Nilu, Irvine-Based Iranian-American Singer, Goes Viral With a Nod From Young the Giant

Nilu, an Iranian-American musician based in Irvine, has started the new year off on the right note. The singer-songwriter has been making a name for herself since a YouTube video of her Noise Coalition Live Sessions performance of “Sing for You” was uploaded earlier this month. Nilu’s original composition has inspired tens of thousands of views (and counting) with its display of her sultry, Feist-like vocals. She’s offered up “Sing for You” as a free download and promises much more in the coming year, including a debut EP release, new website and a follow-up Noise Coalition video.

With all this good stuff going on, the Weekly caught up with the indie-rock/soul musician and asked her a few questions about the video and song that has people talking. Don’t be surprised to see more of Nilu in a future Locals Only feature!

OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): How did this Noise Coalition Live Sessions recording come along?

Nilu: I’ve wanted to put out a recording for some time now, but it was really tough to get things going while in school. Right after I graduated college, I started asking around about studios and engineers in Southern California. A friend of mine showed me Noise Coalition’s site and I really liked the look of the videos and the fact that the songs were recorded live. I immediately harassed Jason Suwito (owner of Noise Coalition) via numerous emails and inquired about a session. I got really lucky with timing and good musicians and the rest unfolded quite nicely. It turns out Jason and I went to high school together but we didn’t know each other. He did a great job on the mix and was very professional throughout the whole process. We’re in the talks of recording my EP together.

Tell me a little about the song “Sing for You” both in its arrangement and lyrical sentiment and why you chose to perform it.

“Sing For You” is the first song I ever wrote and in that sense, it holds great sentiment. I’m singing for something that has deeply affected me and I did my best to supply instrumentation to transmit those emotions. I studied classical piano in college and was fortunate enough to be immersed in a world of musical diversity while in school. My friends were not only great people, they were phenomenal violinists, cellists, vocalists and pianists. I’m constantly inspired by the sounds they produce and there’s no doubt that exposure found its way into my songwriting, which frequently includes a string section. I chose to perform ‘Sing For You’ not because it is the first song I wrote, but because it has resonated with me for years and I feel it is a good representation of my sound.

Were you surprised by the number of hits the video has gotten on YouTube already? Looks like you’re off to a good start!

I couldn’t believe how many views it got the first couple days and is continuing to receive. I was, and still am, so humbled by all the shares, tweets, and reposts of the video by friends, family and people I’ve never met. It’s really something to put yourself out there and have people appreciate your work and I want everyone to know how sincerely thankful I am for their support and encouragement. It’s insane what opportunities YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites have given new artists. I’ve gotten emails from people in China who have seen the video. I said China! That would have never happened if it weren’t for the Tube. I am eternally grateful.

The top comments thank Irvine rockers Young the Giant for bringing them there. What role did the band play in spreading the word?

They played a huge role in promoting the video. I got a text from a friend saying “Young The Giant posted your video on their Facebook and Twitter” and I was like “get outta town!” and then I saw it and my jaw hit the floor. I’ve been lucky enough to know these guys for a while now (the bassist and I went to high school together) and I can confidently say they are some of the most humble, down-to-earth guys I’ve ever come across, not to mention they are all great musicians. They’ve worked so hard for their fan base, which is growing exponentially, and I am beyond thankful they gave me a chance to be seen by their supporters. Apparently, a few members of the band and I were in honors orchestra together in middle school, but we didn’t meet until high school. Now that I think about it, however, I do remember a kid playing bass who had goofy hair and what looked like the early developments of a red fedora…

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One Reply to “Nilu, Irvine-Based Iranian-American Singer, Goes Viral With a Nod From Young the Giant”

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