Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!
One spin of Julia Rizik‘s music, and you’ll immediately fall in love. The indie, country-turned-pop recording artist is your textbook Virgo, with a contagious girl-next-door personality and unwavering passion for her art. The Phoenix, Arizona native has been singing since the young age of 11, even writing original songs one year later at age 12.
Landing an endorsement with Fender at the young age of 14, the singer-songwriter plays a multitude of instruments from piano to banjo to guitar. With music being her everything, she even taught herself how to produce, showcasing musical independence and not needing to rely or depend on anyone when it comes to her artistry.
Relocating from her country roots in Nashville to Los Angeles, she unleashes her debut pop single titled “HUMAN.” The record serves as the lead single from her forthcoming EP, inspired directly from her own personal experiences going through a breakup at the beginning of the pandemic.
Beyond music, she has a knack for French culture and enjoys the simple things in life such as yoga and meditation. Flaunt caught up with Julia via Zoom, who was quarantined back home in Arizona but still residing in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss her upbringing in Arizona, biggest influences, transitioning to pop, working with Fender guitars, moving to Los Angeles, teaching herself how to produce, inspo behind “HUMAN,” her self-care activities, and forthcoming EP Self-Destructive!
Being from Scottsdale, Arizona, what was the household like growing up?
I have a big Armenian family. It was always loud and chaotic, but in the warmest, sweetest way. I grew up in a very non-judgmental household. We’re all very open people, everything’s out in the open. We’re super wild and fun, a really loving household. I’m blessed to grow up the way I did.
Biggest influences coming up?
I feel very inspired by the greats, the legends like Aretha, Whitney. I idolize them vocally because they have such control and power at the same time. Songwriter-wise, I really admire Mariah Carey. I’m going to throw Sheryl Crow in there too because she has a very real way of writing music.
How was it being sponsored by Fender guitars at age 14?
I was 14 years old, I already had played Fenders. My parents said “this guy from Fender guitars reached out to us. His name’s Billy Siegle, he’s an Artist Relations person. He saw you on Instagram and wants to sponsor you. He wants you to be a Fender artist.” One of my first guitars was a Fender so I’m like oh my gosh! The headquarters were about 5 minutes away from the house I grew up in here in Scottdale. He invited us to the headquarters, it was insane. It was guitar heaven. I’m not joking, guitars everywhere and side pictures from legends. I met the whole team at Fender, I got a free guitar. I did a photoshoot that day. I’ve been a Fender girl ever since. It’s all I play, they have my back so hard and I love them so much. Billy and I are still so close to this day, he’s one of my best friends.
Talk about transitioning from country to pop, how was that experience?
Transitioning genres was way harder than I thought it was going to be. In my head when I first decided to make that move, I thought “okay, what do I do? I write pop songs now.” But it was a whole thing: I had this whole life and platform in Nashville and in country music, this audience. It was a huge sacrifice. It’s a lot leaving all that behind and you have no clue what’s going to happen in pop. This is following your heart and taking a leap of faith, but I’m so glad I did because this is what truly fulfills my heart. I finally found my musical calling.
What made you finally move to LA?
I was living in Nashville, grinding and writing songs all day long. I was 17 years old, I’d go home to my apartment in Nashville like “I hate this.” I’m so unhappy and I never felt unhappy with my music. It was to the point where I’d get into the studio, they’d ask “what are we recording today?” I was drawing blanks. I had no clue what songs I wanted to record because I was writing hundreds of songs and didn’t like any of them. I hit a rock bottom moment. I was in my apartment in Nashville, this is super dramatic sounding. It was raining, dreary winter vibes.
I pulled out my computer and opened up Logic. I produced a little pop demo, the song came out so effortlessly. I thought “this is what you’re supposed to be doing.” I’m very spiritual so this is God sending you a sign. This is the universe saying “girl go after it.” I wrote 5 pop songs in a matter of a week. I told my sister who’s living with me there, “I’m going to move to LA. I’m unhappy here and I don’t want to be unhappy anymore. This is my art, I should be completely free with my art. I should feel so good about what I’m putting out in the world. I’m telling you, this move is going to be freedom.” I moved to LA two months later. It was a big move, I was so nervous. I grew up on the West Coast so I already knew people in LA, I had friends there, but, still it was a lot. Very anxiety-inducing.
How’d you teach yourself how to produce?
It was something I felt like I had to do. I love music so much and I want to be able to completely depend on myself musically, have musical independence. It took sitting down, getting on the computer doing the research, and making it happen. Also experimenting. Once I started learning how to produce my own demos and these tracks I was writing to, it opened up a creative side of my brain that I didn’t even know existed. I’m really glad I did it because before sometimes I’d get inside of the studio and feel a little bit insecure. You’re with these very very talented musicians, these people whose musical abilities have no end. You’re this teenager thinking “I don’t want to get lost in there.” Now that I learned how to produce my own tracks, I go into the studio and feel so much confidence in myself. “You go girl, you know what they’re talking about!” [laughs]
Julia Rizik is your real name, were there any contenders for others?
That’s a funny question. When I was in Nashville, people would always say “how are you going to keep that name? It’s such a weird name.” I don’t know. I’m a weirdo, but sometimes I want to drop my last name and go by Julia. Everybody calls me “Butterfly Earth” though, it’s the funniest thing. I’m a bit of a hippie. When I was little, “your name’s not Julia, you’re Butterfly Earth.” You’re a free-spirited hippie.” [laughs]
I saw you did a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” how does that play into your artistry?
Covers are really important. I used to run from them when I was younger because I thought I need to be focusing on my own music, but I feel so inspired by doing covers. It’s taking what someone else has done and making it your own, that’s an art in itself. I do love doing covers, I get so inspired by other artists. I’m really into H.E.R. right now, I’m about to do a cover for her song “Best Part.” It’s a vibe, we’re getting the piano track down.
Are you playing the keys too?
I play piano, guitar. I play a little banjo too, sometimes the ukulele if I feel like it. [laughs]
You went through a breakup at the beginning of the pandemic, how does music help you heal?
Music has always been this thing for me. In a way, it’s like this for everybody. Music’s a universal language, it can get anybody through anything in my opinion. I was in this on and off relationship, it was very toxic on both ends. We’re both toxic people for each other, Virgo / Gemini vibes not a good thing. [laughs] The pandemic happened, I was in this very weird hole of angst and fury. I forced myself to sit down all day and write about it and music. Music saves me, it’s crazy this peace it brings me. In the midst of going through that break up during quarantine which was already weird, it really saved me. I’m so blessed to have this ability to sit down and write songs, have that outlet.
How’s it feel having “HUMAN” be your debut pop single?
It feels really good. I’m blushing now because it’s the first song that I released that I’m like “I dig this song.” It’s a song that if it wasn’t mine, I’d listen to it. That makes me really happy as an artist, to release songs I’m super proud of. I’ve never received such quick immediate amazing reception on a song like this, I’m really stoked about “HUMAN.” When I was writing it, this is so me. It’s weird, very alien vibes. It represents who I am as an artist, as a person. I’m very excited about what’s coming after it.
How important is self-care and self-love?
I actually wrote a song called “Love Myself” last year when I first moved to LA. Because in the last year, I really learned what it means to love yourself. It’s so important for my art and to get through every single day of my life for my decision-making, to love myself no matter what. The other day, I posted a picture on Instagram. I looked at it and really hated the picture at first. Then I’m like “what are you talking about? It’s a fine picture, you look great. You’re going to sit there and beat yourself up because you feel you don’t look absolutely perfect?” I think my Virgo tendencies sometimes tell me not to fully love myself. It’s something we all have to work on because it’s important to prioritize your relationship with yourself.
What are some things you do for self-care
I’m really into meditating and yoga, I’m a bit of a hippie when it comes to those things. Right now we’re in my meditation corner of my room. [laughs] I meditate every single day, I do yoga. I like to workout a lot because it’s so important to release those endorphins.
3 things you need in the studio?
I need my computer because I have my whole life on there, that’s what I write on. My dog, I bring my dog with me to the studio. I’m recording here at home right now so my dogs are chillin’ in the background on the tracks. I texted my producer, I sent him an acoustic track the other day. I said “listen, if you can hear my dog’s drinking water in the background, let me know.” [laughs]
That needs to stay in the song!
I know right? It’s so homey. One more thing, I’d have to say tea. I drink a lot of tea when I’m recording because it’s so good for your vocal cords and keeping your voice nice and warm.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
When I was younger I used to say I want it to be an exotic veterinarian. Because I’m an animal lover to the core. Literally look at my freaking sweatshirt right now, it’s a dog and it says “LOVE.” I got it from PacSun. [laughs] I’m such an animal nerd. I always wanted to take care of animals, so that’s what I’d be doing. Even though I hated going to school, I was really good with science so I’d be doing some type of research, something important with animals.
What can we expect from your forthcoming EP, Self-Destructive?
So this EP, I wrote it all myself. I’m really glad I wrote it all by myself because it really represents who I am as an artist. It’s the most authentic work I’ve ever put together in my life. It’s very real and very honest, it was emotionally draining creating it. The creative process was very emotional because I wrote the songs about something so real, then I had to record them. Getting over the writing process is almost like a therapy session. You go to therapy, you write the song, then you have to open it all back up to record and put that emotion to voice. You can expect complete honesty. I want people to know that I understand them. Even though that the world sometimes feels like it’s ending, it’s not. Tomorrow’s a new day and anything could happen.