He’s only 28 years old, but Julian Bunetta talks like a wizened beatnik thrust into a focus-grouped world he didn’t create. The California-based producer/engineer habitually tosses out phrases and metaphors that speak volumes about his churning creativity, not to mention his philosophical approach to life.
As Bunetta sees it, strong relationships help produce great art. He constantly alludes to “the family,” a circle that not only includes blood relatives, but also a select group of artists with whom he’s forged bonds. Nowadays, Bunetta’s extended family includes reggae-pop singer Laza Morgan, urban songstress Ms. Williams and soul singer Jasper Sawyer. Asked to describe his criteria for choosing artists, Bunetta was typically meditative.
“You’ve got to be willing to be whoever you are, and let everybody else be whoever they are,” Bunetta says. It’s his way of saying that in addition to being unique themselves, artists must also trust Bunetta to tap his own uniqueness and experience. “As long as you come with an open mind and an open heart, then it’s all fair game.”
It’s that undoubting approach to production that has allowed Bunetta to cast his creative net so wide. Over the past decade, Bunetta has worked with urban giants including Boyz II Men and Flo Rida, soul-kissed pop divas like Leona Lewis and Natasha Bedingfield, and even rock-influenced country acts such as Little Big Town.
“The last place I’d ever want to place myself in is a box,” Bunetta said. “I mean, you’re always going to be put in a box. In life you’re either Christian, Jewish or Muslim, or if you’re talking candy it’s chocolaty or sweet ’n’ sour. It’s just what us humans do, but it’s up to us to decide how wide our corners are going to be. That’s what I’m trying to do. A little country, a little rock, a little pop, a little hip-hop. Who knows what the next corner will be, but at least I’m building a big box.”