They always tell you not to count out the quiet ones. They’re the thinkers, the writers, the thoughtful ones, the ones who take notes, remember their pasts, and channel their feelings – old and new – into art. They’re the ones who have the last laugh. They’re the ones like Julia Wolf, who remembers never feeling like she had the right words to say, the quick comebacks, the responses people expected of her. They’re the ones who used their “quiet” time to think smarter than the rest of us. “Plus,” she says with a laugh, “I’ve had years to think, so now it all comes out better than it would’ve in the moment.”
Julia Wolf is the leader of that “quiet kids get the last laugh” pack – artistically, sonically, and lyrically. On the immaculate and urgent Good Thing We Stayed, her debut album due out in January 2023 on BMG, the Long Island native shows off the toolkit she’s been building and sharpening for the past four years, ever since she first embarked upon pursuing music as a career, and following on the heels of her 2021 EP, Girls in Purgatory. Each song tells a story – brilliant, bright, clear, and evocative, filled with singular details so true to Julia but delivered so powerfully that they’ll resonate with any listener with a heart and a brain. Working closely alongside her production partner Jackson Foote (of the pop duo Loote, who’s also helmed hits for Demi Lovato, Zara Larsson, and Mike Posner) – “the first person I’ve worked with who didn’t want to change a thing but wanted to amplify me and my words instead” – Julia uses every square inch and each fleeting second of her debut to make maximum impact. Lyrically driven and anchored by hip-hop influences, trap drums, and self-described “indie vocals” inspired by fellow singer-songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers and John Mayer, Good Thing We Stayed is one of music’s most profound debut statements of strength, perseverance, and resilience.
It all stems from newfound empowerment, she says, a feeling that’s allowing her to let her own voice and words and stories be told for the first time. Chronicling her journey from past to present, with nods to her future, too, Julia uses Good Thing We Stayed as a chance to “reflect me – authentically me, and what I’ve been wanting to say all these years.” It’s for “girls who grew up shy like me,” she says, “and wanting to show them – and even myself – that they’re not invisible, that they have a voice, and that quiet confidence can be the strongest form of self-belief.”
Raised in an Italian family on the North Shore, Julia says her parents both encouraged her to pursue her creativity. That manifested itself into piano lessons, high school talent shows, a cappella groups, dance classes, and even an early dream of becoming a painter. Her mother would play Madonna on the car radio at full blast; she took young Julia to her first concert, an Avril Lavigne show at the iconic Jones Beach Theater, and let her dress like the “Sk8r Boi” singer to school for nearly a year thereafter. “She and my dad opened me up to all of this,” Julia says. “They helped me realize I could be a contender.”
After nearly moving with her dad to Italy several years ago – and deciding at the last minute to stick around and give music one last shot – Julia says she learned to bet on herself. In Good Thing We Stayed, that bet is paying off. “I’ve always wanted to let people know what I’m thinking,” she says earnestly. “This music, these songs… it’s the only way I know how. It’s the only way for me to do that. It’s self-expression dialed up to 11.”
Hers is a vision so fully realized that it’s mood-boarded: influences like Ghostface from Scream, Jack Skellington, Bella Swan, dark suburban streets, and even New York City’s ol’ faithful 1 train make up the record’s DNA, drawing upon Julia’s love of horror, her hometown, and the late-night commutes home from an early job in the Big Apple. Songs like “Rookie of the Year” and “Virginity” and “Sad Too Young” speak power to her truths, taking inner turmoil and hard-to-process milestones and turning them into universally understandable, tightly packaged tracks. Uptempo standouts like “Get Off My,” “Hot Killer,” and “Gothic Babe Tendencies” featuring blackbear pepper the album with joy and hope, confidence gleaming from their pores. “Now” and “Dracula” and “Sorority Girls” and “Hinge Boy” round out the album, each resplendent with Julia’s sharp eye and ear for the sweet spot between storytelling and melody – words that serve their music, and music that serves its words in equal measure.
“All my life I’ve kept things close to home, metaphorically and literally,” Julia says with a laugh. “This album is me. It’s the North Shore. It’s an escape from reality… It’s the grind, the journey, and the end results all in one.”
Good Thing We Stayed is out on BMG in January 2023.
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