PRINCETON — Jared Bartman grew up in Princeton, both physically and musically.
Writing his own songs since the age of 13, it wasn’t long before he’d built a reputation for creative and energetic solo performances that showed his talent was running much deeper than just a youthful pastime.
He began playing both guitar and piano at a young age, and after graduating from Princeton High School in 2006, he attended Peoria’s Bradley University. With a double major in music and English, he’s since been able to work with a variety of other multitalented musicians on an array of different projects.
At 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, he’ll be returning to a Princeton stage to perform at the Grace Performing Arts Center with his band, Moon Ruin.
Bartman describes Moon Ruin as a natural extension of his various solo projects, having realized the need for collaboration in order to properly develop the desired sounds.
“It focuses on my singing and songwriting, developed through musical collaborations with a variety of friends around the country. This record centers around ambient, reverberant vocals, clothed in swelling synthesizers and an intertwining of electronic drums, melodic saxophones, and a tight drum set/bass/guitar rhythm section,” he said.
At 29, Bartman has also successfully met the significant challenges created by balancing a life in music with a family life that includes a wife and two young sons. He works the graveyard shift in a Peoria post office and used the daylight hours to help complete Moon Ruin’s first album, “Slow Down Ego.”
“Balancing a job, family life, and the writing/recording process was a difficult juggling act,” he said.
To help maintain that balance, Bartman set up his basement so as much of the album could be produced and engineered there as possible. He worked with Mike Noyce and Liam O’Brien, and the pair eventually began living in Bartman’s house for long stretches of time.
“I’d be done with my day of work at 11 a.m. and be available to record all day when the team was in town. It got very tiring, to say the least. But, it was a beautiful thing to get to have a bulk of the recording happen in my own home, where I could be with my family. My wife and sons all get along great with Mike and Liam, too, which really helped the process work smoothly,” Bartman said.
He added that one of the most exciting parts of creating “Slow Down Ego” over the past couple of years was traveling to Eau Claire, Wis., to finishing mixing the tracks at Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s April Base recording studio, saying “it was a dream come true.”
“I don’t think Mike, Liam, or I realized early on how collaborative the project would become. Everyone had a big stake in seeing the project through, which led to us all truly committing to honing the songs and arrangements and really taking the time to making the record as good as it could possibly be. It was an amazing experience, and I’m grateful for Mike’s and Liam’s crazy work ethic,” he said.
Princeton fans who haven’t heard Bartman perform since he left his hometown may be surprised at how his sound has matured.
“I’ve worked with a lot of different musicians and sound engineers since last living in Princeton at age 18. I’m 29 now, so there’s been some water under the bridge. Experiencing music school and touring and just getting to record and perform with different people over the years has really opened me up to all sorts of musical influences,” he said.
Bartman has said “Slow Down Ego” is his finest work to date. To help meet the substantial costs of creating and releasing a well-honed, professional recording, he created a successful Kickstarter campaign with 161 financial backers.
To promote the album, Bartman and his band plan on touring as much as they can in 2018 and 2019 before beginning work on their next album. Along with Bartman, the touring band includes Mike Noyce, Dave Power and other musicians from the Eau Claire, Wisconsin music scene.
For more information, visit www.moonruinmusic.com or the band’s Facebook page.