It’s the night before Julia Wolf’s debut album drops and the 28-year-old is waiting patiently for her mother to finish getting a tattoo. Wolf has taken over Joyface, a ’70s-style cocktail bar in the East Village of Manhattan, where the Long Island native is parked in the back next to the tattoo table, a sheet of ink offering the sketch she did herself on display. The musician will be adding to her tattoo collection with a Scream-style ghost-face mask, and her parents and sister are each taking their turns getting a design.
“I expect everyone to get a tattoo,” Wolf says.
Her album, titled “Good Thing We Stayed,” is a long time coming and was almost nothing more than a dream. After she graduated from SUNY Purchase and was struggling to connect with a producer who saw her vision, her dad suggested that they leave it all behind and return to his native Italy.
“He suggested we up and move to Italy and open up a pizza shop — because Italy needs more pizza,” Wolf says. “I was like, ‘Yes, Papa, none of us know how to cook but let’s just do it.’ And so, that’s why we sold our Long Island house. And then, just as randomly as he suggested it, after the house was sold, he came into my room and he’s like, ‘I just have a gut feeling we need to stay. I believe in you and your music.’”
She’s quick to point out that at that point, no such music even existed. But her father seemed to know something she didn’t and so the family resettled in Queens, where they all still live today strung out down the block from one another.
Two months later, Wolf would meet the producer who’d go on to bring an album to life with her, and the rest is history. The arrival of “Good Thing We Stayed” was met with the Joyface party as well as an appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” and a tour set to kick off in Atlanta in February.
Wolf grew up loving Avril Lavigne, The All-American Rejects and, later in high school, rap; presently, she cites Jack Harlow, Sza, Baby Keem and Phoebe Bridgers as inspirations. The collection of songs that made the album are united around a theme of betting on oneself, she says.
“There was this one time in the studio, this was early days, and I was so shy about posting on Instagram Stories, just talking and trying to be personable with people. And [my producer] is like, ‘Julia, if you don’t do it, someone else will.’ It pi–ed me off,” Wolf says. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, but you’re right. Why should other people be living the lives we want so badly?’”
When it came time to wrap the songs under a title, she kept coming back to how they almost left for Italy — and the pizza shop.
“I just always think it’s a good thing we stayed,” she says. “It’s the simplest way to put it.”