We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria Gorbunova and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maria, what do you attribute your success to?
When you become a creative with many supporters looking forward to more releases of your art, it can be very easy to fall hostage to your own perfectionism. Every time before investing my resources into a new project, I ask myself: “Is this something people would enjoy?”, “Does this work suit my brand?”, “What do my fans expect to see next?”, etc. It is hard, because if you actually value and respect your followers, you never want to disappoint them. You want to deliver the kind of content that sparks delight in people’s hearts. But the truth is, it is also impossible to predict which pieces of yours will ‘explode’, and which will ‘fail’. My most successful video (that arguably brought me the majority of my brand exposure) I recorded as a joke to share with some friends when I was 13 years old; I only spend a total of 2 hours on the lyrics, the audio, and the visual. Now, people use fragments of that video to make their own TikToks to, even though the video itself has been made private on my channel many years ago. This made me realize that at the end of the day, regardless of what you dedicate yourself to, you will always find your audience – just as long as you care about the things you make and put your soul into every single one of them. Oftentimes, our own perfectionism is what prevents us from being creative, because we get too paralyzed by the fear of our art not being well-received enough. Meanwhile, most masterpieces begin with only a few strokes of a brush, or with an unbrushed and goofy jam session. You just need to sit down and start doing something.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Ever since I was little, I have been actively taking part in theatre and performance arts to some extend. From the age of 4 and into adulthood, I was taking voice lessons professionally and toured different countries with the theatre I was in. By the age of 7, I became a laureate of international pop and folk vocal competitions. At the age of 12, I discovered voice-acting. It all started with me fooling around in GarageBand on my old laptop, downloading YouTube sketches, translating them from English to Russian, then acting them out through my cheap headset. I sent a few samples to some older fandub enthusiasts I was following on YouTube, and they picked me up from there, including me in their projects and inviting me to collaborate with them. They seemed to have liked my singing. I certainly got lucky somewhere along the way, because without the support of those creatives, I would have never proceeded with my new found hobby to such a great extent. With my now friends, it was all in good fun. By the age of 13, I became one of the event planners for Moscow’s Filly Feathers Festival 2014 – a local ComicCon of sorts. There, I was already recognized by many as a voice actress collaborator and fandubber. The main event coordinators asked me to perform at their musical panel with one of my new cover releases. A parody dub that my friends and I have been working on that year was broadcasted in the main concert hall with hundreds of people watching. It was a huge milestone for me. My creative activity didn’t stop with me moving to the United States in the summer of 2014. Despite me being so far away across the ocean, even more people reached out to me asking to collaborate. We have recorded and released many original songs and covers ever since. This year, I was contacted by my old pen pal of almost 10 years from Great Britain Wright Gottlen. He asked me if I was interested in a voice-acting gig at Phoenix Animation Studios – this time, it was in English. How could I refuse? Working at Phoenix Animation has become my new creative focus. Even though we are still working on finalizing many upcoming episodes, I know the studio has an incredible potential, and I cannot wait where this opportunity is gonna take me in the future.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ever since I first moved to Tucson, the Centennial Hall on campus has become my absolute favorite destination. Most of the musicals I’ve seen in my entire life I saw there. For a performing arts geek like myself, buying tickets to the Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona is like going to Disneyland. I would also strongly recommend Espresso Art Cafe on University to brighten up your leisure before or after the performance. The friendly prices, delicious beverages, and groovy atmosphere really make you wanna return again and again, not to mention they hold karaoke nights occasionally – a real blast. Although, if you are looking for a rather authentic karaoke experience, I would strongly recommend Voice KTV on 1st Ave. Since karaoke culture is not is as prominent in the United States as it is in Asia, it really helps that the place is run by a family of immigrants from China.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to recognize Phoenix Animation Studios (https://www.youtube.com/c/PhoenixAnimation) for recently giving me a chance to expand my voice acting presence into the English speaking part of YouTube. For the longest time, I gave up on my passions, thinking that I couldn’t find a new network of people to support me. My teammates from Phoenix Animation proved me wrong.