Local man ‘forms’ one man band….
SANDRA M STANWAY
Getting his first guitar at 14 to play Guitar Hero with a buddy led Brooks product Joel Burchell to ‘form’ his one man band, The Fantazmics.
“It’s kind of an in-joke,” he said.
“It’s Fantazmics but it’s kind of a misspelling of phantasms because there’s no one else in there. It’s just a bunch of ghosts,” he laughs.
The ghosts Burchell refers to are heard on both of his albums, the 2017 Ghost From The Machine and the 2019 self titled album The Fantazmics.
“There is no band,” he said.
“I use a keyboard to play in the horns, strings and keyboards. All the other instruments, such as drums and bass are actually played. The choir is just 50 of me layered on top of each other doing the different harmonies.
“To make it sound like different people you start doing Kermit the Frog voices but once you layer in 50 voices it just sounds like a big choir not like me imitating Kermit,” he said.
In addition to the music, with help from his brother Mack behind the camera, Burchell has released an online video that includes his friends, Jeff Marks and Levi Molyneux, who learned the music to mime the parts for the back track.
There is no record label taking care of Burchell and likely there won’t be in the future.
“The nice thing about the digital age is you don’t really need that label support to get a far reach. It’s a lot of money you have to give up to a label,” he said.
“If I do 1,000 streams on Spotify it’s $5 in my pocket. I got a buddy on label. He has to do about 50,000 streams to get $5. It’s a significant difference. You don’t have to be as successful to make the same amount of money and also there’s no money in music anymore.”
No label also means Burchell can come and go to his music as he pleases, something that can’t be done with contract.
Although he didn’t need a guitar at 14 to play, the game did pique Burchell’s interest.
“I was never terribly athletic, so I figured I might as well learn to do something,” he said.
The purchase grew into a music appreciation that eventually lead him to online searches of the Top 10 Guitarists of All Time, as well as learning drums, piano and audio engineering courses in university.
But it was his search for the top guitarists that led him to some of the iconic metal bands of the 1970s such as Van Halen, Iron Maiden and the 1990s band Metallica.
“Metallica was huge for me as a kid. I don’t think I wore anything other than a Metallica T-shirt for about a year in high school,” he laughs.
The band’s influence resulted in the classic-heavy-metal-Black Sabbath type of sound in his first album.
His second album reveals his maturity as an artist including the influence of singing lessons.
“There’s a lot of choirs and horn sections and electronic elements on the new album that are a little bit different.
“The newer stuff you hear a lot more. There are still heavy guitars but a lot of pop song writing,” he said.
His Ghost album, which he refers to as a demo, includes eight original songs.
He also released a single, a remake of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition (1972), which he recorded in OCL studios which is used by country musician Brett Kissel.
The self-titled album, which was recorded near Lethbridge and in his home studio, includes three songs from Ghost that were re-recorded with improved sound.
Since graduating in 2012 from Brooks Composite High School, Burchell has spent a couple of years in the audio engineering program at the University of Lethbridge, one year in the oilfield and he was a bartender.
In the fall he will return to school.
Burchell along with Marks and possibly his brother will attend the Vancouver Film School.
“I decided to go to film school next year for writing and acting – more so for writing. Even playing all the instruments I think about myself first and foremost is as a songwriter.
“I felt the natural progression for me was going to see if I can write some movies and TV.
“I just like to make stuff,” he said.
As for more music, Burchell said he has about two minutes of a completed song which he may release before September.