NYLON NINETEEN

Please Stop Asking Julia Michaels Who She's In The Studio With

The accomplished hitmaker on falling in love, her debut album, and the questions she never wants to be asked again.

What do Selena Gomez's "Lose You To Love Me," Dua Lipa's "Pretty Please," and The Chicks' "Julianna Calm Down" all have in common? Julia Michaels as a credited songwriter on all three — and that's just a small chunk of the tracks she's contributed to in 2020 alone.

The 26-year-old Los Angeles-based writer and singer has long been recognized as one of pop music's greatest secret weapons — a master of searing hooks, addictive melodies, and spinning gold out of complex situationships. You can count Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar" as part of her formidable catalog, and in recent years she's also stepped into her own as a solo artist with the release of her two personal (and excellent) EPs, Inner Monologue 1 & 2.

Now, finally, Michaels is gearing up to release her debut album, a project that's fully come into being during her time in quarantine. It's also brought on the birth of a new era of writing for the young hitmaker. After years of crafting poetry out of heartbreak and self-destruction, Michaels has now released a simple love song: "Lie Like This." The track, a woozy, streaky bop, opens with the genuinely sweet lyrics: "He says I'm pretty upside down, I'm pretty right side up, too."

"I have this sort of newfound healthy relationship with love," Michaels explains. "It's the first time that I really have been able to experience it without trying to sabotage it or get bitter about it. I think that's my favorite part about this new era: what I'm talking about is just growing in love and being okay with being loved."

Ahead of her new album, NYLON caught up with Michaels to hear her take on the NYLON 19, where she talked about everything from The Great British Baking Show, the Spice Girls, and why she hates getting asked about what she's up to in the studio.

What’s your astrological sign?

I'm a Scorpio.

Do you believe in it?

Yes, definitely. I feel like I have a lot of water signs in my life, and a lot of earth signs in my life. And actually almost all of my friends are Aries for some weird reason. I find weird correlations. I'm like, "This can't be coincidental."

Do you believe in ghosts and have you ever seen one?

I don't believe in ghosts, and no, I've never seen one.

What’s your go-to drink order?

Usually I just drink water because I don't really like carbonation. If I'm going to have a drink-drink, I'll have tequila on the rocks with lime or I'll have rosé. Then, in the morning, if I have coffee. I usually put chocolate milk in my coffee so it kind of tastes like hot chocolate coffee.

What’s your go-to hangover cure?

I've had quite a few drunken nights before. And I usually always end up at a restaurant in LA called Swingers. Me and my friends will have tuna melts and milkshakes at 2 a.m. to try and sober up.

Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?

Talking Heads because they're the best. Fiona Apple. Then Spice Girls.

What's the weirdest snack that you make?

I'm not much of a snack maker. I'm definitely a snack eater. Probably the weirdest snack that I eat is seaweed chips, seaweed snacks. I just like them with salt. I literally could eat three, four packs in a sitting, then I smell disgusting but they're so good.

What's a bad habit of yours that you've been meaning to fix?

I've been biting my nails since I was a kid. Sometimes if I paint them I'm less likely to bite them, or if I have acrylics on or something like that. But I'll go through phases where I don't and they'll start to grow and they'll look really pretty, then one will break and I'm like, "Well, let's even them out."

Describe your worst date in three words.

Awkward, bizarre, sociopath.

What was the last internet rabbit hole you went down?

There's this website called Mediabase and it's basically just a website where you check the radio charts in the US, but you can check every platform. I spend a lot of time looking at it, not because I have songs on it or anything... well, I have one right now, but I just like to look at it. I like to guess what's going to go down and what's going to come down and what song is going to be really big and stuff like that. It's so nerdy.

If you could be in any music video, what would it be?

Can I say Spice Girls again? I just feel like ["Wannabe"] would be the most fun music video of all time to be in.

What was your first concert, and what are your memories of it?

The first concert I remember is the "Oops!... I Did It Again" tour with Brittney Spears. I don't have a lot of memories of it, I just remember being pretty high up and her in her patent leather red jumpsuit. I had to be six maybe. [More recently] I went to her Vegas concert. I think I did eight or nine songs with her on her Glory album, so we went to go see her do her Vegas show with some of the songs.

What was your favorite movie as a kid?

I grew up a Disney kid. I just always loved ... if it wasn't a Disney animated film, it was a Disney Channel movie. I grew up with Snow White, Cinderella, Brink!, and Wish Upon a Star. Those were the best movies of all time to me when I was a kid.

What's your favorite meme/internet joke and why?

I don't know if I have a favorite internet meme. I have favorite gifs and stuff. I feel like I use a lot of gifs that are people that are really tired or kids that fall over in their cereal because they're so sleepy. My most used ones are ones involving Friends and Ron Swanson and cats. There's a cat gif that I use where his hair is a complete mess and he's cross-eyed and he looks like he hasn't slept in days.

What's your go-to breakup song?

My go-to breakup song is a song called "Independence Day" by Ani DiFranco.

What is your favorite red carpet look of all time worn by someone else?

It would probably be two different ones. Rihanna in her see through crystal dress. And then it would probably be Grace Kelly in the 1960s, the Oscars.

What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?

Hot Cheetos. That's my favorite food. Sometimes I'll eat them with string cheese or something just to have the cooling [contrast].

What reality show would you most like to appear on?

The Great British Baking Show. I watch it religiously and I love to bake, even though I'm not super good at it. I would love to just make a complete fool of myself on that show. I can't cook to save my life, but I can bake a mean apple pie.

What's a question you never want to be asked again?

Two questions I wish people never really asked me again, especially when I'm doing interviews is about other peoples personal lives. What I do with people in the studio is not my business to tell, and that shouldn't even be a thing for me to tell. So when people ask me those questions I always have to sort of deflect.

And another thing is when people ask me what projects I'm working on. Same thing. It's like that's not my business to tell who's working on music and what I'm working on for them. Those would probably be my two that I wish would just go away.