I got the honor of having a real rockstar, Bruce Turgon, record and mix my blues rock album “Illusion”.
Bruce Turgon was the original bass player for the 80’s classic rock band “Foreigner”. For those of you who are not familiar with “Foreigner”, they wrote the hit songs “I Want to Know What Love Is”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Hot Blooded”, and “Cold as Ice”. Bruce has been in the same rooms with Rock & Roll icons like John Lennon and Steven Tyler and has over 30 years of experience creating, recording, and touring as a rock musician in the music industry.
I found out about Bruce while I was having a conversation with Danny Lindberg, an artist from a band called Birdfeeder Band in Redding, California, where I currently live. As Danny and I sipped coffee across the table from each other at a local Starbucks, he asked where I was planning on recording my album.
I said, “Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out. Several producers in town have reached out to me wanting to record this album, but I don’t feel like I’m supposed to produce these instrumental tracks one by one with a producer. These songs carry so much soul that I feel like doing it that way will suck the soul out of them. I can’t use software instruments for this album. It all has to be real - real people with real instruments. I want to do this the way people did it back in the day. I want to have that kind of experience. I want to rehearse these songs out with a band and then walk into a studio together and capture it all together with real instruments. But I can’t just work with any sound engineer for this. This sound is so distinct that I have to work with someone who has experience in the rock genre.”
Danny’s face lit up and he said, “You need to work with the guy I worked with. His name is Bruce Turgon. He was the bass player from Foreigner. He lives here and has a studio. I’ll give you his email!”
I was stunned. I live in Redding, California, a small city that is home to about 90,000. What were the odds that Bruce just happened to live in this city and that I would find out about him just two months before I was supposed to record this album? Crazy.
I emailed Bruce, told him about my album and sent him a live performance clip of one of my songs and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a couch across from him in his studio talking to him in person.
Sending someone something you’ve written and created is incredibly vulnerable, especially when it’s a person of high caliber and experience. A lot of people have told me they think I don’t experience fear, nerves, or anxiety when it comes to my music, creativity, or performing live and that isn’t true at all. I experience all of those things just as much as anyone else.
Ever since I start writing and creating music, I’ve always believed that my music would be significant and that I would sit in the same room as major influencers in the music industry. However, actually sitting in front of one can be daunting. I was immediately hit with thoughts regarding my lack of experience and education. “Who are you to sit in front of and work with a real rockstar? You’ve only played electric guitar for a year and a half. You have no experience in the rock genre. You can only know a few blues artists. You don’t know music theory. You don’t even know how to read sheet music. You have no educational background in music. Why would you ever think you know what you’re talking about? You’re going to look stupid trying to communicate in musical terms. Do you honestly think you have what it takes to record with someone like Bruce?”
I sat on the couch in front of Bruce trying to ignore all of the thoughts that were flying into my head.
This, my friend, is normal life if you are dreaming of pursuing music as a career. There will always be something that will try to make you feel disqualified, and there will always be someone who will tell you what you can’t do and why. We just have to accept it and have to choose to believe in ourselves anyway.
This was a major part of my process in recording this album with Bruce. Every time I walked into the studio, I had to choose to believe that my education and experience didn’t matter. I had to choose to believe that I had something to say that was worth listening to. I had to choose to believe that I am a phenomenal songwriter and that my music has incredible potential in the music industry. And I had to choose to believe that I am an artist any person in the industry would be honored to work with. Not only that, but I had to choose to believe that my voice, my ideas, and my opinions mattered and were worth voicing and hearing, even if they were different than Bruce’s. There were nights where I left the studio feeling confident and on top of the world and there were nights where I left the studio in inner turmoil wondering if I really have what it takes to be successful in this industry. There were nights where I drove home from the studio sobbing because of how proud I was of myself and there were nights where I drove home sobbing because I wasn’t sure if I really was good enough. After nights like those, I would wake up, look at myself in the mirror, let God remind me of who I really am, and then I would walk back into the studio again.
I’ll never forget the night I walked out of Bruce’s studio for the last time after two months of being in an out of the recording and mixing the album. Bruce looked at me and said, “I’m so proud of you. You did all of this the right way. You’re DOING all of this the right way. You have so much potential. I really believe in you. Your album has been a joy for me to work on. It reminds me of some of my first projects in the studio. Every time I open your project and listen to these tracks, they feel alive to me. Working with you and your band has been one of the best experiences for me here.”
Hearing that feedback from a man of that caliber when this was my first time planning, preparing for, and overseeing this type of studio experience was one of the most humbling and encouraging pieces of feedback I’ve ever received. And honestly, it caused me to come face to face with who I really am and what I really am capable of all over again. But even if I had never received that feedback from Bruce, that doesn’t change the reality that is the type of artist I am.
We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves what we have to say and why we need to say it. We have to look into our eyes and see ourselves the way He sees us, regardless of what anything or anyone else is telling us. And we have to let ourselves feel the weight of the reality that we are not average people. We are on this earth at this time for a reason. The way we are wired - our personality, interests, pasions - it’s all for a reason. None of it is random. We are each a voice for this generation and we ALL have something to say and are meant to say it in our own ways. Don’t let your experience or education tell your otherwise. The only thing that matters is what you believe about yourself. Take a look in the mirror. See yourself rightly and see the reasons why you are who you are! See the people you are meant to impact! And dream - dream bigger than you ever have before in the face of fear and impossibilities. And then watch what happens.