Inspired by gaming culture, MineCraft and pop music in general, Olathe, Kansas-based Bobby Yarsulik's music is fun and adventuresome. The sounds are built around playful computer-based and acoustic instrumentation, with Yarsulik himself recording and playing every instrument himself. It's a pleasure to share his music and an exclusive interview on Listen Local.
Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
My name is Bobby Yarsulik, and I am a pianist/composer/producer. I'm a husband, a father, a full-time worker, and a part-time student. I live near downtown Olathe with my wife Maci, who is my high school sweetheart, and our 3 year old daughter Aaralyn. I work at TVH Parts Co. in Olathe as a motion graphics designer/videographer in the marketing and advertising department.
Delve into the different kinds of music you write. There’s everything from straight-up power-pop to more somber electronica with some classical elements throughout your work. Who are your influences?
In general, music has always been a big part of my life. My grandmother on my mother's side was a multi-instrumentalist, and when I was old enough to remember (because she had slowed down eventually), she would always play the piano for me a bit. She definitely was my initial influence to grow as a musician. Stylistically, I think I really came into my own after getting into Ben Fold's Rockin' the Suburbs. I was completely obsessed with that album when I heard it, and it is still my all time favorite (next to Coldplay's X&Y). On the other end of the spectrum, I grew up around two older brothers whom were 6 and 10 years older than me. Being around them I was exposed to things like Primus, Metallica, Tool, NIN, and etc. I definitely gravitate towards a little bit of all of those when it comes to influences as I do indeed play around with many types of genres when I am composing.
How do you record your music? Do you play all the instruments? What tools do you use?
I have a small home recording setup in the basement of our current Duplex. When it comes to physical hardware, I have a windows PC, a Scarlett 2i2 interface, a pair of KRK Rokit 6 G3's, and a Yamaha MM8 keyboard. My microphone is a Sterling Audio ST55 condenser, and I have a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50's. Super simplistic! Software-wise, I use FL Studio to compose mostly everything (besides vocals and guitar), and once everything is composed I split all the tracks out and bring them into Adobe Audition, which has been my DAW of choice for quite some time. It's definitely not the industry standard for music, but I just fly through the UI so much quicker with my familiarity of it and it has all the same features I need.
Instrumentation-wise, all the sounds you hear from bass to drums to synth, are going to be software VSTi's that I load up in FL Studio, and compose via MIDI with my keyboard (can you say crazy finger drumming skills?). Physical instruments include my acoustic and electric guitars, however the electric guitar is being routed through amp simulation software and not actually mic'd to an amp (which is nice because I have full control of the sounds and tone). I'm looking to add a physical bass to my arsenal at some point, but I don't have enough room for a drum kit at the moment.
I do indeed play all those instruments though. Piano is my main instrument and has been for 22 years. The classical influence is definitely from my days of private lessons through SDSU and UMKC. Beyond that, I was a percussionist throughout all of my school years, as well as in jazz band on keys. Funny story, was when during my senior year I wanted to be in the second level band because I had an open spot on my schedule. They were full of new students in the percussion section, and my director asked if I'd be interested in playing french horn instead. I had never played a wind/brass instrument up until that point, but I was up for the challenge. Long story short, I ended up going to state in a french horn trio!
Talk about your two newest singles, “Ones and Zeros” and “PKGO The Server is Down.” What inspired them?
"Ones and Zeros" is a complete genre change and cover from an original song by Mineworks Animation on Youtube. They opened up a contest to do a cover and said you could do anything from sing over the original track (which was a very modern pop genre to start), or create your own. I ended up making this rock version instead and ended up winning their cover contest, which allowed me to have the right to sell it on iTunes and Spotify etc. I was super stoked to win and glad that they enjoyed it!
"PKGO The Server is Down" is the epitome of how I love to have fun with what I do. As much as I like to keep it serious and create musical pieces that I'd love to see last with time, I love doing off-the-cuff and out-of-the-box projects. Back when the Pokemon GO app was getting super popular, they were having massive problems with their server and no one ever seemed to be able to login to the game, despite their want and craving. I took that opportunity to translate that scenario into a tongue-and-cheek, punk rock tune.
What inspires you the most about the Kansas City music community?
I think I would say the most inspiring thing to me would be how connected the music community is with the nightlife and surrounding area entertainment. There are many opportunities for the musicians of KC to perform and share their creations with the citizens who love to listen to it. It's very easy for someone to get a hold of a venue, big or small, and find opportunities of getting their name and their music out there. If it wasn't for the people who crave this live music, then musicians here wouldn't have those opportunities to grow socially. I think it's also important to note that it's important for the music community to stick together. It's never about being competitive. We all influence each other, and we are all creating our own works of art. If we remember to reach out to each other and give each other opportunities for growth and networking, then the music community will surely flourish even more so than it already is.
The funny thing about that, is that I was never passionate about reading until I was a senior in high school. My then girlfriend (now wife), introduced me to the author Ted Dekker. I read the book she let me borrow, Saint, and was instantly hooked. I now have read many of his novels (both Christian fiction and thriller), and I absolutely love them. My recommendation from his library would definitely be his Circle Series. It definitely pulls you in and the story keeps you gripping on to its pages throughout the story. Another influential book for me was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This was another one of the early books I read, and I had gone to the store and forced myself to purchase it (because the premise sounded interesting to me, being about a post-apocalyptic world). The way McCarthy writes the conversations between the two main characters just made it seem very surreal, and turned events throughout the story into very emotionally gripping ones.