We had the good fortune of connecting with John Burke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks is a part of the job. Sharing a new song/composition with the world makes you feel vulnerable and completely naked. The risks you take are not just professional (e.g. losing listeners, streams, interest), but they are very personal and challenge your self-respect as a musician. But with every risk you take and new release you throw out into the world, you find steadfast followers who appreciate your music, support any changes or experiments you create, and you grow more self-respect by courageously revealing your artistic voice. The risks are always, always worth sharing your voice.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a composer and pianist! Since 2011, I’ve released about seven instrumental albums, one of which was nominated for Best New Age Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. What sets me apart? My personality, for starters, which is mirrored in a lot of my music: gregarious, passionate, and energetic. Being very sociable, I’ve put myself in front of a lot of people and opportunities. I’ve had the honor of composing for film, theatre, and even video games, which were my original inspiration for becoming a composer. I wasn’t always a serious musician but in college, I joined a band — sort of a whim — and stuck with it for years. Being a bandmember ignited my passion for composing. It was like I was meant to be a composer since my gaming childhood (obsessing over game soundtracks), and making music with others brought my purpose into full light. Becoming a full-time musician isn’t easy, but the same can be said for any career. If you’re willing to work hard, aggressively network, and constantly improve your skills, you can be a musician. One of the hardest parts about creative careers is facing society’s negative view of them. “When are you going to get a real job?” “I’ll get lunch — a musician can’t say ‘no’ to free food, right?” You simply have to persevere through these pressures and assumptions and remember why you’re an artist: it’s not just your passion, it’s your life. And you’ll stop at nothing to make that life real. Remember that your brand isn’t just for your music. Your brand encompasses everything from your personality to creations. In other words, your brand is who you are and what you want to share with the world. Preserve it. Follow it. If you’re a stay-at-home parent who makes beats while the kids are asleep, cherish that. If you’re a well-known EDM artist who also writes Greek poetry, nourish that. I’m a goofy, pun-loving pianist who writes wild and complex music, and I’m proud of it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Atlanta, so I’d bring my best friend to a walk at Piedmont Park first. Then we’d grab a beer at Orpheus Brewing, head over to Decatur for dinner at the Iberian Pig, and grab drinks at the Brickstore Pub. We’d end with a wonderful midnight showing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Plaza Theatre.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife. Not only does she provide amazing ideas throughout my creative process, but she has also challenged everything I create. This has helped me raise the bar on my music, try things I never thought I’d try, and closely analyze my own skills to become a better musician.
Other: Spotify: https://rb.gy/t1m9n3
River West, Photographer Bruce Halliburton, Photographer