Artist Spotlight: Jeremy Bullock (of JNUARY)

Be a fan of your craft, and don't be afraid to expand your aesthetic.

For composer, Jeremy Bullock (aka JNUARY) it's all about finding the right tone and subtlety in his compositions. His orchestrally driven tracks are an ambient, peaceful and atmospheric blend that perfectly create strong cinematic imagery. He takes the element of storytelling very seriously as he writes, aiming not only to drive the picture's imagery, but to add color (so to speak) to the collaboration as well.

Building his craft from an impressive resume of performing in indie rock bands like Wild Cub, Bullock has ventured into solo composition endeavors, trekking into the world of soundtrack work. His music is full of vibrancy and a deep well of emotions. This has a lot to do with constantly experimenting with his craft and always maintaining the lens of a music lover over everything else. Here is Bullock in his own words. Enjoy.

Marmoset: Why music? How did you know you wanted to pursue this as a career?

Jeremy Bullock: Well, I started playing music at an early age, long before I was ever considering what my career path would be. I picked up the guitar when I was about eight and from that point on, I was obsessed. That led to starting a band in middle school that went from playing pool parties to eventually touring the east coast -- all before we were out of high school. So, in a way, music as a profession just came from doing it, because it was what I enjoyed doing when I was a kid. Now, between my band Wild Cub, composing for TV and film, and writing and producing, my range of work is much broader. But, as cheesy as it sounds, I still do it because it’s what I love to do.

M: Do you look up to any artists? If so, who and why?

JB: One thing I think is really important when working in music is maintaining your ability to be a music fan. I try to set aside time every day to stop whatever I’m working on and experience music as a listener. What I’m generally drawn to in artists is honesty, and in today's world where there is just so much content, I think that music and art that comes from an honest place is what will continue to cut through. Artists like Bowie and Prince who continuously reinvented themselves throughout their career, but who did it in their own way and created a voice for themselves. Those are the artists I look up to. The ones who simultaneously make you envious of the art that they make while empowering you to create a voice for yourself.

M: How did you get connected with Wild Cub? Did you ever think that’d be something you had the opportunity to do?

JB: I moved to Nashville when I was 21 with the band I started in middle school. The music community here, as you’d expect, is really fantastic -- but country music aside, Nashville has always had a really strong current of talented musicians making music in all genres. Within that, everyone is always working with and for each other. Collaborating on projects and performing together. I started playing guitar for Keegan DeWitt, who had a solo project at the time. We really connected musically and were both at the point where we were looking for a new project to be a part of. Wild Cub was really a way for both of us to have the creative freedom to make music under a new moniker that wasn’t our names. We didn’t really have expectations at the time, especially given the fact that we recorded the album ourselves in my bedroom with hardly any equipment.

M: What made you want to start composing music for licensing? What was the first song you composed?

JB: I started composing music for licensing by chance. My sister was living in LA and working in TV production. She had a friend who was working on a commercial and needed a composer. I had never done any ad/TV work and had hardly any knowledge of recording music, but took the job anyway. I think I fumbled through a song for them and can’t remember if it was used or not, but that was my first taste of composing for licensing. It’s much different than composing in the context of popular music. You have to use a different set of skills that require you to not only record, mix and edit your own music, but work with others to bring an idea to life, which I really enjoyed.

M: What were some of the challenges you faced when starting off?

JB: My biggest challenge early on was basically inexperience, not just as a composer, but in the industry. When you are starting out, you have to take on projects to gain experience, and some of those projects might be with people who don’t necessarily share the same musical vision as you. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop a few relationships where we share a mutual respect for what each other can creatively bring to the project. That’s been really helpful, not only in providing opportunities that I’m really passionate about, but also giving me a chance to really believe in and trust my creative vision.

M: What role does music play in film?

JB: I always view music in film as just an extension of the storytelling. Music and film have a powerful way of connecting people very deeply to their own emotions. Some of my favorite films are those that have a very strong story to begin with and don’t rely on music as a guide. The last film that I worked on was a German documentary called Alle 28 Tage, which follows the filmmaker's attempt to become pregnant in her early forties. The film itself was very personal, and we decided on a score that was very minimal and primarily solo piano. The music just assisted what was already there, which is what I try to do as a film composer.

M: What’s the last song/artist you listened to?

JB: Lemonade.

M: What’s coming up for you? Any future plans in sight?

JB: I always try to keep a few different projects going at the same time. With Wild Cub, we took this past year off from touring to work on the next album, which we are currently putting the finishing touches on. I’ve also been writing and producing for other artists. There have been some exciting bands and artists that I’ve had an opportunity to work with that have allowed me to branch out as a writer and work on music that I wouldn’t for myself. Aside from that, I am a very passionate amateur table tennis player, and when I’m not touring, you can usually catch me somewhere around east Nashville with a racket and a beer in hand.

Posted on May 20, 2016 and filed under Music.