While looking for inspiration for Features in At a Glance, I realized that sometimes I need to look no further than my own family. One of the good things about Facebook is that it gives us a link with some of our family members, particularly those who do not live close by, that maybe we wouldn’t have had before. So, when I began to see recent posts and photos of my cousin’s son and realized just how musically talented he had become, I knew just who I wanted to interview as one of my Features on Introductions to New and Promising Talent…something I had in mind to focus on when creating this blog.
Drew Bauml is 18 years old and just starting his Senior Year at MacArthur High School in San Antonio, Texas. With a penchant for funky socks, bow ties, and a first place win of his high school’s talent contest, Mac Idol, people are beginning to take note of Drew’s talent and his charming quirkiness.
Having an inside track has it’s perks, so I went straight to the source to see about doing a Feature…I messaged his mom. I mean, come on…what 18 year old is going to be interested in his mom’s cousin’s little blog-thingy, right? =) So, with the networking of my lovely cousin Lori, I managed to secure a Feature with Drew. I am really excited to share with you his thoughts and the range of talent and creativity that he encompasses. So, let’s get to it!
First off, thanks Drew, for agreeing to take time away from what I know is a very busy and exciting time for you, starting your Senior Year of High School and all! To get us going, can you share a little about your background…have you always been musically inclined?
Well, I’ve definitely loved music for as long as I can remember. Music class was easily my favorite class in elementary school. It seemed like a part of me already. When I took piano lessons when I was in 1st grade, I realized I found a great sense of accomplishment with my music.
Did you know early on that music was something you wanted to pursue?
Not really actually. I knew I loved music but it was always a temporary feeling. I didn’t really know I wanted to pursue it until about 7th grade. That’s when orchestra became a little bit more serious and I began to work harder.
You are a multi-instrumentalist.. .what instruments do you play? Which is your favorite? And what else would you like to take up?
I play the cello, guitar, banjo (5-string and 6-string), piano, mandolin, and some ukulele and harmonica. My favorite has to be my cello. I easily spend more time with that chunk of wood more than anything else. I love the cello because it lets me be technical and tedious, but at same time it lets me express my passion and my love for music. It’s a pretty cool thing. And I would love to take up the organ. But that’s a pretty tough one to get your hands on…
Did or are you currently undergoing any specific musical training? You attended Idyllwild Orchestra Academy during one of its summer programs…
When it comes to the cello, I’ve been taking private lessons since 6th grade. Along with private lessons I’ve had an orchestra class every year at school since 6th grade. I owe any and all of my orchestra accomplishments to those teachers. Idyllwild was an amazing experience. Being chained to your music for 2 weeks changes you as a musician and as a person. I will always cherish what I learned in those 2 weeks. And this summer I participated in the Young Artist Program for the Cactus Pear Music Festival. Cactus Pear is a local chamber music festival that features AMAZING chamber musicians in small ensemble form. In this program, 6 young artists are chosen to come together and learn extensive, classic chamber music, then perform it! Our sextet got to work with the festival artists and even got to have private lessons with them too. For example, the festival cellist was Dmitri Atapine. This guy was born in Russia, then he lived in Spain for many years, then moved to Montana, and now he teaches at University of Reno. Imagine the accent on him… with Dmitri‘s private lessons I learned some very very very helpful things for cello playing and music in general. Our main coach was actually a violinist from the San Antonio Symphony. So it’s safe to say that our sextet was always surrounded by wise minds. I’ve been to many orchestra camps including university level ones and this Cactus Pear experience was like nothing I’ve ever done.
How would you classify your own personal sound? Your range varies from Classical to Folk to Pop/Rock…
Oh boy. This is a tough one. I honestly don’t think I know this one. I play music that I like to play. That ranges from hip hop to classical and everything between. Finding a classification for that is close to impossible.
What about composing? Have you tried your hand at writing music, and if so, is it more focused on your own personal performance pieces with vocals, or have you attempted composing any orchestrational type pieces as well?
I have tried composing! First off, I love composing. Composing is such an easy thing to me because there are no limits. Since we live in a world full of denials, rejections and wrong answers, being not wrong is such a sought after feeling. With composing, I get that feeling every time. Composing lets me forget about the world and let me create a world of my own. I mostly compose acoustic songs but I have composed a couple of cello pieces and harmonies. I would love to start composing full orchestra pieces or even string quartets or something along those lines.
In regards to composing, where do you gather inspiration?
When it comes to inspiration, passion is the thing that drives me to write every time. I am not one of those people that write a song every day. I’m not one of those people that writes a verse to a song one day then finishes it another day. For me, passionate, in-the-moment feelings help me write. Whenever I become overcome with a strong feeling (positive or negative) I feel the need to write. When I sit down to write, it’s just me, my notebook, my guitar, and my thoughts. I lock myself in my room until I feel like that song is finished. It’s extremely important to me that I write while have that strong feeling (whatever it is). Music is about passion and emotion, so when that emotion dies out, so does the song.
Recently you began recording…can you tell us a little bit about that process? Sounds like you are putting together your own home studio?
I’ve actually turned my sisters old room into a make shift recording studio! Haha. I made a vocal booth by cornering off a corner of the room and hanging a storage blanket from the ceiling. From there I hook up my mic to my computer and then the fun starts. The first step in recording a song is a blueprint. I always like to have a printed out copy of the lyrics where I can scribble anything and everything I think of for that song. After I get an idea on where the song should go, I start recording. If the song requires it, I always begin with the drums. The drums are the backbone to every song. Since I don’t own a drum set, I play the drums through my keyboard which is called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Even though this is a software instrument I still have to compose a part and play the part on the keyboard. I use MIDI for drums, piano, and bass. After I get the drum tracks recorded, I lay down the bass track for the song. From there I record everything I do without MIDI. This includes things like vocals, guitar, cello, mandolin, etc. Since I’m a one man show, I overdub everything. This means I record tracks over other tracks so it sounds like 3 or 4 people are playing at the same time like a real band. With overdubbing I can also create things within in the songs like a string quartet or orchestra. When I make an orchestra sound (like at the end of my cover of I’ve Just Seen a Face) I lay down multiple cello tracks on top of each other so it sounds like as if I had a string orchestra in my sisters old room. After recording everything I need to record, the hardest process begins: mixing. Mixing is the process of adjusting volumes, EQ’s, effects, peaks, limits, timing, and many other things of EACH track and the song as a whole. Some things have to be louder than others and some things have to compressed. Mixing is definitely a guess and check process. You are constantly trying something different and experimenting with certain things. It’s a beautifully painstaking step in the recording process. After mixing, mastering would be next but with the program I use, mastering isn’t really an option.
You have traveled with one of the music groups from school to Germany to perform; can you share some about that experience?
Germany and Austria was amazing. Being with my high school orchestra, we performed for a couple of schools and a community center. We even globally debuted a piece over there. It was an amazing experience to see a different culture and still be able to connect to them through music.
Recently you visited Nashville, which is of course, the home of Country Music and a mecca of sorts for musicians of all genera. Any highlights you can share from that experience?
The reason for that trip was to visit Belmont University. So the big highlight was the visit! We also went to Bluebird Cafe (a very historic cafe where many artists like Taylor Swift got their start) to watch an open mic night. That was awesome to see locals and non-locals get up there and show off what they got. I definitely saw some talented people that night. Another awesome thing about Nashville is the music scene. Everywhere you go, you will hear SOME kind of live music. Also driving down music row was pretty cool. Seeing all of those historic studios really motivated me to keep doing what I’m doing.
What are your plans after high school graduation?
Any specific musical influences?
Gustav Mahler, The Civil Wars, Matisyahu, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Augustana, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Ben Folds, The Strokes, Nickel Creek, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Beatles, Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, MOD SUN, Randy Rogers Band, Robert Earl Keen, Josiah Leming, Mumford and Sons, Sum 41, Yellowcard, Green Day, Blink-182, Simple Plan, OneRepublic, Haydn…. I could go forever… No specifics there…
If you could pick anyone to perform and/or collaborate with, who would it be?
For performance, I would definitely go with Blink-182. Unfortunately, I’ve never attended one of their concerts but the videos I’ve seen are always crazy. I love how energetic and chaotic their performances are. And I wouldn’t mind totally trashing a stage with the band after the last song. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Hahahaha. For collaboration I would go with John Mayer. He writes some amazing music and would love to see that process.
What is your favorite thing about being involved in the whole music experience? What gives you the most satisfaction, enjoy the most, and frustrates the most?
Music is what keeps me going. It’s constant presence in my life has given me an outlet and even better, a future. Even though I might not perform when I get older, I will always have that love for music. The sense of communication is what I love most about music. There are tons of languages, races, beliefs, countries, and conflicts that separate us in the world. Music connects every human black or white, short or tall. Knowing that when you perform, you have the ability to move someone is extremely important to me. No matter how dark the sky gets, Music will always shine through.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I can clap with one hand…. yeah it’s pretty weird.
So, there we have it…you never know what talent is cultivating and growing around you, maybe even in your own family! If you’d like to hear a bit more from Drew, check out his Soundcloud account and you can also connect with him on Twitter! And now, once again as always, I bring you the readers favorite…
Fast Five ~ Questions for Fun!
Favorite food indulgence? Breakfast tacos.
Which Superhero would you choose to be? Aquaman, no doubt.
What shows do you Tivo/DVR? The Office.
Favorite downtime activity (other than music)? Going to the golf range.
** One last treat… Drew’s performance at Mac Idol **