Ethan Burns just released his first solo album, Illusion, March 13th of this year. His unabashedly soulful voice has a way of reaching straight into the soul of his listeners. During these wild times, Ethan found the time to answer my questions about his musical history and musical process. Read below.
MFL: I read that you taught yourself how to play guitar. Is that when you and music began your relationship together or did your musical beginnings come before the guitar?
Ethan Burns (EB): I always loved singing along with songs as a kid but I didn’t start writing songs until I started playing guitar.
MFL: Where did you grow up, where are you now, and how did these locations influence you as a person and a musician?
EB: I grew up in Grover Beach, California. I moved around a lot in my early 20’s and now I’m back in Grover Beach.
As a writer you draw on experiences within your surroundings so maybe in some subconscious way certain imagery is absorbed and reflected within the songs.
MFL: Illusion is your first solo album which is incredibly exciting! When and how did the idea for Illusion come to you?
EB: I started recording half of the songs for Illusion back in 2014 with my friend Chandler Haynes and they ended up becoming unreleased material, demo tapes you could say. Those “demo tapes” resurfaced early last year and I had written a bunch of new songs that I felt fit into the concept so I had my friend Brenneth Stevens play pedal steel guitar over the whole collection and it completed the Album.
MFL: Now that Illusion is out, what do the next few months look like for you?
EB: I have a lot of shows lined up and I’m also getting ready for the release of my next Album Electric Mental State with my band The Ragged Jubilee.
MFL: If you were to pick a landscape for Illusion, what would it be?
EB: Walking through a small town at night or maybe the slight flicker of a light house in a storm.
MFL: How and when do melodies come to you? Do lyrics or melodies come first typically?
EB: It’s different every time, with some songs you feel like a radio and the song is moving through you, other times you sit and think about every word you want to say. Sometimes there’s just a melody that you can’t get out of your head.
MFL: If you could pick a handful of milestone events in your life in the last 10 years that lead you to where you are now, what would they be? I know…that is a loaded question!
EB: That’s a hard question to answer, the most meaningful event was the birth of my daughter.
MFL: Finally, if you can, pick your top three favorite albums from 2019!
EB: I don’t listen to a lot of current music but the three albums that I listened to the most in 2019 were:
The Silver Tongued Devil and I by Kris Kristofferson
Beat the Devil’s Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath