Not every mother of a famous child is a stage mom — that overbearing, helicoptering phenomenon that has made television shows like Toddlers and Tiarasthe horrible carnivals of schadenfreude that we so hate to enjoy. At least that’s not the case with Brisbane, Australia, resident Kristina McDonald, whose 8-year-old daughter Juliet shot to web stardom the other week after her video, “My First Hardcore Song,” hit the YouTubes.
The jam, which is mostly about Juliet’s dog “Robert,” and its accompanying music video has been viewed almost 17 million times since McDonald posted it to YouTube on January 19. In the meantime, according to McDonald, Juliet has kept her cool — mostly because she has little idea just how famous she has become. And her parents aim to keep it that way. Nope, little J is no aspiring Rebecca Black — just another 8-year-old kid who loves her dog and Johnny Cash.
Check out our Q&A with Juliet’s mom below and make sure to pass it along to any aspiring pageant moms you know.
Can you tell me how you guys ended up deciding to make a music video?
Juliet was staying over at my friend’s house and he’s a music producer. He thought it would be cute if they made a little song to show me when I picked up Juliet that afternoon. When I got there to pick her up they played me the song. Oh my gosh, it was so cute. I said to Rob Sharpe who made the song with Juliet, ‘I’ll made a little film clip so we can show all our friends and family how fun the song is.’
So a few days later I was in the park with Juliet and we spent a tiny minute filming the footage around the park and then I came home and edited it up and put it up on YouTube. And, yeah, showed my friends, and they started showing their friends, and that went to major, hardcore bands in Australia — they put her on their Facebook. This was all in within 30 minutes. Within three or four hours, my inbox had over 1,000 emails.
Do you have a background in video editing?
I’m an aspiring photographer and when I got my Canon 5D it had the option for doing video. So I started playing around with it, shooting some clips of Juliet like the ones I put up on YouTube. Nothing very serious. I’ve only probably made four or five videos before. So, no, I just really enjoy it. It’s fun.
And is Juliet a singer?
She’s been involved in music theater since she was about four years old and ballet and things like that. But, no, not anything like crazy — we don’t have her in singing lessons or anything like that. It’s just — I don’t know, she just does school choir and things like that.
Does she like hardcore music?
Not specifically. It’s always been in our house, though, because I enjoy the music quite a lot. She knows what it’s about. But like in her room on her iPod she plays a lot of Jessie J and Johnny Cash — very easy listening.
The song that she wrote — how long did that take?
I think her whole part — the song, it took Rob Sharpe about an hour. He has a studio. So he just wrote it and recorded it on instruments and then put it into this little computer. And then he got Juliet to come in and it took her about 15 minutes. They made up the song as they went.
So did Juliet write the ‘get your two-step on’ line?
Juliet didn’t make up that specific line. Two-stepping is a form of dance that’s very popular within the hardcore scene. Rob thought it would be funny if she said, ‘Get your two-step on,’ because if you know hardcore music, you probably know what two-step is. So it’s just very funny to hear a little girl telling you to go two-step. It’s a crazy way of dancing and if you’ve ever witnessed it, it’s all very crazy. It’s cool.
You all got the website and T-shirts online pretty quickly.
The first night it went just crazy and so we’re like, ‘OK, we’ll put the song on iTunes because we don’t want people to rip it and just be sharing it — like a bad version.’ Next morning we kept getting phone calls from a friend of ours who does web design. He was like, ‘You really need to make a website or something that people can go to because people will be interested. And if you’re not going to do it, then someone else is going to and you’ll get zero profit from it.’ So we thought we should do something like that and then that way we can make sure that all the money goes back to Juliet for her trust fund, which she’s had since she was a baby.
Oh my gosh, a week ago today we were just eating cornflakes and being normal people. And now all this has happened. So it wasn’t any kind of sinister act of trying to make a viral video or a profiteering exercise. It’s been crazy.
So is she going to do an album?
No, she’s only eight, so we want to make sure she’s in school and doing little 8-year-old things and not having to worry about anything like this in the world. So, she’s only seen what we’ve monitored. Like we’ve watched clips of the covers people have done. We’ve watched it, and then if it’s OK and appropriate we’ll show Juliet and she thinks that’s all very cute. But people have gone to the effort to do that. Same with all the news stations. Every news station was having stories about her. I think she only watched one of those. She’s got a bit blase about it because we’re not really letting her see the full extent of everything that’s happening. We just want her to be a little 8-year-old girl.
I think most of the feedback has been pretty positive. It’s like a Rebecca Black situation.
She gets compared to that. It’s like, ‘Wait, that was the first time she’s ever been in a recording studio to record a song herself.’ It’s about a dog.
So what do you think of this huge response? Is it surprising or baffling to you?
Yeah, it’s a massive compliment that everyone gets to see how cool my little girl is. I’ve always thought she was little star, now I suppose everyone else does, too. It’s very overwhelming. I’ve never put up a video on YouTube trying to gain millions of ‘Likes.’ It was more so just to show my friends and family. My family all lives quite a bit away and we don’t get to go home to see them very often, so it’s a good way to keep in touch with them.
So what do you and your husband do when you’re not making your kid into a star?
I’m a nanny and a photographer. And then my husband, he’s in the music industry. He has a band himself. It’s a very middle-of-the-road Australian family.
What’s his band called? Is it hardcore?
No, the band is called Bright Lights. It’s more kind of like love songs for me.
What other things does Juliet like to do — other than sing hardcore songs and jump on trampolines?
What does she like to do…? She likes… She loves LEGO. She loves eating. [laughs] What does she like to do? She likes to put on little shows for us and things like that. Acting and performing shows for us. We have to buy tickets to see her; it’s very cute. She loves hanging out with Robert [her dog], Robert is her best little friend in the whole entire world. She likes going to parks and… I don’t know, just what 8-year-olds like.
So you don’t seem like you’re like a stage mom at all.
No, even though all this stuff is happening she’s still had to do all her homework. Get her theater practice. There’s no stopping in this household. The whole routine has stayed the same. She’s only 8, we don’t want her to be having to worry about anything besides having fun at school. As much as we get all these requests for her to release another song or another video or release an album — it was never intended for that. We don’t want to take it there.
So she might be a one-hit wonder?
I’d say that for this part of her life, that’s her little 15 minutes and when she’s 18 and she’s finished high school she can go out do whatever she wants. If she wants fame, then she can find it then, but, no. While Mommy’s here, she’s going to do her math homework.