We like to support indie artists and they don’t come more indie than Julian Bachlow. We got a chance to speak to him inbetween his road trip gigs and here’s what he had to say…
What are your main musical influences?
My main musical influences are The Postal Service, Stars, Modest Mouse, The Cure and Radiohead
What’s the song you’re most proud of writing?
Desolate Place is my proudest song that I have wrote because it’s about a time while I was living in a small town, Tottenham, Ontario. Dealing with the problems of having no transportation, feeling insecure, and like most small towns drugs were constant amongst friends and myself. I wanted to get out of it. I started writing music with the intention of one day creating an album, doing shows, touring, etc. During the time when this song was written, halfway through my brother suddenly passed away and during that time I knew that music was the only thing that was going to get me through life, I know my brother is still here within me and everyday it’s the love I have for him, my family, my friends that keeps me going and wanting to entertain and commit myself into being a professional musician. Desolate Place was a song that inspired me and made me realize, I need to do this, I need to create.
As an artist, you’ve done everything absolutely independently. Tell us exactly what that means in laymans terms.
I was a musician for a long time, since I was about 12, when I was 18 I bought an interface console for my computer (TASCAM-US122 which comes with Cubase, a music software program) a bunch of patch chords, some more instruments, and not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I started to practice on structuring and recording songs, it all began with just having the idea of wanting to create music. I worked a landscaping job for 3 months to get enough money to pursue my dream. Learning how to use the program and getting used to everything was difficult at first. I mean I’ve made a hundred songs but it took me about 3 years to get my own craft relatively decent as a producer. I should of read some books but maybe by not reading anything and figuring it out how to produce myself perhaps added to the appeal of my creations. I started to filter out the lesser than good songs and I began to really focus on some good material.Some of my friends and family did some rifs for me, some of the rifs where maybe 3 years old, but I knew I could use them some how and they were really happy to hear that something that may have never gone anywhere, would be on my album. I had no experience being a producer, I never went to school for it, I just had the motivation and ambition. It took me about 2 years to record my first album “Paradigm” but now hopefully I have the knowledge to create an album more efficiently within a timely fashion. I had a friend to mix and master my album for a decent price after I finished recording and after I produced everything.
I had to teach myself about the products to use for recording and look into how I could get my music heard. As an independent musician I was the only person promoting it, so I had to figure out the best way to promote my album with no money. I also had no band at the time when the album was finished. So I had to find a band, and luckily I had very talented friends who now are playing shows with me and we will continue playing shows together and supporting each other and our talents.
I started my own record label, I marketed my album, I made my friends support me and spread the word. I walked around by myself and tried to sell my albums on the streets, booked my own shows, I managed myself. I also made a proposal for a grant from my government community center for my small record label business. I got it, a reimbursement grant for $5000. It gives me enough money to create a website and a promotional company to help me spread the music. It all took a lot of time, but eventually I am starting to create something that I could of only dreamed of when I was 12 years old.
As another artist who is actually looking at going completely independent on everything, do you have any words of wisdom, advice or pearls of peril for me?
Don’t give up, take it one step at a time. Success is not going to happen overnight, and if it does than you are lucky. Buy your own equipment, you can get everything you need for under $500, and what you get is priceless when you know what to do with it. Don’t be afraid to ask somebody for help with creating a song and working out a contract, if you don’t want a contract to get involved than ask your friend or family what they would like if you were to use their rif for one of your songs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your friends about what they think of your songs. Critiquing is always helpful, but don’t over analyze it and forget the feeling and emotions that you began with when first creating the song. Apply for grants, there are a lot of grants out there for musicians. Start up your own record label, it will take time and some money but it with some motivation and time you can achieve a lot. When it is about marketing yourself and creating a business for yourself, I have heard it is 95% business and 5% talent. You need to learn how to be a salesman, an artist manager, a graphic designer, a producer, a promoter. You will want to try and save as much money as possible and spend it on a great mix and master of your album. Getting a great mix for your album means a lot when it comes to a final product, it may be worth to spend some money on a professional mixer, but make sure the mixer is into your type of music and scene. Involve your friends, the more friends you have in your circle, the more favors that they can do for you and you for them. If you have friends that are visual artists, get them to make a poster etc. All the support that you ask from others, be sure to return the favor when they need you to help them for something. The quote for my label is “Helping independent artists, Independently”. If we don’t have a record label to promote your band, than do it yourself, and do it with your friends or people you may know.
Your style fuses so many different snippets of other genres to make one of its own. Do you consider yourself a bit of a musical pioneer and is that an intention of yours, or did your sound evolve naturally in another way?
My sound evolved naturally, there were times when I wouldn’t listen to any music for long time periods because I didn’t want other artists’ music to influence my own music. When I was 12 my friend and I created a rapping group called Savage Rappers. We had a lot of fun, I was very involved with hip hop and rap when I was in highschool. I also loved alternative, punk, punk rock, and ska and went to a lot of shows when I was younger. I started to love finding a band that wasn’t very well known, I would go into a music store and randomly pick a cd and listen to it. I have lots of cds from bands that don’t exist anymore, or bands that have become big within the last 10 years. A lot of my own musical influences have came from the wide range of music genres that I listened to throughout my life. I also played classical music on the piano for 10 years, which also helped broaden my range of listening skills.
How do you perform live as a one man band with everything that goes on in your studio work?
I entered a competition for the Toronto Independent Music Awards. At this point I didn’t play my music live, and I was very weary of how I was going to play it live. I gathered 3 of my friends to help play drums, bass and guitar while I played keyboard and sang. We started to learn to play the songs from my album, and it sounded a lot better live. We than began playing as Julian Bachlow and The Good Times Running and are now booking shows in Ontario for a tour. I’m very happy to be a front man in the band, and I tend to try and get the audience involved as much as I can. I might even ask somebody from the audience to do some improve jams with us. It’s only the beginning, I have a lot of work to do and every time I play live, I grow as a professional musician.
Have you been following the drama with internet radio and are you concerned that the rulings may affect your career?
I’m not following the drama, I will have to do some research. Basically if any radio station, internet radio anything in that manner wants to play my music, all I care about is just being heard.
Are you working on any music right now?
I’m working on my new album right now, as well, helping my other band The Good Times Running, who I play with when we are doing shows. Under the name Julian Bachlow and the Good Times Running. We are creating new material as a band and hopefully my new album, and the Good Times Running album will be out sometime in the fall. I am also involved in helping Kathryn Kearns with her new album (she plays with me in the Good Times Running). I will always work on new music until the day I die.
We’d love to thank Julian for his great insight and we here at HPM have already jotted down a few key things to get onto!