The A Plus Interview

Julia Michaels On Why She Had To Sing 'Issues' Herself And Her Favorite Maroon 5 Song

"It feels great knowing that I can confront my problems in a very poetic way."

The A Plus Interview reimagines the celebrity interview by inviting artists to answer a short series of brief, poignant questions that strive to be more meaningful than those asked by others.

If you've listened to the radio since early 2017, you've likely heard "Issues," a tune that went on to hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earn a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. If you ask Julia Michaels, the singer-songwriter responsible for it, there's absolutely nobody else who could have sung it.


"I think every songwriter sort of goes through a certain situation when they write a song that's a little bit too personal to give away and that just happened to be 'Issues' for me," Michaels told A Plus ahead of a recent M&M's Spotlight concert promoting the caramel version of the iconic treat. "That was the start of my artist transition."

Michaels, who is currently working on a debut album, said she loves interacting with her fans — called "gems," specifically — and that the fandom has sort of become "a big family." This is likely because, as she explains, her music (beyond just "Issues") is the perfect mix of being "personal, emotional, and relatable."

Photo Credit: Rex Curry / Invision for M&M's / AP Images

"It feels great knowing that I can confront my problems in a very poetic way and have people understand it, digest it, and take it on as their own," Michaels — who said she prefers yellow M&M's as it's her favorite color — added. "I'm happy that I get to do what I love every single day."

For Michaels, what makes a great songwriter (not just a singer) is "someone who can adapt to every scenario, every genre." This comes from someone who has penned hits for the likes of Selena Gomez ("Bad Liar"), Justin Bieber ("Sorry"), and Gwen Stefani ("Used to Love You"), among countless others.

Photo Credit: Rex Curry / Invision for M&M's / AP Images

"I've been writing for a really long time. I started writing when I was young. It sort of just developed over time, and became my way of expressing how I feel and confronting a lot of things I would normally suppress," Michaels continued. "That has been really nice because I realize more and more through music that most people suppress things they feel on a daily basis. So now we get to scream out how we feel together."

For now, though, Michaels is on a "super, super fun" tour with Maroon 5. As for her go-to song of theirs, she has a favorite that takes us back to the beginning of the Adam Levine-fronted group's history in pop culture.

"I have always loved 'Harder to Breathe' because when I was a kid that was, like, that song," Michaels noted. "Any time they play that one I'm, like, in it. I have to run from my dressing room to listen to it. It's still one of my favorites."


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