Julia Michaels is a white orchid.
The white orchid is a very rare variant, a flower of almost extreme purity and elegance. In any floral bouquet, it always manages to steal the show and capture attention. A flower so unique and special born from a small seed, which it did not know and, as it grew, did not even fully understand its blossoming beauty.
Sometimes the inner beauty, abilities, and talents we have innately are clouded and drowned by what I call “energy vampires” who are too busy trying to push others into the black depths of insecurity rather than trying to work on elevating themselves. It is always easier for energy vampires to belittle others.
World-famous singer and songwriter Julia Michaels, with the song “Sorry,” written for Justin Bieber and sung by him, reached Number One on Billboard. A pivotal moment in the life of a songwriter that, for Michaels, was a turning point in her personal sphere. She was in a previous romantic relationship with someone who made her feel worthless, detracting from her talent. “Issues” was born from the ashes of a shattered feeling of her, which then consecrated her to the Olympus of the most loved singers in the world. Despite the insecurity in herself that kept her relegated only to the role of songwriter behind the scenes, Michaels managed to go beyond her fears, showing the world that, in addition to having a unique gift with words, she also knew how to enchant the audience with her voice.
The little girl born in Iowa and raised in California has flourished into one of the most acclaimed and complete artists of recent years. Four Grammy Award nominations, including two for Song of the Year, one for Best New Artist, and one for Album of the Year, part of the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack featuring Haven (I see you all still singing “All good boys go to heaven but bad boys bring heaven to you”). Along with a Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA) win in Outstanding Music Supervision for A Star is Born, to opening acts for Shawn Mendes, Niall Horan, Maroon 5, Keith Urban, and Pink. Working as a songwriter for Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Rita Ora, John Legend, Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani, Fifth Harmony, Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, Linkin Park, Dua Lipa, and Britney Spears, Michaels is living her dream.
Since she was a child, Michaels has always loved songwriting. “I wasn’t particularly good at anything else. I was pretty internal growing up and kind of kept to myself, especially in my teenage years. Songwriting was it for me. I didn’t want any other choice. I was grateful to have met the people I did—when I did—that believed in me and supported me enough to help me follow them,” Michaels says.
2017 can be marked as a special year for Michaels as her song “How Do We Get Back to Love” premiered on the HBO series Girls, and she debuted with her first album, Issues with Republic Records. She sold more than 12 million records worldwide, and with this global success also came pressure from the media and social networks. Losing the balance and having down moments are normal. Even if she is still figuring out if it is possible to find the secret of inner balance, Michaels gets out of her lower moments by doing pretty simple things “I like to take a bath and self reflect. I like to go get a massage or hug a friend. I’ve gotten really into pottery lately, so some mornings I’ll just put on music and make shitty tiles or weird-looking cups,” she laughs. “It’s fun. I love it.”
True happiness is made of simple things.
And even if we live in a historical moment where life is becoming more virtual than “real,” between metaverse, social networks, and crypto, the future appears increasingly devoted to digital. Everything is changing really fast, and sometimes for Michaels, it is hard to keep up. “I feel like I’m on the fence when it comes to both. I can definitely be nostalgic, but I’m excited to see what the future has in store,” she says. “I’m constantly amazed by people’s minds and what they’re able to create. Who knows what the future will look like 20 years from now!”
Creating new songs is something extremely important and emotional, and Michaels takes a lot of her inspiration through personal experiences. “Mostly love, heartbreaks, sex, and self-reflection,” she confesses. “They’re kind of the things I know most. There are so many songs I am particularly fond of. With every opportunity I’ve had in my life, I don’t take [it] for granted at all. I think the song I am most attached to is probably “Happy,” it’s one of those songs that, every time I sing it with my truly incredible fans, I feel just how much it means to them.”
Every song has a different story behind its composition, and some of them carry special memories for Michaels, like “I Miss You.” “When I wrote ‘I Miss You’ with Clean Bandit, I was just coming out of a pretty intense breakup. I had met Jack that day from Clean Bandit, and I essentially locked myself away in the booth and just freestyled the whole song. Jack has the entire recording of me figuring it all out in my head,” she laughs.
You weren’t a fan of pictures
So I hardly ever took ‘em
Got them saved in my mind from the bedroom
So that way I can’t forget your skin
So I saved all the texts
All of the best over the years
Just to remind myself
Of how good it is
We all have felt feelings at least once in a lifetime, having a deep soul and the gift of writing giving you permission to enter people’s souls. Inside their suffering, and help them heal. Being a songwriter like Michaels is to help not to make people feel lonely but rather say, “I’ve been through it too, it will be difficult, and you will have to be patient, but you will get out.”
With multiple successful single releases (gold and platinum certifications), EPs, and her first studio album, Not in Chronological Order (released last year, 2021), for Michaels, music is really a free space to express emotions and creativity without boundaries. “I’ve always felt like I’ve found most of my power when I write songs as mentally unsound as I may seem in most of my songs. For the most part, I’m really loving and warm and just want to be loved in return. When I write a lot of things I don’t have the courage to say in my everyday life, it really comes to the surface, and then I feel like I can breathe again. “
The shapes of the bodies and faces that are proposed to us by some magazines and along with physical changes that can be done with Photoshop or various filters to the lives of extreme luxury that we see on Instagram, all create black holes in the mental health and self-confidence of many people, especially the younger ones. People are bombarded with stereotypes of beauty and exaggerated lifestyles every day. With more than 2 million followers on Instagram, Michaels has specific thoughts about the pressure coming from outside “that most of those things and people aren’t real. Filters are fake. Personas are fake. The only thing that’s real is the texture of your skin, the stretch marks on your thighs, the hair on your body, the freckles on your face, the color of your eyes, the way your teeth have grown in, and the heart you have to constantly nurture in your body. Those are things I try to focus on. The way I speak to myself, too, trying not to be so negative or compare. It’s really harmful to your body. I think of it like those plant studies where people talk shit to their plants, and their plants are all droopy and depressed. But they speak love at it, and it’s perky and chipper, and all the colors are vivid. We’re the plants. We need to water ourselves correctly.”
While Julia was leaving the set, she gave us the most awaited news “I’m working on new music! Which is really exciting! And I’ll be touring soon, dates TBA but can’t wait to show you what my brain has been stressing out for weeks.” We wait impatiently to listen to new songs and finally see her singing live again, but in the meanwhile, it has been a great inspiration for us and for all her fans to know more and more the aura of Julia Michaels that is given to us piece by piece through her songs, her experiences and her powerful words that are able to touch you deeply without never losing their lightness.