How rising, “gothic babe” indie-pop star Julia Wolf almost left music behind for an Italian pizza shop
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Julia Wolf has that “it girl factor.” The up-and-comer might be shy offstage, but onstage she’s a force of nature — think Dua Lipa’s glam with catchy indie-pop hooks that you’ll be singing along to, long after the show ends.
The New York native just released her debut album, Good Thing We Stayed, this January. When she was gearing up for the release, AltPress caught up with Wolf on Zoom from Queens, New York, where her apartment has seriously envy-inducing dark decor worthy of her gothic babe tendencies. She’s come a long way from performing cover songs on Long Island — first, opening for Fletcher, and now, gearing up for her own headlining tour.
The rising superstar talked about overcoming shyness onstage, connecting with fans on social media through her “Sunday Confessions,” and why you should go to her shows alone.
I saw you perform at Soho House, when you told the sweetest story about how your dad almost moved everyone to Italy before realizing you had to stay in New York. He must be so excited now!
This was two years after college — I went to school for music. I was relentlessly trying to work with anybody and nothing was working. And my father, who's my biggest fan, saw that I was hitting a low point, totally burning out.
He's from Italy and he asked, "What if we moved there and we opened up a pizza shop?" because, you know, Italy needs more of that. At the time, I felt so lost that I said, "Sure, let's freakin’ go." I was trying to figure out how music was going to fit in, and it seemed like people make it overseas first. I was gung-ho, we put up the house for sale. This is when we lived on Long Island.
He’s an old school, very superstitious Italian man. After we sold the house, the whole thing was packed up — he came into my room as I was packing and said, "I have a feeling we have to stay and something will happen for you." I was livid! We moved to Queens, and then two months later, I met [producer] Jackson [Foote]. That was how everything started.
Were you nervous when your dad said, "Let's not go?"
I was so angry because at that point, I was doing everything I possibly could, trying to work with everyone. I was interning at a recording studio, going in the studio after all the open mic nights, any chance I could perform. This is what I wanted to be doing. For years, nothing happened. When he took away that opportunity, I was back to square one. I'm so glad that part is over.
When did you feel like you reached a new point in your career?
Honestly, the first session I had with Jackson, even though nothing else had changed and no one else had heard the music but me and him. It was years of relief off my shoulders because I knew at least now the music can exist for once. Since high school, I'd been trying.
You talk a lot about being shy and overcoming that on stage. Was that hard for you?
You do not want to see me in a group setting, I would still shut down. When it's one-to-one, or even when I'm on stage, it's still me alone up there. So, it's not as scary as people think it would be for someone that's quieter.
Seeing the fans' reaction forced me to come out of my shell more to get that interactiveness going, because that was the main priority. I want to make it a point now to be there for them, the way they're there for me.
"Sunday Confession: is tied to the whole church thing. I'm very into horror, anything gory. People started confessing crazy secrets. In the beginning, I was nervous to speak on things that I haven't gone through and try to give advice about them. But when I saw the reaction — people were like, "This is my favorite part of my Sundays or my week" — that brought me out of my shell and kept me doing it. We're talking husband's cheating with their wife’s sisters — things that I don't want to know. People will say anything. It's wild.
What was the wildest confession?
I've had some weird things about cousin to cousin interactions… Sometimes I won't even repost. Any crazy schemes around cheating, which is so scary, like being a single person on Hinge right now — it's terrifying. What is out there? You don't know who anyone really is.
Do you have fans that you feel like you've connected with on social media from these weekly posts?
There's that top 1% that constantly have my back, getting tattoos of lyrics, giving me paintings or handwritten letters. It's crazy.
You’ve also had folks, including Fletcher, reach out on social media and hop on your songs.
That was insane. She hit me up out of the blue, asked me to get lunch, and we did, and after that, she asked me to go on tour with her.
Tell me about your new album Good Thing We Stayed. What can fans expect?
It’s my first album ever. It's straight storytelling of this whole journey that we're talking about, from day one high school, to where we are now.
Especially with TikTok, people blow up overnight, you never see what's going on. But this was years in the making. I wanted one place that clearly explains everything. And I hope that [listeners] feel related to and feel seen by it. It's written through the lens of someone with intense anxiety and trouble communicating. So if I can do it, I need them to know that literally anyone can — you just have to keep going.
What can fans expect from the upcoming tour?
We’ll have a full band — we didn't have that with Fletcher. They should expect a lot more interaction. I'm trying to bring in "Sunday Confession" to a live setting, maybe some sort of confession box beforehand. I want them to feel like it's a safe space. Come to the show alone! I get so many DMs from people who are afraid to do that. I want them to know everyone's there for the same reason. We're all there to have a good time and feel related to.
Is it going to have goth girl vibes?
100%. I'm thinking, "How can I get coffins on stage?" Definitely expect skeletons, candelabras, all of it.
Is there a show you're most excited for?
I'm always gonna say hometown first, the Bowery Ballroom, but I have always wanted to go to Seattle as a diehard Twilight girl.