Instrumental Storyteller
(Jai Audio)


A new recording artist, going under the name Jai, keyboardist / guitarist Joe Wilbur is off to a great start with his full length debut CD Instrumental Storyteller Vol. 1: Discovering The Peace. In keeping with the concept of his latest creation, Jai has crafted a whole story line about the album, which—briefly described on the CD packaging and getting even more in depth on his web site—is told here without words through the art of progressive, instrumental music. Not only does Jai play everything on the album—including bass, keys, electronics and guitars—but he’s also produced, engineered, edited, mixed and mastered the entire CD. Combining New Age sonorities with a cross-section of meditative, instrumental rock-based styles of music—reviving a Paul Speer meets Pink Floyd type of groove—the Instrumental Storyteller CD is a finely honed D.I.Y. type of album that will have across the board appeal among listeners and musicians alike. For rock fans who enjoy Pink Floyd’s deeply contemplative soundscapes and New Age fans who sometimes like their sound a little on the edgy side, Instrumental Storyteller is a valuable listening experience. For his self-produced CD, Wilbur makes the most out of the wide range of home / mobile studio recording gear currently available these days and—in keeping with the 21st century recording approach of many aspiring artists—overall, the project yields some pretty amazing and occasionally startling audio results. The tracks with percussion on it—the ones that really help Jai stand out from the pack—seem to be the more upbeat tracks, and adding in the percussion and drums here is Blair Shotts. Also appearing with some atmospheric background vocals on a track here is a talented young woman named Myoa. Overall, Instrumental Storyteller is a fine debut and introduction to Jai’s uniquely appealing type of music. Let’s hope Jai gets to do this again with even more exceptional results. www.JaiAudio.com

Guitars Center Stage

Musical Background

Oh boy...well I'm still amazed I'm even able to play music actually. I never thought anything would happen with my little guitar hobby because I was such a late starter, didn't pick up a guitar until just before I turned 20. I just turned 30. Being self-taught, I spent the first year just trying to figure the thing out, but quickly started to learn more by trying to play music I was "hearing" in my head. The original music came quickly, probably about 3-4 months into it, in small doses at first of course but eventually evolving into longer pieces, finally into something I could legitimately call a song after about 3 years. I had a little EP I gave out to friends 4 years into playing. (Which you can download for free at jaiaudio.com in the "Media" section.) Then from '04 to '09 the songs that would become this album came to me. Started playing bass and adding that element to my demos around 2005. '08 to 2010 was spent recording and finalizing the record. I spent about 7 months down in Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute graduating from the Recording Artist Program in March of '09. That was an incredibly helpful experience. This was also the time I started playing around with keyboards. So I haven't been playing very long, but was able to find my way enough to introduce new dimension to my music and really give it life. The day after my 30th birthday I held the record in my hand. So it took me almost exactly 10 years to go from absolute nothing to releasing my first full length album of original music.

New CD

My album is called Instrumental Storyteller Vol. 1: Discovering The Peace." It was recorded in various places at various times. The real recording process began at MI, where I had a mobile recording studio, so a lot of the tracks were recorded in Hollywood in MI's studios and West L.A where I was living during that time. When I finished school I moved back home to northwest Washington state, and recorded wherever I was staying at the time to finish the rest of the tracks. On a few occasions though I was able to use individual tracks from my demos of some of the songs. For example, the lead guitar on "Love Story", is the original take I did sometime back in '07 on some inspired night when I was just hitting record and jamming over it. So it's all one live take. When I revisited this demo to re-record it for the album, I realized I wasn't going to do any better to capture the feeling of the song, so I kept it, and just added some keyboard arrangements underneath the guitar to fill the track out. All of the drum tracks were recorded live in MI's studios by our program's session drummer Blair Shotts. He was incredible and could come up with something on the spot to any song you happened to bring in that day. Peter Avveduti was the engineer for those drum sessions, I acted as producer during those times. "Stormcloud, Bring Rainbows" features guest vocalist Myoa, who is exceptionally talented. Her vocal track was recorded at MI's studios, at the time I only had a rough keyboard rhythm track that was just looped for several minutes. I told her to just wail, sing whatever comes to you, and in one take she came up with what you hear in the record, just amazing. I was blown away, being in that room at that time gave me chills, her gorgeous voice really made that song. Other than those few people, I handled every other aspect of the entire record myself, playing all the instruments, being my own engineer, mixing, mastering, and all the rest. That being the case, I have developed a style of writing and recording where it's all sort of done at once. When I come up with something I like I record it, then I'll have to arrange a rough rhythm track so I can play lead guitar over it. Then I'll fine tune it by adding bass, and then keyboards to fill it out, depending on the song. So it's a constant process of recording, mixing, tweaking, overdubbing, tweaking some more, etc, until I feel I have matched as closely as I can the sounds coming from the monitors to the sounds in my heart and head.

Favorite Guitars

All right a gear question! I have to start by saying I play left-handed, so finding proper guitars has been an ongoing search, but I finally feel that in the last couple years I have settled happily into a few favorites that I can make music with for years to come. I went through a handful of different guitars, electric and acoustic, until I happened upon an obscure guitar company called Raven (now RavenWest Guitars), about 6 years ago. They make a lot of incredible left handed instruments. I have a bass from them as well. So that one white Raven superstrat-style with a vine inlay on the neck has been my baby since I got it. That's the one with the mojo, guitar players will understand this. All the leads were played on that guitar, and most of the rhythm tracks as well. I supplemented my rhythm tracks with a Gibson Les Paul Studio, that I quickly tore apart and refinished with a "Geisha" print finish - I refinish guitars on the side, www.jaiguitars.com - and replaced the bridge with an LR Baggs Piezo unit, so it has 2 outputs. One for the electric humbuckers, and one for the piezo signal. It's set up to hear them separately, or I can blend them together as well, makes for some really cool sounds and makes it possible to play live, since I play both acoustic and electric on my record. So I've been playing this guitar more lately, as I've started to play live. I customized it to be my dream guitar, and it has been great to me. It has that pure, warm, Gibson tone that just always sounds good. Though one day I don't think I'd mind having a left-handed JEM. After going through several acoustic guitars as well, I finally settled on a new Ibanez model (EW20L) that came out a couple years ago. It has the look, feel, and sound that works best for me and my style of playing. The keyboard I use is an M-Audio 61 Keystation. It's a midi controller, and I use Omnisphere and the Logic sound library for the cello, strings, piano, and other sounds you hear on the record. I'm a modern day DIY musician, recording everything direct on my MacBook Pro. Software for my keyboard sounds, and software for my guitar tones. I use Native Instruments Guitar Rig for all my guitar tones. I've created a set of rhythm and lead patches that work for me, they've become my "sound", so I use those exclusively. I also record my acoustic direct, which is a big no-no in the guitar and recording world. I happen to like the sound of the acoustic direct, and I use various plug-ins, EQ, and compression to warm it up and make it fit in the mix. When I first started to mess around with recording myself, there was all this new technology coming out all the time for home musicians, it was already becoming a DIY world for new musicians, so I wanted to embrace that. It was then, in those early days, that I declared to myself that I wanted to prove it was possible to actually make a good sounding record using this new gear that regular people could afford to get, without relying on pro studios or expensive amps and analog gear and microphones. Everything was moving towards digital, I was new to this whole world, so I was going to do it this new way, I was just going to learn how to use this new technology properly to make it sound as good as I possibly can. That decision has really shaped my sound a lot I think, as well as how I go about writing and recording.

Musical Influences

Without a doubt numero uno is Steve Vai. It's not just his playing and music he makes, which is incredibly gorgeous, it's his whole being that I find inspiring and insightful. It's the words of wisdom that I've absorbed over the years of being a fan, it's the experiences I've had meeting him and seeing him play live. The guy's soul is just overflowing with the spirit of music, that is what I take from him the most, I want to be true to myself as he has been, by making the music that comes through “my” spirit. Other favorite guitarists are David Gilmour, John Petrucci, Mark Knopfler and Joe Satriani. The album that really moved me enough to shift and enrich my musical tastes was Dream Theater's Images and Words. That blew me away, that a group of guys could be that good together and write really incredible sounding music as well as play a million notes an album. That lead me towards having more depth in my musical tastes, where I began searching out more progressive and soundtrack type music. Pink Floyd is a favorite of mine, and was very influential, and still is for me. I can see some of my style in the music they've created, and how they make complete albums, that are meant to be listened to as a whole, I love that. Nowadays, anything by the band Gazpacho (a Norwegian band) I consider to be the most perfect music in the world. They crank out albums of the most beautiful music, the perfect mix of heavy and soft, with the most gorgeous melodies, and emotion spilling out over the sides.

Upcoming Plans

I'm currently rehearsing and relearning my songs so I can play them live. It's funny, having to relearn your own songs. Since my process is to write and record together, often times I only learn parts of my composed solo at a time and record them, to get things done in a timely manner. Then a lot of time went by when I was in the mixing and mastering stages, and didn't play much, so I forgot how I played everything. Just the way it goes when you do it all yourself, you get pulled in so many directions! I'm always recording ideas and new things, lately it's been pieces for weddings. I wrote a piece I call the "Wedding Song" about 4 years ago which I've been playing for people's weddings lately, which is a version of "Pachelbel's Canon" that I rearranged and composed an acoustic lead guitar part to play over it. It's becoming quite popular so I get requests to play that at wedding ceremonies. So I just finished re-recording my guitar part and some of the arrangement to bring the recording up to date.

Web Site

is my site. That's the best place to go for information. Or you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jaiaudio. I always like hearing people's thoughts on the record so email me at jai@jaiaudio.com.
Thanks also to Suzanne Fogarty for her photographs of Jai.


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