By Sophie Minello
Julia Thompson is a radio-worthy singer from Cleveland, OH. With a distinct calling to follow her dream of being a musician, this young artist has already reached incredible milestones in her career. We were able to talk with her before her show at the Beachland Ballroom, her first full set performance.
How has growing up in Cleveland impacted you as a musician?
Being super close with my family. This would be anywhere that I live, but that was a huge impact on me because all of my family are musicians. Also, there are some pretty good concert venue around here like, little ones like [Beachland Ballroom] and the Grog Shop. My parents used to take me to a ton of those to see a ton of different types of music, whether they’re underground artists or bigger ones. Growing up around that made me dream of it myself. It opened my eyes at a younger age to tons of different types of music.
This is your first performance in your hometown. How does that feel?
I have never done an actual set, but I did do a little show of three songs in LA at the Hotel Cafe. That was my first performance singing my own music and this is my main first show. It’s so exciting, it’s just crazy to me. Even though it’s small that doesn’t matter at all to me. Just that I have always dreamed of this and now I’m able to do it is so crazy to me. When you start off you have expectations, but you have no idea if they’re going to happen or not. It’s like everything is coming together with my music, it’s such an exciting experience.
How has not attending college impacted you?
It impacted me a lot actually. I had everything set, I had my payments in, I had my roommates, I knew what I was going to do -- I was going to do fashion. I was so excited, but I kept thinking “how am I going to balance music and school and having personal time to go out and do things”. I was just like, I don’t know if that’s going to work. I’ve grown up with a lot of faith so a big part of it was praying and seeking God’s wisdom. One day, I just felt a lot of peace about not going to college and just trying to do my music. I went and brought that up to my parents and my mom was like, “That’s so funny that you say that because I was thinking the same thing.” And that’s crazy because most parents would go, “You’re going to college. If you’re not able to live on your own you have to go to college.” My parents have been so amazing. One, how my parents went about the situation impacted me because they’re so amazing and they support me so much. And also, what has happened and the things that I’ve seen that I wouldn’t if I went to school. I wouldn’t be where I am if I ended up going to school. It’s decisions like that that can change so many little things. I think I made the right one so I’m really happy.
“I’ve grown up with a lot of faith so a big part of it was praying and seeking God’s wisdom.
One day, I just felt a lot of peace about not going to college and just trying to do my music.”
What was your reaction when you learned you hit one million streams on Spotify?
Honestly, sometimes I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s crazy.
Especially since you’ve played only one short set.
And also the fact that I’ve only been doing this for six months. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence which is good, because I need that. Sometimes I’ll look at it and think, “This isn’t real.” On the Spotify stats, you can see all the top cities and countries and it goes on and on. I went through one day and there were countries that I didn’t even know existed and they listen to my music there. That’s insane. It’s like a dream.
In your latest release you collaborated with Dreweybear. How would you compare your process in a collaboration vs. when you’re solo?
It’s a lot more teamwork, because you have to take their input and it’s not just your vision. Both of you have to create one vision together. Even if you’re set on one sound and they’re on a completely different note, you have to learn how to meet in the middle and try to create something that you both love. Sometimes it can be hard because you know what you want from a song and they want something else. But it’s also fun because during that process, you gain a closer relationship with whoever you’re working with just because of the things you’ve had to work through while going through such an artistic process with them. It’s a beautiful thing.
Have you faced any challenges in the music industry as a female?
I think one of the biggest things about being a female is image. You get judged a lot on what you wear or how much makeup you have on or how real you are. I’ve felt that within the process that you have to be super careful, more careful than guys. The image you give out when you perform, that’s what people see. If you wear a super risqué outfit one day and then something else the next, people get confused. I definitely have to watch everything like that, with what I wear and the things I say. You have to always watch yourself. I’m still trying to figure it out. It hasn’t hit me to the max, but little things will happen where I’ll think, “Should I have said that, should I do this?” Being a woman is different in the music industry because image for women is way different than it is for men and that’s just a fact. Women are more securely watched.
“Being a woman is different in the music industry because
image for women is way different than it is for men and that’s just a fact.”
Overall, what is your goal with your music?
My goal is literally just to have a platform where I can reach maybe hundred or thousands or millions of people, whatever happens, that I can reach them and be something different and share what I believe in. I want to speak through my music and maybe change somebody’s life, you never know the things that can happen, but just to have a platform to make a difference. I want to be kind of a role model to give people more hope.
What’s in store next?
I’m super excited because 2019, in my opinion, is going to be amazing. We have everything strategically planned and I have my next single being released early in the year. We have a lot planned, which I can’t give specific details about, but hopefully I’m going to be doing a tour and releasing an EP and music videos. I’m really excited.