For people who pay attention to the writers behind the pop songs they love, Julia Michaels has already been a star for a long time. Coming up writing hits for artists like Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran, and Demi Lovato, Michaels struggled back and forth with whether she would ever have the confidence to get up on stage and sing one of the songs she wrote. As she grappled with this deep-seated insecurity, the songs were speaking for themselves: tracks like Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” skyrocketed to become not just hit singles, but cultural moments. There was something about Michaels’ vulnerability that spoke to pop audiences on a deep level, and eventually, that realization led the young songwriter to conquer her fear and release music as a solo artist.
But when she wrote a song so personal she couldn’t give it away, that all changed, and she decided to claim one of her most vulnerable songs to date, “Issues,” as her first solo single. When that debut came out in, it became a smash hit on the Billboard chart, rising up to the No. 11 slot, and even picked up a nomination from the Grammys for Song Of The Year. Michaels was also nominated for Best New Artist, a validating nod that helped her realize she isn’t just a writer — she’s a performer, too. Watch her walk through the process from songwriter to full-blown pop star above, in Honda’s Backstage behind-the-scenes video.