Also check out Kulak's recent full-length release, Tin Can Telephone.
"There's a whimsical, off-kilter, jazzy quality in his music and lyrics that might call to mind Harry Nilsson or Rufus Wainwright."
- Edmonton Journal
Bryce Kulak's genre is often described as Cabaret. The singer-songwriter's debut recording, a CD-EP appropriately titled Welcome, is a fine example: the visuals of a European fairground at night set the mood, while the songs conjure up images of ragtag gypsy ensembles and rollicking circus bands.
Born in 1981, Kulak showed his artistic sensibilities early. Cast as a child actor and singer in leading roles at all the major regional theatres, he became known as a capable, honest young talent:
"Bryce Kulak ... sings like a dream and acts with integrity, as performances in Oliver!, Peter Pan, and The Music Man attest."
- Edmonton Journal
"From Oliver! to The Secret Garden, we have watched Bryce Kulak grow into a mature and able performer ..."
- Edmonton Sun
By the age of 19, Kulak was touring western Canada as Mordred in a million-dollar production of Camelot.
While much of Kulak's vocal education comes from his decade of experience in musical theatre, as a pianist he is classically schooled. In his teens, he composed neoclassical piano solos that won first-place awards at music competitions. Writing songs with lyrics was a departure that satisfied Kulak's desire for an amalgamation of his musical, theatrical, and literary talents.
"'Some of my songs tell a story. Some have jokes. Some are characters. You'll never hear them in an elevator. At least I hope not.'"
- Bryce Kulak, Edmonton Journal
Kulak made his symphonic debut with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in November of 2002. As guest artist in the Helen Reddy pops concert, he performed four of his original songs with full orchestral arrangements. This first engagement received such acclaim that another ESO concert was scheduled for Valentine's Day of 2004, with Kulak as headlining vocalist. Other ESO performances include Kulak as singer and host in a Symphony Under the Sky concert, and in the role of Mozart in an April 2005 Education concert. Kulak has also performed as a vocalist with the Kingston Symphony Orchestra in Ontario (in an all-Gershwin program) and the orchestra of the Banff Centre for the Arts. In May of 2005, he was invited to perform an original song before a stadium audience of 50 000 for the Alberta 2005 Centennial Celebrations Royal Visit.
He has premiered many of his songs on Oh Susanna!, a popular theatre variety show, and has played numerous other venues including the well-known Sidetrack Café. Kulak's music has been featured on CJSR FM 88.5 (the University of Alberta station), and both locally and nationally on CBC Radio 1 and Radio 2. He has been written up on many occasions in all of the regional newspapers and arts magazines, and regularly donates his time and talent to fundraising events, often for arts organizations. As the recipient of several awards and grants, Kulak has been recognized for his contribution to the arts in Canada.
"[He's like] Burt Bacharach morphed into Rufus Wainwright - he just whips up these little songs that are ridiculously fantastic."
- CJSR FM 88.5
"Kulak's versatility knows no bounds."
- Edmonton Journal
Welcome: The Disc
November of 2002 marked the release of "Welcome', a six-track CD-EP of Bryce Kulak's original material that aptly demonstrates the singer-songwriter's creative prowess, musical ability, and intense romanticism. All six tracks are freestanding and original, with music and lyrics by Kulak, and additional instrumental arrangements by other Wunderkinder: Aaron Gervais and members of the String Beans Quartet (Tim Cebuliak, Robin Leicht, Emma Hooper, and Hannah Wensel). Produced by Matthew Ogle, Jeremy Tusz, and Kulak himself, Welcome is the triumphant product of independent recording gumption; musicians eagerly volunteered to assist with the project, and recording took place on the University of Alberta campus at all hours of the day and night. The artistic payoff is invaluable: a fresh, inimitable voice is added to the singer-songwriter canon.
The fast-flowing wordplay of "Picturesque", the disc's theatrical opening track, evidences Kulak's love of the sound of language. It hints at a longing between individuals and between our present and our past, while offering a glimpse of previous identities.
"Short-term Soulmate" gives us a taste of Kulak's grittier side. This is a tale of deception and manipulation, a lost-love tune with catchy melodic hooks in waltz time. The track is permeated by raw vocals and biting sarcasm.
"Wild" is a whirling, impressionistic wash of acoustic sound that showcases Kulak's pianistic and compositional abilities. It speaks to and exposes the vulnerable heart.
Next, we encounter a crystalline, sparse evocation: "Nothing Boy". This is the basement, a storeroom of sad but curious metaphors describing the isolation of a once-vibrant individual.
"Pelican" is a strange storybook, set to music from the circus. Among the hodgepodge of instruments used on the track, we hear snatches of accordion, banjo, bass harmonica, bicycle horn, children's toys, and a reverberating boys' choir. This piece would be right at home as the soundtrack to an antic, undulating animated short film.
"'Pelican' ... with its amusingly rhymed first-hand account of a guy living inside one, has a distinctly musical theatre vibe ... with a touch of vaudeville ..."
- Edmonton Journal
Who else but Kulak would create a ditty about living inside a Pelican? Call it an allegory; call it a nonsense song; whatever it is, "Pelican" is utterly contagious.
Kulak chooses to let us down gently instead of going out with a bang. "Round My Door" is a lovely, melodic lullaby, and Kulak sings it tenderly over his elegant, chordal piano arrangement.