From the release of her debut album Good Thing We Stayed to touring North America with Quinn XCII, Julia Wolf gives us a glimpse inside her world.
Fate always works in mysterious ways, and Julia Wolf is no stranger to this. Throughout her journey to pursue music, the universe has managed to throw plenty of curve balls her way. Some came in the form of failed demos that producers rejected or didn’t believe in. Others manifested as professors and role models discouraging her from working on music despite her talent and commitment. With obstacles seemingly blocking every chance of success in her career, it would be enough for one to quit music forever. And Julia almost did.
Three years ago, when her dad offered the chance to move to Italy and open up a pizza shop out of all things, Julia began packing her bags and prepared to say goodbye to the life she’d built in Long Island. But of course, the universe had other plans – and there is nothing more powerful than a sign from the universe itself. A gut feeling of “we have to stay” was enough to completely change the course of her life. With the sudden decision to drop the moving plans and remain in New York, Julia harnessed the energy of the city she calls home as a creative inspiration to enter a new era.
"I always try to convey a sense of empowerment through the music. And I just want people to feel like they can keep getting after their goals in life. Even if you are anxious, even if you are shy. That's the main goal that I have," said Julia.
This new era led to the birth of her debut album, Good Thing We Stayed, a female-empowering and lyrically-driven album written from the perspective of a girl in her twenties who grew up extremely shy, yet wants to give the world and herself a chance to feel confident. Off the album came iconic and unique songs like “Get Off My,” “Hot Killer,” and “Gothic Babe Tendencies,” which features blackbear. With almost seven million streams and counting on the debut album alone, people are jamming out to and craving Julia’s music more than ever – which led her to hit the road for her first headline tour across the country.
During our conversation, Julia’s face lit up when she talked about performing for her fans, especially for a home crowd. She recognizes just how special the relationship between them truly is: “We are in this together, like anyone who listens to the music, nothing’s possible without them…It’s just great to give back in that sense. It takes a lot to buy a ticket and come out to a show, especially when it’s freezing out. I always wanna show my love back.”
And of course, the pop star grind for Julia does not stop there. This summer, she toured with Quinn XCII for his “The People’s Tour” where she performed at some of the most iconic venues across the country, including Red Rocks in Colorado and Radio City Music Hall in New York, a musical achievement that so many artists desperately want to check off their bucket lists.
But if there’s one thing you should know about Julia Wolf is that she carves her own path and does so with a fierce edge and resilience. Her dedication to being unapologetically herself is inspiring, and the passion she has for the craft speaks for itself. And because of this and a lot of other reasons, it’s more than just a good thing she stayed.
How would you describe your sound to those who are new to your music?
JW: My sound is very lyrically driven. It's always lyrics first. Everything is written through the perspective of a girl in her twenties who grew up extremely shy. I always try to convey a sense of empowerment through the music, I want people to feel like they can keep getting after their goals in life. Even if you are anxious, even if you are shy. That's the main goal. And then I love hip hop, so we always have the 808, the trap drums, the background harmonies. It's just like a mix of everything.
In the hip hop genre, who do you draw the most inspiration from?
JW: Probably Baby Keem. He's got crazy flow. But also it's between him and Doja Cat because they have this amazing ability where they don't stick to one genre. They can vary themselves so much. They're so versatile. That's what it is. And I find that so inspiring. I tried to incorporate that into this album. Just kind of mess around with different versions of myself, that kind of thing.
That's such a good combo. Speaking of inspiration, I know that you're from New York, and the city is a constant presence in your music. How has it inspired you? Are there specific places or moments you tap into when you need inspiration?
JW: Well, the city in general is so inspiring because if I ever feel like I'm procrastinating, there's like ten other people around me right now that I know are hustling. Always. So there's that kind of energy where if you're not doing something, you feel like you should be doing more. I also just love the fashion here and how everyone is completely themselves, unapologetically. No one cares what other people think. They just do what they want, and I need more of that in my life. I love the city for that reason.
I'm trying to think of staple places that I go to, but I don't know. A lot of the music is about nights out with my friends, like shout out Remedy Diner. I feel like we always end the night there and it's just a great way to recap. So, yeah, Remedy is great. I don't have the best bar scene, honestly, but you know what's really cool, though? We can shout out Studio 151. It's a really cool crowd. You always meet someone dope there.
Speaking of just lyrics and writing and everything, what was the creative process like for creating your new album?
JW: This one's interesting because some of these songs are really old and I didn't have the intention while I was writing them that they were going to be for an album. Jackson and I would be in the studio, we would finish a song like "Rookie of the Year" or like "Now" and we just felt like we had to hold them to the side for a second. It felt like it should be a part of something bigger. And that was kind of the process. I just kept writing as I normally do, but then sometimes certain ones stood out to me that helped tell this story of this whole journey that it's taken. When I felt like the story had been told and nothing was left unsaid, I was like, all right, the album is done.
I'm also very curious about your album cover. I really like how it's giving "Gothic Babe Tendencies" and Wednesday kind of vibes. What do they pictures in the background represent?
JW: Each one actually correlates to a different song. Some of them could be a bundle of three that work for one song. But most of them are just photos of me and my sister when we were kids, or me and my best friends. I've got one with my parents. I have a couple that are wolves but they're meant to represent me. So one is like eating lunch alone in the cafeteria, one's in a studio, kind of like in the corner, because that used to be my life before I met Jackson. It was just so much trial and error, so many dead ends where people kept changing my sound...like it just wasn't working. So I was very just isolated to myself and I tried to represent that. I snuck in a few photos about our accomplishments, like sold-out shows and stuff like that.
That's so precious, I love it. It's very intimate and it gives us a glimpse into your life, and I think that artist-listener relationship is very important when it comes to music. Off your new album, what song do you think best encapsulates it as a whole?
JW: Great question. Probably the first one, "Now," because that one is straight up telling facts about the journey, and I just hope that when people hear it, they'll understand. You have to just keep going. You're going to face so many obstacles and get so discouraged by it, but then there's always an outcome eventually. You just have to keep putting the work in for real.
How have you evolved as an artist since the release of "Girls in Purgatory?" Who is Julia Wolf at this moment?
JW: I've definitely evolved songwriting wise. I've tried to get a little more vulnerable, a little more on writing songs about me as a person versus my reaction to situations or about other people. Of course, we always have that. But I tried this time around to write a couple of songs in there about me and who I am. I think sonically, I've definitely gotten more into my indie music, so like the Phoebe Bridgers. I've always been a diehard Taylor Swift fan, but I never tried to really bring that side out too much and I wanted to this time around. So, yeah, I think I'm just continuing to be more upfront and honest, at least I hope.
It's cool to see artists evolve as people and see where they were before and where they are now because you kind of grow up with them, in a sense.
JW: That's true. Yeah. I always say it's like, we are in this together. Anyone who listens to the music, nothing's possible without them. So it's such a two way street.
Speaking of evolving as an artist and performer, what do you love most about touring? What should fans expect when they come to the shows, and what do you hope that they take away from them?
JW: I'm always excited to see people face to face, and just like getting to meet them. It's great to give back in that sense because it takes a lot to buy a ticket and come out to a show, especially when it's freezing out. I always want to show my love back. We are doing some fun stuff during the set, so when people walk in, there's going to be like a little confession box. Every Sunday on Instagram, I do confessions. People write in their problems or whatever and I go through them and try to give advice. We do that live. So I'll have the confession booth, people will drop in things and then like, halfway through set, I'll stop the show. We can just hang out and I just hope people leave feeling more motivated to get after it after seeing someone like me, who it was years of so much work and zero outcome to now getting to be on stage. So I hope they feel motivated. I hope they feel like it's a safe space and they just get to know one another as well.
I know there's like a bunch of people going alone, and that used to be something I did growing up. I'm going to make it a point to help those people find each other, and just make it a fun, special night. Going to concerts alone is like a different experience. I've done it a couple of times, and you can feel out of place, but you're also there for the music, you go for the performance, you go for people who you've looked up to, and then once they perform, it's like, okay, then it doesn't matter that I'm by myself, because I have all these people here with me.
I know you're going on tour with Quinn XCII, which is insane. How did this collaboration come to be?
JW: I literally just found out like two days ago. It happened so quickly because they had just mentioned that they were interested in it. Immediately. I was like, yes, this was a couple of weeks ago, but it came out of nowhere. I've met Chelsea Cutler a few times, and I know that they're managed by the same person and also with Jeremy Zucker, but I never thought anything would come of it. I don't know if maybe the manager remembered me from those months ago when I met them. But, yeah, they just reached out and I haven't met him. I'm going to meet him in the first stop of the tour and I'm so excited.
And you're playing at Red Rocks and Radio City Music Hall, which are so iconic.
JW: It's crazy because I always think about when I first wanted to pursue music, I went to SUNY Purchase. It's like a little bit upstate. And I drove to the college to meet with the dean of that school. He was like the head of the music department and he literally rejected me. I just went there to ask about the music program and he straight up said, 'you're not going to have a successful career. I highly encourage you not to do this.' I left in tears. And to now be performing at these venues is such a full circle moment for me because that was my life. All these people were just telling me 'no' for the longest time. I was like, what is going on? And yeah, to now be selling out stuff, it's really crazy and I'm so excited.
I'm so happy for you. Good for you for showing them what's up.
JW: I'm trying. They were stopping me for years.
You even tried moving to Italy at some point, right?
JW: So that's actually the reason behind the name of the album: Good thing We Stayed. Basically three years ago. I just reached my lowest point. I was so depressed. I went to school for music. Everyone was changing, even demos that I was sending in. Nothing was working. And then I was recording and interning at a recording studio, doing a day job. Like, nothing was happening. So my dad, who's from Italy, one day out of the blue, was like, 'oh, what if we moved back to Italy and opened up a pizza shop?' And I was like, okay, neither of us know how to cook. Italy needs more pizza. Like, yeah, let's freaking do it. And I was living on Long Island at the time, so we agreed over dinner. And then a few months later, we sold our house. So I'm packing up my bags. We had a business partner, a location, a chef, a place to live, a place to rent. Everything was so solid for this Italy plan. Mind you, I can't even speak the language that well. I don't know why I was just ready to go.
My room was the last one, so I was packing everything, and then my dad walks back in. Such a drama queen. He's very old-school Italian guy. He came in, sat down, and was like, 'I just have a feeling we have to stay.' I was like, what? What do you mean? He's like, 'I just have this gut feeling we have to stay for your music.' Which at the time, there was no music that existed. It was just me playing at open mic nights, but nothing was real yet. And he was like, we have to stay. I'm screaming at him. I'm like, bye, bye, you're nuts. We have this whole plan. And also I'm sad. I want to leave and start over. And he said, no. So then our house was sold. We had to move somewhere. So we moved to Queens. And then two months later is when I met Jackson. He's my main producer and just everything. And that was it. Literally. I met Jackson, and that was the start of everything. So it's a good thing we stayed, good intuition. Dad came through on that one. I mean, it really came down to one decision or I would be in Italy right now, like making pizzas. It is crazy.