What were you doing at 23? I was living in my mom's basement, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Pretty typical, right?
Not when you're standing next to Julia Michaels. If you don't know her name, that's not so surprising - but if you've listened to the radio even once in the last couple years, you'll know her songs. Justin Bieber's "Sorry", Selena Gomez's "Good For You", "Close" by Nick Jones, and "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld are all her creations.
Incredible, right? The writing genius has literally had a hand, or appears in the credits of some of the biggest hits of the last five years. But she's now taking ownership of her songs in a big way that she hadn't before - by putting her own voice to them. When she wrote "Issues", the idea of giving it to someone else to sing was so painful it was worth overcoming her fear of performing it herself.
"You always put a little bit of yourself into everything that you write when you write with other artists," said Michaels on a recent visit to Seattle. "Then its everybody's perspective. [With "Issues"] This was just mine."
The song came from a silly fight she was having with her then-boyfriend; you know the kind. Where you don't even really know what you're fighting about? Because it was drawn from such personal experience, Michaels decided to record and release the song under her own name.
And BOY did it work. You've probably heard "Issues" nonstop on the radio since it's release in February. While some folks might take a baby step from writing to performing, Michaels dove off the high dive.
"Yeah, I thought 'Oh I'm gonna release a song, and like six people are gonna hear it', Michaels jokes. "And then it was everywhere and I was like 'WOAH this is insane.'"
But the flashing lights of the main stage haven't taken away from her original and truest passion.
"Songwriting has always been my safe haven. It's the place where I get all my anxieties out, and I can confront all of my problems," said Michaels. "My friend likes to say that I try to be Batman and Bruce Wayne at the same time."
The quiet songwriter and the effervescent onstage talent? Yeah, we can see it too. But after just a short couple minutes with Michaels and her energy - I consider myself hooked to her career for the duration; be it singing or songwriting.
In fact - get ready to start hearing her newest single "Uh Huh" every time you flip the switch; a song all about "that initial breath before a kiss, when you just want the other person to lean in", Michaels says.