Edmonton musician, Shaun Bosch, uses his personal experiences to create music to help listeners get through the hard times, and relish the good ones. Having already released one album, Bosch is already working toward his next EP - and we can't wait to hear it. We talked to Bosch about how he got started musically, his inspiration for his album, and future plans.
G: How did you get started musically?
SB: My earliest musical memories include chopsticks on the piano in our living room and lip-syncing to California Raisons tunes. I was sort of a late bloomer when it comes to playing and writing.
G: Did you grow up with a musical family?
SB: Not particularly. My folks loved music and we listened to a lot of different things in the house growing up, but we weren't really a musical family. My dad had a guitar that he never learned how to play very well (sorry dad), and my sister played piano for a while – that was about the extent of it in our house. My mom’s side of the family was much more musically inclined though, so I suppose that gene came from her. Once in a while my grandpa would play "you are my sunshine" on the acoustic and it really resonated with me. He was an old-school hard working farmer kind of dude and it was cool to see a different side to him when he pulled out the guitar. I also have an uncle that played in a country band called the Moon Dogs for many years - I think they played something like 500 shows around Alberta over the years. He bought me my first guitar when I was 12 – an Aria Pro II ZZ.
It looked like a Metallica axe, so it felt like I had to play metal on it. I took lessons for a year or so but I was a horrible student and didn’t really connect with the guitar as an instrument at that point in my life so I quit before I learned much. I was more interested in OutKast and Wu-Tang at that time anyway. It was the early 90s, guitars weren't cool then.
G: What drew you to the folk genre?
SB: Life did. I guess when you sing with an acoustic guitar people call it folksy. Genres are a weird thing. I floated around creatively, experimenting with different styles for a while, including hip-hop. I always loved music but it wasn’t until I went through a divorce about 8 years ago that I found a voice as a songwriter. I spent a lot of hours alone with my acoustic guitar, thinking about life, love and pain – trying to make sense of it I suppose. It was my therapy during a pretty tough time in my life. That`s when I really connected with the instrument. It just felt right. I was still in university at the time and had a lot of free time on my hands between classes so my daily routine for a few years was about 70% playing and writing tunes.
G: What do you want the audience to get out of your music?
SB: I think a lot of my songwriting starts with an emotion, or just a feeling at a particular moment in time and trying to understand the ripple of that feeling. Or it’s an attempt to enjoy and acknowledge a moment. Moments are kind of like these bizarre little seeds that can grow into something significant in our lives, or they can just happen without consequence and end up meaning nothing. I guess the cool thing is that we never really know and that’s just part of the journey we are all on. I hope my listeners are able to connect with the sort of self-reflective element in my music. I hope it helps them get through tough times and helps them relish the good ones. The therapeutic nature of writing for me usually means I'm asking myself a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to, so my songs (I've been told) tend to have an aura of longing to them. Longing for answers and longing to be a better man on this earth, I suppose. I'm not particularly drawn to writing about things that make sense to me, luckily most things in life and love make no sense at all so there's no shortage of inspiration.
G: When you perform, what is something that makes a great audience for you?
SB: Tacos. It's always a plus if they bring tacos.
G: Tell us a little bit about your recent album, Silence.
SB: In 2011 I ruptured a disc in my neck - I'm still not certain how it happened, but that was another really tough time for me. For about 4 or 5 months I could barely function. My arms and hands were going numb and the pain was unbearable. I bounced around between doctors, specialists and physiotherapist for months looking for a way to get my life back and all they wanted to do is put me on a bunch of meds to dull everything out. It's really crazy how much physical pain can start to affect your mind. I had to talk myself out of some pretty hopeless places some days, and it was hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel a lot of the time. I felt like I was letting everyone down - my son, my girlfriend, work, family… It was tough. Really tough. It took about 6 months for things to start improving enough that I could get around. I'm lucky to have had the strongest person I know helping me through (I love you Amy). She really got me through it. The song Garden sort of came about during that time as I grappled with those helpless feelings and the song is just about struggle and hope. Most of the album was written around that time.
This was my first studio album so the whole experience of working with a producer and other musicians was new to me. We started with raw demos I recorded on my phone and slowly started bringing them to life in the studio. We tracked the drums first and sort of built thing out from there. The recording budget was super tight so we had to get creative with a lot of things. I wanted a lot of strings on the record (cello, viola, and violin), so it was a challenge to find that on the budget I was working with but we made it happen. I had a blast working on this album and I'm already excited about the projects ahead!
G: Tell us a little bit about your recent music video, Garden, and the story that goes along with it.
SB: I connected with a great director named Han Siu through a website-organization called Public Records. They help musicians and filmmakers connect on projects and give out grants to make them happen. We didn't get a grant to shoot this video, but we both really wanted to make it happen. Han had a great vision for the video that captured the themes of struggle and hope and I completely handed over the creative reigns to him on the video. I think he did a beautiful job. His storytelling style cinematically is very similar to my songwriting style in that we both like to keep things somewhat open to interpretation so you can take the images, lyrics and music and let your own experiences paint a unique experience.
G: How is the music scene in Edmonton? What are the best and worst parts about it?
SB: Amazing. I can't really say anything bad about the scene here. There are so many talented songwriters living here – they are literally crawling out from everywhere. It`s a really inspiring thing. I find the bar keeps getting raised and it really forces you to push yourself and put in that extra work. I think there are some special things going on here, it's exciting.
G: What are your plans for the upcoming year?
SB: I have a 5 song EP that I'm planning to start recording in the fall. Tha's the next project I'm jumping into so I'm hoping to have some more new music to share soon. I’ve been trying some of the new tunes out at shows and people seem to really be digging them, so I’m pretty excited to get back in the studio.
I'm also planning to waste a lot of time watching the Oilers struggle through another season. Maybe I'll use it as inspiration…
G: Who inspires you musically and creatively the most?
SB: Musically, I've been incredibly inspired by Gregory Alan Isakov over the past few years. I love everything about his songwriting and sound. His music has helped me realize how powerful a whisper can be. I've also been listening to a lot of the Ryan Adams Heartbreaker album lately, as well as Joe Nolan’s Tornado and the Josh Ritter Animal Years record. And I also listen to a lot of Joshua Hyslop – his tunes always inspire me. I’m really looking forward to his new record.
G: Are there some local bands you'd like to give a shout-out to?
SB: Shout-out to my good friend Emily Coulston! She has a new EP out called Timeless. It's amazing, check it out! Shout-out to my good friend Mr. Greg Boardway. He'll have an EP out soon as well. And I have to give a shout-out to a local band I've been a huge fan of for a few years now – Pretty Taken. They are making some pretty great tunes - www.prettytaken.com/