Last semester, Tamar Kaprelian enrolled at Columbia University. Like most college students, she spent her days shuttling between classes. Like most New Yorkers, she grudgingly appreciated this year’s relatively kind winter and explored the city’s mouth-watering Italian restaurants. But Kaprelian, 25, also travelled from the Big Apple to California and back again to finish her soft pop EP, California. The album, released June 19, follows her 2010 disc Sinner or Saint. Kaprelian first caught the industry’s attention in 2008, when she won OneRepublic’s online cover contest and got the chance to record with lead singer Ryan Tedder. Today, she is an independent artist who counts “earthy” artists Carole King, Billy Joel and Tom Petty among her music idols. We caught up with Tamar about how she balances a course load with her rising stardom.