Frustrated with the lack of decent backing tracks and apps available, Tristan ‘Trizo’ Bouillaut has taken matters into his own hands by developing one of his own. Guitar Get Up is an app that allows guitarists to play along to, with the option of five different keys at four tempos. With 28 years of experience as a musician and 14 years of teaching experience, you can rest assured that Tristan has created an app with musos in mind.
“It’s not about the app, it’s not about me and it’s not about the app developer. It’s simply about the player sitting down and playing guitar, and that’s what I wanted to try and achieve,” he says. The development and release of the app comes from a similarly holistic viewpoint, with Tristan keeping the cost low so it can be accessible to as many people as possible. “Music’s never been about the money, I just wanted it to reach people around the world and hope they get some good use from it. There’s none of this upgrade halfway through and pay another two bucks stuff; once you buy it, you own it.”
Even from a brief chat, Tristan’s passion for music is evident. “I’ve always enjoyed the educational part of music,” he explains. “As much as getting into playing shows and recording songs [is great], teaching students is a whole different buzz. It feels good to be able to pass on the information you’ve learnt over the years and it’s just very rewarding.”
The former Thousand Needles In Red guitarist is a busy man, but he hasn’t given away his own musical pursuits to teach. Add on developing an app to this mix and time becomes pretty scarce. Acknowledging that multi-tasking is the reality of the modern musician, Bouilaut explains, “In this day and age you have to be pretty proactive if you want to be a full-time guitar player.”
The inspiration for the app wasn’t really inspiration for an app at all, as Tristan explains, “[Before making the app] I was actually just thinking of creating a tool for myself to begin with. I’d used a bunch of different apps and a bunch of different backing tracks to teach with, and a lot of my students couldn’t connect with it and that’s what made me go ‘well hang on a sec I should just do something here.’ I wasn’t even looking at doing an app, I was just going to record some backing tracks for my students, and then I just thought it’d be easier if it was in an app because then you don’t have to be scrolling through your music in iTunes... to find that track at that tempo, so then it just became more of a convenience thing.”
His epiphany led him to work with one of his students to build the app in-house. The ability to influence the production – and for his mantra of simplicity to get through to the developer – was important for Tristan, and working with Andrew Stapleton made this possible. “I got a few quotes from over in the States and India, [but] I just felt really funny about parking money in their account and just letting them build an app. [With Andrew] I could see the progress of it every couple of weeks, which was great.”
Working with students can sometimes be difficult for Tristan, as they have other interests and things going on in their lives. “A student will come to you and you’ll look at them like guitar is everything,” he says. “You’ve got to remember that they’ve got a whole other life, they’re playing basketball or hanging out with friends. So if you catch a student on a bad day – like we all have bad days – it’s very hard to communicate and teach, but if you catch them on a good day it’s amazing.”
This is where Guitar Get Up comes in handy, as students actually find it fun and come into lessons asking to use it. Tristan has noticed a profoundly positive reaction to the product in the limited time since its release in late May. “Students and people that I know that have got it, they’re actually contacting me saying ‘this is really cool,’ and I can tell they’re genuine about it... they’re having fun playing these tracks.”
Perhaps differently to some other guitar learning apps out there, which might have higher price tags and more in-app purchases and upgrades, Tristan’s app isn’t focused on pro ting from learning guitarists. “This isn’t me trying to start a business to make a million bucks, this is just what I do,” he admits. “I play guitar and I’m just passing on what I think can help, and just keeping it as real as possible.” If his app is half as good as Tristan is passionate about teaching, then it no doubt be used as a lesson supplement by guitar teachers, and just by guitarists, in no time.
Guitar Get Up is available from the App Store now. You can download it here.