About a week ago, I wrote an article about Julia Nunes, who was able to snag a spot on Conan. This lead to me researching her YouTube page, and seeing that it had received over 50 million page views and 210,000+ subscribers. Now, she has a new album coming out in February, titled "Settle Down".
Here's one of the songs on the album - "Stay Awake"
Nunes was kind enough to take a bit of time from her busy schedule and answer some questions about her Conan experience, her new album, and explained the history of her ukele enthusiasts.
First, let me start off by saying congrats for getting a spot on Conan. What was that experience like, and how was it to meet the famous host who's had the likes of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Mr. T on his program?
Thank you! It was awesome and scary and excellent. Conan is super nice and we got to watch the rehearsal where he sets up all the bits and he's just always as funny as he seems on air.
How did it get setup, did you call Conan's people or did his people call yours?
There are a lot of calls involved, back and forth to make sure that all the ducks are in a row.
You've had the YouTube channel since 2006. Did your aspirations of being a musician lead to you creating the channel or did you just make it at first and then use it as a way to share your music with the world?
I started making videos my freshman year of college because I'd just been ripped away from all of my high school friends and we'd always played music together. I sent them whatever I was working on via YouTube hoping that it'd be a little more private than Facebook. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to.
How long did it take before you started to know you were becoming a hit on YouTube?
I had a pretty strong following of about 1,000 ukulele enthusiasts. They had all found me because back then you could search "ukulele" and only yield a few things. One day I decided to make one of my multi layered videos for the song "Into The Sunshine." The next day I was on the front page of youtube and jumped form 1,000 subscribers to 10,000. It's kind of been a steady rise form there.
You've been releasing albums since 2007, can you compare the experience of that to simply sitting down in front a camera and performing? Are there particular aspects of album making that you enjoy?
I like being able to have drums in the studio. I can't play drums, nor do I have room for them in my apartment. So while making the album I really got to hear what they sound like with full instrumentation which is awesome. For my videos, I'm usually making due with pots and pans.
With 'Settle Down' which releases this month; what was working on this album like compared to your previous works?
Every project is different, especially because you're usually working with a new group of people, in a brand new environment. This time around we were in a very small studio in the middle of summer so I guess the biggest difference this time was that I was very very sweaty.
What are your aspirations moving forward for both your music and YouTube channel?
I'd like to continue making video's in the style that I always made them as well as expand my repertoire to make more cinematic videos, more like the video for "Stay Awake" (see above)
I read the story about the name of your channel "jaaaaaaa", how you did this randomly just holding down j and a, the first and last letters of your name. Any plans for a self titled channel album?
(laughter) Not in the near future, no. Which is funny because in german "ja" means "yes"
If Julia has taught us anything, it's that playing the ukelele can only lead to good things. Just be sure you can play it well enough.