Q&A with singer-songwriter Bill Bonnell

We got to chat with the soulful singer-songwriter Bill Bonnell around the release of his EP, "Promise of the Sun".

- Congratulations on the release of your EP, "Promise of the Sun." Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the title track and what it means to you personally? 
First of all I believe in the autonomy of art — what something means to one person might not necessarily mean the same to another. What’s that saying? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… I honestly don’t know where my songs come from — they just seem to appear randomly. And they come at the strangest times, sometimes I say to myself, oh no, please - not now. But personally, I feel “Promise of the Sun” is about hope.

- Your music is described as a fusion of folk and rock. How did you arrive at this unique blend of genres, and what draws you to express yourself through this particular style?
First and foremost I’m a guitar player and a storyteller who has always been drawn to artists like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell — I think that I get my “Rock” inspiration from Dave Matthews. I really love the Dave Matthews Band — And Dave is one of the most gracious and humble people you ever want to met. I’ve always looked at Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews as the Father, Son, and the holy ghost of Folk Rock - not necessarily in that order - I say that jokingly and with a smile! Dave is a throwback to the days and the sweet spot of Folk Rock in the late ’60’s early ’70’s it just doesn’t get better than that era…

- "Promise of the Sun" is said to offer hope to those who have faced battles with their inner demons. Can you elaborate on the themes and messages you aim to convey through this EP?
I believe that everyone deals with inner struggles of some kind or another. Someone may have lost a parent when they were a young, another might be dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, etc. — that stuff stays with you for your entire life, it just doesn’t magically disappear. Those experiences are what makes us who we are inside and out. I think this song might be that inner conversation with yourself and working your way through whatever it is that you’re dealing with and getting to the other side — the sunshine!

- Your vocals range from gritty to sweet, adding a lot of emotional depth to your songs. How do you approach conveying different emotions through your voice when performing and recording?
I have horrible stage fright. in fact, even though I’ve been writing songs since about 2009, I’ve never played a live gig at anytime. It has always been just me and my guitar by myself in a room writing songs. I like to try and keep the songs as authentic as possible, normally I’ll go right into the studio and record my songs shortly after I’ve written them to keep the authenticity and original intention of the song without the deterioration of the original intent that can happen with the passing of time. I try to keep my vocals as real as possible — I also train like a madman. I really owe my vocals to my Vocal Coach RAab Stevenson — all the credit really goes to him. Working with RAab has not only taken my vocals to another level, but I’ve become a better songwriter because of the time I’ve spent with RAab.
- You've been recording music since 2009. How has your songwriting evolved over the years, and what do you find most fulfilling about the creative process?- What's coming next for you?
To be honest, I look back at my early songs and just cringe. I say to myself, why did you release them? But the truth is, I needed to release them. I needed to start somewhere, I’ve never had any formal training with my guitar and I'm really not able to read sheet music. The funny thing is as you listen to my songs from 2009 to today you can gradually can hear the improvement in not only my songwriting, but my sound sonically, especially my vocals — at least I hope you can.
I absolutely LOVE the creative process, that’s the most fun for me — I love the entire process of creating. I also love the camaraderie of being in the recording studio working with others — I recorded this album at Pharaoh Recording Studios in Hartford, CT with Recording Engineer Pace Ferro and my longtime partner and contributor Paul Howard.
To be honest, I was contemplating that this might be my last album. But I just love writing songs too much — I’m sure that I’ll be back writing another album sometime this Fall — right now, I’m just going to step away for a while — unless of course that unexpected song pops up in my head and I say Oh no, not now!


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