Julia Golden: Rising Singer-Songwriter from North Carolina

Julia Golden: A Genuine Talent with a Passion for Music

Julia Golden is an emerging singer, songwriter, and performer, hailing from rural North Carolina. At just 17 years old, Julia has begun to capture the attention of audiences, in her home state as well as Nashville, with her heartfelt lyrics and captivating performances. What impresses me about Julia is her genuine passion for music, which seems to permeate every aspect of her life. Despite her young age, she demonstrates a level of maturity and dedication to her craft that is truly remarkable. Julia's ability to draw inspiration from a diverse range of musical influences, from classic country to 70s Americana rock, sets her apart and gives her music a unique flavor. Additionally, her openness and authenticity, both in her songwriting and in her interactions with fans, create a strong connection with her audience. It's evident that Julia is not just a talented musician, but also a thoughtful and introspective artist who uses her music to express herself and connect with others on a deeper level.

I first connected with Julia in a Facebook group dedicated to independent artists, where her enthusiasm and authenticity stood out. Our shared passion for music quickly led to a collaboration of sorts, as I eagerly added her debut single "Cupid" to my first ever self-curated playlist Indie Girls 2024, which showcases the work of emerging female artists. As a fellow aspiring singer/songwriter, I am thrilled to introduce Julia to my readers and share her inspiring story and unique perspective on her craft. In our interview, Julia opens up about her creative process, the influences that shape her sound, and the challenges she faces as an independent artist. Her journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and the universal language of music that connects us all.

Can you tell us about your journey into music? What inspired you to start making music?

Looking back, I can’t recall a time that music wasn’t present in my life. My parents met in school for radio, so I’ve had a foundation of music from the very beginning. I grew up in the studio watching my mom pull tracks for her morning show, or my dad interviewing musicians for their station. Growing up around radio certainly influenced my love for music, and I realize now how much of a blessing that was. Quite honestly, there's just never been anything else that spoke to me in the same way as music. In first grade, we had “career day” where all the students were asked to dress as the career they wanted to pursue when they grew up. I showed up to my small town elementary school in a sparkly purple tank top holding a hannah montana microphone, proudly proclaiming to my teachers that I was going to be a pop star. 

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they shaped your sound? 

I have such an eclectic personal music taste, so my influences come from all different directions. I grew up in rural North Carolina, so every radio station played country music constantly. This, of course, was a huge catalyst for my own interest in country. Taylor Swifts’ first album came out the year I was born, so I have literally been listening to her music my whole life. I was so inspired by women in country growing up- I think it was an “I can do that” kind of thing. At six years old, I’d belt out Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert in the back of my mom’s old minivan (much to my brother's dismay). My parents worked at an oldies radio station, so I was raised primarily on the classics of the 60s-90s. When I got my first phone and began to curate my own playlists, the iconic artists of those eras dominated the mixtapes. The 70s are probably my favorite; I named my dog after Stevie Nicks. 

What was the first song you ever wrote, and what inspired it?

I believe the first song I ever wrote was when I was eight or nine years old. This was right around Taylor Swift’s speak now era I believe. I wrote a song very heavily inspired by that album. It was called “enough,” and it was a detailed breakup song about I had had enough of my boyfriend's antics. Clearly, second grade Julia had a lot of experience in that department. 

Can you walk us through your creative process when writing a new song?

This is a really difficult question for me to answer, and I think that’s because it’s different every time. In my daily life, I’ll think of a cool song idea or will be inspired by something I’ve seen or heard. The notes app on my phone is packed full of whole pages for a single writing prompt. When I want to sit down and write a song, I’ll often scroll through those until I find one that resonates in the moment. Sometimes, usually late at night, a song will appear in my brain and I sit down with my guitar and notebook. I’ve told my mom it feels like the melodies are begging to be written. Songwriting for me takes a million different forms, and it gives each of my songs their own form of uniqueness and authenticity (if I do say so myself).

Where do you find inspiration for your music? Are there particular themes or stories you like to explore?

I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Conversations with friends, personal experiences, artists I admire. I can pick up a concept anywhere and jot it down for songwriting purposes. Even if the ideas never take form, I love to have options when it comes to writing. Sometimes, certain prompts can help inspire other songs.

Do you have any rituals or habits that help you get into the creative zone?

This is another difficult question. One of my favorite things to do is listen to the artists I admire, especially those who I believe have similar styles to my own music. I have a playlist titled “Songs I Wish I Wrote,” which is a collection of pieces I have so much love and respect for. I like to listen to that, determine what makes the song unique and what makes me love and admire it so much. Sometimes it’s the lyricism, sometimes it’s the melody, sometimes it’s simply that the song is incredibly relatable. I like to take my findings and try to apply them to my own music when songwriting. I get pretty nerdy with it- I have a notebook where I take song lyrics and dissect them like sentence diagrams. I take apart each lyric, trying to determine why the writer chose those words in that order, what they were trying to imply, even find double meanings in lyrics. These analyses allow me to understand what makes these songs so special, and usually by the time I’m done, I’m super inspired and ready to write. 

What has been the most challenging part of your musical journey so far, and how did you overcome it?

This might be the easiest comparison. It’s a common saying that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and beginning to pursue music full time has solidified its validity for me. It is so difficult to maintain confidence and perseverance when you see people all around you being “more successful” than you. It took me some time, but I did eventually learn that everyone’s journey is their own. There’s no bar I have to reach, no timeline I have to follow. I always felt in the past that I wasn’t a good enough singer or writer to “make it” in the industry. It wasn’t until I really thought about the definition of “making it” that my self doubt began to subside. I realized that I’ve “made it” when I am happy and doing what I love- that, in my opinion, is the truest definition of success. Under those terms, I’ve already made it and then some.

What do you enjoy most about making music?

There is nothing that hears me as well as my guitar. I’ve never been the best at communicating, especially with myself, and music provides me with a way to voice my mind in a way that both myself and others understand. I like to say I make music to “hear and be heard.” I want to express myself, while also making others feel seen and understood.

How do you stay motivated and passionate about your music, especially during tough times?

This is something that I am still finding and learning as my journey in music continues. I try to be gentle with myself and allow time for breaks and resting. When you perform so often, and have the pressure that comes with pursuing such a difficult career, I think it’s important to remember why I do it in the first place. I try to remind myself how much of a blessing it is that I get to pursue my passions for a living, and how many people music brings joy to. I pray, I look internally, and I allow myself to take a step back if need be. My passions should never be a chore or a burden, and sometimes I have to stop for a minute in order to remember that. 

Can you share a memorable moment from one of your performances?

I was playing a restaurant just a few weeks ago, and I recognized a face in the crowd that had been to one of my previous shows. Him and his friends had sung along with me, danced and laughed, and had made that performance one of the most fun I’d ever had. They knew pretty much every song on my set list, and belted the lyrics loud and proud. I of course approached him, said hi and thank you for coming. He greeted me back and told me that he had listened to “Cupid,” my debut single, and learned it. He had known my entire set list with the exception of my original song. He asked me to play that night, and I happily obliged. As I performed it, he sang along, every single word. I was absolutely floored. It was the first time anyone outside of my family knew my lyrics, and I cannot express how much it meant to me. 

What are your favorite venues or events to perform at, and why?

I play at so many different places it’s hard to keep track, but there are always favorites that stand out. There's a place about an hour out of my hometown called Uncle Jessie’s Honky Tonk. They’ve got this awesome stage and one of the kindest and most supportive staff and communities that I have ever encountered. They are so kind to me and have been since the very beginning. I always cherish the small businesses and local restaurants that have supported me, hired me, and believed in me since I was fifteen. They post on social media about events or contests I’m in, and always make an effort to reach out. Support from my community means the world to me. 

I’ve also begun to travel to Nashville quite often- usually every six weeks. I’ve found so much support and met so many wonderful people that have changed my life. A usual spot I love is The Local. It’s a spot just off music row, a bar and restaurant. They host Porchlight Pickers and Music Row Freakshow, which are two rounds I often perform at when I’m in town. They have such a lovely community and one of the best grilled chicken salads I have ever had. 

How do you prepare for a performance? Any pre-show routines?

I always like to take my time getting ready. I find a lot of joy in makeup and hair- they’re another form of art to me. I always warm up while I get ready, listen to my songs I’m performing or go over the lyrics to original ones. I never like to be stressed, just in the zone and in the moment. Taking this time for myself helps me to feel present. 

What are your short-term and long-term goals as an artist?

I have so so many goals it’s hard to keep track. I’ve always been a very ambitious person. Short term goals are easier to identify. I want to release more music of my own, potentially an album within the next coming year. I want to continue to improve as a songwriter and performer, creating art that I am proud of and am confident in. I also want to invest more time in my social media and public presence, as I am very quickly learning how important they are in today’s industry. 

For long term goals- if I am being entirely truthful, I don’t completely know yet. It’s difficult to determine long term goals in a career path that is so subjective and unpredictable. Overall, I want to continue creating and learning, and I want to connect people through my music. 

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?

I have about a million answers to this one! My immediate answer would be my biggest inspirations in music: Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel, and Taylor Swift. I am also very inspired by Megan Moroney, I think she’s absolutely incredible. I can’t name a single artist in country music I wouldn’t want to work with. 

What message do you hope to convey through your music?

Each song has its own meaning, but as an artist overall, I want people to understand they are not alone. It’s a wild world, and it’s very easy to get down and feel isolated because of what’s going on in your life. Sometimes it’s things like questioning your own faith and goodness, like in an unreleased original I wrote called “Talking to Heaven.” Other times, it’s silly things like “damn, that boy played me!” Whether the situations are big or small, I want my listeners to hear my music and feel like they aren’t alone. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians who are just starting out?

I’m still so young and new to this industry, so I don’t know how high anyone should hold my insights. However, I can confidently give this tip to new artists: believe in your abilities. Every opportunity you are given you have earned and you deserve! It is so easy to compare yourself and feel like you are not good enough in an industry that is so saturated. Trust yourself and trust the process. 

How do you handle the challenges of being an independent artist in today's music industry?

I do my very best to balance all of the things that come with being an independent artist. Being shows and marketing along with the creative aspects of being an artist, things can get overwhelming very quickly. I am very blessed to have the most supportive parents I could possibly ask for. They help me with so much and lift so much weight in this process, and I am grateful for them in ways I can never fully express. With their help, we work together to push through and keep reminding ourselves that it’s all worth it. 

What do you think is the most important quality for an artist to have in order to succeed?

Authenticity. People want to see someone they can relate to or someone they can look up to. Stay true to yourself and stay honest. 

How do you balance your personal life with your music career?

This is a challenge I have faced very heavily over the past year. At the time of this being written, I graduate high school in a week! I decided to do online school for my senior year and graduate early in order to make more time and space for my music. This has been an incredible choice for me, and I’m very glad that I did it. However, it can be difficult being a 17-year-old girl while also working towards your (hopeful) lifelong career and future at the same time. I do my best to prioritize the relationships in my life, and make time for both rest and time to hang out with friends. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?

I am invested so heavily in my relationships. My love language is no doubt quality time, so if I’m not making music, I’m likely running around my hometown with my childhood youth group or watching Game of Thrones with my best friend eating ice cream in my room. I love to be surrounded by the people I care about- they are what give me the most creative inspiration and joy. 

Are there any non-musical inspirations or hobbies that influence your music?

I love visual art in addition to music. I love drawing and painting, crocheting, things of that sort. This allows me a creative outlet that has nothing to do with my career, which is very nice. I also love to read, which arguably has the biggest impact on my music. I write songs based off characters or scenarios from my favorite books, and learn about creative writing in a very hands-on way. I’ve loved reading since I was very young, and I think that might have had another strong influence on why I wanted to be a writer. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or releases you’re excited about?

As of right now, I am working on a hopeful EP or album release either late this year or early next year. I turn 18 next week, and I decided to record one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written as a birthday gift to myself. The piece is called “I Think About You.” I wrote when I was fourteen, and to this day, it holds such a special place in my heart. It represents a very formative period of my life and I’ll always love it so much. The song doesn’t replicate my current sound or writing style, so I’m doing  a “lowkey” release for it. I’m going to put it on youtube and soundcloud as a passion project, and because it’s something I’m really proud of. I’m working on bigger, more official releases in the future though, which I am so incredibly excited about. 

What can fans expect from you in the next year?

Lots of performing and lots of learning! I want to take this year to learn about myself and about music. I also want to do a lot more releasing and recording as well as a lot more co-writes! My supporters can always count on authenticity and honesty from me, no matter when, no matter what. 

Are there any new directions or styles you’re looking to explore in your music?

I’ve been focusing very heavily on the country aspects of my inspirations, but I want to go back to the roots of what really inspired me to begin creating. I love a Stevie Nicks, 70s americana rock vibe, and I want to start incorporating elements of that into the art I create. 

How do you hope your music will impact your listeners?

I want my music to make my listeners feel something. It could be joy or understanding, perhaps closure on a situation they haven’t been able to put to rest. Maybe they feel like dancing or singing along, or even they’ll feel like creating something of their own. I want to change the way they think that day, even if just for a moment.

What role do you think music plays in bringing people together?

I’ve always said that music is the only language that is universal. I may not understand a song written in Spanish or Chinese, but a Mozart sonata sounds the same in every country. A melody carries across all separations and differences, and I think that is so beautiful.

Music can also help others find like-minded people, with similar interests and experiences. Attending concerts might be my favorite thing in the world. There’s nothing quite like thousands of people singing to the same lyrics, each of them loving, understanding, and feeling the words in their own unique way. 

How do you engage with your fans and build your community?

I try to be very open and honest on social media. I don’t want my pages to come across as too curated or “professional.” My personal life has the biggest influence on the music I’m sharing with my audience, and so I want all the content they consume from me to reflect that. 

I try to meet as many people as I can and learn a bit about them. I always go up to people who interact with me at shows and thank them for taking the time to engage with me. 

I am so incredibly proud of my hometown. Where I’m from has influenced me in so many drastic ways, and I do my best to represent my hometown community well. I try to use my music to support small businesses and bring my community together. 

Annah Marcelle, Singer-Songwriter, Performing Artist

Annah Marcelle, Singer-Songwriter, Performing Artist

Annah Marcelle is an aspiring musical artist with more than a dozen original songs on digital streaming platforms. She has been writing and recording music since the age of 16 and has worked closely with several up-and-coming music producers.


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