In music, the most powerful element is always the lyrics. When a song has a strong emotional story underpinning the melodies and rhythms it can connect on a deeper level than perhaps any other entertainment medium. Nobody understands this line of thinking more than acclaimed songwriter turned performer, Julia Michaels.
When Michaels first entered into the music industry she worked behind the scenes co-writing music for everyone from Selena Gomez to Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and even Linkin Park. For Michaels, this role satisfied her inner “love for words” and desire to “help others express their feelings and become happy or content within themselves.”
Speaking with J.A.M ahead of her upcoming performance in Sydney Micheals revealed that she does look back on “one or two” of those songs she helped write and wishes she had held on to them for herself. However, she also realises “everything happens for a reason” and perhaps those decisions helped to move her into the position she is in today.
In 2017 Michaels finally stepped into the limelight with the release of her debut single, Issues. When asked what influenced this decision Michaels explained that she really didn’t have any other choice.
“Every once in a while someone such as myself will write a song which is a little too personal to give away, which is what happened to me with Issues. I had written that song about a very personal experience and I just wasn’t ready to give it to anybody else and it changed my life.”
Saying Issues changed her life is quite a large understatement, as that single earned her two Grammy Award nominations and immediately propelled her into singer-songwriter stardom.
“You always want to be validated by your peers as a songwriter, but to be validated by your peers as an artist was really spectacular,” said Michaels when reflecting on the moment she found out about the nominations.
Despite now being a superstar performer Michaels has remained true to her songwriter roots by focusing on powerful lyricism and stories with every release since Issues. Her latest project Inner Monologues Part 1 & 2 is a clear example of this mentality.
“I really wanted to do a project which was very honest and authentic,” explained Michaels, “Inner Monologue is about all of the things that I think and feel on a daily basis. It talks about love, heartbreak, self-image, anxiety and depression which are things that I deal with all the time.”
Taking this approach however can be an extremely daunting prospect said Michaels, “You never know how people are going to perceive your art in your mind. If people don’t like it that’s them then saying they don’t like a piece of you, so it can be really scary and a bit unnerving but I’d rather do something that’s truly me than something that’s not.”
By being so honest on these two records Michaels learned about the beneficial nature of therapy and talking through her problems. Which is a lesson and message she hopes to pass along to others.
“I just hope that people find their strength and their own voice through music, even if it’s not mine, because it is such a beautiful and powerful thing.”
Sep 5. Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Rd, Newtown. $64.90-$119.90+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.enmoretheatre.com.au
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