For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: The distilled, unfiltered version of the emo dance-pop she's written for other artists over the years
FOR FANS OF: Selena Gomez, Hailee Steinfeld, Dido remixes
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: At 23 years old, Julia Michaels has already built one of the music business' most enviable résumés, writing songs for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears, among others. The fact that she finally released her debut solo single, "Issues", is only the cherry on top.
Michaels has spent her whole life writing poetry and songs, and at 17 years old she reached a mainstream breakthrough with a co-writing credit on the theme song for Disney's Austin & Ally. "My dad was actually pressuring me to go to college," she recalls. "But I was like, 'No, I think I'm good at this!'"
From there, with mentors and co-writers Joleen Belle and Lindy Robbins, she began writing songs for artists like Demi Lovato and Fifth Harmony. She later linked up with "song husband" and Semi-Precious Weapons frontman Justin Tranter, beginning a hot streak of writing hits like Bieber's "Sorry", Hailee Steinfeld's "Love Myself" and Gomez's "Hands to Myself". The pair have also caught the attention of Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Ed Sheeran. Like all her other songs prior, "Issues" began as part of a songwriting camp for another artist's album, but upon hearing the demo, she knew it was too personal to share.
"I didn't understand why I was so affected by [this song]," Michaels recalls. "I ended up crying in the bathroom for two hours. [Justin] knocked on the door and said, 'Honey, I think you're denying yourself something that you really want because you're scared of it.'" Michaels is preparing for her debut EP in between writing sessions for other artists.
SHE SAYS: "I think that women are afraid to be vulnerable because they think it makes them look weak. It's ingrained in people's minds that it's a typecast and a stereotype that women are just emotional and crazy. If you listen to the radio it's all men who are emotional and women who are sexual. There's nothing wrong with that! It definitely should be the case, but it makes me sad that women are afraid to be emotional because it makes them look weak. There is so much power in vulnerability, and I am proud to be that typecast."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: The personal, soul-bearing "Issues" is as catchy as it is tender, and her soft delivery helps her stand out from the pop crowd.