Trace Bundy talks about his unexpected success in South Korea
Trace Bundy has quietly been going about his business as a musician for about ten years now. But, really, calling him a musician doesn't quite do justice to what the guy does with a guitar. With a pioneering finger-style technique that incorporates up to five capos across various strings of his guitar at once, Bundy displays a mastery of the instrument that's second to none.
Great music gets discovered regardless of where in the world it originates. Such is the case with Bundy, who's quickly being welcomed in the pantheon of guitar greats through his amazing YouTube clips in which he applies his signature style to songs ranging from his own highly technical and gorgeous original compositions to cover songs from the likes of Eminem and Guns N' Roses to new and inventive versions of baroque classical music standards.
And if being recognized for his guitar prowess weren't enough, Bundy is well on his way to becoming an honest to goodness international musical sensation, thanks to a YouTube video of him performing with a nine-year-old protege of his from Korea. The clip, which features the duo tackling one a Bundy arrangements of the mind-bendingly difficult classical piece "Cannon" by Pachibel, drew massive attention, leading to the above commercial for one of the biggest banks in South Korea.
In advance of his show this Saturday, May 29 at the Bluebird, we spoke with Bundy about how his YouTube videos caught fire across the world and how he ended up in that South Korean bank commercial.
Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): I gotta ask, how in the world did you end up on the commercial for that South Korean bank?
Trace Bundy: [laughs], I've toured twice out to Korea, and I have a very big following there. The first time I went, I think they thought I was more of a celebrity than what I really am, and, like, all these people greeted me and my wife and the airport with flowers, posters, taking photos and stuff. When I got the venue, there was, no joke, there was a three story high banner, hanging off the side of the building with my picture on it. [laughs],
WW: Haha, that's Killer!
TB: Oh yeah, it was killer. Everyone's just kinda going nuts and all that stuff. Anyway... [laughing] I definitely enjoy a good fan base out there. And then, that little boy in the video, Sungha Jung, when he was nine-years-old, he learned how to play one of my hardest songs, that version of "Cannon," which is in that video.
TB: Yeah! He posted a video -- you should look it up. So this little nine-year-old posted of video of himself playing my version of "Cannon" -- he watched it on YouTube, learned it, then started just getting... I think that original video has almost three-million views now. And so we started emailing back and forth, and those two times I toured out there, he would open for me, and we would play that song together. I brought him out for his first US tour this January, and kinda hit up the West Coast, and that's where that video came from.
He's just exploded now, especially in Korea, but all over the world, so banks, you know, want to use him for commercials. And then someone flew him to Washington D.C. recently, and he played this big thing in D.C. with Bryan McKnight and that guy Ruben [Studdard] from American Idol. So anyways, they really wanted to use that video of me and him playing in Seattle of that song, and since it's kind of my arrangement and everything, I'm in the video; they kinda had to license it. So it was all pretty cool.
WW: Wow, no kidding?! So how long have you lived in Colorado? What's your story?
TB: I was born in Minnesota in this little town where Spam is made -- the canned meat product -- [laughs] and moved here after fourth grade, so elementary school, then lived in Buena Vista, Colorado, through high school, then I've lived in Boulder ever since.
You know it's weird, I play in Boulder once or twice a year, but I mainly tour outside of the state. A lot of people in Colorado hadn't heard of me for a while, and then, you know...[laughs], well it's kind of interesting.