This week we’re bringing together pop-rock artist LJR and alt-rock singer-songwriter Sandra Bullet. The two chat about their best tips for creating an irresistible music video, how to find new fans, and how to balance being a musician with juggling all the things.
LJR: Seems like we have a lot in common! I love that you switched from engineering to music (I did the same, also with an MS in mechanical!). How do you feel like your technical background has helped you in your music career?
Sandra Bullet: That is such a great question! Usually, people think that they are totally unrelated areas, which is definitely not true. It has helped me a lot in terms of organizing all the different tasks I need to do. I have a methodical approach to everything I do, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Other artists have told me I’m the most reliable person they’ve ever worked within the music industry; and that goes a long way for me.
Sandra Bullet: It really is super cool that we have the same Engineering background! I see that you got into music when you were very young and had other people in the family who were into music too. So why did you decide to study Engineering?
LJR: I was really good at math and science, and despite a deep love for the arts, my family saw music as a dead-end career path for a long time. It also took me a long time to discover who I was and what I truly loved. On the way there, it seemed like a smart decision to play it safe and get a stable “backup plan.” I’m glad I finally got out of that mindset, but that only happened because of a lot of encouragement from my older brother Daniel challenging that narrative about the arts.
LJR: I see you’ve got your new album out! Can you tell me about the experiences behind it?
Sandra Bullet: It’s just a dream come true! These songs are my first compositions. Some of them were made 15 years ago. I was in a band that played just for fun, and so we never recorded anything properly. I always believed in these songs though, so I always had this idea of releasing an album with all our compositions. In the process I decided to reach out and include my former band members, and that brought us close to each other again, which was such a wonderful feeling! And sharing it with my fans, there are just no words to describe it.
Sandra Bullet: I love all your video productions! How did you get into video production?
LJR: Thank you!! I learned video because I thought I needed kick ass music videos to get attention online. Of course it helps, but it wasn’t enough to build a following without more consistent content. I loved Boyce Avenue, so I tried to figure out where they put their lights and what gear they used, and built a custom rotating camera rig to get moving angles without a camera man. I also learned a lot from some friends of mine who knew film and photography and just tried creating things I liked. I also learned a TON from YouTube tutorials.
LJR: I’m a huge videography nerd and shoot all my own videos too; what got you into doing your own video work and how did you learn it?
Sandra Bullet: It started out of necessity to be honest, just like many things I do today. I’m a curious person, and I’m a fast learner. My creative side has the vision, and then my methodical side steps into action and makes it real. And I have a lot of fun with it! I learned it all by myself, watching tutorials and experimenting. You can learn pretty much anything online today. I started with small edits, then with my Bulletized covers I took my editing skills to a whole new level.
Sandra Bullet: How do you feel now that you’re about to share your first album with the world?
LJR: I’m so excited!! With all the covers I did, I feel there’s a level to which I never showed the world all of who I am. I’m excited to share more of my journey with the world, and I’m hopeful that it helps people know they’re not alone.
LJR: Doing all the things you do in your own music business is really hard, and I rarely meet anyone who is able to manage everything on their own and produce quality material. How do you balance and prioritize everything so you get it all done?
Sandra Bullet: It is hard, and I’m still learning how to do it. I’m always taking notes and I follow my calendar strictly, but the most important thing I’ve learned lately is the importance of saying “no.” I am invited to be part of many cool musical projects and it’s hard for me to say no; as a result I ended up doing a lot of studio work for other artists in the past, and I never had time for my own music or my fans. Now I choose my work carefully. My music and my fans are my priority, and that’s the way it should be.
LJR: How do you find new fans and run the business side of things? Do you run ads, post a ton on social media and YouTube, or TikTok?
Sandra Bullet: I started growing a following 2 years ago, when I was invited to start live streaming on a new app. I started connecting with my audience and that’s what motivated me to start working more on my own music. I was never a social media person and that held me back for quite some time. All the fans I have right now found me through live streaming, other artists I worked with or through my Bulletized covers on YouTube. But lately, I’m investing a lot of time in understanding social media and finding new fans this way. I know my target audience and that is already a huge advantage.
Sandra Bullet: What’s next for you? What would you like to see happening next in your musical career?
LJR: After this album finishes releasing one song at a time per month and I (hopefully) get some traction online, I really want to put together a band and tour in 2022. I also have a bunch of individual singles (some old and some new) that I’d like to start releasing as well that didn’t really fit onto the album.
LJR: What is coming for you in the next 3 months?
Sandra Bullet: I wish I could say live shows, but with the pandemic, I don’t think that will be possible; so I’ll be focusing on growing my following and reaching more people with my music.
Something I’m also really trying to do is showing musicians here in Portugal that you don’t have to be famous or know the right people in order to make a living as a musician.
I will also be producing and recording an album for another artist. We are in the planning phase now and I’m really looking forward to that project.
Hailing from Maryland, LJR is a tenacious and passionate pop-rock artist who strives to empower and inspire his audience to live their lives to the fullest.
LJR has opened for platinum-selling singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and acclaimed duo A Great Big World, and his distinctive, resonant style has won him fans around the globe.
LJR is currently preparing to release his 12-track debut album “When the Sky Began to Fall,” which he will share with fans one song at a time beginning on April 30. Recorded over the course of three years, the album promises to showcase LJR’s brilliant songwriting skills and will serve as a testimony to the last decade of his life, detailing his personal evolution through discussions about his insecurities, relationships, and journey through faith. “I hope it brings a deep joy and hope to people’s lives,” he shares about the album. “I’m also really excited to create sacred moments with people at shows. I think those times are opportunities to share the deepest parts of ourselves while freeing others to do the same.”
For Fans Of: Walk the Moon, The Fray
About Sandra Bullet:
Sandra Bullet is a Portuguese alternative rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an indie twist and an old school sound.
Besides her solo career, Sandra also collaborates with other artists in other genres, and as a streamer, she performs weekly online concerts on YouTube and Twitch. She sets the bar for all independent artists out there, showing them that it’s possible to be a musician without musical education and without labels, and that nowadays any artist can produce, mix, master and release their own music. Although she loves working with other artists, streaming, and crafting her extravagant “bulletized” covers, her main goal is to work more on her original music and share her sound with everyone!
For Fans Of: Avril Lavigne, P!nk, Alanis Morissette
(Left) LJR photo credit Eric Brown (Right) Sandra Bullet photo credit: self-portrait (Right)