The time right after high school is one of the biggest transitional periods in our culture. Growing up you’re kept on a rigid schedule, and suddenly that schedule drops away. It’s a big, big world, and it opens up to you in a way it never has before. A nearly limitless amount of possibilities rise up, encompassing everything from college to travel to job opportunities right out of the gate. It can be overwhelming, so it’s special when someone knows exactly what they want to do. Ohio pop artist Julia Thompson knows exactly what she wants to do. The young Thompson has spent 2018 dropping a number of excellent pop singles, while at the same time graduating from high school in June. With a bright future ahead of her, Thompson is now diving into her music career headfirst.

Dedicating herself entirely to music was not always the plan for Thompson. While all of her singles (“Hits,” “Spark,” “Nights,” and “The One”) have done well, she was fully planning on going the traditional route and going to college at Kent State University this fall. “I was supposed to go to Kent for fashion and I had my down payment down, I had my roommates and the room I was going to be in and everything was completely set,” she says, revealing just how far along in the process she was. She says that she believed that she would be able to balance everything in her life from friends to classes to her music career, but as the success of her singles grew she began to reconsider if that was true. She explains that faith is important to her, and that includes her faith in herself to make the right choices for her future, so she made a decision.

Considering her age, that decision Thompson made involved telling her parents the news. According to her, that was one of the toughest parts of forsaking college to focus on music. It turns out her worries were unfounded. She remembers “I sat them down and I told them and my mom was like ‘it’s really funny that you say that because I have recently been thinking that right now college isn’t right for you either.’” Throughout the interview Thompson repeatedly cites her parents’ support as a huge confidence booster for her and a source of strength as she navigates her growing career.

At the same time, any big decision can come with a few doubts lingering in the back of the mind, Thompson is no exception to this, and explains she did spend time worrying over the summer. While she knew in her heart that her music career was the right choice for her, she did mourn for the missed experiences that college could bring, from new friendships to just moving out of her parents’ house. “Tt’s hard to give your time to one thing in life when you want to make time for other important things, so I”m definitely learning as I go along how to balance family and friends while doing music,” she says. Like many of us at that point in time, she’s also learning to hone in her focus to the level needed to excel in her work. She explains her team has told her she has to treat music in the same way you would treat a 9-5 job, and so far she’s taking that to heart.

While her public music career has flourished in 2018, Thompson’s first single “Hits” is actually about three years old. She reveals “I actually wrote Hits a few years back which is crazy to me because I never thought I would ever release it, I was just writing it for fun.” She explains that she had a friend with a studio set up in his basement, and the two of them threw together a demo of “Hits” that she describes with a laugh as “the worst.” While the quality of that first demo left a lot to be desired, the process of writing it captured her imagination. Specifically, she finds the idea of people relating to each other through music one of the best parts of all of it. “I knew when I wrote [“Hits”] there was just something that I related to for sure, and now that I’ve released it I definitely know that other people have related, too,” she explains.

Recently Thompson has been branching out into new directions with her music, as well. The biggest change for her was working with someone else on a song for the first time. Her latest single “The One” was produced by Dreweybear, and the process was a noticeable difference for her. “It’s sometimes hard to do I guess because as an artist you want what your ideas to be shown,” she says of working with others, but also says the experience has pushed her to be more open to other ideas and to work in a more team-based setting.

On a larger scale, Thompson views music as a way for everyone to put their unique story into the world, and then to have people connect with it in a way that’s different for everyone. The fact she can do that herself makes it even better. She elaborates on that sentiment further, saying “All the support I received from my first single was just… I was ecstatic when everything was happening and it was just amazing, which made me want to work even harder just to keep growing as an artist and to keep releasing music that people can relate to and that they see something different in.” She says even if her career ended tomorrow the feeling of seeing people connect with the music she’s already put out would make everything worth it.

Thompson’s career has been aided by the prominence of digital music outlets and streaming services, which have been ubiquitous for the vast majority of her life. On a personal level, Thompson says while she has good memories of listening to CDs or records with her parents and grandparents, her own listening has almost exclusively been on an iPod Touch, phone, or streaming service. She doesn’t mind it at all as an artist either, explaining “I think the digital streaming is perfect because it’s so much more reachable for anyone who wants to listen to music, which also makes it way easier as an artist.” With her listening habits and release strategy both tied into the digital world, she explains with a chuckle she’s very grateful to be in this time.”

2018 has been kind to Julia Thompson. She’s begun an exciting music career full of potential, and she’s at a point in her life where the possibilities are endless. With the talent and range she’s shown on her singles and the knowledge she’s gaining every day, the entire world is within her grasp. She’s going to make the most of it.