Buku reflects back on his 'beautiful and chaotic' 2019 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Buku reflects back on his 'beautiful and chaotic' 2019

click to enlarge Buku on his tour bus - PHOTO: MIKEY REVALDS @TREEVALDS
Photo: Mikey Revalds @treevalds
Buku on his tour bus
Exactly one year ago, Buku was getting ready to close out a monumental 2018 with a bang. After spending the year performing at a slew of music festivals – many of which had been on his bucket list – Buku, aka Robert Balotsky, was gearing up for a headlining New Year's Eve show at the Rex Theater. This year, Buku is getting ready for another headlining show, this one at the larger capacity Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks.


2019 turned out to be an even bigger year for the Pittsburgh native. After last year's New Year's show, Balotsky headed on tour as one of several openers for space bass king Space Jesus. That led to a United States headlining tour of his own which started in September and came to an end a few days ago. Balotsky also found time to release singles "Concentrate," "To Ya Brain," "Everything," and "Do U Want 2."



Pittsburgh City Paper caught up with Balostsky between tour stops to chat about the changes 2019 bought and his upcoming show at the Roxian. 

When 2019 started, you were on tour with Space Jesus as one of the openers. At the time, did you have any idea that by the end of the year, you would be headlining your own tour?

Yes, actually. Doing a headlining tour was always a step that we wanted to take. It’s such a leap out for your career. So, when we were doing the Space Jesus thing, it seemed like an appropriate time to do my own thing, to piggyback the tour with Space Jesus.

What differences have you found going from being an opening act to a headliner?
You go from the position, like on the Space Jesus tour, I was direct support. I didn’t really have any responsibility, other than playing every night. Now, on the headlining tour, I’m the one responsible for the final say on everything, I’m responsible for bankrolling the whole thing, I’m the one responsible for keeping with the crew members, bits and pieces of micromanaging. It’s a pretty significant difference.

Have you experienced micromanaging in previous jobs?
I started doing the whole music thing not that far out of college, so I had various little jobs like restaurant jobs. I was never in the position of management. Coming up through my career, there were bits and pieces, but this was the first time I had full-on responsibility at this level.


The last time you played in Pittsburgh was Thrival. How will your show at the Roxian compare?
We are bringing in some additional production. I’m going to be presenting this show very similar to how I’ve been presenting the tour – the crazy lasers and all that. It’s going to be very comparable because I didn’t have a Pittsburgh tour stop because of Thrival. It’s going to be a tour stop without being on tour.

You’re an avid concert attendee in Pittsburgh. How does it feel to have these mid-size venues in the city now?
It’s so wonderful. The Roxian really filled in this gap that I think Pittsburgh was missing. Not to mention, its just a beautiful room with a beautiful sound system, beautiful in-house lighting system. It’s somewhere that can support a lot of touring acts that wouldn’t be coming to Pittsburgh otherwise.

You dropped a few singles this year. Do you have any new music coming our way in 2020?
In January, I’m going to go into a little bit of a hiding mode. I am packing up my studio and going to an undisclosed location and am just writing music. I’m so excited to write.

If you had to describe 2019 in one word what would it be?
[Laughs] My knee jerk reaction is "chaos." If I could add a second word, it would be "beautiful chaos."

Would you say that’s because of all the touring?
Yeah, the touring. With the territory of doing both of the tours in one year, it's been, personally, its been a year of some pretty significant change with responsibility and just how my career is going. Everything has changed for me this year. It’s been great, but it's still change. There's been a bit of chaos to proceed all the change. It’s a growing pain, ultimately.



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