10: I Have a New Confidence I Never Had Before with Bug Hunter - Wilde Musicians Podcast

Bug Hunter
Singer-Songwriter | Seattle, WA
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

A computer engineer by day, Bug Hunter gained his confidence to perform music by playing Taylor Swift songs for drunk people in an alleyway outside of a bar at 11 pm; a place where he could suck and no one would notice. Through open mics, he quickly fell in love with the Seattle music scene community and now that his music is available online, his honest songs are connecting with people worldwide. For this episode, Bug invites us into his kitchen for a glass of water, we’re surrounded by towers of his CDs about to be shipped to his Kickstarter supporters and he tells us stories about his self-esteem as an awkward kid with a popular brother, his current techie by day and an artist by night lifestyle, and how he found the courage to step onto stage which has led him to living a life he’d never imagined.

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Bug Hunter - Wilde Musicians Podcast - Photography by Chamonix Films - Dec 2018-8.jpg

BEST QUOTES

"You gotta listen to the people who are trying to support you. Regardless of how successful you are in music, you can still be a good person and mean a lot to the people in my life, whether or not I'm touring the country playing music or whether this was it and it's fun and to not hook my self esteem to the music." — Bug Hunter

"If I can just be myself when I perform my songs and be genuine, people will respond to it. That was one of the reason why I felt confident that although I'm not a good singer, people still might like it, right? Because it's not just about how well you can sing or how technically you can perform." — Bug Hunter

"I can't try things out when there's people around and listening." - Bug Hunter

"If I'm afraid that I'm going to let people down then I'm never going to release it. So I just gotta do it." - Bug Hunter

"Everyone's process is different but I would be surprised to find somebody who works best writing a song or coming up with ideas when there are other people present, unless you're collaborating." - Bug Hunter

ADVICE FOR MY PAST SELF

"I subscribe to the philsophy that everything has to happen exactly as it does for it to end up like it did....I was an ugly kid with a handsome older brother. So that's the lead into the chorus. I did feel like my brother was football player, popular at school and I was the awkward one at school, the nerdy kid with acne and nobody really wanted to hang out with me. Taking that motivation, I'm not inheriently interesting on my own, that's fine. I have to do something now to make people want to pay attention to me. So, I'll write songs. I'll try to learn a skill, learn a talent that might impress people and that was what motivated me to pursue this venture. So when you ask, what advice would I give to my younger self, it wouldn't be "Don't stress out about it," because I needed to stress out about it to be able to get where I am. To go back and try and change some aspect of how it was, it might not have ended the same. I would stay silent and let my younger self do everything exactly like he did."

Bug Hunter - Wilde Musicians Podcast - Photography by Chamonix Films - Dec 2018-13.jpg

QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS

How do you measure success?
"To have people hear my music. I feel successful."

"I know a lot of really talented people and there's no particular reason that one of my songs has half a million streams on Spotify and someone else's doesn't...I don't feel like the most talented person I know...I don't go to their shows to support them. I go to their shows because I just love their music...If I play a show I know these people are going to be there...they're going to buy a shirt and I'm going to buy their shirt and the same $10 bill will go around in circles...I get to go to Heather Edgley's open arts living room and everybody in the room, 20 peoples all play two songs and if people could just hear them. And I don't know what it is. I don't know why people aren't listening. I think it's jjust a marketing thing, getting eye balls on it. Everybody's so good and to be a part of that, to feel like I belong with all these really talented people, I'm in the group. These are my friends and we'll go hang out and play board games and then we can step up and play a show. That's cool and it's super fun and super cool."

Bug Hunter - Wilde Musicians Podcast - Photography by Chamonix Films - Dec 2018-2.jpg

TRANSCRIPT

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0-10 MINUTES

"Bug" is Cody's nickname and his parents called him that since before he was born. He picked up the nickname again when he started making music at age 21. He had no music training or background. He had a bass guitar in high school so he could hang with friends in high school. He started writing songs on the bass in college and took music theory 101. He wrote more songs on the ukelele because it was easier to play full chords. He got a $50 guitar off Craigslist and spend an entire summer teaching himself to play. He released his first album as a secret album under the name 'Bug' and he new albums are released as "Bug Hunter"

Bug has a degree in computer engineering at Cal Poly and he moved to Seattle in 2014 to work for a tech company.

Bug gained confidence to perform by playinng guitar in a dark alleyway at 11pm to drunk people passing by. He'd play Taylor Switft and his original songs, believing that his roommates were sick of his songs and he was too embarrassed.

When Bug moved to Seattle, he met Heather Edgley and they helped each other start going to open mics around the city. They were both nervous to start and they encouraged and supported each other to start performing.

"Once I got through the door I couldn't be stopped. I would play four open mics a week and I would play shows around town at Sunset and the High Dive and now it's consumed my life. When I'm not at work, I'm pretty much always working on music."

Cha shares her own story about performing on the side of the street, shy to be heard.

In the first year of performing, Bug was nervous, particularly that he was going to drop his pick inside his guitar. At one performance, he had tapped a pick inside his guitar strap as a backup. He's only dropped a pick a couple times in a few years but for some reason it freaked him out. His biggest fear is that he's going to drop his pick and have to "do the shakey thing" in front of everyone.

Bug likes to rehearse his songs hundreds of times before performing them.

Greenday
'Bug' on Spotify
Cal Poly
Taylor Swift - 22 Album
Heather Edgley
❤ SEATTLE VENUES: Hop Vine, Sunset, High Dive, Triple Door

10-20 MINUTES

Bug released his first album after doing open mics for 4 months. He didn't have much audience feedback for his first songs. When he started writing his second album, he was playing open mics often so he was able to incorporate audience feedback; he'd be able to tell which songs were popular or most resonating with people.

If your songs are too general they won't resonate with people. If your songs are too specific, people won't know what you're talking about. You need to have a middle ground where people can relate.

The name of his second album "Torn Between a Couple" was named accidentally over the phone during a conversation with his brother. The album's theme is about the struggle between working a full time job to support your lifestyle and the desire to pursue a music career.

His second album "The Rough Draft" is about being more open and honest about personal issues; sharing how he really feels and why, all the stuff we might normally not share with people.

"I'll never know why she kept the honest truth from you, but Oh Dear McCracken... in the rough draft she loved you." -- Lyric in Dear McCracken

"You gotta listen to the people who are trying to support you. Regardless of how successful you are in music, you can still be a good person and mean a lot to the people in my life, whether or not I'm touring the country playing music or whether this was it and it's fun and to not hook my self esteem to the music." -- Bug Hunter

Dear McCraken on Spotify

20-30 MINUTES

"Songwriting is us. When you write a song, you're saying this represents who I am and if you play it for people" it's hard not to take their feedback personally. In the early days, when we play on the street we almost don't want people to stop and listen because if they stop and listen then their next action is telling about their judgement towards the music, whether they listen or walk away.

New fans are going back and listening to old songs that were not originally popular. No one listened to the old songs. The new music is more of a hook that catches attention and once people are interested, then they'll dig deeper into your song archieves.

"The 7-11 Rule"
Most bands write a bunch of songs that are 7's. They write one 11 and that is the song that gets everyone's attention. The 11 song shines a spotlight on the other songs that on their own are just 7th. The 11 song is the bait.

Bug created a lyric video and shared it on Reddit and it was spread far but thin. He has supporters across the world who are listening and supporting his kickstarter albums but his local audience in Seattle hasn't changed much. His followers add up to approx. 2 people per city.

"Okay, so this is what we determined. My last album, which was just me in a closet was indie-pop-folk. This new album, I brought a band in and my drummer Marcus is a punk drummer at heart...we're now indie-rock-pop. That's how I would describe (my music) but I haven't really nailed it down." -- Bug Hunter

Bug doesn't have the best voice and wouldn't want to go on American Idol. He gets joy out of songwriting and he doesn't want to be separated from his music. He wants to write and sing his own songs, and he's inspired by male musicians who are not the best vocalists but who have a lot of character that makes their performances powerful.

"If I can just be myself when I perform my songs and be genuine, people will respond to it. That was one of the reason why I felt confident that although I'm not a good singer, people still might like it, right? Because it's not just about how well you can sing or how technically you can perform." -- Bug Hunter

The Killers - Mr. Brightside
Charlie Bit My Finger
Twenty One Pilots
Death Cab for Cutie
The Front Bottoms -- Brian Sella (Lead Singer)
Neptune Theater

30-40 MINUTES

Everyone has something to offer, whether it's your beautiful voice, your cool dance moves or your attitude.

"It's literally inconcievable to my 22 year old self. It wasn't a path I had even considered. Imagine I told you that in 5 years I would be an astronaut. That's how I feel right now. If you told me 5 years ago that I would be a singer-songwriter that has people listening to him...I was a math and science kid and I got a degree in engineering and I was a software developer." -- Bug Hunter

"I have new confidence that I didn't have before and that's mostly from getting up on stage and having to talk and have a spotlight on me and be able to not shrink down and disappear." -- Bug Hunter

Bug's parents are so supportive and his music has become the centerpiece of his visits home, they ask him to perform a little show. His friends troll him all the time. He runs his social media like he's "actually a band" and his friends will get on there and write silly comments and misquote his lyrics.

He doesn't enjoy the marketing and logistics side of music but he does it because he wants his music to succeed. He doesn't want to get so close but not achieve greater success because he didn't take the necessary actions. He's talking about tasks like reaching out to bloggers, review sites, mailing CDs, posting on social media, folding T-shirts etc...

"For me there's nothing better than writing a song and finishing it and then I do enjoy recording it and hearing how it comes to life....(When it) sounds like something someone would listen to (and it isn't just) my iPhone recording of me playing it when I first wrote it! That is very cool and magical and I love that piece of it." -- Bug Hunter

Bug shares his love of storytelling that starting with hobit-inspired stories in 5th grade to the incomplete novels he wrote in high school and college which he abandoned after getting bored during the research process. He discovered songwriting as a short and sweet way to satisfycing his desire to tell stories. He didn't consider himself a musicians before so he never considered songs as a writing outlet.

Glee on FOX
Stamps.com
Tolkein - Hobits

40-50 MINUTES

Cha shares her similar background in creating background; writing poetry as a young person, wanting to write novels but never finishing projects she started, short stories were unsatisfying and eventually realizing that songs would tick all boxes.

Bug's first songs wandered around aimlessly and now his songs are more focused around a message that leads you somewhere deeper and ties the songs together as albums.

"The Rough Draft" is the first album that Bug has released that actually had people backing it and anticipating it's arrival. It was funded on kickstarter by 80 believers and he has followers on social media that were all going to listen to this album the day it was released. He was stressed in the months leading up to the release because he felt pressure to not disappoint people. This album was preceded by the single "Dear McCracken" which felt like a lot to live up to.

"If I'm afraid that I'm going to let people down then I'm never going to release it. So I just gotta do it." - Bug Hunter

Bug reminds himself that his music is new and fresh for other people, even though he's heard his music so many times he's sick of them and never wants to listen to them. Other people will never get of your songs the way you do because noone will hear the songs as often or deeply as you have. When Bug performs his popular songs (like Dear McCracken) he thinks about the fact that there are people in the audience who came to hear that song specifically. For the audience, it's special so he makes the effort to get himself in the zone so he can perform that song passionately.

Surge of Confidence (Bug's First Album) on Spotify
Deadmaus

50-60 MINUTES

Playing music is a circuit; you're either writing the song and you're connecting with creativity or you're performing the song and you're connecting with the audience. To perform powerfully, you need to feel something on the other side, something greater than yourself which is creativity or people.

4am is a Magical Time for Artists but Bug goes to bug at 9pm. He's not a night person and he has never written a song in the middle of the night. He'll stay up at night when he's stressed but that stressed has never manifested itself as a song.

"There's something about getting to the state where you are very tired and a little delusional so your inhibitions go away and you just say what you mean." - Cha Wilde

"I've almost always had roommates and my songwriting process, I need to be alone. I can't have anybody in the house. Even if I'm in my room, door closed, and I know that anyone can hear me, and that's the situation and someone's down here cooking or whatever, I am strumming very lightly and whispering lyrics to myself and that is never going to produce a good song. It never has and it never will but sometimes I just want to feel the idea and bookmark it and maybe I'll come back to it when I have time." - Bug Hunter

Cha relates and shares how she has two voices in her head; one voice that tells her to push through it because other people don't mind and probably enjoy hearing her create and the other voice that cries and feels stuck.

"I can't try things out when there's people around and listening." - Bug Hunter

If you need privacy to write, you could rent an AirBNB for the weekend.

"Please go away and leave me alone so I can make something cool. As long as you're watching it's shit!" - Cha Wilde

"Everyone's process is different but I would be surprised to find somebody who works best writing a song or coming up with ideas when there are other people present, unless you're collaborating." - Bug Hunter

Emily McVicker

60-70 MINUTES

Bug is still figuring out how to collaborate with other musicians and how to smoothly transition betweens performing solo and performing with a band. He has found that since incorporating the contributions of his band members his music has been elevated to a new level.

"I never want to feel like the songs that I'm playing aren't mine. The only reason I feel I've been successful is because my songs are genuinely 'me'...if I didn't write it myself then I'm not being genuine. It's the reason that my band doesn't play covers." - Bug Hunter

ADVICE FOR MY PAST SELF
"I subscribe to the philsophy that everything has to happen exactly as it does for it to end up like it did....I was an ugly kid with a handsome older brother. So that's the lead into the chorus. I did feel like my brother was football player, popular at school and I was the awkward one at school, the nerdy kid with acne and nobody really wanted to hang out with me. Taking that motivation, I'm not inheriently interesting on my own, that's fine. I have to do something now to make people want to pay attention to me. So, I'll write songs. I'll try to learn a skill, learn a talent that might impress people and that was what motivated me to pursue this venture. So when you ask, what advice would I give to my younger self, it wouldn't be "Don't stress out about it," because I needed to stress out about it to be able to get where I am. To go back and try and change some aspect of how it was, it might not have ended the same. I would stay silent and let my younger self do everything exactly like he did."

WHAT WORDS WOULD HAVE BEEN ENCOURAGING FOR YOUR YOUNGER SELF
Knowing how it's worked out, provided that would have not changed the outcome.
"The path that I've taken and the small bit of success that I've found with it is something that I never could have really imagined. It would have been a relief to know that (I was going to end up doing something that ) subjectively people are going to like. I've always been good at math and science that has an answer; either right or wrong. So knowing that you did something that people subjectively found appealing would have been really nice to know that back in the day....I do have that little bit that keeps me folding shirts and stuffing envelopes to keep going but everyone could decide right now 'okay, he was cool in 2018 but now we're going to go do something else' and this will still just have been the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. It's strange to have people from across the world (tell me) "I love your song, keep making music." It's an indescrible feeling and to me everything from here on is just bonus. I told a friend in college, back when I first started writing songs, that if some day I'm playing one of these songs and somebody I don't know is singing back to me, just one person...put the guitar up, what else do I need? And that's happened now so it's like what else you got? How far can I take it? If it goes no further, it's just been the coolest ride.

QUESTIONS FOR THE MUSICIAN PANEL
How do you measure success?
"To have people hear my music. I feel successful."

"I know a lot of really talented people and there's no particular reason that one of my songs has half a million streams on Spotify and someone else's doesn't...I don't feel like the most talented person I know...I don't go to their shows to support them. I go to their shows because I just love their music...If I play a show I know these people are going to be there...they're going to buy a shirt and I'm going to buy their shirt and the same $10 bill will go around in circles...I get to go to Heather Edgley's open arts living room and everybody in the room, 20 peoples all play two songs and if people could just hear them. And I don't know what it is. I don't know why people aren't listening. I think it's jjust a marketing thing, getting eye balls on it. Everybody's so good and to be a part of that, to feel like I belong with all these really talented people, I'm in the group. These are my friends and we'll go hang out and play board games and then we can step up and play a show. That's cool and it's super fun and super cool."

Katie Kuffel
Arthur James

BUG HUNTER
Buy Bug's CD on Bandcamp
Listen to Him on Spotify

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