February 2018

Community Service

Boulet Boulet Boulet Text: Gabriel Knowles Images: Dana Rogers

As far as precocious talents go, Jonathon Boulet is up there. Sure he’s no Beethoven, but A Community Service Announcement is as good a rendition of a pop song as anything else released recently and Beethoven wasn’t as young as they say when he got his start. And unlike the concerto masters of yesteryear Boulet didn’t immediately take to the piano, taking flight to the tallest tree he could find when faced with his first piano lesson aged five. Fortunately he clambered back down and ended up taking those lessons.

“I started playing drums at 10-years-old and got a keyboard in high school and started really making music then. The keyboard had a four bar loop on it so you could put down a drum pattern and then put down a bass over that and then a couple of other things over the top of those. So I’d start making four bar loops and taking things out and then putting them back in. It was kind of like a Garage Band really!” The softly spoken and somewhat retiring Boulet begins.

“Eventually it spawned into actually recording and then I got better at recording and it all kind of snowballed from there. As I started recording I got better at guitar so they kind of helped each other.” He continues. “I started out with one microphone so I had to figure out the best place to put that on a drum kit to get everything into the microphone. Eventually I’d learn a bit more and think ‘oh I probably need more microphones’ so I’d buy something and learn how to use it and then the quality would get better and better.”

This collection of musical paraphernalia continued until eventually Boulet had enough to set up a studio of sorts, which he did, in his parents garage at their home in Sydney’s suburban north-east. “It’s a pretty standard garage, it’s almost a two car garage although I don’t think you could really fit two cars in there.” The 21-year-old deadpans. “It’s covered in mix and match carpets and the walls are covered in mattresses and sheets and egg cartons. It’s quite cosy and nice.”

The spot where he recorded all of his self-titled debut album is also fast becoming a musical haven of sorts for those close to Boulet, including local band Parades whom he also plays drums for. “There’s a lot of gear in the garage now, it’s not all mine but it means if a band wants to come and record here they can. There’s a lot of borrowed gear that hasn’t been reclaimed yet, I’m kind of the storage guy but I get to use it.” The multi-instrumentalist enthuses before humbly downplaying that very tag.

“I play two instruments well and the rest I’m dodgy at. I’ll give anything a try though, right now I’ve got a clarinet and a trumpet in the garag and I’m very, very slowly trying to get my head around those. The trumpet is so hard, it’s all in the lips and how tight they are. It’s ridiculous, I just don’t get it.”

In the past Boulet has admitted to hating pop music, labeling it as “the devil” but as he entered the ripe old years of teenagedom his stance softened and he learnt to embrace pop after realising it needn’t be so shameless. These days he’s happy to refer to his output as alternative-pop but that belies the presence of the folk, electro and pure pop components that make it more than just the sum of its parts.

With his first album unintentionally recorded over three long years Boulet has had to change his approach for the follow up and face the pressure of having to write. Although he claims that he’s been unphased by the prospect and in fact has already begun to whittle the list down and is thinking about how best to arrange them all.

“I’m leaning towards all fast songs so it’s just relentless, so you listen to the album and it’s non-stop good times!”

Jonathan Boulet is touring nationally from February 12 until March 13.

Jonathan Boulet

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