Interview: Evansville, IN Singer-Songwriter Freddie Bourne Talks About His New EP "Vulnerable Commercialism"

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We connected with Freddie Bourne, a very talented singer-songwriter based in Evansville, Indiana, for an exclusive interview to discuss his newly released EP “Vulnerable Commercialism”. We also had the opportunity to learn about the meaning behind the EP’s title, Freddie’s creative process for the development of the EP, his musical goals for the rest of the year, and much more.

After reading our Q&A with Freddie, be sure to stream and share the “Vulnerable Commercialism” EP, and connect with him on his website and social media.

Congratulations on the release of your new EP "Vulnerable Commercialism". How would you say that this project is different from your previous ones?

Thank you very much! I am really excited about this project!

I've released four projects at this point and each one has been different than the last. Some may see it as being indecisive but I prefer to make sure that I'm not repeating the same equation when coming to projects. I have a lot of influences when it comes to the music that I put out and I do my best to make sure that the content of the songs matches the vibe.

With "Vulnerable Commercialism", it's much more sensitive topics that I believe needed to be heard very bare basics with a more raw and organic vibe. If you listen to previous projects like "Only Human" and "The Childhood Birthday Party That Nobody Came To", the sound of those tracks are more commercial, but "...Childhood Birthday Party..." fits the mold of more contemporary music you hear in the charts today while "Only Human" was experimenting with different sounds and the genres are all over the place. I would say that "Vulnerable Commercialism" is in a similar vein of "I Wrote These Songs with Heavy Vibes and a Piano" - except that project was more experimental and ambient. And the content was different. "Vulnerable Commercialism" deals with first loves, dependency on prescription mediation, and sexual assault while "...Vibes and Piano" was all about grieving. My mission as a songwriter and an artist is to be able to create the music and bring the content of the songs to really blend with the overall sound. If I decided to make these songs with upbeat hooks and all in major chords, I wouldn't feel like I did my job of telling the stories correctly.

Each project, I tend to get inspired by at least one album or performance which drives me to fit a similar mold. "Vulnerable Commercialism" was heavily inspired by Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album. I ended up listening and watching the performance at least once a week when I was getting this project together. What was so incredible about it was where Kurt's mentality was - he was recovering and he was hurting. And you can hear that when he sings and you can see it when he is sitting in the swivel chair closing his eyes and every word like he meant it. On top of that, they didn't play the hits; they played songs that really meant something to them. When I started out going solo, I only had myself and the keyboard with no way to hide if I made a mistake. I forgot what that was like and wanted to create something that was personable and I am able to share with the audience as opposed to for them. They get to be part of the journey with me and create that atmosphere of how each song will play out. I think we tend to forget the more we get invested in our careers, we may slip a little bit from reality. We get a little bit of ego trips and may see ourselves in the spotlight because we tend to be front and center. But we need to remember we are just as much of an audience member or listener once we get off the stage.

I can't say that I've struggled in the industry since I've taken it more seriously; I've been very blessed and had opportunities that have come my way where finances have not been an issue. I did my first album when I was 21 and didn't pay a single cent because the producer and I were really good friends. However, I let them take the reigns on the project because of the fact I wasn't paying for everything - I ended up making the final decision be in his hands. And when the project came out, I thought it was a solid effort but the sound was not me and I became more obsessed of finding commercial success rather than doing the album because of my love of music and songwriting.

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I'm the first to tell you now, I tend to come off a little bit tougher to work with than I was in 2013. I'm not a diva (not attractive enough); I'm just very particular about how things sounds and how I market myself. I'm very business outside of the studio - e-mails galore of charts, time frames of where edits need to take place, descriptions of where something sounds off and then my ideas how to fix it, and then an agenda about what to do at the next session. I always make sure to speak to the people I am working with in-person before the e-mail comes out so they know it's coming from a place of care rather than cold-hearted. The producer I worked with on "Vulnerable Commercialism" is a mere seven years younger than me and has been doing this for only about a year and some change, so he's still learning how to deal with inexperienced and experienced clients. But man, the amount of times I text him and feeling like I'm scolding him weighs heavy on my mind and I always have to call him after the fact to let him know that I'm not trying to difficult. Thankfully, he has a tougher heart than I do and is very well aware that it's just me making sure the project is the way I envisioned it.

I'm very fascinated by the EP's title "Vulnerable Commercialism". What does the title mean exactly?

It goes back to the whole idea of stigmas about the 'undesirable' or 'uncomfortable' topics and how people are shunned or are afraid of sharing their struggles to the public. I think artists have done a good job of coming forward with their own struggles and I do believe the public, in retrospect, have become more accepting of being more active listeners rather than tuning people out. But, I think as a society, we still have a long way to go. When I came up with the name of "Vulnerable Commercialism", it's a little bit of a call-out of how transparency from others is getting appreciated, the general commercial public, rather not engage with it - whether they rather not hear the somber stories or possibly some of the topics tend to trigger thoughts or experiences that they don't want to relive or revisit.

In a way, too, the title is somewhat of a joke. I knew that making this EP probably wouldn't hit the high streams like "...Childhood Birthday Party..." did because the content is dark. It's a sad album. And I wrote it that way because those are the stories that I wanted to share. And I don't know many projects that are done in this fashion do typically well on the charts or in the streams because it's not a 'bop' album; you aren't going to hear the hits. But you are going to hear stories and it's going to make you think rather than jam out to.

Describe your creative process for the development of the EP. How long did it take to complete the project and were there songs that you recorded that didn't make the final track list?

The development is very similar to what I have done in the past. I usually have the songs written out and finished way before I even decide to assign to a particular project. I wouldn't say there is a particular process I follow or one I did for "Vulnerable Commercialism" but I can tell you what usually happens in a step-by-step process.

I usually take a bath. The best place to write songs. I'm also a pen and paper guy. I have this large clipboard that I can write on and just bring that with me. All the ideas really flow super well. I tend to have a lot of ideas in mind with what's happening in my life at that time or the thoughts that end up coming to surface. Considering I just moved away from my roots in New Jersey, I thought a lot about my childhood - what I liked about it, how things have changed since then, how the crushes that I had was the only worry I had before adulthood, or the fact my friends and I would hang out in the woods and look at the stars for hours and realize that was more fun than a birthday party or proms. I don't usually have lyrics or a melody then - just the ideas. That part just varies - melody and lyrics interchange all the time in terms of what comes first. For this project, it was a mixture of both. I recall "Maybe We Can Get Some Coffee Instead" was a great mixture of both - the idea was very much in my head when I would sit in restaurants by myself when I first moved here and people looking at me, seemingly feeling bad for me for eating alone. It was in the restaurant that I was able to jot down the idea on a napkin. On the drive home, the piano melody just showed up. Took a bath and fifteen minutes later, it was pretty much squared away.

In terms of using Nirvana as the inspiration, I'm a big analyzer. I observe a lot. I watched the performance and would write down notes about how Kurt would perform, how the stage was set, and how each song and sound made me feel. I also would listen to the response to the audience - did they understand that song, did they connect to it, and did Kurt tell his story authentically. Above all, it was about making it authentic and not apologizing for what it was.

Once I have lyrics down, I barely revise them. Usually some verb tenses or something minor. But for the most part, I try to keep to what I wrote to begin with, even if some words are repeated simply because it was the most honest at the time and I rather that feeling at that time live on from that moment. I had about three other songs in rotation for the EP but it was always meant to be four tracks. "A Girl" was the last addition to the track list; I was very concerned about putting a song out there with that much sensitive material but the co-writer Lexie told me it could really help people in the long run. I was sold once I got her blessing and what it could do for others.

I usually have an idea for a project in it's entirely before I contact a producer. It makes it easier for me and for them to know if they have the time to dedicate. I reached out to Jaxon Fleming of Lokish Records via e-mail after finding the studio through a Google search. He responded back with a pretty lengthy e-mail and suggested to meet beforehand at a Starbucks before we decided on anything. Lengthy e-mail and meeting before recording? I was already sold. We ended up discussing the project for about three hours and he was really into it. I told him from the start it wasn't going to be a large commercial thing like the last EP I did and that didn't discourage him in any way. The other thing I stated was that I really value a producer's input and wanted to work side-by-side as opposed to client just paying for a service, which was something he appreciated but wasn't used to. We were pretty much ready to go and start this thing and started tracking and mixing the following day.

It took only one whole long take to record all in one shot. I didn't want to redo anything in that moment because I thought the genuine live feelings needed to be there. If I ended up messing up, I honestly don't know if the project would have been finished at this point. I was just very fortunate I didn't mess up.

I don't want to give too much away about the actual recording process, because I think it's fun that people have been trying to figure out where it was recorded and how it was created and who else was there. I can just state that the recording took only one day and the mixing was an additional three. The show took place in a location that isn't on Google maps. So, I'll let the imagination wander.

With "Vulnerable Commercialism" now released, what are some of your goals musically for the remainder of 2019?

I'm finally going on tour! My friend E-King and I are touring the Mid-West and the Southern states. I've had chances to tour in the past with label support but I was always doing stuff for undergraduate or graduate school, or I wasn't performing at that time to really focus on myself. But, I'm at a place that I want to tour and I have some finances to do it, so why not?!

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I already have some ideas for a new project in mind and the direction is going to be even more bizarre. I just finalized that track list so I'm going to be doing my research of what producers can fit the vibe I'm trying to get out there.

Overall goal is to be trucking away. Things have been on the up and up. I finally put myself out there and people are accepting my music and what I am about. It's all about staying true to my art. I turned down some opportunities to be on some television shows overseas because I was simply skeptical of it not working out but my father told me to not seeing it as taking a risk but rather than taking chances. So, the word of the year is 'chances'.

Would you say that your move from New Jersey to Evansville, IN has affected you at all from a creative perspective? If so, how?

We are close to Nashville so there is more of an upheaval of country and roots rock music. It's more impacted my music in terms of what I am writing - being away from family, having more freedom, living in a space where the scene isn't physically close knit in terms of being of walking distance to see other musicians. It's a culture shock but I would say that I find it very similar to the scene in NYC and Hoboken. People just love doing it and that joy really shines.

I was in Hoboken when it was finally finding it's place of being more community-based in terms of music; everyone plays with everyone. NYC - not so much. People are there for themselves, which is fine. But it sometimes sets the wrong tone. Indiana, especially at least for Evansville, is similar to Hoboken but it's more spread out. You can play at venues and meet an entirely different group of people that you haven't seen at the venues you've played at.

The biggest difference is that my friends in Indiana who do music actually quit their full-time jobs to do music now, which is a scary prospect. My friends back home in New Jersey and New York make money with music but typically have steady side jobs or full-time careers like myself. But it doesn't scare my friends, at least on the surface, in Indiana as it would have us running in NYC. Rent is massively expensive in the Northeast.

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