A Chat with Whitney's Julien Ehrlich


Whitney is an American indie-rock band from Chicago, signed with Secretly Canadian. The band got together in 2015 after the break up of the band, Smith Westerns, which band members Max Kakacek, guitar, and Julien Ehrlich, drums, were part of.

Whitney, Julien Ehrlich on right

Whitney, Julien Ehrlich on right

The pair lived together for a while before deciding to form a new band and continue making music together.

They released their first single in Jan. 2016 called “No Woman,” followed by the release of their album Light Upon the Lake June 2016.

The band has been on tour for the past year and is currently on tour with The Head and the Heart now. Whitney will be in Indianapolis on Feb. 23 at the Murat. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are still currently on sale.

The Campus Citizen caught up with lead singer Julien Ehrlich for a phone interview before their upcoming show to discuss their music and future.

How did you personally get involved with music?

My dad taught me drums when I was two years old, when I was old enough to sit on his lap and carry drumsticks. From there I just got really really good at drums and when I turned 17/18 I began to care about songwriting and melodies and vocals. I joined a couple bands, those bands didn’t work out, now this one is working out.

Who are Whitney’s influential artists and how have they influenced you?

We’re really into this band called Jim Ford and also Bob Dylan’s backing band, The Band. How have the influenced us? Well, they just write really good songs. The kind of songs that make you jealous. You want to write as good of a song as they did.

How did you get involved with your band mates in Whitney?

I joined a band called Smith Westerns in 2012 and met the guitarist, Max. When that band broke up, we went our separate ways for a second, but we got together randomly one day and made a song, and from there we just made the album.

Where is your favorite place that Whitney has taken you?

We’ve been on tons of tours; we’ve been touring for about a whole year. But I really liked South Korea. We were just there last month.

How do you design your set lists for your shows?

We kind of do the same ones, but I mean, we usually switch it up a little bit. We usually start with “Dave’s Song.” It’s more of like, we feel out the crowd and try to give the crowd the best show that they could possibly have.

What do you want people to take away from your live shows and your music?

That we are talented, passionate, and we really enjoy what we are doing, and hopefully through our happiness, the crowd is happy as well.

Whitney's latest album, Light Upon the Lake

Whitney's latest album, Light Upon the Lake

Do you write all of your songs based off of your experiences?

Yeah, for the most part. Real breakups, real people dying, real substance abuse. It’s all real.

What is coming up next for Whitney?

Yeah, we’re writing right now. We’re going to release a couple songs in late March and a full-length album next year.

How would you compare the album that you’re working on now to Light Upon the Lake?

We’re only a few songs in so far, but this one is full of heart. It pulls on the heartstrings a little bit. It’s more direct, and maybe a bit more poppy.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.