30 Jan Featured Artist | Wes Bullock | Tell Me What You See
Passionate songwriters know struggle. As with any field, it takes years of dedication and hard work to become a pro. Chemist and artist, Wes Bullock, exemplifies this attitude of success. What’s his secret sauce? Invest in yourself.
“If I don’t sleep in too late, I work on my piano playing in the morning before work and usually it’s the last thing I do before I go to bed.”
Tell us the story that led to you writing the song “Tell Me What You See.”
I was playing some chord progressions on my guitar and the words “close your eyes and tell me what you see inside” came to me. I began building this song from there. I decided to write a song about a man who knows he’s not perfect, but he does know he loves his woman and what her presence in his life means to him. He’s saying “thank you” for what she means to him but he’s also looking for some feedback – does she feel the same way? The song is essentially about gratitude and reconfirming his commitment to her.
Did you get formal music education before?
I have never had any formal music education (other than playing the tuba in high school band). Besides that, I have self-studied a little bit of music theory over the years and play a little guitar and even less piano. Lately, I’ve begun to dig into music theory again using resources at a site called hooktheory.com (which is a great teaching site) and work on piano skills. Up to now, my musicality has been pretty simple (I, iii, IV, V, vi kind of stuff) but I’m working on some things that have a little more texture and depth, aided by what I’m learning on hooktheory.com.
Do you have any kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals?
My approach to songwriting is that I play around with guitar or piano until I find something catchy that begins to tell a story and then I try to build something from there. I have a few such ideas most of the time that I’m playing with and I just keep trying to fill in around those “hooks” and figure out what story I want to tell. When one of them begins to grow and take shape, I focus on it. I start doing two things in parallel: building and defining the story/lyrics, and fleshing out the melody and chords. I guess I’d say that for me, my process is all about building to and supporting that central idea or hook. I don’t really have any creative rituals or patterns except to find whatever time I can to write and learn. What that usually looks like: If I don’t sleep in too late, I work on my piano playing in the morning before work and usually it’s the last thing I do before I go to bed. During my drive to and from work (30 minutes each way), I like to have some version of what I’m currently working on to sing along with and I sing it over and over, trying to find the right flavor and tweaking the words, chords, melody. At lunch, I drive to a nearby park and eat my lunch in my truck. I have an ipad I play on using garageband or I take my lyric sheet and just sing along with whatever recording I have so far and try to improve the song. Every so often, I go onto hooktheory.com and if there is song I particularly like, I see if they have the tabs built and I try to play the chords and melody on the piano to “see how they did that thing I heard.” I haven’t written many songs but I’m learning not to settle when it comes to what I’m creating. I’ve done three songs with Demo My Song and I feel like I’ve been a little more objectively critical of what I’ve created each time. The next song I do will be another step up, hopefully. I’m going to try to be proud of every smallest part of each song – not just satisfied. My goal is to write great songs and that’s going to take a lot more attention to all of the fine details than I have invested so far.
What are your plans & hopes for the future with regards to your music?
Writing music has become an obsession with me these days – something I never expected to be obsessed with – but there it is. There is nothing I enjoy more than the process of putting words, chords and melodies together to tell a story. I hope to keep making songs until no more come to me. I hope that some of the songs I eventually write will be strong enough that artists will want to record or play them and they will be heard by more than just a few people but even if that never happens, I’ll probably keep trying because I enjoy it so much. I want my songs to be uplifting and positive in some way or tell a story that someone will relate to. I want my songs to get more musically textured. I want to learn to put those subtler sounds together that I can kind of hear in my mind when I’m writing a song but which mostly remain just out of my ability to find at this point. I want to improve my “sound engineering” skills and MIDI/piano skills so I can write/record multi-part pieces at home before demo’ing with pro’s. I also recently found that there is a chapter of NSAI within an hour of me so I’m going to join that and get involved in a local songwriting community – possibly do some collaborative work.