We’re so very psyched to host Chris Bullock–known for his sax stylings in Snarky Puppy–and his band at Jammin Java this week, Wednesday 1/21. Bullock’s debut solo album Boomtown is an “adventurous and surprising” listen, finding Chris and his collaborators dipping into various styles including future jazz, hip hop, electronic, and trip hop. We caught up with Chris while he was at home in Brooklyn before he hits the road, got to talk about the new album, his memories of DC and his favorite pizza topping. Read the interview below, and be sure to grab your tickets for this Wednesday here.
Jammin Java: Boomtown is your debut solo album, what was the recording process like? How did it differ to record Boomtown compared to other albums you’ve been a part of? What can fans expect from the album?
Chris Bullock: The recording process took place over 2 years, during moments at home in Brooklyn for me between tours with Snarky Puppy. The songs and recording process began as a bedroom project. I recorded lots of layers of woodwinds, synths, and MPC beats. I later had a few various recording sessions in studios in NYC with the other musicians on the record. I even recorded some while on tour with Snarky in Europe. A lot of the nicer performing arts centers in Europe always have great sounding grand pianos in the green rooms or large rooms that have unique acoustic qualities. I then went back and sampled and altered a lot of the sounds and material to make it sound less predictable.
This record was different than any other session I’ve been a part of due to the nature of the production process. I was forced to learn the in’s and out’s of recording and mixing a variety of sounds that aren’t often found together. Part of the time was a typical studio session and the other was closer to hip hop production and techniques. I love a variety of music and wanted to find a way to put combine these sounds in a personal way.
Fans can expect lots of synths, woodwind choirs of flutes and clarinets that have been put through a variety of FX pedals, traditional jazz moments, and lots of grooving beats.
JJ: How would you describe the vibe of Boomtown? What’s the ideal state of mind for jamming this album? Describe the perfect Boomtown listening sesh.
CB: I would describe the vibe of Boomtown to be adventurous and surprising. With my mixing engineer, Nic Hard, we explored ways to mix the various instruments in surprising or unique ways. I would recommend listening to this album in a car with nice speakers turnt up! I made sure there’s a lot of “bump” on this album. It can be enjoyed in an intimate listening experience or have moments of party music. I was trying to imagine what the 21 year old me might have played at a party to impress my music friends and create a nice environment.
JJ: Any notable musical influences that inspired the album? Who did you work with to make it a reality? Do you have any dream collaborators in mind?
I have various musical influences that inspired the album. I’m hesitant to list them because I want to allow future listeners space for their own imagination ideas about the music. With that being said, I’ll only list a few: Claus Ogerman (who orchestrated many amazing Jobim albums), J Dilla, Ahmad Jamal, and Flying Lotus.
I worked with some extremely talented friends to make this record. They include Justin Stanton & Bob Lanzetti (Snarky Puppy), Louis Cato (Bobby McFerrin, Q-tip, Colbert Show band), Sasha Masakowski, Nikki Glaspie (Nth Power, Maceo Parker, Beyonce), and David Cutler. The album was mixed by Nic Hard and mastered by Joshua Peterson.
JJ: What are your 2019 plans? New year, new you?
There are lots of things going on in 2019. After the recent release of Boomtown, I’m embarking on my first tour with my band. We are making our way down the East Coast. I have a West Coast tour with my band in Feb./March. Snarky is releasing a new record and I’ll be on the road for a majority of the rest of the year with them. We have a few highlights, including a gig with the LA Phil and lots of international performances. I’ll be on the road again in the fall with my band in the midwest and Canada. I plan to start recording my second album in August in Brazil. Lots of new music and places to explore.
JJ: When someone says ‘Washington, DC’ what is the first memory that comes to mind?
CB: Most definitely Go-Go music. During a tour with Snarky some years ago where the number of band members probably equaled our audience size, our drummer, Robert “Sput” Searight, took us to a real-deal go-go club. I had never experienced groove like that before.
JJ: What’s your favorite pizza topping? Hopefully we have that at Jammin Java.
CB: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I consider myself a bit of a pizza snob after living in NYC for many years and enjoying the variety you can find in this city. I guess I’d have to say garlic, lots of it!
Interview by Hillary Dale