JB Fulbright is writing songs for people fighting mental illness and gender dysphoria. They're writing songs for those that are experiencing trauma. And as they too are confronting these same battles, they're also writing songs for themself. “Making music has been an important way for me to work through these feelings and struggles,” they say. “And if I can make someone feel less alone in their similar experiences, I feel like I've done my job as an artist.”
prior panic began as a solo project and has since evolved into an engaging, melody-driven trio fueled by unique instrumentation and a willingness to focus their craft on promoting self esteem and emotional support for those who may be seeking it. Earlier this year they released their debut, Finicky Things, with friend Nate Patsfall who recorded, mixed, produced, and mastered the album, which they self-distributed. “I think it's important for rising bands to just put their music out there,” JB says. “It's so easy to do yourself with the internet and you don't necessarily need a label or management to share your music with the world!”
JB found their inspiration at the Democracy Center, a non-profit in Harvard Square that provides an affordable, safe community space. “The Democracy Center is an amazing space and important community resource,” they say. “It's all ages, sober, semi ADA-accessible, and fairly easy to book shows at, if you volunteer.” It was in 2016 that JB began by attending shows there, one of their most memorable with a lineup that included Dent, their favorite local band, as well as Bat House, Dæphne, and Puppy Problems. “It was one of the first times I can remember being in a room with so many people who were as stoked about music as I am,” JB says. “Getting to see some of the best acts in the DIY scene at the time was so exciting and super inspiring to me as a musician.”
JB returned to the Democracy Center shortly after, this time as a performer. “I booked the show myself and had Model/Actriz, Cyberbully, and Tristan Allen on the bill with me,” they tell us. “Everyone absolutely shredded it and the gig went super well, and getting to share my music for the first time here was such a rush.”
“The Democracy Center was the best place I could have asked to have my first show, and having a safer space like this in Boston has been so crucial to the DIY scene and local artists.”
When first starting out, JB was producing and mixing everything in the comfort of their own room. “I was kind of a control freak about my music,” they say. “And didn't trust anyone to ‘get’ it like an angsty teenager, so I did it all myself.” It wasn’t until JB was playing with guitarist Shiloh Trudeau and drummer Zachary Ellsworth that they began to open up and be more collaborative with their work. “It's been so rewarding to write and perform with other really special and talented musicians,” JB tells us. “
JB feels that there are too many musicians and music scenes to pinpoint a specific ‘sound’ in Boston. But when they think about the similarities between their favorites, the words that come to mind are grittiness and emotional vulnerability. “There's this really cool intersection of like, sick bass riffs and fuzzy guitars and also lyrics that are so relatable they just stab you right in the heart,” they say. And while it’s clear that the local scene is making great strides in elevating the voices of the underrepresented communities, there’s still work to be done and JB is ready and willing to do their part. “I want my neuroatypical queer and trans siblings to feel seen and heard, and I hope sharing these parts of myself means something to someone who needs it.”
The Boston Music Awards recently selected prior panic to be a part of the 617Sessions, a program that recognizes Boston-based artists who are making great contributions to the local scene, and rewards them with a day of studio recording. You can listen to and vote for your favorite, and the artist with the most votes will be invited to perform at the 2018 Boston Music Awards at the House of Blues on December 12.
Visit 617Sessions.com to learn more about the artists and their recordings.