Interview with ‘Bruce Nowlin’
After posting two top 50 songs Bruce Nowlin is slated to be back with another album. REFLECTIONS is the title of Bruce Nowlin’s next new album due for release on July 3rd, featuring his energetic blend of piano and synthesizers along with a backing band. The first single from Reflections has been released on YouTube. Bruce’s latest hit “You’re The One” peaked at #36 on Spotify.
Where are you from?
I grew up in the Austin, Texas area. We lived in small towns around the edge of Austin when I was young. It was a dream of mine, that after finishing school I would move to Austin and become a musician. At the time, 6th Street was the place to be for Texas musicians; it was Texas’ very own Sunset Strip; Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Vaughan, BB King, Lyle Lovett, Fabulous Thunderbirds, ZZ Top, I am sure that even Willie Nelson and probably George Strait have played on 6th Street.
How long have you been making music?
I got hooked on music when I was about five or six. I tried convincing my parents into buying me a drum set but that never happened. I remember listening to the radio as my parents would play “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers on their record player over and over. A couple of years later I got a guitar and soon thereafter a friend of mine asked me to join him and his brother playing in their band. I played guitar for a while before moving into synthesizers and piano. I wrote music lyrics all through high school, lol, I wrote more lyrics than I did reports for class work. At one point though school I had this girl in class reading a song I wrote. It was around the same time Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” was popular. I mimicked their melody and wrote some words down; we went to her house during lunch break. I had one of those big 4 inch binders full of lyrics. I should have let more girls read my lyrics. Sadly however, I kept the lyrics in the trunk of my car and when I sold that car, I forgot to take the lyrics out and now I have no idea where they are. I can’t say that any band in particular somehow got a hold of those lyrics but I know one or two songs on the radio a few years later sounded familiar.
How many songs /albums have you released to date?
My first album THIS LIFE was released in 2015, it still gets some radio play. So far I have six albums out.
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background and inspirations behind it?
No boundaries is the simplest definition. I combine elements of Pink Floyd with elements of Yanni. When I get that burst of creativity. My style typically incorporates a catchy beat / rhythm; whether it is a blues shuffle, a rap beat or a pop rhythm, whatever. After that track is laid, I already have the concept in my head. I then lay down the keyboard part. From there I work on incorporating what I consider to be complimentary elements: ambient sounds, backing instrumentation, etc. I might work with one track for days trying to get it right. Occasionally, I will reach a certain point were I am just not happy with the project and the whole thing will get trashed.
How have you ended up in the music industry?
I have literally been going to concerts my entire life. I recall when I was probably about six or seven years old my mother brought my sister and I to see Jimmy Swaggart perform; his ministry and band. A year or so later we went to see Dino Kartsonakis. We were always catching live shows. I still go out and watch live shows when I can. One of the last shows I seen was Foreigner. I sat backstage with Kelly Hanson (lead singer of Foreigner), we talked for a good while.
What do you think of the music industry in 2021?
I see the potential for a banner year, I think many performers if they play it right, they will do really well this year. A lot of folks miss going out to venues and seeing live shows.
Who do you think the most influential artist?
I would say that Pink Floyd is definitely one of my biggest influences. They managed to combine rock, blues, jazz, punk, instrumental and a plethora of other styles into their music. In doing so they were able to create albums which still to this day are unsurpassed in length of time on the billboard charts. As of January 2021 ‘Darkside Of The Moon’ still sits on the Billboard charts. The album was released in 1973!! Yanni is of course another major influence, he combined classical music with modern synthesizers and ethnic variations from around the globe. No one else had ever tried that before. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson (both Texas legends) had a big impact on me. The one thing I picked up from both of them is the importance of space and finding alternate voicing; instead of a “C” perhaps use an Am; and you do not have to have your music take up every second of the song.
Who have you collaborated with so far in your career?
I’ve worked with three or four musicians with various backgrounds. No one with a prominent name but they are all talented in their own respects. One guy gets regular gigs writing jingles for television commercials, another fella is a retired rock guitarist. Sometimes you just need to to relax your brain and pick someone else’s brain for ideas and inspiration.
How do you think you differ from other artists?
Music to me is a combination of science and psychology. Scientist have conducted numerous studies on the effects of sound waves, interval structure, etc and they have proven that combinations of certain elements within a song, will make people like that song. I try to stay within a given parameter on all of my music because I want everything I do to portray positivity. Certain aspects of a tune may have a sprinkling of depression but if I could avoid writing something in say D7 / Fm / C then by all means I do. I would like to only put out songs that say ‘hey I am happy, I’m laughing’ but that isn’t always life. Sometimes be need that downer so we can realize just how blessed we are when things are good. I combine elements of Pink Floyd with elements of Yanni. When I get that burst of creativity. My style typically incorporates a catchy beat / rhythm; whether it is a blues shuffle, a rap beat or a pop rhythm, whatever. After that track is laid, I already have the concept in my head. I then lay down the keyboard part. From there I work on incorporating what I consider to be complimentary elements: ambient sounds, backing instrumentation, etc. I might work with one track for days trying to get it right. Occasionally, I will reach a certain point were I am just not happy with the project and the whole thing will get trashed.
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
Ultimately, venue doesn’t matter much. I want to be on stage with Yanni. I don’t really care where, it could be the Acropolis, Carnegie Hall, his home in Florida for all I care. The man is a huge inspiration and I probably would not be creating the music I create if he would not have created the music he did. Same goes for Pink Floyd. I would love to do a set with them too.
What was the first album you bought?
I remember it very well…. it was 1984 and vinyl! I had an old, something like a Jensen or Crosley stereo and it was loud; my dad would always yell at me to turn it down. It had two cassette decks, a record player and radio. I loved it because I could pick up KLOL from Houston and KLBJ from Austin… that was back in the days when those stations both played great honest rock music. My first record was Ratt – Out of The Cellar.
What’s your favourite song at the moment?
Many but the one song above all which I can listen to over and over is Yanni’s “One Man’s Dream.” I love the simplicity of the song, even if the song only incorporated just the right hand piano part it would be such a beautiful tune. For something more mainstream and modern it would be “Dirty Finger” by Texas Hippie Coalition.
If you had to sell your music collection tomorrow, what album would you leave in your draw?
Oh wow…. umm, I would have to hang on to my limited edition copy of ‘Couldn’t Stand The Weather’
What is your favourite saying?
That’s tough, I suppose Tony Robbins quote “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.” It is an absolutely true and 100% certain statement. Nothing in your life will change until you make an adjustment; even a tiny adjustment can make a huge impact. For example an aircraft pilot can tell you that without GPS a typical flight over short distances is two degrees off course after sixty miles. So they use the 1:60 rule to make minor adjustments to help keep them on track.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I started taking up golf for the exercise and because it allows me to get out in the open and let ideas and inspiration come to me. You never know when a new idea for a song will occur. In one of Stevie’s biographies the author talked about how SRV would look for inspiration from his influences and usually find it in the least likely places. That is a stark contrast to Yanni, whom in his bio stated that when he is working on his music he locks himself away and meditates on his work, sometimes days at a time. What I learned is this: Inspiration comes from everywhere, when it hits you – take notice or it will fade away quickly. Just look at the definition of the word – Inspiration is a sudden, unconscious burst of creativity. Bursts don’t last forever, you have to notice that sudden burst and act on it. That is when brilliance happens.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project?
I would have to say broader instrumentation. When I released THIS LIFE in 2015 it was music I was working on in 2013 and 2014. I didn’t have all of the gear that I have today. I didn’t have a Theremin, a 32 track mixer, a Korg piano, Pro Tools, etc. I had a some basic stuff, an idea and a desire. The nice thing about THIS LIFE, despite the simplicity of that first album and the horrible mix. There are a couple of songs on that album which still receive a good share of radio attention. The music was catchy and people like it. It makes them feel good and it makes them move. THE DOCTOR and my upcoming release in July REFLECTIONS are made with a lot of new gear.
What’s in the pipeline after this project?
I am always working on new music but we are putting the final touches on a new Christmas album and we are talking about possibly releasing a greatest hits album in 2022.
Thank you for your time and may you carry on making great, fresh music.
Well, it has been a pleasure to talk with you and share a little background about my music and myself. I want to thank all of listeners and fans, without them the music wouldn’t exist.