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Julia Michaels makes solo debut with 'Issues'

The 23-year-old composer behind your favorite pop songs now has one of her own.
Julia Michaels Issues
Julia Michaels performs "Issues," her debut single as a solo artist, on Jimmy Fallon. GETTY IMAGES

Julia Michaels made a name for herself as one of the most sought-after pop song composers, collaborating with Justin Tranter to co-write hits from Justin Bieber’s "Sorry," to Selena Gomez‘s "Good For You," Hailee Steinfeld’s "Love Myself," and more.  

Now with the release of her debut single and video, "Issues," the 23-year-old singer is poised for her first major success as a solo artist.

Michaels chats with Metro about her experience as a hit songwriter and the issues she has had to overcome in her transition from behind-the-scenes to the spotlight.

What made you did you decide it was time to sing your own songs?
I discovered that I was very good at hiding behind people and sometimes when you do that you forget that you have a voice, and it is very easy to lose yourself. When I wrote "Issues," I felt that I had finally found my voice.

Is there a song that you’ve written for another artist that you wish you had performed?  
No! I'm a songwriter, that's what I do and it's about giving away my "babies." If someone sings the song with the passion with which I wrote it, that is rewarding enough for me.

You recently debuted on live television with Jimmy Fallon. How was that experience?
It was incredible! Whenever I sing in front of an audience I get very nervous, but Jimmy Fallon and my musicians were very supportive and affectionate, they really made getting on that stage much easier, so the whole experience was wonderful.

What's next for you?
In May I put out my EP [tentatively titled “Nervous System”]. And then my next performance will be on April 29 at the Radio Disney Music Awards.

What are some “issues” that you would like to overcome?
All of the ones from the song! I'm very insecure, jealous. There are many things that I would like to overcome, but I also know that over time I will mature.

How do you feel about the success from the song and video? 
I feel great. I am very happy that people have connected with “Issues” and feel moved to listen to it and even talk to me about it. For me, it is amazing to receive messages every day from people around the world telling me that they love the song.

Does any particular tweet or message stand out?
Yes. In fact recently I did a contest on my social networks where I asked my followers to comment with the issues they struggle with in their day-to-day lives and how they have overcome them. Some of the comments were so honest that it was wonderful to read them, because it is interesting to see how many people suffer from anxiety and depression every day. The anxiety part I understood perfectly, because it is something that I have dealt with for a long time. 

Where do you find the inspiration for your songs?
I actually wrote "Issues" after a fight I had with my boyfriend. I always run away from confrontations. I took everything that I really wanted to say to him but couldn’t and put it in the song.

Which artists influence you? 
I admire a lot of the people I've worked with and a lot of the artists I've grown up with, like Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette.

Do you spend more of your time writing or singing?
No doubt I spend more time writing. I think all the hours of my day go into writing.