Earlier this year I was riding in the back of a car as one of my good friends was in the front, scrolling through Spotify and sharing new music with me. At one point in his sharing, he played a song by the New York native Julia Wolf, and I was instantly hooked. From that moment on I’ve been a massive fan of hers, and this week I had the privilege of sitting down with her to talk about life, music, and everything else in her world. Check it out down below!
Jordan: So for starters I just wanted to ask you a little bit about yourself. I saw on your Spotify bio that you’re from New York, specifically Queens, what was it like growing up there? Tell me a bit about Julia before she was Julia Wolf.
Julia: Well she was very different, I’ll tell you that much. I actually grew up on Long Island, I’m not technically from Queens, but my grandparents lived here as I was growing up so I was always here on the weekends, that sort of thing. Growing up on Long Island was interesting, it made me want to explore and allowed me to dream big. As far as me at that time goes, I was an extremely shy kid. I avoided human interaction at all costs and avoided being looked at. It was very different from how I am now. But yeah, growing up was pretty lonesome. I was very much the loner kid eating lunch by myself in the music room. I eventually found my people but that was much later on in life.
Jordan: You said you remember being a loner and spending a lot of time in the music room, was music your safe haven pretty early on? Talk to me about your first memories of music and when you knew it meant something to you.
Julia: So I first started playing piano when I was 7, I was completely obsessed with it. Piano is what really got me into music and melodies and all of that. When I was eating alone in the music room all of the time, I was playing the piano that was in there. Throughout all of my school years I was always playing in the talent shows and performing covers. I never played originals, not until my senior year of high school, when I had to play an original to participate in the senior showcase. I was mortified, I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear what I had to say in a song, but I went home and made myself try to write one. When I did it, it was a weight off of my shoulders. I realized I no longer had to speak to people, I could just put my thoughts in my songs. After that, I started writing all of the time, and it almost became a crutch that allowed me to avoid interacting with people even more. It became such a good tool for me. I feel like I always knew music is what I wanted to do, it was just the how.
Jordan: Do you feel like being a loner during your childhood/formative years gave you a strong imagination that has in turn helped your ability to write songs?
Julia: I think me being a loner at that time definitely shaped me because I was always reading books, watching movies, and throwing myself into these other fictional worlds. I was always so captivated by the use of words and the ability to create imagery with them. I loved the idea of solidifying memories and keeping them in a tangible place.
Jordan: That makes a lot of sense, that’s really cool. I love that. So I read before our interview that the “Wolf” part of your name originates from the imaginary pet wolf your sister had as you both were growing up. How has your sister and your family inspired your music and what have they meant to you throughout this whole journey?
Julia: I wish I had the perfect words to describe how much my family means to me. I couldn’t do life without my sister, I’m with her everyday. I still live at home with my family and it doesn’t bother me at all, we just grew up so close. As shy as I was in public growing up, I wasn’t that way at home. My sister’s creativity also inspires me because she’s a great writer. She’s always with me in my mind.
Jordan: Having a close family is better than anything, that’s so awesome. Plus, they’re built in connections, you don’t have to go anywhere to get it. I love it. Changing directions a bit, I wanted to talk about your ability to create melodies and toplines. It seems so effortless and natural for you, nothing sounds forced to me as a listener. Do you feel like creating those things has always been a pretty natural skill for you?
Julia: Yeah, it does feel pretty natural. When I’m in the studio with Jackson, my producer, we never have a melody already set in place. I usually just get on the mic, sing a few different melodic options, and then we pick which one felt the best. Honestly, the melody part happens pretty quickly. What takes me the longest is the lyrics, and I always write those out first. The lyrics are my top priority. Thank you so much for saying that by the way, that was really nice.
Jordan: Yeah, of course! Speaking of your lyrics, they’re truly just as good as your melodies. These are really vibey songs you’re making, but they also hit really hard lyrically. I’ve noticed that you use a lot of imagery in your lyrics, and you mentioned imagery briefly a bit earlier. What do you attribute your love of imagery to?
Julia: There is a specific place that that comes from! When I was growing up I listened to film scores a lot because I loved that when I was listening to a particular part of the score, I immediately remembered the scene in the movie. I always loved the power it had to transport you back to the movie. Of course, literature was a big part too. I was so obsessed with the imaginary worlds that were in my head just from these books. So, I’ve tried to do all of that in my music.
Jordan: Well, you do a very very good job at it yourself. You’re one of the best lyricists I’ve heard! In your music I’ve recognized what seems to be a little bit of fire behind the things you say. Where does that fire come from?
Julia: That comes from years of being underestimated by everyone, and being so frustrated by that. Just because I’m a quiet person doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want for my life and that I don’t have a vision for my future. I’ve had people tell me all kinds of things, that I need to smile more or talk more and it was so annoying. Now that I have my voice, I want to be a voice for other girls and people that have had the same experience as me, and I want to show them that they’re not alone.
Jordan: When I hear your songs I can just tell that you’re doing your thing, and no one can get in your way now. That’s incredible. You’ve had such an amazing run so far with your releases, I really enjoy your entire discography. What keeps you inspired to keep writing these songs?
Julia: A lot of it is actually the city. When I’m in the city, everyone is always so motivated and always on the grind. My team and I aren’t afraid of hard work, so we are just used to going after the things we believe in. That keeps me going a lot. Also, all the reactions I get from fans, messages from people saying things like “hearing you say this helped me so much, please never stop sharing your side of the story”, that motivates me beyond belief; the fact that people care. I always say that as long as there are truths to share, then there are songs to write!
Jordan: Wow, I really love that. I’m curious if you would be willing to pull back the curtain a little bit on the process of creating a song, from the birth of the idea for it all the way to it being on in my car or in my airpods.
Julia: It’s a pretty simple one! It all starts on my bed on this computer, or when I’m out and about, walking or driving. Something will pop in my head and I’ll get fixated on it. There’s no beat or instrumental or piano or anything at first, it starts like poetry. I write everything down without much structure, it’s just a stream of consciousness and whatever comes to mind. Then I start to piece it together. After that I usually voice memo it, and then I go out and record it in LA. It’s nothing too crazy honestly!
Jordan: Then it’s an instantly classic every time! Did that process look any different for you during the height of quarantine? Was it difficult to stay inspired through all of that as well?
Julia: It’s been unreal this year. It’s crazy though with everything going on, it’s also still been the busiest year of my life career wise. With everything happening though, I’ve been able to give all my time to music, and do this full time. Creatively, I had time to be self-reflective and look into the buried memories and work off of those things. I was able to get out to LA fortunately, and we knocked out a lot of songs on my trip.
Jordan: I’m glad to hear that! It has been and still is a crazy time for so many, so I’m happy to hear that you were able to continue to create and stay inspired. With that, I’d love to hear what’s next for you!
Julia: Well the thing I’m most excited about is the live shows. I did one show last February, it was just me and my guitar. Now when I do my shows it will have the actual tracks, which is how it was meant to be heard. No one has seen it live that way yet, I’m very excited for that! I’m excited to put out more singles, I’m going to be doing those for a little bit longer. I have so much music, I can’t wait to put it out.
Jordan: We love to hear that! As a fan, that really excites me. One last question for you, what impact do you want to leave on your fans, your family, and the world with the music you’re making?
Julia: I need people to know that being shy is not a negative thing, just because that impacted my life so heavily growing up. It was really difficult growing up that way. Now I just want to encourage people to be themselves more, and not be so afraid of what other people are thinking. I wasted so much time doing that. When I just started being myself, everything started coming together. I’m hoping people can take that away. I hope my family sees how much they inspire me, and how much their support has helped bring me out of my shell. It’s given me the ability to share this music with everyone.
If you’re like me and can’t get enough of Julia and her music, you’re in luck! She’s just released her brand new single titled Resting B*tch Face: Part 2. I’ve attached a link to it below, be sure to give it a listen!