Before starting her New Year, singer and entrepreneur Julia Rose Segal ’25 had already formed her own band, started a nonprofit, and appeared on the Kelly Clarkson show.
Then, just a week after her first term at Stanford, she released her debut EP, “Staring at Ceilings”. With over 1,000 streams in the first week after its release, “Staring at Ceilings” is already making waves.
The inspiration for the six tracks on the EP extends to Disney’s “Moana” and Eminem.
“In my very first collection of released songs, I explore all the feelings and emotions that I have experienced during a seemingly endless quarantine,” Segal said. “I hope it’s the feeling of not being satisfied with your life in the title song ‘Staring at Ceilings’, the feeling of replaying scenes from one night over and over again, in ‘What I Did Last Night’ or the feeling of wanting someone to be a person they are not, in “3 am” everyone can find a song or emotion that they can relate to. And maybe the songs on this EP can make it a little easier for someone to go through something that I’ve been through.
Segal, who grew up in Palo Alto, was introduced to music at the age of four when she began piano lessons. She also sang with the iSing Silicon Valley Girl Choir for eight years.
“The choir actually shaped a lot of my sound as a musician, and shaped the way I layer harmonies and put a chorus together using my voice, which is something that comes up in a few songs,” said Segal.
Although the EP is Segal’s first collection of music, she has been writing songs for years. It wasn’t until the summer before her sophomore year of high school, however, that she claimed that singer-songwriter identity at Interlochen, a summer arts camp in Michigan.
Throughout the camp, Segal was encouraged to write from her own experiences and emotions. “Before Interlochen, my songs were often based on fictional stuff because I didn’t think I had anything to write about,” Segal said. “But I started to understand how I can tell my stories through music, and also see viable paths to follow.”
Shortly after the arts camp, Segal’s friend invited her to a concert in Palo Alto where several local bands were performing. “The energy in the air was so high,” Segal recalls. “The hall was completely filled with musicians and there was such a fresh energy radiating into the room. There, Segal discovered the city’s underground music scene: “Although Palo Alto is neither New York nor Los Angeles, there is still a fairly large music scene. It’s just a bit hidden.
At this concert, Segal meets Greg Kochnev (stage name Citxzzen), who will soon become a collaborator and bassist for Segal’s new band, Reverie. Kochnev also introduced Segal to Nicco Sanchez, who produced “Watching the Ceilings”.
“My first impression of Julia was that she’s really funny and a lot of fun to hang out with,” Kochnev said.
Until COVID-19 hit, Segal and Reverie performed every weekend in theaters across the Bay Area.
“We played CoHo! Segal said. “It was one of my first experiences collaborating with other musicians on music that was mine. I’ve been in choirs and bands before, but it was totally different when they played my music.
Through these performances, Segal quickly formed a prodigious network of musicians, which became the foundation of Segal’s non-profit organization, QuaranTunes.
Founded in their early forties, the group pairs teenage musicians with children for virtual music lessons. The charity has expanded beyond its original purpose, now also offering instrument donations, group art classes and summer camps.
From a hometown operation to an international organization with thousands of backers, QuaranTunes would be a huge time commitment on anyone’s plate. Yet Segal has found another creative outlet in the meantime: writing his first EP.
Now, after meeting new friends who have become collaborators at Stanford, Segal is looking forward to producing his latest song “Rain” with fellow student and award-winning songwriter Caleb Liu ’25.
“I saw a song in the Julia’s Notes app that I could play the chords,” Liu said. “I went to the piano, played the chords and she started singing. I had never worked with a singer before, and it was really cool. Right after that she said, “We should make a real song out of this.” I was like, ‘Oh, this is something special.’ “
When asked how she plans to move forward with her career, Segal said she would always go back to her roots, “Songwriting has been therapy for my entire life. Instead of writing my thoughts in a journal, I’ll just write them down in a song.