Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels at The Fonda in Los Angeles, CA

It’s no secret that Julia Michaels is probably one of the most talented, vulnerable and unique singer-songwriters of our time. Just a couple of years ago, Michaels was unknown as an artist but was massively successful in songwriting. Having written hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld, to name a few, she was encouraged to pursue her own artistry as a solo act. At age 18, Michaels began dealing with crippling anxiety but through her songwriting and finding strategies to control her fears, she has become a widely successful solo act and probably one of the most sought-after songwriters/collaborators to date. Michaels released her first extremely personal track “Issues” after fighting with an ex-boyfriend. The moment that the song was finished, she knew it was too personal of a song and she couldn’t hand it over to another artist. That was the moment she decided to make the switch from songwriter to singer-songwriter. Michaels then released a mini-album she named Nervous System. Since then, she has released a couple of one-off tracks and many incredible collaborations with other artists. This year, she released a 2 part EP, Inner Monologue Pt. 1 & Pt. 2.

Michaels' show was one I was particularly excited to cover given some of the similarities we share. Michaels was born in Iowa but spent most of her childhood in a suburb of LA known as Santa Clarita, which is where I have lived for over 15 years. We have lots of mutual friends, but I never had the pleasure of meeting her. It’s exciting to see a former resident of Santa Clarita reach the amount of success she has.

Walking into The Fonda that night, I was excited to see Michaels perform and headline her own tour. Her music resonates with so many people and I couldn't wait to see the crowd and their reaction to her show. Before the show began, one of her crew members dropped a sign center stage as they prepped for her performance. It read "Judgement Free Zone," encouraging singing, dancing, jumping, feeling and laughing with checkmarks next to each of the words. Michaels is very open about her struggles and her fans understand that her shows are a special and safe place to be your own unique self. I was prepared to see screaming fans letting go and just having fun! Michaels' stage design consisted of these blown up fabric daisies and flowers across the stage, a big half of a daisy center stage behind the band and graphics that were projected on fabric behind the band. The stage aesthetic tied in with her recent 2 part EP release Inner Monologue.

Michaels' set consisted of 17 songs—16 originals and one cover track. She began her set with her sassy wordplay track “Pink” followed by her collaboration with Clean Bandit “I Miss You.” She then took it up a notch with her bouncy track “Make it Up To You” before she climbed into the middle of the crowd to sing a couple of my personal favorites, “Into You” and “Happy.” Michaels then moved into the middle of the crowd, talking to her fans about how she really wanted to be close to them. She covered “F**k You” by CeeLo Green and then sang her crowd favorite “Falling for Boys” which had all of the girls surrounding her shouting every lyric! It was a very special moment.

The moment that everyone was buzzing about that night was who Michaels would bring out on stage with her. I had caught a glimpse of JP Saxe at front of the house, whom Michaels just recently collaborated with on the song “If The World Was Ending. Alessia Cara was seen sitting on the balcony watching the show with a group of friends. But it made headlines when Michaels' longtime friend and collaborator Selena Gomez walked out to sing their song “Anxiety” together. The two of them sat alongside Michaels' band across a long table that stretched out as wide as the stage was. Michaels and Gomez had worked together in LA for many years and to have their successes come together was truly a special moment. Michaels then wrapped up her show with her collaborative track with Nail Horan “What a Time” and lastly the song that began it all, “Issues.”

All in all, Michaels breaks down her life and her feelings to be relatable to the masses. Her lyrics are vulnerable and remarkably simple. She says what she means with a very clever approach. Michaels touches on real feelings, anxiety, depression, love and heartbreak and just wanting to be happy. Her collaborations cross genres into hip hop, R&B and even country. She has received nominations from the Grammys, MTV Music Video Awards, Billboard Music Awards and American Music Awards. Michaels is just 2 years into her career but I feel like the best has yet to come. Her remarkable talent is a force to be reckoned with! You definitely won’t want to miss her next show!

 

Set List

  1. Pink
  2. I Miss You
  3. Make It Up To You
  4. Worst in Me
  5. Heaven
  6. Deep
  7. Into You
  8. Hurt Again
  9. Happy
  10. F**k You (CeeLo Green Cover)
  11. Apple
  12. Falling for Boys
  13. Priest
  14. Anxiety
  15. Uh Huh
  16. What a Time
  17. Issues

Photos by Brittany Berggren, brittanyberggren.com