To say that actress, singer, and songwriter Julie Anne San Jose is talented is an understatement. Having grown up performing on stage, starred in more than a dozen films and TV shows, and released platinum-selling records, the 23-year-old has been commanding the spotlight for more than half her life. But while her former years have awarded her amazing opportunities, she’s assured us that it’s only getting better from here.
Dubbed Asia’s Pop Sweetheart, Julie, or Japs as her peers fondly call her, is still in high demand these days. Since ringing in the New Year working on stage, she has already performed two concerts and dropped her newest R&B single, “Nothing Left”—which quickly hit no. 1 on iTunes just as it was released. But given her busy schedule, she’s surprisingly relaxed. Whether she’s dressed in sweats, belching out a song, or sneakily grabbing a donut, Julie is a walking reminder that life can get serious, but you don’t always have to be. And that is precisely how we would describe her natural state. She is, after all, a simple girl. But when it comes to her craft, Julie is far from basic. A certified musical chameleon—she can play the piano, guitar, drums, flute, and violin—Julie is the very definition of a total performer. Just take a quick look at her Youtube page and you’ll find a variety of song covers from Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” to everyone’s favorite Spanish anthem, “Despacito”. And while she can flawlessly carry out even the hardest of tunes, the prospect of haters and their hurtful comments doesn’t intimidate her, at least not anymore. In fact, she uses the challenge as motivation to only better her craft.
Now, she’s spending her days pouring herself out into her new album. Set to come out on the third quarter of the year, she plans on letting her deepest emotions take control instead of forcing her creative juice to flow out because for her, experiences are the biggest inspirations. Here, Julie tells us about that time she enrolled into music school at the age of 3, her accidental start in show business, and what she plans on doing next.
How has 2018 been so far?
So far so good. I spent the new year working. Nasa countdown ako ng GMA and then hanggang sa nagtuloy-tuloy na siya sa concerts. I had two concerts last January. One was in Cebu with Regine [Velasquez] and Christian [Bautista], and then the other one was a solo concert at the Music Museum. It was really fun. Aside from that, I’ve been busy recording my other songs for my new album.
What was the most memorable part of your solo concert?
Ang dami-dami. I think one of the highlights of the show was the opening number, because I sang one of my favorite songs from the movie, The Greatest Showman called “The Greatest Show”. I just think that it’s a really strong song. Then of course, the support of my fans. Just their presence alone already means a lot to me.
For your first concert this year, what was it like working with Regine and Christian?
Nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time. It was my first time to have a concert with them. I had a classic, love duet with Christian. And then I sang with Ate Reg. We sang her songs medyo nakakakaba siya kasi syempre kapag Regine Velesquez nakaka-overwhelm lang talaga.
“I always wanted to be a performer. Hindi ko siya na-figure out, nangyari na lang siya bigla.”
Do you have a pre-performance ritual by yourself?
I just pray. I also drink a lot of tea and water para hydrated ako. I vocalize. Ayun lang naman, wala akong ritual or whatever.
When you perform on-stage what exactly do you think about?
Nothing much, except I don’t want to trip and fall. I don’t want to be embarrassed kasi syempre ako lang nasa stage so I have to be careful all the time. I’m a really clumsy person. (Laughs) Other than that, I don’t worry much. I just hope I entertain my audience.
So can you tell us about your first memory with music?
I started singing at about 2 years old. I guess my first memory was when I recorded myself on tape. My dad used to work in Taiwan. So every time I sang, rinerecord ni mom tapos pinapadala namin sa Taiwan para marinig ni daddy. And then at 3 years old, I enrolled at Center for Pop Music of the Philippines. They didn’t want me there kasi nga masyado akong bata and everyone was older, mostly teenagers. Ako yung pinaka bata, so pinakanta ako nung owner, sabi niya “Sige nga kanta ka nga.” So ayun, hanggang sa nagtuloy-tuloy na yun and nakapasok ako.
“I know showbiz isn’t forever kasi minsan nasa taas ka, minsan nasa baba ka. I’ll just go with the flow if the flow is fulfilling. What I can do right now is do my best and be myself.”
At what age were you like “I want to be a performer”?
I always wanted to be a performer. Hindi ko siya na-figure out, nangyari na lang siya bigla. I just wanted to sing. I was part of the glee club in high school. I was also a member of the choir and the local church choir. And then at 11 years old, I auditioned for Pop Star Kids. That’s how everything started. It was actually an accident because my mom and me were just at the mall when we saw [the variety show] SOP having an audition. Sabi ni mom, “Sige magtry ka lang.” Tuloy-tuloy yung screening hanggang sa nagkaroon kami ng group and I became a mainstay in different shows. If I didn’t audition for that, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I’m really grateful for that.
Since then, what has been a stand-out in your career?
Like a turning point? When I started making Youtube videos. I think one of my hits that got a lot of views was “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj. I wasn’t really expecting that at all because it was just a cover that I posted on Youtube. After that, I continued to make more covers and more videos.
What was the biggest challenge growing up in the industry?
One of the biggest challenges would be—because my dad was really against the whole showbiz thing—he told me, “Mag-aaral ka pa ba or mag-aartista ka na lang? You have to choose because your life’s going to get complicated. Okay na yung buhay natin, tahimik lang, simple lang.” Sabi ko it was what I wanted already. I started liking it when I joined the singing contest. At that time, I already figured out what I wanted to do. It was the perfect avenue for me, to do what I love most which is music and singing.
Apart from singing, you also write your songs, act, and dance. How do you see your career going from here? What’s next?
I don’t know, I just want to be remembered I guess, through my music, through my craft. I just want to make more songs, write more songs, and share more of my music. I’m not really expecting anything big. If it’s meant to happen, na magtuloy-tuloy ako sa career, so be it. I know showbiz isn’t forever kasi minsan nasa taas ka, minsan nasa baba ka. I’ll just go with the flow if the flow is fulfilling. What I can do right now is do my best and be myself.
Every artist has their own style. How did you find yours?
Ako kasi I really want things simple, sa pananamit, sa music. Yung tipong jeans, white T-shirt, and sneakers, okay na ako doon. That’s my every day get-up. But when it comes to my performances, I have different stylists and designers who dress me up. I try to adapt to different changes and trends. When it comes to my music, I try to venture out to pop and ballad songs. But right now, I’m trying to explore a different genre which is R&B. And so far, I’m liking it.
Is there an artist for you that made a great impact on you as a singer?
Well I’ve always liked listening to Beyoncé and Mariah Carey. I’ve always looked up to them. Right now I like the style of Rihanna. But you know, Beyoncé and Mariah will always have a place in my heart.
“I don’t write songs for the sake of doing it, I really want to write and pour my heart out. And I guess that’s one of the things I want to insinuate, that my songs are a part of me, a piece of my experience.”
You’re currently working on your new album. How do you create your music?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes if I’m in a place like this, I can invigorate and loosen up a bit. I usually write lyrics first. Sometimes I write poetry too then turn them into songs. Kapag busy ako, gumagawa muna ako ng beats. Tapos yun, pinapatungan ko na ng humming hanggang nagkakaron na siya ng lyrics.
How do you get in the zone when writing songs?
Sometimes when I try to write, I can’t write anything because I’m not present enough dun sa situation ko. Minsan walang lumalabas, nagkaka composer’s block ako. If I’m relaxed or sometimes, if I’m on the brink of a climax, of a certain emotion—when I’m super sad or super happy, super angry or whatever I feel. Doon siya lumalabas. Kapag nagsusulat ako hindi yung dahil kailangan ko, gusto ko nagsusulat ako kapag sobrang motivated ako. So, I don’t write songs for the sake of doing it, I really want to write and pour my heart out. And I guess that’s one of the things I want to insinuate, that my songs are a part of me, a piece of my experience.
From all your songs, what song resonates with you the most?
Siguro my current song called “Nothing Left”. It’s actually my favorite song ever aside from my first song which is “I’ll Be There” from my self-titled album.
When do you feel most empowered?
When people bash me. (Laughs) Because, they don’t affect me anymore. Before sobrang hina talaga ng loob ko sa Youtube comments, maiiyak ako, yung “Ayoko na talaga, bakit ganun?” But that’s how people grow. When something painful or traumatic happens, if you can survive it, you can overcome it. Eventually, na-overcome ko naman siya. Whatever people say, I continue to do what I love to do. And instead, yun yung nagpapalakas ng loob ko to do better in my craft.
Let’s talk fashion. On Instagram, the outfits that you post seem daring. How would you describe your style?
I transform into another person when I’m on stage or whenever I’m performing, and I’m totally a different person off camera. But you can see now that I’m just into being cozy and casual.
Do you enjoy getting dressed for a performance?
I like dressing up. Sometimes kapag wala akong magawa, I dress up at home. Sometimes I dress super pa-girly, super boyish, or super chill. Depende lang sa mood siguro.
“When something painful or traumatic happens, if you can survive it, you can overcome it… Whatever people say, I continue to do what I love to do.”
If you can raid anyone’s closet who would it be?
I would want to raid Kylie Jenner’s closet, because she can do both. She can dress up in sweaters, sweatpants, and sneakers. But she can also dress up as a sexy chick.
What are the 5 make-up products you have that you can’t leave your house without?
Lip balm, it’s really important to moisturize your lips every time. Press powder, an eyelash curler, moisturizer, and lip stick. Sometimes concealer as well.
What is your ultimate make-up hack?
I can curl my lower lashes binabaliktad ko lang lash curler ko. Also if I’m wearing heavy make-up, kung gaano ka-kapal eyeshadow ko ganun din ka-kapal kilay ko. Sometimes when I want my lips to look fuller, I extend the application of my lipstick. And if dark yung lipstick, linalagyan ko siya ng shadow sa baba.
How about in skincare?
Well Cathy Valencia takes care of my skin. But whenever I have breakouts or spots, I use those pimple patches that you can just stick on your face. Then it’s gone the next day. It’s a lifesaver.
You’ve had a busy new year. How do you pamper yourself on your days off?
I go to the nail spa. I watch movies sometimes alone, sometimes with my family, or with my friends. But most of the time, I stay at home because I feel like yun yung pinaka comfortable for me na lugar. I can eat whatever I want. I can watch movies at home, Netflix and chill, and play video games.
What’s your favorite way to stay in shape?
I eat. (Laughs) That’s a hard question because I barely workout. I eat a lot, like whenever I eat rice, I finish half the rice cooker in a day. But I used to work out a lot talaga. I used to do boxing and Muay Thai. Then after that, I go biking. So now gusto ko ng pahinga. But when I have time, I do cycling and squats.
Let’s go back to your upcoming album, what can we expect?
Don’t expect too much. (Laughs) But this album will be different from the previous albums that I’ve made. It’s more R&B.
Have you already broken any of your New Year’s Resolutions this year?
I didn’t have any New Year’s Resolutions. But whenever people ask me, I always say I’m going to try to be a better person than I was last year.