Words by Matthew Mendiola
Photos by Franchesca Collantes and Jeff Pascual
“Asia’s Pop Sweetheart” Julie Anne San Jose recently released her latest album, entitled Breakthrough. Julie is no stranger to the OPM scene, having garnered the Diamond Record Award and Triple Platinum Award for her debut and sophomore albums. But with the new sound she’s going for, the singer said that Breakthrough felt like the perfect word to describe her evolution as an artist.
Breakthrough still features songs reminiscent of Julie’s previous acoustic records, but this time with a more R&B, more indie flavor to it. Julie said that she wanted to produce something more contemporary with this new album, drawing from the likes of Rihanna, Sabrina Claudio, Daniel Caesar, Miguel, and other international and local artists. For Julie, Breakthrough was really about finding that new sound, and owning it. It’s all about evolution.
Unlike other singers, Julie is a talented multi-instrumentalist as well, and this helped her a lot with visualizing how she wanted Breakthrough’s tracks to sound like. Julie said that to write, she needs accompaniment, or “anything na tutunog”. On days Julie is away from the piano or guitar, she would use her Garageband app on her phone to sample beats and loops. Eventually, she comes up with hooks that she then transforms into hit songs.
Julie said that Breakthrough wouldn’t have been possible without the help of so many people. Julie was so grateful to have worked with producer Marcus Davis, who fixed the arrangements of the songs. She also collaborated with rising artist Fern for the track Down for Me. She said that she really looks up to musicians like Davis and Fern, and that it was a really humbling experience to have been able to work with such talented individuals.
Thematically, Breakthrough’s songs are more mature, with the opening track Tayong Dalawa describing the struggles of a long-distance relationship, and the single Nothing Left describing the pain of moving on. Of course, Julie’s sweet voice shines through in all the tracks, especially in her stripped down version of Parokya ni Edgar’s Your Song, also featured in the album.
When asked what motivated Breakthrough, Julie said that the songs weren’t necessarily based on her own experiences, but rather, other people’s stories. She had some friends who experienced heartbreak, “kung paanong maiwan sa ere”, and these, in part, became her inspirations for the tracks.
While Breakthrough may have more serious undertones, Julie’s personality is far from dull. She’s incredibly fun, funny, and as she said, she’s always happy. She deserves in every way to be called Asia’s Pop Sweetheart.
However, the singer said she feels that being given that title is a bit overwhelming. Julie just sees herself as a girl who does what she loves–to sing and write songs. If she could choose to give herself her own title, Julie said, “Just Julie…or Simply Julie…or Julie the Singer would be fine. Just call me Julie the Singer.”
Breakthrough is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Spinnr, Deezer and Amazon. Follow Julie Anne San Jose on Instagram: @myjaps