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SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.

Today’s guest is Julia Bhatt, a Miami-based singer-songwriter who has had a pretty bonkers 18th year, from graduating high school in February to releasing her first single in March. Today, she’s got a new single (“Bird Girl”) out, and we’re pumped to share it with everybody! (Seriously, a mega-bop.) She also told us all about how she’s been keeping her cool during these strange times, from visiting the local street cats to hitting up iconic fruit stand Robert Is Here:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

Usually, I love summer. I still love summer, but this wasn’t quite our normal summer. Unfortunately, this might be the new norm for a while, so it’s definitely a challenge to get used to the limitations. 

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

Summer is just about over. As of right now, I’m moving into my dorm tomorrow, so this is more of a recap. I hung out with a pretty tight group of people who are super careful, whether it’s because of family members at risk or just general concern. Didn’t really do much other than hanging out, but sometimes that’s just what you need. It may not have been what I was expecting but I’m absolutely satisfied with how it turned out. Could’ve been a lot worse. 

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

WEAR A MASK!!!!!! I get that a bunch of people aren’t concerned with getting sick, but it’s not about you, entirely. It’s about your family, your community, and your friends. For example, I’m not super super crazy about it, but my parents are, and if I want to see my friends, they have to follow specific rules too. It sucks, but I don’t have a choice. It’s more than the virus, which is fucking awful as is. 

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?

At home, there are like 8 street cats (they all have names, like Mike, Charlie, Mortimer, Tobias, etc.) when I get sad I’d go visit them, which is nice. It’s also good to stay connected with friends, whether it’s a social distanced hang or a FaceTime group call. It’s important to remember that we’re all going through this together.

What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?

I recently had something called the Blueberry Mule (mocktail, I despise alcohol), which is muddled blueberries, ginger beer, and some other shit I can’t remember, but its reeeeeaaallllllly good. Very refreshing.

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?

This year I’ve really liked Upside Down by Mondo Cozmo, Copacabana by Barry Manilow, Older by Parcels, etc. Also, Glass Animals has been releasing some singles from their new album, so I really like Heat Wave, Dreamland, Tangerine.

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

Outskirts of France. Ideally, I’ll retire there, honestly. There are areas with two pubs, a bakery, and a church and that’s it. Sounds like hell to some people, but once I’ve done what I want to do, there’s nowhere else I’d rather go. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and there are a shit ton of towns just 8 minutes away from each other. There. 

And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?

If you’re in the southern Florida area, go to Robert Is Here. It’s a fruit stand that’s been there forever, but they’ve managed to turn the whole experience (including their little farm) into a drive through. Its quick, its clean, and the smoothies are fucking amazing.