Bailey Ann

You never know where dance will take you. Growing up in Long Island, New York, 23-year-old Julia Raye found her love of performing early. Growing up, Julia was quick to step into the role of triple threat taking dance, singing, and acting classes. Just to set stage: by age 17, she had performed in more than 20 musical theater shows! Oh, and she performed with the New York All State Choir and ACDA All National Choir. Basically, Julia was killing it and chasing her dreams.

Now, with a degree in music education from the University of Michigan—where she studied with opera legend and the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera George Shirley—behind her, Julia is building an exciting career in music. Her recent single “Expectations” is an exciting addition to her discography (and our pop R&B playlists). We got an inside look at how “Expectations” came together along with some advice from Julia about managing outside input on life.

Showstopper Magazine Online: What inspired “Expectations”? 

Julia Raye: “Expectations” is the second full song I’ve ever written! I wrote “Expectations” when I was feeling torn about the relationship I was in at the time. I kept feeling so much pressure on us, both from myself and from the people around us. The song is my inner monologue as I try to figure out what my expectations are for us in this relationship.

I wrote this song 3 years ago but I’ve been waiting to release it until the time felt right. I rewrote the verses at least 7 times and I didn’t settle on a final version until I went into the studio to record. I am so excited to finally be sharing this song with the world! 

SMO: How did it feel to translate relationship pressure into this song? 

Julia: This song was the first song I wrote that made me feel like I could be a professional songwriter. I remember feeling so excited when I was writing it. While writing “Expectations,” I had so much I wanted to say and so many feelings about the situation. It was actually hard to find the words at first, mainly because I just didn’t know myself well enough left. One minute I thought I was in love, the next I was crying to my friends about him. At the end of the day though, it felt great to eventually just express this mix of feelings in the lyrics of the song. I think a lot of young women experience similar situations and emotions, and I hope this song helps other people who are stuck in the push and pull of a relationship/situationship.

Bailey Ann

SMO: Do you feel like you’ve resolved those internal and external pressures? 

Julia: It’s something I still struggle with. I’m trying to separate having high standards from the pressure I put on myself and my relationships to be perfect. At the end of the day, I’m just such a lover girl! I know that with the right person, I won’t have to worry about them reaching my standards or “expectations.” With the right person, it will all just come naturally. 

SMO: What does “Expectations” mean to you as a creative accomplishment? 

Julia: As a creative accomplishment, “Expectations” is so special to me. It was one of the first songs that I recorded in the studio in LA. It took me a while to get to the point where I was ready to sit down and record it. When we were recording it, my producer and I changed the tempo and accompaniment so many times before we got it to where it is today. I am so proud of it though and I’m so happy to finally be releasing it.

SMO: Do you have advice for people trying to navigate big expectations? 

Julia: I think it’s great to dream big and set your standards high for yourself. I think life is too short to settle for anything less.

SMO: How often do real-life questions influence your creative process? 

Julia: Very often! I find that I make the best music whenever I’m working through a difficult situation. With “Expectations,” I wasn’t even really sure what I was feeling, but writing the song helped me begin to figure it out. 

Bailey Ann

SMO: You are also a dancer with a heavy musical theater background. How does that training influence your music? 

Julia: I try to make songs that both showcase my vocal range and that I can dance to on stage. I think you can really hear that balance come through on my next single, “Give You Up.”

SMO: What’s your go-to song for when you want to dance? 

Julia: Any Britney Spears song! 

SMO: Do you find yourself relying on your vocal training a lot or is creating your brand of R&B pop a different skill set? 

Julia: I’m definitely influenced by my classical training and I think it translates into my music. I tend to write music that showcases my opera background with lots of riffs, heavy harmonies, and high notes. I love the intricacies of singing choral music and classical arias. My goal is to create a genre of pop music that features elements of classical music. I often write my music to showcase these qualities while also incorporating catchy pop hooks and melodies.

SMO: What should our expectations be for your next project?

Julia: Well, my new single is a really fun dance song that tells the story of being with someone who you know isn’t entirely available, but you’re just not ready to give them up. It’s my favorite song I’ve ever written and I’m so excited to share it so soon! 

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.