Rick Jamm kicks-off the new season of his successful interviewing series, ‘TWENTY QUESTIONS’, with the independent recording artist Bobby Bofman, who was born and raised just outside of Chicago. As a young boy he would sit and listen to the stories of an old homeless man that lived in the alley behind his grandfather’s dry cleaning business. Bobby was mesmerized by the tales that this homeless man told, and believes that this experience helped to ignite his own imagination.
Bobby began to write short stories and poetry when he was about 12 years old. He picked up a guitar, learned a few chords and his stories and poems quickly turned into songs. He has been influenced by many poets and writers but admits that the greatest influence for his songwriting comes from Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Gordon Lightfoot.
Bobby has since, played everywhere from small coffee houses to football stadiums and every venue in between.
He also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is a certified clinical hypnotherapist. In 2010 Bobby published a book titled Coffee House Poet about life, written in the form of poetry, song lyrics, and personal expression. His passion for music and writing has led him to become an accomplished author and singer/songwriter.
Bobby Bofman’s latest album, ‘Inspired’ is released through Coffee Cup Records and is available through CDBABY.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
BOBBY: I actually started playing the guitar and writing when I was 12 years old. I used to sneak off into the alley behind my grandfathers dry cleaning business and listen to this old homeless man, tell the most unbelievable and entertaining tales. He truly sparked my imagination. Since that moment I have never stopped writing. I first started playing in public when I turned 19. My first gig was in a smoke filled night club tucked away near the train tracks in Beverly Hills, CA called Ye Little Club.
2. Who has been, or are, your most important musical influences?
BOBBY: Musically I have been influenced by many great and well known artists such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Gordon Lightfoot but I think the greatest influence in my writing comes from my own life experience and from the people who have entered into my life. Everything we do and everyone we come in contact leaves a footprint on our soul.
3. Put together your dream jam session band made up of your all time favorite musicians.
BOBBY: I am an old school guy and love the diverse sound of the early days of folk and rock music. There are a lot of great singers and players that I will never have the opportunity to see because they left us way too soon. If I could gather them all together in my livingroom to have a few beers and just jam the night away that would be my dream jam session. Some dreams are just dreams and nothing more.
4. Describe your first instrument or piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased.
BOBBY: The first instrument I played was a rubber band on a cardboard box. It was a homemade guitar. I thought it sounded awesome and I sang out at the top of my lungs. I was actually in the school band and played the clarinet, but did not like it very much because I could not sing and play at the same time, so I bought this 7 dollar guitar and beat the heck out of it. I though it sounded great. Good memories. I am still friends with a gal I sang a song to on that guitar.
5. Vinyl, CD or Mp3 which is your preferred music media? And who are you listening to right now?
BOBBY: Vinyl for sure but I have to admitt I have a huge collection of CD’s. They are not as warm and rich as vinyl but you can take them just about anywhere you want to go. You have to take care of your vinyl records for them to stay in playing condition. Mp3 format has become very popular due to smart phone technology and small portable playing devices. For the best sound I still vote for vinyl.
6. Which song or musical composition do you wish you had created and why?
BOBBY: Are you kidding me? That is like asking a seafood lover to choose between lobster, crab, and shrimp. I always get the combo platter with all three and a very rare filet. If I have to pick just one song it might be ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. Do I really need to explain why?
7. Forced to choose only one, name the greatest album ever, to date, and why?
BOBBY: For me the greatest album of all time is not about the high tech studio sounds that we can get today. It is all about the impact it made on our society and for that reason I have to choose the Beatles first album. Their first album Please Please Me was repackaged with two songs deleted and renamed Introducing the Beatles for the USA release but it was called please Please Me everywhere else in the world.
8. Which of your original compositions is your favorite, and why?
BOBBY: My favorite personal composition is always the song I just finished working on. I tend to like the soul of my ballads and when I play them I can often bring back the same emotion I originally felt in creating the piece. The songs that make you get up and shake your bunns are always fun to play and I love the energy I can give and get back from them. Especially in a live performance.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your music the way it is?
BOBBY: A lot of late nights. Seriously, I seem to do my best work late at night. I try to make my songs real and about real people and real situations. After I finish writing a song I wait a few days and get back to it. If it does not make me feel the same emotions that I felt when I finished writing it I trash it. If I do not believe what the song is reflecting neither will anyone else. It has to feel real to me first.
10. Does the place where you live ( or places you have lived ) affect the music you create and in what ways?
BOBBY: I am a firm believer that every experience we have in life effects who we are and that is certainly relevent in writing styles. I have been all around the world and have lived in many different places. I have taken something from everywhere I have and everyone I have met. We all leave a little piece of us in everyone we come in contact with. I try to leave the best parts of me with those I meet.
11. What aspect of the music making process excites you most?
BOBBY: A new creation is always the most exciting aspect for me because it goes from just a thought all the way to actually being able to see, feel, and experience the end results. I have friends that are always giving me ideas for songs and sometimes they come up with a good one. Then I have to go to work and make something out of it but nothing inspires me more than playing live for people who just want to let go of their daily stress for a while and enjoy a good night of awesome entertainment.
12. What aspect of music making process discourages you most?
BOBBY: The business end is a real drag. Enough said. Let’s move on.
13. What are your thoughts about the actual state of the music industry today?
BOBBY: For me there are too many cookie cutter bands and artists. Too many that sound the same. Don’t get me wrong I think there are a lot of talented musicians and singers out there but right now. I think there is a formula that is being used to select talent and if we just keep using the same formula all we are going to get is the same results. I don’t think that downloads have slowed the music industry, I think the music industry has slowed themselves.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed (and one you didn’t, but should have)?
BOBBY: The best advice I have followed is always be true to yourself and your music. My legal team won’t let me talk about the one that got away. lol
15. At this time in your career, as an independent artist, which factor do you desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure etc…) and why?
BOBBY: More media exposure would be nice and help increase music distribution. They are all necessary to have success. I am always trying to produce the best quality product that I can and give the most in my live performances. I don’t think you can let any of these factors slip by and expect to survive in the music business.
16. How often and for how long do you actually practice or exercise your musical talent.
BOBBY: Every day and for hours. I played a lot of sports when I was growing up and I had a coach that told me, how you practice is how you will perform in the game. The same goes for guitar playing, singing, and the stage show. Actually I think you can apply that to any aspect of your life.
17. Which is your favorite distribution platform ( Tunecore, Audiolife, CD Baby, your own Website, etc…) and why?
BOBBY: I don’t think you can overlook any platform that gives you a link or plug in today’s market. I like CD Baby because of their one time cost to upload a full album and for that same cost they will distribute it to all media and markets. They have a lot of great tools you can use to promote yourself or your band. They have been good for me.
18. Live gigging or studio recording, pick your first choice and why?
BOBBY: Always live gigging. There is nothing like the energy of being on stage and playing to people who are there just to see you. On stage I always have the most awesome fun time and I think the energy goes back and forth. I love to interact with fans.
19. If you could choose only one media method, between FM Radio, National TV, The National Press or Internet, to diffuse your music. Which would it be and why?
BOBBY: Impossible to pick one. They are all needed. I do love the internet though. I can connect with anyone, anytime, from anywhere.
20. If you were not a musician, what would you be doing today?
BOBBY: I am also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and have been able to help many people change their life. Knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life is extremely rewarding and something I continue to do today.