For a singer-songwriter who got her start on YouTube, it would be easy to build a music career hiding behind a screen.
But getting personal is all Julia Nunes seems to care about.
Since Nunes started out 10 years ago, covering songs, played with her ukulele, by The Beatles, Kanye West and Destiny’s Child on YouTube, she has made a habit of sharing her musical process and personal life with a growing number of fans.
“I literally don’t do anything top secret,” she said. “I think it has to be that way. I talk about my personal life because I write music about my personal life. There’s a brutal honesty I bring to my music.”
When we talked via phone earlier this week, the Los Angeles singer-songwriter was on the early leg of a 18-city Midwest tour that consists almost entirely of shows in fans’ living rooms, which is Nunes favorite way of touring.
“At a house show, it’s very unplugged, and you see the faces of everyone in the room,” she said. “Things get really personal every single time.”
It’s at those concerts, where longtime fans continue to show up, that Nunes said she realizes she’s “not just a musician anymore.”
“I’m more like a person that people have known for 10 years as an acquaintance or friend,” she said. “Everyone has grown up with me."
That goes for Quad-City couple Kyle and Mo Carter, who became "instant fans" of Nunes after watching her YouTube videos.
They had a hand in booking the musician to Baked Beer & Bread Co. for a show on Thursday, which is Nunes’ only non-house concert on the tour.
Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, first brought Nunes to town in 2012 for a slot at River Roots Live. His wife picked Nunes up from the airport.
“I remember trying to play it cool, because I was a big fan,” said Mo Carter, who is opening up for Nunes on Thursday.
She remembers hitting it off over breakfast at Ross’ Restaurant with the musician she had previously known only via the internet.
“The honesty of her songs is one thing,” Carter said. “The honesty of her personality really shines through, too. You watch her online, and she’s exactly the same way in real life, which is really refreshing.”
In 2013, the Carters invited Nunes back for a concert in their living room.
“We’ve been really wanting to have her back, but it’s just rare she’s in our territory,” Kyle Carter said. “This time around, we wanted to get her exposed to a bigger audience than a house show would allow."
On Thursday, Nunes, who last released an album, called “Some Feelings,” in 2015, said she plans to play a handful of new songs from her upcoming record, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Her goal was $30,000 and she raised $71,000.
“I’m in an amazing position,” Nunes said. “My fans are not just giving me a small amount of money. They’re giving me record label money.”
Her fans also show support on Patreon, an internet-based platform that allows creators to run their own subscription content service. By pledging $1 or more, people get access to one behind-the-scenes video per month, MP3s and extras.
“She has this really personal intense fan base that have followed her since she was making videos in her college dorm,” Kyle Carter said. “She makes a connection to her fans, and it has paid off.”
It’s paid off, Nunes said, because she maintains a "real life" mindset in the digital realm.
“We’ve found a way to use the internet as an authentic community,” she said. “There’s a version of internet fame that can be really stale. But it can and should be a human place.”