There are people who love music, people with musical talent and then there’s Julie Anne San Jose.
Julie Anne San Jose’s focus is impressive. Listen to her talk about music and you’d know she’s in it for life. Listen to her sing and you’re stranded in a dream state lulled, in a good way, by her euphonious voice. There is this consensus that Julie, Japs to her circle and fans, is the successor to divas reigning and past, but to the singer-songwriter, not to mention multi-instrumentalist, music is the bottom line. Nothing more, nothing less.
Having joined quite a few talent searches since age four, Julie is no stranger to pressure; perhaps she even thrives on it. In 2016, she capped off a successful 10th anniversary concert with a degree in communication arts. “The tassle’s worth the hassle,” she said in the milestone Instagram post. Before that, she was juggling work and school in keeping with a deal she had made with her dad.
“My dad didn’t want me in show business because ang daming sacrifices. Nababawasan yung time ko for my family, for myself, for school. And then there were the intrigues. So we had a deal. I told him I’d give him honors and good grades. After I graduated I realized that education is really the best thing that you could give back to your parents,” she said in our interview.
It was around the same that Julie almost quit show business. “I was in an awkward stage and nothing was happening with my career. I was still in school, so I had to focus on my studies. I promised my parents na tatapusin ko yung school ko. It wasn’t easy. I’m not saying that I had a hard time, but it took a lot of hard work and patience, but, if you really focus on your goal, you’ll be able to achieve what you want in life.”
Julie officially started working in the industry at 12 years old. “That time, I got a call back from the management of the singing contest na sinalihan ko. Hindi kasi ako nanalo, but it’s fine. I just really wanted to share my music with other people and I thought that was the perfect avenue for showing [off] my capabilities. Ever since sumali ako, nagustuhan ko yung ginagawa ko. I don’t want to stop learning. Mas gusto ko na madami akong ginagawa and mai-o-offer,” she said.
This year had a rough start for the young artist and it unfolded before the public eye. As the year comes to a close, these very same prying eyes are coming to realize that while it may have been a tough time, it was also a productive one, as Julie has released two singles off her upcoming second album.
“Figuring out how to sustain your work is one of the challenges of the business, that’s why it’s important that you keep reinventing yourself. Of course, hindi mawawala ang bashers. Noon hindi pa ako sanay. But at the end of the day they don’t really matter. Just focus on your craft, on the people around you na nagmamahal sa ’yo. Allergic ako sa negative energy. It’s hard to work kapag bad trip ka. So I start my day smiling. As simple as that,” she said. “Being able to do what I love and making people happy. Giving back sa mga supporters, sa parents. I’m grateful. That’s the reason why I’m doing this.”
The first single of the new album, “Regrets,” was released in April, and debuted at no. 1 on iTunes. On the official music video, Julie plays the piano—just one of the many instruments she can play, along with the guitar, drums, violin and ukulele. “It was my dad who taught me how to play instruments, but it started as a hobby. Hanggang sa I started playing on my own. I don’t read notes. I took lessons but hindi siya nag-work because kinakabisado ko lang yung notes. So I always play it by ear. Kinakapa ko lang siya. All the other instruments, I taught myself,” she said.
The second single, “Isang Gabi,” a collaboration with Rico Blanco, was released last month. “I’m so stoked about the new album because madami siyang collaborations. I thought it would be cool to work with different artists, I’ve never done that before.” Julie added that this time, she feels zero pressure over the upcoming album. “It’s not necessary to think of pressure or feel like you have to meet certain expectations. That’s the thing, in the industry, we’re so used to seeking validation from other people. You have to love this or love that. Of course, it feels nice to be appreciated, but I don’t really have to please anyone. Music is universal. People love listening to music. And gusto ko lang talaga gumawa ng kanta. I’m really thankful that God gave me the skills and I’m really happy to share it with other people.”
Growing up in the spotlight comes with a whole lot of things, among them, a well-documented personal life, sense of style included. According to Julie, hers has not really changed much since her teens. “Of course as a teenager, I went through an awkward stage, but I did try to adapt to trends. Off-camera, simple lang talaga ako manamit. But it’s really nice to get to dress up for when I perform on-stage or do a series of mall shows, and show people different sides of me,” she said.
“I love jeans. I love denim so much,” she added, making her a perfect brand ambassador for Lee. “I love everything they have, but jeans are my go-to outfit. Yun yung nakalakihan ko na. It makes me feel comfortable, and at the same time I also know na it’s stylish.”
Shoot Beyond Limits
The artist, who is also a brand ambassador for Vivo, revealed yet another thing she is good at: taking self-portraits. “I love taking selfies! My first campaign for Vivo was all about that. It’s one of things I really love about that phone. It’s really perfect for selfies. I also love mirror shots. Just look for your angle, find good lighting and a nice background, and you’re all set. I also used to play Mobile Legends on it. Ang ganda ng graphics. But I stopped because it was consuming my time,” she says with a laugh.
Julie admits that she loves social media, for its convenience and because it allows her to connect with her fans and show them they are appreciated. “As long as it’s not too much for the ‘gram, I share it. It’s hard sometimes. There’s a thin line between having a public image and having a private life. But people are more interested in your private life. But I like it because it allows me to connect with my supporters and my friends.”
A Life Of Music
“Whenever I write songs, minsan hindi ko siya natatapos. Minsan nakatago lang sila sa voice notes ko. Mahilig ako mag-record ng melodies or lyrics, para balikan in the future. Meron din akong mga songs na hindi ko pa nalilinis or napaparinig sa ibang tao,” Julie said. They’re on her to-do list, among other things.
“I want to write songs for other artists and take my masters or conservatory of music. That’s how I see myself in the next 10 years. Music talaga. Although I also want to try Broadway, I want to try film. I want to teach. Probably music or math, I don’t know. Para maiba naman. There are so many things that I still want to do.” For the young artist, learning doesn’t really stop, and this is what keeps her at the top of her music game, and one of the most promising, if not proven, artists in the business.