PA alternative rock singer/songwriter Kulick (who recently surpassed 3 million combined streams on Spotify), recently released his debut full-length album“Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood,” via ENCI Records. ENCI Records is a Southern California label recently launched by industry veteran Pat Magnarella (longtime manager of Goo Goo Dolls).
Check out the lyric video for the latest single “Just Be Friends” on The Noise https://bit.ly/345qlFb.
Kulick says, “‘Just Be Friends’ was one of the most difficult songs I’ve ever written,” says the Pennsylvania-born artist. “It’s the conversation that signifies the end of a relationship. It’s when you’ve lost control of yourself and you don’t know how to handle losing someone that’s been by your side your whole life. It’s that desperate conversation of wanting to keep a piece of that relationship because you obviously still care about the person and the aftermath of hearing that they either want all of you or none of you.”
Originally from West Penn, PA, Jacob Kulick who now goes solely by his surname, turned his tiny closet into his own private music studio at age 12 and began writing and recording songs as a way to cope with his anxiety and the loneliness of being an outcast. “Middle school was a tough time—I went through a lot of disassociation and bullying, like a lot of people do when they’re different in a small town,” says the 28-year-old singer/songwriter.
Kulick co-founded a high school band Story of Another, self-produced his own album and went on to study audio engineering at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. He got a job with CBS Radio in New York City as an engineer and crossed paths with a fellow musician who had a connection at RCA Records. Once he’d landed an introductory meeting with the label, Kulick devoted the next two years to building up his solo material and collaborating with other writers. In summer 2017, those two years of intense creativity led to Kulick signing a deal with RCA/Gold’n Retriever Records.
A tour with Sleeping with Sirens and The Rocket Summer in 2018 was followed by the release of his debut EP ‘Hydroplane,’ which featured the powerful Active Rock charting single “Ghost,” and went on to accumulate over 3 million streams worldwide. In 2019, he toured with Andy Black and The Faim and released a standalone single titled “Scatterbrain,” which he explains is a song about, “today’s busy society, both young and old, and the battle to stay true to who you are.”
Connect With Kulick Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Kulick in the following All Access interview:
So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic?
It’s been a lot of content creation and song writing. I was already a loner artist before, so its been essentially the same experience for me during COVID except having no access to touring and a little more financial strain. I’ve also had more time to write.
How are you staying connected to your fans?
I am interacting on social media and starting to share a bit more about myself and what life has been this past year. I try not to be on socials too often for my own mental health, but checking in is something I always do. I am also making custom paintings (mostly drum skins) and shipping them to fans who order them. That has been a blessing during this time.
Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily more useful. I do think people are concentrating more on visuals than ever before for their socials. I am definitely on it more, and I am able to continue to spread my message and art without touring. I do enjoy showing a bit more behind the scenes since there is a big gap of “not touring” content to be filled that would normally be filled with footage of touring.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician?
The moment I really started to visualize myself as a musician was when I was finally able to record myself. I was about 13, recording in my closet. It was an 8 track song, super simple. And nothing really good, but it was my first recording. I think it was called “little miss sunshine.” When I heard my voice recorded over my own song, I saw myself as an artist, and I knew I wanted to become one. I just had to keep getting better, and I continue to keep trying to improve every day.
What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
My lifespan, longevity, and need to feel the freedom of singing words true to myself. A great sense of urgency. The desire to be a patient, kind, and better person. I want to always improve. I want to be healthy, give back to those who support me, and be successful. And I honestly just love writing music and producing records, and I wouldn’t choose to do anything else with my time.
How has that drive changed since you first starting writing songs?
I started writing songs because I was so hurt, heartbroken, lost, and depressed. I had to change my “drive” as I got older, because I was no longer in that dark spot anymore. Writing this record felt familiar in that aspect. I always have my moments with darkness from time to time, but I want to be able to write when I’m not sad too. I’m still working on that, as I still use music for those harder times, but I handle it in a healthier way now. I am driven by wanting to just be an artist and make songs.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make?
I am from Northeast PA. It is a place that was not “with the times” enough for me in a lot of ways, but it is a beautiful place. It definitely made me write songs as a storyteller first, but I don’t have much of a connection with the area anymore. I’ve moved 11 or 12 times in my life, so I’m used to not having a steady “home” anymore. I always liked the music that was on the radio or television at home; there was no “local scene” to be a part of besides cover bands, which I also did. One thing my town did for sure is make me write songs with an “I know I can make it out of here, I’m on my own” attitude.
If not, why is that?
I wanted to be the opposite of everyone around me, so my music reflected that too. I was trying to make pop songs in a place that didn’t really accept anything other than the “Breaking Benjamin” genre bands. I bring up Breaking Benjamin because they are a successful band from our area. However, that doesn’t mean that’s the only genre that can be successful from our area. I still love that genre of music; it just wasn’t what I wanted to write. I wanted to prove that I could be a successful artist writing another style of music.
Growing up, how important was music in your life?
I had three escapes growing up; Playing outdoors with my two brothers, substances (mostly drinking and some pills for a little), and music. I chose music 98% of the time. The toughest years for me, and I think for most children, was 13-15. At first I needed to be able to write and then it turned into singing. Music has been there for me in all forms throughout my life; both good and bad. It’s there when I have good days, when I need peace, when I am sad or angry, and when I need to create something new. Life keeps moving, and music keeps on giving.
Were your family and friends always supportive of this career choice?
They are always supportive of me singing and playing music. As a career choice, I think it’s looked at as a bit reckless sometimes by my family, but I understand that it is a risky career. I have had a lot of support from them especially this year, so that has been a blessing and something I don’t take for granted.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I would be either a carpenter or an audio engineer. I have my degrees in both and I still spend a lot of my time doing both. I have worked in construction since I was 13 with my father, uncle, and big brother. I would also possibly be a painter. I’m beginning to love that medium.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career?
How much time it takes. I used to write a song and record it in one day and then just release it the next day. At this level, you need to take more time. More revisions, mixing notes, and have a release plan.
What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
It sounds so “green” but I was not expecting so much travel! I LOVE touring and traveling, but I also have separation anxieties and panic attacks, so it was a challenge at first. But as a “recording artist” I didn’t even know that there were US and international tours. I just never thought about the logistics of how shows were put on. I was more interested in the recording.
Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your younger self about this industry?
I would just tell my younger self to breathe. Everything isn’t so serious. Yes, it’s your passion project and it is YOU, but let others in more and don’t be so defensive. The industry is very “we know what we’re doing but we ALSO have no idea what we’re doing.” You can’t control that. Go with the flow and make songs that mean something to you.
Let’s talk about your debut album, “Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood.” What was it like putting this collection together?
Although the material for the record was mostly dark, the process of creating it was incredible. Most of the songs I wrote and produced on my laptop. Once every song was about 95% finished, I went to Capitol Studios in LA for the final touches. We recorded live drums, guitars, and some vocals there.
Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
Not really. I have been recording for most of my life, and it was essentially the same process as that. I really liked the freedom to make the record more by myself as well. I enjoy that time alone where I really dig in to self discovery.
Can you explain in detail why your single, “Just Be Friends” was one of the most difficult songs to write?
To keep it simple, it’s a break up. I have been with the same person since I was 15 years old, and I am now 28. I never predicted it to happen, and I had so many feelings of loss, guilt, shame, and so on. So this record was the most difficult, but this song was written when I was really in the thick of it.
What was the inspiration for it exactly?
It’s simply caring about someone and wanting them in your life, but the person is not able to do that unless you’re all in.
What did it feel like once you finished putting it together?
Relief and panic. Relief because I knew it was something I needed to finish, and the end product was exactly what I envisioned. Panic because I finished my first album, and it has so much personal information on it. Also, whenever anything is “finished,” there’s always a little voice saying “okay, now what?” But you just need to start writing again, and that’s what I did. We also started making visuals and videos for the record once the music was mixed and mastered.
Why did you decide to join ENCI Records?
Pat Magnerella and Steve Massi have been amazing to me as management. I have a very good professional and personal relationship with them and I trust them. They did so much for me when I was with RCA. Once that record deal was finished, I think we all wanted to see what we can accomplish together next.
Why do you think this is the right label for you and your music now?
These people have been with me for most of my career as KULICK. They have done this for years and I am close with them. They also understand who I am as an artist. I also like to have creative control and they work with that. I am very entrepreneurial and that kind of spirit is encouraged by ENCI.
How do you think you and your music has grown over the years and since you first started writing music?
I’ve just gotten better at telling a story without overcomplicating it. I used to think I had to fit as much as I could into a song to show that I am talented, when really the key is simplicity. Music is like everything else; the more you practice, write, and create the better you get.
What has remained the same?
Where the songs come from. I still feel like I tap into this “inner child” mentality every time I write. It’s always from this longing place in my heart and that’s what makes me feel young and passionate.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Ryan Tedder is my absolute dream to write with. His writing and production is incredible, and I have always looked up to him.
Who has consistently been inspiring you and the music that you make?
I’m just going to name a few here in no specific order. Some incredible inspirations include Sting, TwentyOnePilots, The Goo Goo Dolls, Kings of Leon, MISSIO, and Tom Petty.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people remember to FEEL. To open their hearts, lower their walls, and allow themselves to tap into their emotions while listening. Music, for me, is made to not feel so alone and to process emotions. I hope people are able to use it for that.