Not In Chronological Order

Not In Chronological Order

A decade into a storied career as a songwriter crafting chart-toppers for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Gwen Stefani, Julia Michaels’ debut album is here—Not in Chronological Order, a collection of anthemic pop songs grounded by her characteristically raw lyricism. “Each song has a different story, and even though it's predominantly about love, they have different feelings and sonics,” Michaels tells Apple Music. “There’s a song for when you're feeling spiteful, revengeful, or sassy, or angry, or introspective, or in love, or heartbroken. Love is the thing I know how to write best, and that’s the recurring theme for this album: love and all its complexities.” A few tracks were written with her romantic partner and fellow songwriter JP Saxe of “If the World Was Ending” fame (“Little Did I Know,” “All Your Exes”). “Because I have anxiety and depression, I thought that I deserved a certain type of love, some sort of toxicity,” she explains. “Then you wake up one day, and you meet somebody, you realize you are good enough for love in spite of what you may think about yourself. I used to think that I had to create drama to write a really great song about love. I was so wrong.” Below, Michaels breaks down Not in Chronological Order, track by track. “All Your Exes” “There was a moment where JP was like, 'Maybe one day in the future, we’ll be able to talk about the people from our past that have shaped our present.' I was like, 'Fuck that. I don't give a shit about anyone you've ever dated, ever.' And he was like, 'Well, baby, you can't just live in a world where all my exes are dead.' I sarcastically sang the first two lines of the song in the car, and we decided to go to the studio the next day and write it.” “Love Is Weird” “It was myself, Monsters & Strangerz, Billy Walsh, and John Ryan; we had about 30 minutes left in the studio. I was having a conversation with Billy, and I remember being like, ‘Yeah, man, love is weird.’ All of a sudden we had this song about how you can go from loving somebody so intimately to grieving over the heartbreak and devastation of that relationship. And then you're sitting in the park with somebody new, you're psychoanalyzing everything that person is saying, you're hoping to God that they're not a serial killer and that everything they say they actually mean. Then you're super in love with them and you don't remember anything about the last person that you loved.” “Pessimist” “I put ‘Pessimist’ after ‘Love Is Weird’ because I feel like that was the next seemingly perfect transition. You know, love is weird, and I do find it very bizarre that [on] my last two EPs, I was very pessimistic and very angry when it came to love. Then you meet somebody, and they completely break everything that you thought love was. That’s what ‘Pessimist’ was for me. I [sing] about being bitter, planting lemon trees, everything feeling sour, nothing ever feeling sweet, and then that changes. [You’re] completely changed by somebody.” “Little Did I Know” “I wrote ‘Little Did I Know’ with JP. I had a session with an artist that day, and it didn't go the way that I really wanted it to. I think I just put [too] much pressure on myself because I wanted it to be great. I remember coming home and looking at JP, just being like, 'I need to write something that feels sincere and honest.' He was like, 'All right, well, let's do it. I'm happy to help you.' We started it in bed on the guitar, we went to sleep, woke up the next day, he sat on the bathtub, I was standing on the bathroom floor. We wrote it there. We wrote it in a park. We wrote it in his old house [which] he turned into a studio. When it came time to record it, it was July, it was the middle of the pandemic. My vocal producer Ben Rice, who's done all my vocals since I was 21, 22 years old, came over. He set up his equipment in my guest bedroom. I sang everything in the guest bedroom. Then JP and I did all the choir stacking vocals. What you hear is from that day, most of it—the only thing that has changed is that we added a couple more choir stacks with a few friends of ours, just for some added texture.” “Orange Magic” “I had a random title, ‘Orange Magic,’ basically all about JP and the time we initially started dating and he picked me up in this BMW. It basically looked like a glittery piece of shit showing up at my doorstep. I hated the color so much I actually think I manifested his car getting stolen three months later and set on fire.” “Lie Like This” “I was laying in bed with JP, and I was laying in front of him, so my stomach was on his back, and I turned around upside down and he looked at me and said, ‘You're pretty upside down.’ I turned forward and he said, 'You're pretty right side up, too.' I was like, 'I'm putting that in a song.' That was the start of the album.” “Wrapped Around” “I really wanted to have a sassy, spiteful, revengeful song on the album, a ‘fuck you’ to people I once thought I was in love with but I was definitely not in love with at all. When it came time to really get the production down, we had David Campbell, who's Beck's dad, do all of the string arrangements.” “History” “For the most part, I try to go into the studio with non-preconceived ideas, because then I feel like I'm not listening as much. I sang the chorus of 'History,' took the headphones off, and John Ryan helped finesse the lyrics with me. You just want all of those details about that person. I wrote 'History,' which is like, 'Tell me everything'; 'All Your Exes' is the response of knowing too much.” “Undertone” “It’s a situation where certain memories or certain people don't allow you to fall in love, because it makes you scared of what the next one will be like. Of course it is sad, but I didn't want it to feel sad. I wanted it to evoke a different emotion: What if we put some sort of pretty breakbeat underneath it, with these beautiful piano chords?” “That’s the Kind of Woman” “I remember being in the bathtub, which has been a recurring theme in my album—it's the place where I can self-reflect and mentally elaborate on different things I'm feeling all at once. I remember listening to the water run, thinking about who I am as a person, and if there were things I could change about me as a person, what they would be. That's the kind of woman I wish I could be; I would leave me for her. The vocal you hear is the demo vocal from that day. We tried to recreate it, but it just never felt the same, I think just mainly because I was crying. If I can be a voice that makes somebody feel less alone, then great, because in turn, they make me feel less alone.”

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