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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    YouTube star Julia Nunes balances college, career


    Julia Nunes is a hipster’s dream come true and a college student YouTube sensation. She’s girl-next-door gorgeous, possesses an unpretentious charm and can play the hell out of most instruments. She’s been putting her multi-instrumental spin on pop covers for almost five years, in addition to a bevy of insightful originals gaining her a near rabid following, which donated almost $78,000 to fund her Kickstarter follow-up to 2010’s I Think You Know EP.

    Daily Wildcat: With more than 48 million YouTube views, 57,000 Facebook likes, 25,000 Twitter followers, and a really engaging Tumblr, needless to say, you’ve built your career through social networking. How do you feel your musical ventures would have operated without these media venues?

    Julia Nunes: It all started on YouTube, totally by accident. I was just posting videos for my friends from back home and people took notice. I wasn’t trying to “get my music out there.” I was actually trying to keep it private, posting on YouTube instead of Facebook where everyone from my high school could see it. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pursue music if it weren’t for the accidental success I had on YouTube. Now that I do, all of those other sites come in. They’re essential for keeping people in the loop. I wouldn’t have had any fans show up at my Nashville show last week if it wasn’t for Facebook. I posted about it a few times and 80 kids showed up on a Thursday night with a week’s notice. It’s pretty amazing.

    I remember corresponding with you a few years back in the middle of finals season and just being amazed you had the time to do so. How have you so deftly balanced college and a musical career, all while producing and distributing your own music?

    It’s scary to dedicate your life to something and feel like you could fail. I think college students feel that way about getting their degrees, especially ones that are investing their own money into it. I think musicians feel that way about their albums. You’re sinking so much time and money and heart into something that ultimately yields a piece of paper (in the case of a musician, a thicker piece of paper with plastic inside) and that degree (or CD) can take you so many places, or it could prove totally useless. I just happened to have been doing both of those things at the same time. It’s a lot of work, but I’m lucky enough to be working on something I really, really love.

    You’ve played Bonnaroo, been onstage with Weezer, opened for Ben Folds, and recently headlined Webster Hall (in August), yet you’re known by your fan base for being really grounded. What do you do to keep yourself in check?

    I find this question pretty funny because I think being a musician, unless you’re like Rihanna or something, is a really humbling job. Yeah, I’ve been on stage in front of thousands of people with some of my idols, but I’ve also played open mics for people that are trying to order their cheese sticks over my annoying singing. I’ve felt so loved and supported by my fans, but I’ve also received criticism. With the way I’m connected to my fans, I get the full spectrum of love and hate thrown my way and it’s pretty hard to get a big head with some of the YouTube comments that get posted. I’m grateful for the honesty and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    You’re the quintessential Kickstarter success story; you exceeded your goal by a factor of five. How do you feel about that overwhelming fan response?

    I initially budgeted $18,000 to make my album, that would’ve covered the studio time, producer, engineer, musician fees, mastering and printing of the album, but that’s a lot of money and I didn’t think my fans would understand how making an album could possibly cost that much. I instead asked for $15,000 hoping it was an easier number to grasp. When I hit $15K in the first 24 hours I was completely blown away. I had no idea how incredible the response would be even then. After 30 days I was just out of my mind happy and most of all relieved that I had the freedom to make the most awesome album I had ever attempted.

    Now that you have some serious studio freedom, what can we expect from your upcoming album and beyond?

    I definitely spent a lot more time in the studio once I knew I had the money to do so. The original budget allowed for 16 days to record 18 songs. I added a string quartet to certain songs, and was able to add in some of the fun stuff that had been worked out on the road. A lot of the money is going back into the project to get better quality stuff from mastering to nicer quality T-shirts for the people that got them on Kickstarter. Whatever I have left is going to promotion and touring. So, expect me to tour my face off come February.

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