early 2000s, where she served as both cellist and string arranger. She appeared on most of the group's releases since 2001's I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy EP. She also briefly joined Black Tape for a Blue Girl, contributing to their 2002 album The Scavenger Bride. In addition, she appeared on countless albums as a session musician, ranging from releases by experimental indie and folk artists like the Angels of Light and Devendra Banhart to mainstream stars such as Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones.
Kent released her debut solo album, Delay, in 2007. The album showcased her cello and live digital delay loops in a series of deeply melodic compositions of astonishing detail and arrangement. She also continued her session work and touring. In 2008, she contributed music to Irene Lichtenstein's documentary film Mario Benjamin, about the great Haitian painter, and to P.J. Taval's film Trinidad. In 2010, she released the EP Last Day in July, and collaborated with electronic sound artist and vocalist Barbara DeDominicis on the score for Davide Lionardi's film Mon Apparente. Kent's second full-length, Green and Grey, was issued in 2011 on Important and met with international acclaim for its marriage of highly original compositions, which combined digital effects and field recordings.
That same year she contributed music to the film This Must Be the Place by director Paolo Sorrentino, and the score for the dance work 5 for Silver by choreographer Douglas Lee, performed by the Norwegian National Ballet. She also worked extensively in the theater. She collaborated with Paul Beauchamp in scoring Giordano V. Amato's Il Tempo Scolpito for the Torino Festival and with Michael Camp in the music for Albert Ostermaier's Radio Noir that premiered at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, and she composed the score for the theatrical concert Dieci Anni Dopo il Paradiso by author Israel Horovitz, commemorating the ten-year anniversary of September 11.
In 2012, Kent and DeDominicis collaborated again to record Parallel 41 (titled for the imaginary line that runs through New York City and Naples, Italy, where DeDominicis lives). In addition, she scored director Ariel Nasr's The Boxing Girls of Kabul. Despite the intensity of her schedule, Kent found the time to record her third album. Character was released by Leaf in March of 2013. She also contributed string arrangements to Swans' 2014 album To Be Kind, and her fourth solo album, Asperities, appeared on Leaf in 2015. In 2016, Kent collaborated with Library Tapes' David Wenngren on the full-length Escapism, as well as the original score to the film Europe She Loves. The following year, she contributed to Total Fiction by Shinya Sugimoto and Jeremy Young. The Great Lake Swallows, a collaboration with Belgian experimental artist Jean D.L. recorded for a 2015 video installation, appeared on Gizeh Records in 2018. Kent also released Thesis 06, a collaborative EP with Sophie Hutchings. Kent's solo album Temporal was released by Leaf in early 2019. ~ Thom Jurek