Folktronica: Bill Godfrey, 'Hypnotized

Folktronica: Bill Godfrey, 'Hypnotized

Folktronica artist Bill Godfrey dropped his debut EP this year, Hypnotized. Godfrey is a rural-Texan, and yes, some Texans here are so "city," rural folk consider us outsiders. Anyhoo. Bill grew up around music from an early age. 

"The Kerrville Folk Festival was a big part of my early exposure to playing and singing. It’s a 3 week long camp out in which friends bring instruments and play music together. Only acoustic instruments are allowed. I learned a ton of songs and was exposed to artists like Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Blaze Foley, James Taylor, Carol King and John Prine."

It makes sense why this music is also referred to as campfire pop. Nights at the festival playing music around a roaring campfire. For his debut, Godfrey decided that the overall theme would be about how the mind seeks influence. In my review, I'll put these five tracks through my filter of life experience on this theme. 


Folktronica Singer-Songwriter Bill Godfrey, "Hypnotized"


If Godfrey's theme is about the mind seeking influence, the title-track "Hypnotized" would be about a struggle I'm familiar with. In this track, Godfrey talks about a woman who he can't get away from, she's got him under her spell. He's trying to break free, but she's in his head. 

"Hypnotized is a coming-of-age exploration of a young mind that seeks identity and love, but struggles to break free from outside influence and control. Each track explores a means of influence over the mind, by way of fear, grief, co-dependence, substances, dogma, or even malice."

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He's talking about my last relationship that ended up being doomed from the beginning as I struggled with priorities that weren't hers. I kept doing my own thing, neglecting the relationship, which was a struggled because of it. The music to my story would be completely different but here, it's a story told through a folktronica medium that's told as supernatural. Isn't that how folktales are told? It's about some vampire going around draining people of their lifeblood, when it's really about taxes.  

"Sprightly Gentleman" is the attempt to influence the mind of a child with prescription drugs, whom society deems the need to control. From the teacher to the doctor, then the doctor to the preacher, but finally, where it should have been the whole time is the parent. He knows he's going through changes and his mom, with all of her wisdom, says to let him go through it and that through his mistakes, he will learn. 

If the rest of the EP is about being out with your crew, "Perfect Place" is Bill Godfrey being chill at home with his significant other. This is a good king of hypnotism to be under. "Mama Help Me" is about the protagonist being in a dangerous place, if they're not being paranoid and "Patiently" recalls someone who isn't around anymore and the patience to see them again in the end. 

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For me to try and get a deeper reading into the theme is futile. The music pulls me out of it, as I don't get the sense this album wants to go negative with its theme. I think about the folk festival he grew up going to and how these are comfort songs around the fire. Also, why go the folktronica route fusing acoustic and electronica and not have a bit of fun. Ray Zepeda's sax on "Sprightly Gentleman" is uplifting and a joy. The swampy banjos of "Mama Help Me" and Godfrey's guitar plucking throughout is the foundation of this album, giving it warm overtones. This is an EP you want to throw into your playlist, set to random, and be pleasantly surprised when a track plays. Looking forward to more from this artist and folktronica music genre in general. 

Interview with Bill Godfrey

I got the chance to speak with Bill Godfrey about his latest release and the source of his folksy roots. 


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