Emily Schuna’s journey to create her own record label began with an insightful discovery: Most of the bands she listened to had something in common—their label. This realization struck a chord with the third-year music industry major, who quickly sought out a co-op at a record label to learn more about the field.
This pursuit ultimately led to a powerful experiential learning opportunity in the spring of 2013, when she connected with Captured Tracks in Brooklyn, N.Y. There, Schuna worked in web store distribution and inventory, shipping orders, updating product counts, and adding new stock to the store.
The co-op experience compelled the young entrepreneur to find her own spot in the record industry. Earlier this year, Schuna created her own record label and artist collective, which she dubbed Human Nature Records. Adding to its small independent appeal, the Human Nature team has since turned a campus dorm into a partial recording studio outfitted with the bands’ own guitars, basses, drums, and synthesizers.
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Schuna, a National Merit Scholar, describes the Human Nature aesthetic as a blend between post-punk, indie alternative, and electronic. This unique genre combines the musical preferences Schuna shares with her close friend and Human Nature co-founder Theji Jayaratne, a third-year electrical engineering major.
“Theji and I always wanted to put out music together, and one day we just decided to do it,” Schuna said. But they’re not going at it alone—there are three more artists in the collective, two of whom attend Northeastern.
Though work on Human Nature Records and Schuna’s first EP began only a few months ago, the group is already on the fast track toward success.
Schuna has been writing and recording under the name The Vacuum Party since she was 15 years old. The basement project’s small YouTube and Facebook following, along with Schuna’s experience at Captured Tracks, helped fuel her ambition to start her own label.
This summer, Schuna took an advanced writing course in which she wrote Human Nature’s business plan, and she credits the peer editing she received from business students with helping her get the label off the ground. She’s also worked closely with Jim Anderson, a lecturer in music production and music industry in the College of Arts, Media and Design, to record an EP with her band Modes, which she expects will be released through her label early next year. She said Anderson, who once owned a recording studio, has been a constant source of feedback and encouragement for this passionate group of students.
“I’ve always been obsessed with music. I moved around a lot growing up, and when you move from place to place, you may not be able to have a band, but there’s no reason why you can’t still play,” said Schuna, who sits on the executive board of Northeastern’s Live Music Association. “Music has always been a self-driven thing in my life. As long as I can put my music out there, I’m happy.”