19 December 2011

Fresh Meat Monday - JJ Bull

Would you care to introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is JJ Bull and I have just released my second album, 'Crocothilos'. Crocothilos is the Greek word for crocodile and that's all I really have to say about that. I'm not Greek, I'm from Scotland, incase you wondered. I currently play lots of music around Aberdeen because I live there, and I used to play lots around Glasgow because I used to live there for a while as well, but I've played all over the world in places like New York which is quite nice. I used to play in a band called 10 Easy Wishes who were a very noisy pop band but have been playing my own slightly quieter songs solo and with an accompanying band for the last three years or so.

How would you describe the music you make?

It's not going to change the world, redefine music or 'push any boundaries' so to speak, but I like to think I write pop music in the way it kind of used to be. I find it really difficult to say what my music sounds like without sounding like one of these people who tries to say "well man my stuff just sounds so different - it's like band A and band B but with a bit of band C thrown in a blender", because my songs sound like so much other stuff! I suppose a lot of it bares a more than passing resemblance to Frightened Rabbit but I absolutely love Swell Season, LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix, Jurassic 5, The Who and really early 50s and 60s chart pop.

How did you start out making music?

I used to have piano and violin lessons when I was very young but hated the stuff I used to get taught so would fanny about as much as I could. Anything to avoid practising what I was supposed to. I remember vaguely having written an instrumental piece in open C (just a C chord and a wee right hand melody) when I was still in Primary School - so I've been doing it for the majority of my life. I used to love listening to music from games like Sonic the Hedgehog and I think a lot of the melodies in my music stem from that sort of style. I found a guitar in my parents attic when I was about 13 and taught myself a few chords just so I could write a few songs myself but like everyone around my age back then (I'm 26 now) was surrounded by Oasis, Stereophonics etc so song structures are probably quite similar to how those guys did it at first.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

I usually mess about with my acoustic guitar until something sounds nice to my ears, then work from there. Since learning how to record/produce stuff I've found that the way I write is a lot different. Where as before I would write a song and practise it a million times so I don't forget it, now if I write something on the spur of the moment, I immediately record a wee take of it with improvised words. It means that all the songs sound totally new to me the next time I listen to them and I can try and construct them from the way the 'feel' of them takes me. Words tend to work around a general feeling or emotion I get from the first time I started writing the melody in my head, and I like to try and give a narrative in the way Calvin and Hobbes would do it, or Roald Dahl. I don't usually do it very well.

What can people expect from your live shows?

When I play solo I like to use my loop pedal so expect glockenspiels, plinky plonky noises and old yamaha keyboards with terrible drums but with a full band expect anything to happen. I don't mean explosions or me eating a bat or anything, I mean that every gig I've played with 'The Dinosaurs' has been severely (sometimes purposefully) under rehearsed and as a result everything sounds very raw. We kinda have to depend on what each other knows of the song so every time we play it's different, which is quite exciting for me, but how much anyone enjoys it is a mystery! Hopefully they think it's amazing. But they might not. I like music to be crafted by musicians so it's alive and can go anywhere rather than be perfected like guitar hero. That's how I justify being lazy.

What are you all listening to at the moment?

At the moment I am listening to the new Little Kicks album constantly because it's fucking ace, and apart from that I've been listening to a lot of jazz music from the 50s and Lou Reed. Also I found an old Captain Everything! record the other day. And also The Decline by NOFX. I don't think I've listened to anything else new for a while. The X-Certs album is quite new I guess.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?

I don't know really. I really like writing music and it's pretty cathartic for me, if anyone decides to buy it or listen to it that's awesome but I really do just do it anyway. I have absolutely no aspirations to become a mega star or "make it", but expect to probably see me play some pub near where you live at some point and to make lots of records that some people stumble across and quite like. And after that raving bit of self promotion I fully expect my career to set on fire. I think I've written rather a lot here so I'll just sort of stop now.

JJ Bull - Pirates (of the Aberdee​-​en)


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