Plus we chat all about the past, present and future of the project with the man himself.
We're delighted to present a live version of 'Just Be Friends', the wonderfully emotional track by Kulick, the artistic moniker of Jacob Kulick.
Following the release of his debut record 'Yelling In A Quiet Neighbourhood', an emotional and enthralling take on dark alt-pop, last October, Jacob has been delivering a series of at-home performances to showcase the album as we towards the next step of his journey. In terms of 'Just Be Friends', an honest and open dissection of the conversation that takes place at the end of a relationship, the live performance just adds to the heaviness of the situation the lyrics are explaining.
Check it out for yourself below:
We used the opportunity to jump on the phone with Jacob to chat all about the past, present and future of the project and how his relationship with the music he makes has changed over the years...
Where do the roots of Kulick lie for you? Where do you feel as though this project really started?
"I divide it into two different things. The first is when I was 13 was when I started playing guitar and writing journal entries and turning them into songs. I always felt a real release when I sang. It was almost like yelling, taking all my aggression and emotion out in that. I remember thinking, ‘Why does this not feel the same when I listen to a song compared to when I sing it?’ and I wanted to start doing it myself properly but I really wasn’t good. I had to keep on singing over and over to get good.
Then I did the whole band thing and I loved playing music in that way and sharing my soul with people. But Kulick started the moment that I started making my own songs and producing my own stuff after college. I went to school for audio engineering and that’s where I learned to use the software and record and write better. I just knew from there that I didn’t want a normal job. I wanted to be the guy who was a musician."
When you’re young and just expressing yourself through screaming out your feelings or writing them down, it’s the furthest thing from a controlled environment. It’s the freest way of creating art, so when you suddenly get the tool to control that emotion then you suddenly understand it a bit more...
"I always felt this darkness that I wanted to scream out at all times. I used to sing and record with my headphones on pretending that my family couldn’t hear me and just singing these lyrics so loud. I was just getting it out. Like when I turned 16 and got a car, that was my new version of being able to do that. It was all about just trying to get those things out and I still feel like that to this day. I’m trying to be a little calmer now and be patient and meditate these days, but it’s still definitely something that’s still there."
It’s also a case of realising that the only person who can control these things and figure them out in a way where other people can understand them is you…
"I think that ever since I started writing, the whole thing has been about self-discovery. It’s still that now. It’s a combination of that and always wanting approval. I’m a middle kid who always felt like I didn’t get enough attention and didn’t think I was good enough. My family is very sports orientated and I was always the oddball in that. So with me wanting to do things by myself is rooted in that, but it also gives me a lot of pride to be able to say that I can do this thing myself."
How did that lead into the creation of ‘Yelling In A Quiet Neighbourhood’ then?
"I wish I could have been more meticulous about this record and planned it out really. I always write as if something is going to be a collection of work. I don’t write singles, or at least I try not to do that. I just had so much shit going on in my life at the time of writing, that it all just became the record.
"First of all, I was born half deaf in both of my ears. Basically, the title came from when me and my partner April were on one of our random walks at the beginning of the pandemic and I was so excited about the writing of the record that I was talking so loud. She was like, ‘You’re yelling so loud and this is such a small neighbourhood, you’ve got to be a bit quieter’. So you can see that we’ve tweaked it a little.
"But all of the songs on the record were written in 2019 right after the Andy Black tour. My personal life was just fucking wrecked. I was never good with adjusting to coming home from tour, so when I’m coming home from tour and having relationship issues, in which I was married and had a house, and finding feelings for somebody else, I had no idea how to handle things even more. I didn’t even want to write about it and it’s only with the time that has passed that I feel a little bit more comfortable to talk about it. So it became very much a divorce record. Like, ‘What the fuck am I doing? I’m really lost but I really like this person but I’m destroying this other person’s life’. It was like a mental break.
"The songs came together perfectly though. They hit just as hard as I wanted them to. They tell the story that they have to tell. There’s sadness but there’s also triumph. I was able to get over what I needed to get over. So it did its purpose. It was created for self-discovery and to let my emotions out."
That switch between the professional and personal life is always difficult, but even more so when there is so much going on that you have to step back into...
"The end of tour comedown hurts. The breakup stuff hurts. Putting everybody else in pain, like in my family, hurts. Then when I moved into my big brother John’s house after all of this and find a normal job because there weren’t any tours coming up. Then the pandemic hits as well. I was already in turmoil, but in a way, I was almost relieved. It gave me time to recoup myself. I don’t really know what I would have done otherwise. I needed time to calm the fuck down and get my shit together."
In that period you were also able to actually get these songs down on paper rather than rattling around your head. You’ve been able to actually have the time to make those thoughts physical…
"And through that, it was able to be such an organic record. I put it all in order of how I wrote it. ‘Crawling’ was right before’ we went on that Andy Black tour, and then ‘Rope’ was when we got home and I was slipping down. ‘Just Be Friends’ was us having the conversation that we needed to have. Then I was admitting that I complete fucked up on the next song. Then there’s ‘Waiting For You’, which is the love song, which was me really feeling like this new person was my person. There’s good and bad in there, but overall it makes me process the whole situation over and over. That’s what I like about music. I can’t process shit in my life until it’s much later, I don’t know if that’s just me, but when I’m overwhelmed with stress and anxiety and anger I can’t process any of it. I need to listen to these songs like 50 times to really understand what I was going. Whereas when I was writing them I had no idea what I was going through."
So how has your relationship with these songs shifted, if at all, since the release of them into the world back in October? Now that fans have heard it as a whole piece of art, how does it feel having people find their own meanings in this situation?
"A lot of people have reached out to me and let me know what certain songs mean to them and that’s really important to do because it makes me feel less crazy and alone. But I will be honest in saying that this is just a lot of self-care for me. The reason I’m doing it is purely for my relationship with the songs. When I would first listen back to these songs I would stress and just bawl my eyes out. Now I listen to them, I’m proud that I was true to what actually happened without giving away too much and I was giving out my real emotions which is why I feel like people are reacting to it. Now I listen and there’s closure. That was who I was, but who am I now? That’s what gives me inspiration for the next step?"
So what is the next step?
"I’ve been feeling a lot less pressure to actually make the music that I want to make. I’m still trying to make music to get me on the radio, but I feel like now I’m exploring more of what got me into music in the first place. That’s the acoustic guitar. So I know this next record is going to have more guitar-driven songs."
How do you feel as the artist you are now compared to who you were when you first kicked Kulick off?
"I would say that it has been pretty full circle now. When I was a kid I was inspired, I knew why I was writing and everything was just from the heart. I didn’t really care what people thought out it. Then when I started launching my career, I had to start caring about that more. Now that I’m older and past that point, I feel like I’m back to that kid. I’m inspired again, I’m recording myself again. I’m in more control of my emotions than I was as a kid but those same feelings are still there. I think that’s a really important thing to tap into because that inner child is inside all of us and sometimes people just forget it. I want to be the person who awakens that in people."