Julia Kugel-Montoya: An Odyssey of a Coathanger

Updated: Sep 1

Also known as Crook Kid, she has shredded & screamed her heart out for years in The

Coathangers. Now, she is ready to take the next step into her musical career. Releasing the first record with her new group, a duo with Scott Montoya, 'Soft Palms.' Something she has been waiting her whole life to make.

It has been 14 years since Julia(guitar/vocals) & fellow bandmates Meredith Franco aka Minnie (bassist/vocals) and Stephanie Luke aka Rusty (drums/vocals) formed The Coathangers. A punk rock/garage band from Atlanta, Georgia who have been releasing some of the best records of the past 20 years.


With six records under their belt, they have made a huge impact and have influenced tons of

younger bands. "The Devil You Know" was the latest record released in 2019 on

Seattle-based label Suicide Squeeze. A little different from their older stuff, but definitely more mature in sound and meaningful with the lyrics. "F The NRA" was and still is the song we need in these times of mass shootings becoming the new norm, unfortunately.


You name it, they have done it. Touring all over the world, playing dozens of festivals, becoming fashion icons for the culture, and on and on. They put on some of the best shows you will ever attend. Real raw emotions spewing from both sides, the band and the fans. Very few acts come close to that type of energy on record and replicate it on stage. True innovators of our time.


So, after 14-15 years of going hard non-stop, what's next for Crook Kid? Soft Palms. A

culmination of a long journey growing and learning as an artist. It's something she says she's

been waiting her whole life to make. Now, it's here. The duo released the self-titled record just a few days ago and it is definitely one of the better releases we have seen in this whacky year. Along with the record, they put out 2 music videos for two early released singles, "Baddy" and "Rainbows." You can watch both of them now on their YouTube channel. Pick

up the new record at your local record store or on BandCamp.



I had the opportunity to do an interview with Julia recently. She talks about both projects and more.


Q: How would you describe your odyssey with The Coathangers?


A: The Coathangers experience has been a wild and complex journey. It has been equal parts magic and mishap, but definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and in many ways a blessing. We are fortunate to have been able to see the world and meet a lot of different kinds of people. What’s more impressive I think is that we have managed to remain friends.


Q: Each record for The Coathangers has a different sound to it, but still the same elements

the fans have grown to love over the years. Has the approach to each album changed for

y'all?


A: We approach every record with fresh eyes. Each album is a glimpse into our lives at the time - at our emotions and problems and losses. They are each very personal and special.


Q: Seems like the first 2 records were made with a little more fury & anger. Was there anything happening in those times with the band that made that more apparent?


A: The first record was recorded in one night- the graveyard shift at this amazing old studio called Nickel and Dime. We didn’t really even realize that we were setting sail upon a journey that would last 14 years. We were naive and the lyrics we brash and felt inconsequential because we weren’t even sure anyone would ever hear it. The second record was made in our practice space and had a lot of angst since it was a 2nd record and we knew at least some people would be listening. As we moved on in our careers, we got more comfortable and experimental. We stopped relying so much on pure cathartic emotion and started getting more thoughtful in our approach to our music. I think you can chalk it up to growing and evolving as humans. As time went on, there was less of a need to scream.


Q: You've been releasing music since the late 2000s with The Coathangers, delivering great record after great record. Is it still a trip when an album like your latest, "The Devil You Know", has huge success and makes it on so many "record of the year" lists for 2019?


A: Yes it’s all very trippy when you step back and look at it. You have to define what “success” means to you. How others judge our success or failure is really not up to us. It’s been an honor to get praise for our music because we’ve worked so hard to make our own path in the industry. And we haven’t always made those lists so yes, it feels like an honor to be cheered on by our colleagues.


Q: What inspired you to create Happy Sundays and host it in Long Beach?


A: We believe in the power of music and of sharing an uplifting musical experience with our

community. Happy Sundays was started as somewhat of an “anti-festival” festival- free, all ages where possible, free water, free food, pro local business and pro local music. We saw a need for an organized free event and we did our best to help support the flourishing Long Beach music scene.


Q: Let's talk about the time you played the Coach runway during NYFW and were joined by

the legendary Debbie Harry. Did you know that was going to happen beforehand or was

that a surprise? Also, tell us how bat shit crazy that must have been for the band...


A: We knew there was a possibility of Debbie Harry singing the song with us but nothing was

confirmed until she walked in to the dress rehearsal and joined in. It was absolutely bonkers!! We were over the fricken moon! Plus she is so cool and nice. The entire experience was very surreal and joyful. That was actually the last show we played before the Covid lockdown hit. Definitely went out on a high note.


Q: How did you meet your new current bandmate/life partner Scott Montoya?


A: We met in Dallas of all places. The most romantic of all cities.


Q: Tell us what this new project "Soft Palms" means to you and what you hope to accomplish with it? Why the change from White Woods to the current name?


A: Soft Palms is an evolution of what I started with White Woods so we decided to change the name to reflect that fact. A journey toward brighter horizons and dreams coming true. I always wanted to make this kind of music. This record was meant to be a sonic embrace and a reminder to stay buoyant.


Q: Has the current pandemic/quarantine helped you & Scott in being more creative with

writing tunes and creating music videos?


A: Yes and no. The distractions and stresses that have come with the pandemic have at times

been paralyzing. Yet being creative is the only way that we know how to deal with the stress. It has been fun to escape into our own little world at times.


Q: Are you at all nervous for the first record dropping at the end of this month? I think I can speak for everyone when I say we can't wait to hear the whole thing!


A: Thanks! The music industry is very unstable right now so yes, on that side, I think everyone is a bit nervous. But on the personal side, I am very excited and happy to finally share this thing that I’ve been cultivating for years.


Q: Finally, what would you tell any fan of yours who is currently having troubles fitting in anywhere and feels completely lost in this crazy world?




A: I think my best advice is to stay off of social media and try to find an activity or hobby that feeds your soul. It may seem counterintuitive to focus on yourself when you really crave a connection to others, but surprisingly it is the answer to not feeling lost. You can create your own world, an uplifted world where your ideas are magical and your dreams are possible. Seeking approval from others is a waste of precious time. Engaging and challenging yourself in any creative way will inevitably lead you to more opportunities and a deeper connection with like minded individuals. Mental games are fun too. Try this- replace every negative thought with a positive thought for one day or send blessings to your “enemies.” Sounds easy but sometimes even thinking something positive can be a challenge. Engage with yourself! This life is your movie! I am rooting for you!! Also any time you can spend in nature is also highly beneficial.



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