from the studio

Junior Charlie Burg believes that music can heal the world

Nalae White | Staff Photographer

Charlie Burg didn't decide he wanted to become a musician until he started college.

Charlie Burg made the drive from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to spend a day in an attic with some friends, making a full EP of songs in a matter of hours over the summer. “Live in Peter’s Attic” was released in December and includes four songs recorded that day. Burg never rests when it comes to making music and is now currently working on a full-length album, his second one so far.

If a listener were to compare Burg’s music from his first album, “Blue Wave Mosaic,” to the music that he is making now, they would hear a complete transition in the genre and style of his sound. Blue Wave Mosaic was heavily influenced by Frank Ocean and GoldLink and was completely in the realm of R&B. On the flip side, “Live in Peter’s Attic” is more indie rock, which gave a little taste of what to expect with his new material: predominately rock.

Burg, a junior music industry major with a focus in jazz guitar at Syracuse University, has been singing since he was 6 years old — at synagogues and in school talent shows and musicals. But he didn’t want to be a musician until he got to college.

“In high school, I resisted doing music because I thought it would ruin me. I thought it would academize music for me and take away that lust,” said Burg. “So I studied English and philosophy for my first two years of college.”

Burg said month after month would pass and he would end up ignoring his schooling because he wanted to do music all of the time. So he decided that if he was going to be at school, he needed to do music. That’s when he transferred into the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Burg said he wants to perform for the rest of his life, travelling the world and playing shows.

On a local basis, Burg has performed at CUSEapalooza at Westcott Theater, Funk ‘n Waffles and the Jabberwocky Café. He hopes to book another Westcott performance in a few months.

Although Burg has been a musician nearly his whole life — playing acoustic and electric guitar, bass, keys and even the banjo all on top of singing — he only began writing music as a freshman in college. Writing strong lyrics, however, has become increasingly important to him.

Burg has written a number of love songs about heartbreak and nostalgia, but for the new project he’s working on, he wants to broaden his lyrical concepts outside of love. Impacted by the presidential election in November, Burg became passionate about including socioeconomic issues into his songs.

“It’s hard to make music when there’s a lot of bad stuff going on, and it may not feel like it’s as productive as other things. But making music is a musician’s way of taking art and change and helping the world heal a little bit,” Burg said.

Former bandmate Erez Levin, who is from Burg’s home state of Michigan, often helps Burg throughout the writing process of making music. Sometimes Burg has an idea and Levin helps him to flesh it out and vice versa. Most often, the two friends fire riffs back and forth on the guitar, singing a melody as they play and eventually striking an idea they really like. From there they build the song and really figure out what it’s actually about.

“The thing about (Burg) is that he has a direct relationship with songs and is one of those guys that just experiences something in life, and his gut reaction is to write a song about it,” said Levin. “He’s a natural songwriter. It’s just what he does.”

For Burg, putting soul into his music is a necessity and has a created an aesthetic for his music. He grew up listening to classic soul artists like Al Green with his parents. In Michigan, he is surrounded by a supportive community that allows him to embrace the soul of his music even more.

“To me, soul means putting yourself and personal truth into your music. I just try to do everything with as much genuine and truth as possible,” said Burg, adding that the best feeling is when people come up to him after a performance to tell him that a specific lyric or song touched them in a certain way.

Burg’s manager, SU student Ben Cultrara, agrees that Burg never lacks soul with everything that he does. Cultrara helps Burg to book studio time and performances, and even described Burg as the most ambitious musician he has ever met.

Said Cultrara: “He wants to spread the love from his music to everyone, and he doesn’t let anything slow him down from achieving that.”

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