Dream Catcher

4 July 2012 | 6:40 am | Bryget Chrisfield

“I don’t think you can ever call it a career, it’s just gettin’ away with it really,” multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Boulet tells Bryget Chrisfield of his so-called chosen profession, aka “livin’ the dream”.

More Jonathan Boulet More Jonathan Boulet

“I don't even know what I said/I'm not in control of myself.” Sonic stab. The first time this scribe heard Jonathan Boulet's Trounce – an early taste from his second album We Keep The Beat Found The Sound See The Need Start The Heart – it was time to pull over and implement road safety. And stay there for 1.48 minutes to wait for the back-announce, 'cause it was so good and yet unidentifiable to this pair of ears. Boulet's previous songs such as A Community Service Announcement and North To South East To You have a gentler, more uplifting, melodious and airy feel, even if their accompanying music videos were dark and ominous, juxtaposing the sound. Is this a common reaction from what Boulet can tell? “Um, not heaps. I dunno, I think from people that just heard the first [self-titled] album it's definitely a lot different for them, but for me it's... everything was kinda going that way the whole time, so [it's] not a shock for myself and people who are close around us. It's always been us slowly trying to get louder and slowly trying to get heavier.”

Let's not forget the band in which Boulet drums: Parades, currently on hiatus. “We're all kinda just focusing on our own stuff at the moment,” he confirms. “That band started as a punk band, but from there we moved into the pop and indie world.” Boulet admits he enjoys exploring different aspects of his musical personality via various projects. “It's really good to have the balance of different things. It's easy to get stuck in one thing, but it's so much nicer to be able to change it up and go to something fresh and feel good about it.” In terms of working out where a composition is gonna fit, Boulet shares, “It's generally pretty obvious from the start and, yeah, that's a good thing. I don't have to try and hide any songs from anyone.”

In fact, Boulet's record label sounds particularly accommodating. “I'm with Modular. They're very open and they definitely take an interest in what's happening but, in terms of final say, I'll always get the final say, which is great,” he extols. “Like, they'll have suggestions and things, which is good 'cause they're not just like, 'This isn't right, this isn't gonna make us any money,' kinda thing. It's just like, 'This could be better in this way and this way,' and it's like, 'Okay, I'll take that on board,' and, yeah, they're just really cool.”

On his songwriting technique, Boulet ponders, “It all kind of changes. If I start with the same thing too much it'll be the same song, like, it'll be too easy to land in the same spot. So if I start with something different each time, you know, it's gonna go somewhere else and the focus is gonna be on something else rather than the drums all the time or the melody all the time.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

If you thought Boulet's album title was out-there, wait 'til you see the artwork. “I was in New York last year travelling and saw an exhibition with [Boris Mikhailov]'s photos in it,” Boulet explains of how he sourced the (disturbing) images. “They were these big, huge printouts of those photos. There were heaps and heaps of them and they were so awesome. As soon as we walked in and saw them, it was just so confronting and instantly I loved it. I was just like, 'These are excellent photos. They're so good. They've got such a good vibe and they're just so strange.' It's just weird to think about who's in these photos. And a long way down the track we were trying to find art for the album, and then I remembered this guy and I was like, 'God, it'd be cool to get photos like his photos,' and then someone was like, 'Why don't you just get his photos?' And it was like, 'Oh, I didn't think about that,' and then we got in contact with him and he was like, 'Yeah, okay'. He was keen.”

Did he wanna hear Boulet's material first? “I dunno. I think he's kind of elusive. It took a while to find him. Like, even his management took a while to figure out where he was. So, I dunno if he was into it or if he was just like, 'Yeah, whatever, that's fine,' or if he actually listened and was like, 'Yeah, this is okay, I guess'. But I feel like if he did listen he would've probably said no.” Oh, that's not true! Boulet laughs, “If it was me I'd be like, 'Who's this loser?'”

So Boulet would want to approve anything his music would potentially be aligned with. “I think at the start, or just in general, if anything came along I'd just be like 'nah' if it was any kind of company or mass corporate entity. I'd just be like, 'No way, I don't wanna be involved in that at all'.” It does seem as if even if you say no, a sound-alike version of your song can be hashed out and then the punters associate that product with your music anyway. “Yeah, it's a bit crap, that,” he agrees. “Artists just miss out and then they still get associated a bit with the ad anyway… I guess there's not very much you can do. The only thing that you can do is make music that you love and hopefully people like it for that.”

When asked how old he was when he realised he wanted to pursue music as his chosen career, Boulet responds, “Um, I still feel like I'm just getting away with it at the moment. The longer I don't have to get a job the better; you know, livin' the dream. So I don't think you can ever call it a career, it's just gettin' away with it really. So far I'm doing all right living off this stuff, which is good. I think mainly 'cause I haven't really splurged or gone crazy like a couple of people do in that position but, yeah! I think I'm doing okay so far.”

Although Boulet tries to “get out as much as [he] can and see good bands”, he laments, “But I dunno, there just seems to not be a lotta good bands around these days. Like, there's good bands, but there doesn't seem to be any real special ones. The support for the good bands isn't there, the thing that keeps 'em moving forward isn't there, it's off somewhere else helping the bands that aren't as good that will sort of relate to more people rather than have good music. It's so backwards, and it shouldn't be.”

And does Boulet watch The Voice or any of those reality talent shows? “Nah, I don't bother with that stuff. That stuff's just rubbish. I've said it before: those shows aren't for musicians, [they're] for everyone else but musicians – for everyone watching and for everyone involved. The people there aren't musical, they aren't music lovers and they aren't real musicians; they're just, I dunno, they're just people that have a dream and that's their way of going about it… And it's funny, when people do get through, like, for example Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby, somehow their past has been forgotten.”