Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Turning Struggle into Song: These Local Musicians Produced a Full Album During Quarantine

Jim Bulleit, a retired English teacher from Virginia Beach, wrote over 50 songs during the course of the pandemic. (Courtesy of Jim Bulleit)

REGIONAL — During the pandemic, people have picked up a host of hobbies to keep themselves busy. Some learned to bake sourdough bread, others planted gardens or caught up on DIY projects around the house.

Jim Bulleit, on the other hand, wrote nearly 50 songs in the past year.

“I don’t consider myself a musician,” Bulleit said, even though he is self-taught on the guitar and writes his own songs.

And now he has not one but four albums produced.

Remember the Hampton Roads-based band, Dharma Initiative? Zach Moats, the band’s front man and pianist, was approached by Bulliet. The guitarist also knew Moats’ father, Roy Ira Moats, another local musician.

RELATED STORY: The Dharma Initiative and Mr. Moe recorded this song remotely. Have you heard it?

“Producing is something I always thought I had an ear for,” Moats said. He only produced songs for his own band as well as for his father, but never another musician before.

Taking on the challenge, Moats and Bulliet collaborated via emails, phone calls, and recordings to get an album together that included of 16 song tracks. Bulliet provided the lyrics and chords, and Moats laid down percussion, back up vocals, and piano where he could.

Similar to how Moats produced the song, “Walk with Me,” with local rapper, Mr. Moe, the entire album was produced without ever meeting Bulliet face to face.

“It was a little more time consuming,” Moats said, adding that it took nearly 10 months to work out the different mixes and put finishing touches on the album. He used the software, Logic Pro, and had to learn about different elements of production.

Bulleit found the entire process easy. “Zach is an incredible communicator,” he said.

The album, “Catastrophe and Hope,” explores the topics of loss, confusion, fear, and hope; emotions that Bulleit himself felt during the pandemic.

A launch party for the album will take place on July 31 at Old Donation Episcopal Church down in Virginia Beach, time has yet to be determined.

The album is already getting a lot of attention. “Catastrophe & Hope” was selected as this week’s the “Album of the Week” on Paul Shugrue’s, “Out of the Box” on WHRO. 

Moats said that out of all of the songs on the album, “Moments of Peace” stuck out to him the most, reminding him of the indy band, Fleet Foxes.

You can listen and stream the full album by clicking here. To check out more work from the Dharma Initiative, visit their Bandcamp page here.

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