Ian Talbert (Primal Optics) Shares His Journey To Success as a Music Artist
We connected with the very talented Ian Talbert to share the story of his start in music, the overcoming of challenges, current projects, music artist tips, and more. We hope you enjoy Ian’s personal recollections and videos of his very interesting musical life as much as we did.
Q1 – Can you share with us a bit about your musical journey and how you initially got started in the world of music?
”Absolutely! I think my musical journey, like many people, began when I was little, and died when I became an adult. Back then it was just me and my boy Matt (Wrecktify). I dabbled with guitar pretty heavily early on as he dove straight into the production and engineering side of things. He was releasing hip-hop & R&B songs when we were just young teenagers. It was always mad inspiring to me.
After a few solo years on guitar, I tried to expand and put together a band or two with some of my friends from school. The challenge was always either A.) You had people with crazy talent and no work ethic, or B.) all the work ethic and little talent. The ones who had potential wouldn’t show up for band practice and the ones who showed up didn’t have much potential. I was willing to just work hard and make it happen over time but we just couldn’t get a serious group of people going and the idea of a band died as quickly as it began. It’s also just kind of hard when you’re a bunch of clueless kids. A lot of kids’ parents didn’t really support it either. So, I stuck to my guitar and got better as a few more years passed.
I had always been singing and rapping along to my favorite songs back then but never from the perspective of a real vocalist. I never thought I had the voice for it. Fast forward a couple more years Matt and I started working on a couple of hip-hop tracks just for fun. He was cooking up some cool beats and I was like you know what? You write me a verse and I will rap it lol. I couldn’t write lyrics to save my life back then. I hadn’t been through enough real-life experience to write good enough stories. It was just a joke and for fun but the few tracks we made back then turned out okay for a couple of teenagers. However, once we became adults my life path changed pretty dramatically as I left home, joined the military, got into the world of entrepreneurship, and eventually started a family. I left my musical aspirations behind and convinced myself I didn’t have what it took to make it in the music business. So that’s how my music journey began in a nutshell.”
https://www.youtube.com/embed/YOcfFST1FPw?si=av5wFea_JUyfQ54ZQ2 – Your website bio mentions that you started playing guitar at a young age. What or who were some of your early musical influences that inspired you to pick up the guitar? Your bio also mentions your interest in various genres like rock, indie folk, and electronic music. How have these diverse genres shaped your musical style and approach?
“I got my first guitar as a kid and fell in love straight away. It was the iconic BC Rich Beast. That guitar just screams metal lol. I played the heck out of it and got pretty good after a few years. I was inspired a lot by guitarist YouTubers in the beginning. One in particular was Canon Rock by a guy named Funtwo. He went super viral with it back in those days. Another was named Jerry C. I listened to a ton of rock/metal back then in general. Bands like, The Devil Wears Prada, Escape The Fate, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Green Day, Anberlin, 30 Seconds To Mars, Korn, Disturbed, Red, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, BlessTheFall, and so many more. I always listened to hip hop too though. I used to be a dancer growing up and I was always the kid in the middle of the circle breaking it down at school dances. So, while I did listen to a lot of rock/metal, there was a ton of hip-hop in my roots as well. We won’t go into all those artists right now though or we’d be here all night. I have a lot of musical influences and the most important thing I would like people to know is that I am an artist and plan to display a lot of diversity over my career. Don’t label me a rapper, a rocker, or anything other than an artist. I won’t be boxed into any particular sound. I may have a core sound that people will grow familiar with, but I will always be exploring and producing new things that are outside of that. Trying new things is my favorite way to learn and grow as an artist.”
Q3 – Collaboration often brings fresh perspectives to artistic endeavors. Could you share an experience where a collaboration with another artist or musician led to unexpected creative outcomes?
“Collabs are usually pretty fun. I have only done a handful this far in my career but the process has usually been an awesome experience. You gotta make sure you really vibe well with the other artists and that they can hustle to get tracks completed. I don’t like when songs take many months or years to get completed. I like to work fast and when other artists hold a song back it grinds my gears a bit.
There’s only two ways a collab will happen. In person, and remotely. My favorite by far is an in-person collaboration where we are all in the studio together feeding off of each other’s energy. When this happens the outcomes are almost always surprising. My song Actors” which I did with my dude Shamothy. I met him on TikTok and we hit it off real quick. He came at me with the topic of the song and a beat he had leased. I wrote the hook and my own verse for it within just a few days then he did a verse. My engineer Matt (Wrecktify) put the sauce on it and it turned into a real banger. I’ve also done a few collabs with another local friend of mine named CJ who goes by S.Lock.
While doing collab work is fun my main focus moving forward is my own music. I am working on my first proper album titled “Philosophy” and a plethora of singles. I am still open to collabs but it has to be a really exciting project for me to break focus from my own projects. I’m also starting to get more people wanting to collaborate as I grow and that’s great, but again, you have to really vibe with the other artists well or it will be hard to make something everyone enjoys listening to. I’m sure I will do many more collabs in my career but for the foreseeable future, most of my focus will stay on my own music.”
https://www.youtube.com/embed/2uWbckbdwUs?si=POt8826VaR-ZtR_4Q4 – Your dedication to continually evolving your sound is evident. What can your fans anticipate from your future musical projects? Are there any new directions you’re excited to explore? As a musician, growth is an ongoing process. How do you challenge yourself to push creative boundaries and avoid getting stuck in a comfort zone?
“I may drop a few more singles/collabs while I continue working on my first album but the album will be the next big thing to come. My main focus is to get a quality sizable body of work out there to promote. I don’t have a lot in the catalogue right now so that’s what I am trying to build. My album will be a hip-hop/rap project with a good balance of melodic rap and singing. We’re also producing the entire project. I don’t like leasing beats. I like to be original and in control.
As far as pushing the needle on creativity and staying far away from comfort zones I find that it’s more about what I do outside of the studio that contributes to this the most. I spend a lot of time training martial arts, and survival skills, running my businesses, and spending time with my family. That experience on a daily basis tends to inspire me a lot. Other than that, I am actively learning the production process from end to end. There’s a lifetime of knowledge to learn when it comes to working inside of a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I’m also trying to learn more instruments like piano, drums, ukulele, woodwinds, and more. Anything to help aid me in the production of my music. I spend a lot of time learning. Much of what I know has been taught to me through working with my engineer Matt though. While I gave up on music when we became adults, he doubled down and has amassed vast experience as both an artist and audio engineer in the last 15 years. So I kind of have a secret weapon with him lol. In a way, everything I do is a collaboration with him. He helps me creatively in many ways when I get stuck. Having someone like him in your corner is next to impossible to find, so if you do, hold on to them!
Everything about music is kind of uncomfortable though. Revealing your voice and story… being vulnerable in that way is a tough thing to do. I’ll be doing a ton of exploratory missions though, best believe that!”
Q5 – Your bio mentions your interest in connecting with your audience on a personal level. How do you strive to create an emotional resonance with your listeners through your music?
“Connecting with my audience in a personal way has always been my goal even before music as just an influencer in the preparedness industry. I’ve always been a content creator, I wrote a book, and I’m always looking for evergreen ways to put my message into the world. Music was the next evolution for me and it has always been a universal language for us all in a lot of ways. While many of my videos, blogs, and so on will eventually be forgotten… my book, and music, I hope, will be the two mediums that live on potentially forever. Music is the most impactful and memorable way to deliver a message and I have a lot to say at this point in my life. This is why I chose to circle back to music at this stage. I needed another frontier to conquer and music was my original passion project as a kid so I am glad that I found my way back to it even though it took me nearly 15 years.
I plan to achieve this connection and resonance with my fans by building an awesome community for them (Wolfgang), helping other artists with tools and tips, and creating music that is truly in alignment with my purpose in life. I always try to be authentic and speak the truth. Many artists will claim to do this, but much of what you hear them speak about is far from the truth. Some artists might tell you to make music for the fans, I prefer to make music for myself and let that music attract MY tribe. I make music for me as a way to process the emotions I am going through during each season of my life. My music is very much the soundtrack to whatever season I am in.
While I do still listen to a lot of other music, these days much of what I am listening to is my own music. Whether it’s a demo I am trying to complete, or simply a beat that’s in the archive to be written to one day. I truly enjoy listening to the music I create and I think that’s vital to maintain as an artist. If you make music for others you might not resonate with it personally too well and in my opinion, that severs that emotional connection you could have been building with that listener. It loses its authenticity and people can sense it.”
Q6 – Technology has transformed the music industry in various ways. How do you utilize modern technological tools to enhance your creative process and engage with your audience?
“Tech has indeed transformed the entire industry but I genuinely feel that’s just begun with all the latest advancements in AI. I’m a little concerned for the music industry specifically due to anyone being able to clone anyone’s voice and image almost identically. It’s scary, but there’s also a lot of great tools to help a real artist create great music. It’s a double-edged sword for sure.
I started a couple of years before all this new AI tech came along. I quickly ran into a ton of challenges and found little to no solutions. There’s a whole bunch of data related to music creation and publishing. This drove me to create my very own tool to help me create, manage, and market my music all in one place. I call it The Artist Ecosystem. It’s a really robust dashboard and databases to keep all your musical data stored and organized better than anything else and it’s completely customizable to the artist that’s using it. There are also a ton of helpful resources inside of it like writing aids, vocal training, emotion journal, and much more.
On top of that, I am building my Wolfgang community for fans and other artists where I plan to create training programs, and even more tools for artists in challenging situations. I want to make music creation easier and less intimidating because I think everyone should make music even if it’s not on a serious level. It’s such a great way to process life and emotions and I think everyone has a few great songs in them. I just want to enable and facilitate that the best I can.”Q7 – Is there a specific message or feeling you hope your listeners take away from your music?
“To be inspired, to be affirmed, to feel understood… Every song is different and has a different takeaway you know… I guess mostly at the surface level I want people to feel included. I think a lot of people are genuinely lonely these days and they find peace in the music they listen to.
Not all my music will be positive and happy. Sometimes it might be sad and depressing. It just depends on what that season of my life is looking like. If you’re in the same kind of season I was in when writing a particular song, I hope it helps you process the things life is throwing at you at that moment as much as it helped me when writing it. Creating this music is how I process life. Once I create something and put it out there in the world, I finally feel like I can overcome and let go of whatever I was going through. Good and bad. It allows me to process and move on to the next creation. I want to inspire others to do this too because I feel like a lot of people stay in a lower vibration due to the inability to process life. Emotions have to be transformed!”
Q8 – What do you enjoy doing outside of music? What’s life like for Primal beyond the studio?
“Well, I have 2 wonderful kids and a wife that I spend most of my time with. I try to involve them in the music too. Outside that, we like to train MMA, hike, go kayak fishing, play games, and play other sports. Personally, I enjoy photography and videography. I actually do all the media you see for myself as an artist, even music videos. I also enjoy art and drawing, bushcrafting, and strength training, and I spend a fair amount of time educating myself on the skills I’d like to develop. There’s a lot more obviously but those are my main things.”
Q9 – You mention entrepreneurship. Outside of music, what have you accomplished in the business world?
“Early on I started out by running a buy/sell/trade store that also dealt in precious metals. This was my first taste of running my own business. During this time I had also enlisted in the military as an infantryman. When I got back from basic training I ended up having to shut my store down for a few reasons. It was just time for a new chapter… After that, I ended up getting my Real Estate license to sell houses and I did that for about 7 years. At the same time, after I got out of the military in 2013, I started my business MASK Tactical, which is a survival education and preparedness training operation focused on helping individuals achieve optimal preparedness for the modern age. We formed a global community of prepared minds that we call the Warrior Tribe. This is my main business today still. I even wrote a book about my philosophy on preparedness called “The Primal Method: A Strategic Approach To Preparedness For The Modern Age.”
Q10 – Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting their own musical journeys?
”Trust the process! You will be VERY surprised at what a little engineering sauce can do. With the right engineer, you can practically sound professional overnight. Spend a lot of time in the beginning learning how to use your DAW, train your vocals, and get in the reps! Get studio time frequently. Build your own like I did so I could submerge myself in the process. While my music is mostly a hobby, I still take it 100% seriously. So I built a vocal booth and got all the equipment I needed to make my home studio. The great thing about music though, is you truthfully don’t need a lot to get started. While there’s a lot you can get to make it better and easier, you don’t NEED it. You can accomplish a lot more than you think with very basic gear. With that said, here’s some of the gear I use personally if you want to spend a little more money…
- Audio Interface: Apollo Twin, or Focusrite Scarlet
- Mic: Shure SM7B, MV7, or MV5
- DAW: FL Studio or Bandlab
- MIDI Keyboard: AKAI MPK Mini
Lastly, join my WOLFGANG and grab the Artist Ecosystem to get the greatest tool for artists! I look forward to seeing you in the gang and listening to your music! If you happen to enjoy my tunes and consider yourself a fan, that’s even better.” 😎🐺
Ian is a 31-year-old independent music artist, author, and entrepreneur from Marion, VA currently living in Johnson City, TN. To learn more about Ian (Primal Optics) and find his music please check here:
Ian Talbert, thank you for sharing your amazing story and incredible resources and tips for aspiring music artists. The USANews.com team thanks you and wishes you great success in the upcoming years!