Julia Michaels earned her first CMT Music Awards trophy on Wednesday night: collaborative video of the year for “Coming Home” with Keith Urban. Backstage following the win, Michaels was visibly excited as she walked through the underground at Bridgestone Arena with Billboard, passing country stars along the way.
“The country music community is incredible,” the pop singer/songwriter says while walking backstage from the press room following her first time attending the awards show. “I feel like I’m so far away from country music that when I get to be here I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Carrie Underwood! Oh my gosh, Sheryl Crow is sitting right next to me!’ For me, this is a whole brand-new thing and it’s so exciting.”
Michaels — who penned “Coming Home” with Urban, Nicolle Galyon and J.R. Rotem, using a sample from Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” — says she hopes to continue working with country artists. “I want to work with every genre of music. I’m a writer first; that’s always been my love. I really, really just want to expand that and just make music with people that I love,” she adds.
Michaels will release her forthcoming EP Inner Monologue Part II on June 28 and tells Billboard it’s a personal project. The most honest song on the EP is a track called “Body,” which Michaels penned by herself.
“It’s all about self-image and how sometimes you’re your own worst enemy and you say a lot of things to yourself that you would never say to somebody else,” she explains. “That’s a really important topic to me.”
Michaels says the second verse of the song is the most special verse she’s ever written. It includes the lyrics: “I’m sorry I don’t let you go out with your friends/ Last time I think I said it was a little too short/ You say I harp on you too much/ So you put a sweatshirt on ’cause you gave up/ Watch TV still in your makeup/ And you stayed in it till you wake up/ And you wiped it off and we made up.”
She further explains that the project is about heartbreak and love, while talking about mental illness and mental health and trying to break the stigma. “I’m happy that I have the opportunity to put out music,” she says.