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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Julia Norah

Julia Norah is a Pittsburgh-based singer-songwriter specializing in crafting warm musical textures with introspective and inspirational lyrics. Her new song “Step Outside” is therapy for those of us who sometimes struggle with taking risks and being ourselves. She recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

When I was 14, I started guitar lessons. My teacher encouraged me to write songs and encouraged my love for music. Eventually, I graduated from Berklee College of Music, studying guitar, production, recording, and mixing.

Early songwriting was therapy for me during high school. I was quiet and reserved but had a lot of emotions. I filled so many notebooks, trying many ideas. I felt different and alone, and songwriting allowed me to put my feelings into songs. Then, I started performing my songs.

Now at age 24, I’m looking forward to releasing my work.

How do you describe your sound?

My sound is indie pop singer-songwriter. I love writing introspective lyrics and incorporating jazz chords from “The Real Book.” On the production/mixing side of things, I am influenced by FINNEAS. I prefer my recordings to sound warm, focusing on clear vocals. I also love low-end with big synth bass and round kick drums. Currently, I have been working on recordings in my home studio in Pittsburgh.

Tell us more about the song “Step Outside.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

My anxieties hold me back in life. I wrote this song five years ago and recently self-produced it in my home studio. “Step Outside” is a song to encourage yourself to take risks and be yourself. I wrote this song realizing that I was missing out on so much because I feared many things. This song also challenged me to feel confident about releasing music myself. I hope it encourages others to overcome life’s challenges.

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

"Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" by of Montreal. When I found this album, I couldn’t believe it existed because it was so different. It made me realize that I didn’t have to be afraid and perfect to be creative. It got me into the indie music world and changed my life.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

So many! Mirabelle Skipworth, Cody Piper, Holy Hers, and Morgan Erina are all incredible artists and inspire me a lot. Also, Sadie Freund, Anthony Jardine, My Politic, Danny Rectenwald, Jennica Tamler.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I’m pretty skilled at Mario Kart. Shy Guy is my go-to.

Christian West

Learn more about Julia Norah here.

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.