I see music as something other than presentation. Each piece is its own world that I've found a way into. It starts from an emotional place — not sentimental or an expression of an emotion — but connected to the spirit. I begin with an image — a fragment of a tune, a visual or sonic image — a joyous, active, rhythmic thing that unravels like a little knot. To really make a piece and not just piece things together, you have to be less attached to every moment and stand back and let the music go how it wants to go. It's a funny combination of intuition and construction. Lately I have been veering more towards the power of sound. There's an insistence, a feeling of pushing things to the edge, and there is a certain kind of groove, a dance quality. The body energy of pop music has come into my music and it is definitely in Lick. Motown, funk, rock. This is the music I grew up on — listening, dancing to it. It has a certain kind of freedom to it. Lick has a lot of meanings and the piece has to do with all the meanings you can think of. It's saucy and it has an edge. It's impatient; although it stays with things for a long time, it hammers at than. I took a fragment, a lick, and magnified it. And the beat is split up by all the players, so it becomes fragmented, a fragmented energy. The piece is about attacks, but it has a more sensual side. I really thought about the Bang on a Can All-Stars when I wrote it because I wanted to see them lock in with this intense energy. It's definitely over the top.
— Julia Wolfe
Review: Julia Wolfe's Lick, a hot, dense piece based on what one might call terrorist rhythms, in that you never know when they'll strike. —David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, 03/03/2009