'American Idol's Julie Zorrilla: Colombia's pride
After shining at the piano during Hollywood Week and the Vegas round, Julie sailed through during the eliminations, and was an obvious choice for the coveted Top 24. However, the Latina took a misstep with her "Breakaway" performance, which ultimately and sadly sealed her fate on 'Idol.'
We caught up with Julie to chat about her 'Idol' experience, including the shocking fact that she had never seen the show before, because ... she doesn't even own a TV! (WHAT!?)
How close are you with your Colombian ancestry?
My Latin roots are obviously very, very important to me. It's a huge part of who I am. I know that I was very young when I came here when I was 8 years old, but my Colombian heritage plays a big role in my music. And even though I don't primarily sing in Spanish and I write in English, my music is heavily influenced by being a Colombian. I actually have a lot of family there. I haven't unfortunately been able to go back in the 12 years since I moved here, but hopefully I can go back soon and get to see the people in the family that I haven't seen in so long. I really miss it. And I miss the food SO much! (laughs)
What surprised you the most about your journey on 'Idol?'
I think the amount of support among the contestants. During Hollywood week you don't know how the dynamic is going to work or how supportive the rest of the people are going to be or if it's gonna be a really competitive environment, so I was a bit nervous. It was just amazing to feel so much support and respect among everyone there.
We'd seen you play your own instruments. How did that help or affect you during your run?
I think that's what I do: I'm a singer-songwriter, and I feel that set me apart from all the other girls, because I was the only one in the Top 12 girls that could play an instrument at all. So I feel that not being allowed to play during "Breakaway" really hurt my chances and that's why I ended up being eliminated. But on the other hand I'm super proud of my peers who made it through and they all deserve it because they are all outstanding singers. I'm really happy for them and I'm rooting for them all the way!
Is that why you think you didn't make it into the Top 13?
Well, maybe because of the song choice. As soon as I heard that I wasn't going to be able to play my guitar, I should have probably chosen a different song and I didn't. I decided to go along with it because everybody thought it sounded great, but I let myself get carried away. I should have had a stronger sense of who I was, and if I wasn't gonna have my guitar, I should have sung some John Mayer or something that would be more representative of who I am.
Could you walk us through on the process of choosing your song?
You have your list of options and you play them in front of several people and they help you decide, but at the end of the day it's your decision. You're the artist, so ultimately it's your choice... That's why it's difficult sometimes, because you have all these different opinions from all these different people. But they don't ever make you do anything that you don't want to do, because obviously they want you to do your best. But they will suggest things to you, and sometimes hearing so many things, it's hard to consider all of them, and you start doubting and second-guessing things. And that was probably the hardest part throughout the whole process for me.
What can you share about your experience with Jennifer Lopez?
J.LO was probably my favorite just because she's such a huge inspiration to so many young girls and she's really created some amazing ground for Latin women in the industry. She's amazing and she's SO funny in person! She's real. I love the way that she judges because she's very straight-forward and she always tells you what she thinks but she's not cold about it, she's just very, very sweet. It was an honor being able to meet her and get so much advice from her.
And did you give to her your shoes she adored?
(Laughs) No! She actually came into Hollywood week with these amazing, shiny gold shoes that were of course a million times better than mine and I wanted them so bad! I couldn't wait to see what she would wear every day. And I love fashion! But what girl doesn't, you know? I just love shopping and I'm a complete shopaholic. I love my dresses. I would wear a dress every day if the weather allows it.
You had already recorded an album before. Can you tell us something about it?
I released it in 2008 and it's called 'About Us'. When I came back home after spending a year in boarding school here in California, I teamed up with a producer called Nathan Reid, and we made a 5-song EP. I was 15 years old, and I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted my music to really sound like, but it was definitely an incredible experience to be able to go into the studio and start figuring that out. That's the key point, to always keep evolving in what you do. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot from it so hopefully I'll be in a studio again soon, recording some newer stuff!
What kind of music are you listening to these days?
I love John Mayer; he's my favorite artist right now. Michael Jackson has been my idol my whole life and I could never get tired of hearing his songs. Right now I love Katy Perry; she's amazing. Also, I'm into Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor. This woman is incredible; she can play the piano like no other! And Gaga, of course! Who doesn't love Gaga? In Spanish I love Juanes, Shakira and Aterciopelados, they are amazing, incredible Colombian artists.
How do you feel about all the Latinos that have been on 'Idol?
We had quite a few Latinos this year! And Karen is still there, representing us and she's amazing, such an incredible singer. I'm super excited for her and I know she's gonna do an amazing run throughout the competition. But you know, I actually had never seen the show before this season, I have to admit. I don't watch television, so this year was the first time I actually got to watch the show.
I don't! I don't even own a television! I can't afford to watch TV (laughs).
How are you planning on continuing your music career?
Right now I just got to keep on moving. 'American Idol' has obviously opened a lot of doors and a lot of opportunities are coming my way. So right now it's just a matter of keeping that, working very, very hard as I was doing before. I'm very excited to what the future holds and I can't wait to see how all of this works out!
And a final message to all your Latino fans out there?
I want to send a huge thank you to all the people who supported me. Waking up every day and reading all your comments on my Twitter and Facebook meant really, so, so much!
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