ReverbNation contest winner #11: Juliana
Songwriting and ReverbNation proudly present the eleventh winner of our ongoing regular competition for songwriters – Nashville-inspired pop from Juliana
ongwriting’s competition with ReverbNation has been running for more than 18 months now and switching to a bi-monthly frequency hasn’t diminished the influx of entrants, with more than 3,800 submissions for the last two months. Our patient judging panel are all members of the editorial team and, although our musical tastes are varied, we’re all keen to unearth some fresh songwriting talent and we could all agree that our latest winner, Juliana, embodies all the virtues of a potential star singer-songwriter of the future.
A native of Upstate New York, Juliana’s winning song If I Had A Boat caught our ears with its blend of upbeat Norah Jones inflected easy listening and Nashville-inspired Americana from her new home. Speaking to Juliana, we learn how she started her musical career reluctantly performing at open mic nights, before posting a few early videos online, at the suggestion of a friend. It turns out that Songwriting aren’t the first listeners to become immediate fans of Juliana, as the YouTube performances quickly garnered a substantial and incredibly supportive online following, amassing 48,000 subscribers and well over 10 million video views.
And so we find out more about Juliana’s new home in Nashville, a successful fan-fuelled campaign to fund her first album release and how a near-crippling snowboarding injury meant this whole music career may never have got off the ground at all.
Where are you right now?
“I live in East Nashville and I’m in the living room looking out the porch at the rain. I’ve been down here in town for about a year and half. I moved down here not knowing anybody, I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have a job, but I’d heard wonderful things about Nashville – that it’s a really vibrant, really supportive community of songwriters and musicians.
And did Nashville live up to your expectations?
“I didn’t really have anything other than my gut telling me that this was a good place to be. I just thought I’d try it and hoped the people would fall into place. The community is phenomenal – really invigorating. You’re constantly surrounded by this rich culture of artists and musicians, and it’s incredibly supportive and collaborative, which I was pleasantly surprised by. It’s competitive but in a healthy way – everyone wants to share their music, hear what you’re up to and help you however they can.
What was the moment that gave you the motivation to leave home and move out there?
“When I was 22 years old I was in a really bad snowboarding accident and fractured my spine. It was a really long ordeal that meant I ended up needing three different surgeries. It was a traumatic, life-changing period so I got a lot of perspective out of it. I’m lucky I can even walk right now! Once I was all healed up I had this moment where I realised how short life is, and thought ‘Why am I not out there following my dream?’”
What did your parents think?
“I’m sure it was difficult in some ways for them to see me move so far away, but they’re incredibly supportive of what I’m doing. None of us know how this little adventure I’m on is going to shake out, but I think they’re glad I’m going for it.”
Were they into music?
“No, neither of them my parents are particularly musical. We’d always have music playing in the house though – James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. My first instrument was the piano and I took lessons so was classically trained, but I was a really shy kid and never performed musically. I was much more drawn to the visual arts.”
So when did that change and you started performing and writing songs?
“I don’t know. I’ve always loved to sing, but only at home on my own. I took an acoustic guitar to college when I studied abroad in Copenhagen, taught myself to play and had the time to try writing songs. When I got back to the States I started doing open mic nights, then somebody convinced me to put a video up on YouTube [of Way To Go you can watch below]. It was something I didn’t want to do, but I realised the internet really is the best medium for sharing your music with people. It’s remarkable that I could be sitting in my dorm room in college, putting up this little video and people all over the planet can see it! So anyway, I did it and it snowballed from there. Having a wider audience saying they like what I’m doing, made me think that maybe I should give it a shot.”
Tell us about how you wrote your winning song If I Had A Boat.
“Man, I wrote that a while ago! My songwriting process is kind of scattered – there’s no one tried and true formula. Sometimes it starts with a chord progression or a word, but that one I wrote on an plane. I was visiting a friend in Colorado and flying back to Nashville. It was just a few lines that I’d written in my notebook, which I went back to later and it became the beginning of that song. Every time I play it live I say ‘I hate to disappoint anyone but it isn’t a Lyle Lovett song’ because there’s one he wrote with the same name.”
Is travelling a good time for you to write, or do you prefer to find a quiet moment at home on your own?
“Yeah, it’s usually quiet moments when things come to me – singing in the shower or when I’m driving with the radio off. That gives me the contained private moment of silence where all the stuff that my subconscious has been holding onto will bubble up to the surface. Things come to you in the oddest places at the oddest times. Good fuel is everywhere!”
Do you collaborate much with other writers?
“I’m naturally more comfortable writing alone. You have to make yourself really open-minded and vulnerable creatively if you write with another person. The first time I tried it, it scared the shit out of me! But when you’re working with someone and you hit your stride together it can be a really magnificent experience.”
What advice would you give to other budding singer-songwriters who are thinking about taking the leap like you’ve done by moving to Nashville?
“You know, don’t be afraid to take a shot at it. What’s the worst that can happen? I don’t know where this record is going to go, but it feels so good to be trying it and doing something I love. I had a Post-It note with a little mantra on it which resonated with me, and I read every day. It said, ‘If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.’ A career in music wasn’t going to fall out of the sky for me, so I had to do something I hadn’t been doing.”
What’s the situation with your music career now?
“At the end of last summer I decided I was ready to try recording my music, but I didn’t have the money to make an album, so I did a crowd-sourced funding campaign with Indiegogo. Luckily my amazingly supportive online fanbase contributed to it, which meant I could record in September and October, mix and master the album by the end of last year, and then released it in February. Two years ago I was still working in an architecture firm and now I’m here living my dream – making and playing music and people are buying my album. It’s a lot of hard work, but when I sit back and look at what I’m doing, I feel so fortunate.”
If you’d like the chance to be featured in an article like this on Songwriting, our regular songwriting competition is still open. To enter, you’ll need to be registered with ReverbNation, and submit a track for consideration via this link. Each month, we’ll listen to every entry and select the most promising artist, who’ll be the subject of an interview feature similar to this one. Good luck!
In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about Juliana, pop along to her page on ReverbNation or visit the official Juliana website at www.julianaricherdaily.com and you can check out this teaser video for her debut album Slow Love below…