The Adventures of Attaboy
By Emma McAnaw, Photos by Shijing Wang “I wonder if my presence disrespects the game, I'm shooting for change.
You're still aiming the same. Red rider out on the range, I'm still pulling that lone wolf shit like I used to when I was a kid.”
Meet Attaboy, the genius behind these lyrics. Attaboy doesn't seem like the conventional musician. He’s not typical— period. In fact, he’s a superhero. Yes, walking among the swarm of frat stars, hipsters, and orange clad students is a self-proclaimed superhero.
Decked in his distinguishable eared hat and goggles, Attaboy more often bewilders people than earns their trust on the topic of career advice. So to even begin to understand Attaboy, his projects, and future ambitions, one must get to know Evan Bujold—the man behind the goggles.
“Attaboy struck me as a heroic name. It’s quirky and fun, but there’s a congratulatory aspect to the name. I think some people will go to the name and be like who’s this asshole, giving himself a pat on the back or something, when really it’s a reason to be humble,” Bujold says. The multi-talented grad student created Renaissance Academy Records (RAR): a record label to help others reach professional goals by networking and building on collective talents.
Bujold is an illustration major in the M.F.A. program within VPA, a musician, and an entrepreneur. By combining these skills, he becomes Attaboy—a local hero.
“Part of Attaboy’s persona is to just do it, so I rolled out of bed one morning and started putting together the base. I just like to meet people and get to know them individually and get to know what they want out of life,” Bujold says.
Upon earning a degree in digital arts and sciences from Clarkson University, Bujold faced every student’s greatest fear: unemployment. Almost all of his friends graduated college only to face a looming heap of student debts and job uncertainty.
"And to me, that's pitiful," he says.
So began the creation of Attaboy, a character Bujold conceived in a series of comics he had been illustrating. Inspired by the character’s ability to go after whatever he desired, Bujold took on the persona and began constructing RAR.
The Dark Ages represent the country’s steep unemployment rates and suffocating loads of student debt that young adults are struggling to overcome. In a time when even the President occasionally admits despair, only a superhero can offer relief—one who’s willing to turn modern economic deathtraps like music and art into something lucrative and respectable.
Music, art, and science. These are the three forces behind RAR. “My philosophy is that that’s all people ever really care about, and those are the only things that really ever gets us anywhere are these three realms of thought,” Bujold says.
This creates a network of people with different talents who can combine their skills to produce various projects that promote each individual’s capabilities. Where scientists might not have an eye for design, artists can come in with a vision that can make the science marketable.
One of RAR’s biggest accomplishments using that logic was the four-day Rock the Cosmos music festival. The concert was designed to raise awareness about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and it’s underfunded. “Rock the Cosmos was about bringing people together to highlight the fact that there is this problem. NASA is basically what funds our future,” Bujold says. From December 3 to 6, 2012 at the Spark Contemporary Art Space, local bands and musicians played for Syracuse residents and students to rekindle an admiration for NASA’s great contribution to our rapidly advancing world of technology. The event was a multitude of talents organized by the RAR team. The lights, the planning, the performances—everything that went into Rock the Cosmos, RAR did.
To simply donate the concert’s profits to NASA would make little difference. “I am just one guy, NASA is probably thousands of people with billions of dollars at their disposal so I had to find a way to help them that only I can do,” says Bujold. Instead, Bujold has begun to create a project that will make an impact in the field of science in the future. He is working on developing a display in the local science museum, the MOST, that will encourage children to pursue a career in science. “Some bright-eyed kid would go to the science museum and be like, ‘This is cool and there’s a real-life superhero in Syracuse that loves science so I’m going to go into the stem fields,'" Bujold says.
Part of what makes RAR so successful is Bujold’s ability to multitask several projects, all of which have completely different goals and appeals. RAR Girls, a promotional effort created by Bujold and partner Destynee Raines, acts as a business springboard for female entrepreneurs. “It is a place for these girls to showcase their writings, their music, or whatever they want,” says Bujold. One member of RAR Girls, Courtnee Futch promotes her successful dessert-making business Thundercakes on RAR Girls—creating buzz for both the blog and business.
With success stories like these under his belt, Bujold strives to help his clients as best he can without succumbing to the bureaucratic methods that paralyzes so many people’s ambitions. “If someone wants to go and work for Pixar or Dreamworks they can go do that. But they will at least know that someone wasn’t trying to nickel and dime them straight out of the gates,” Bujold says.
According to Bujold, the concept behind the networking techniques of RAR is called nash equilibrium. Nash equilibrium is a concept of a game theory where the optimal outcome of a game is one where no player has an incentive to deviate from his or her chosen strategy after considering an opponent's choice. Overall, an individual can receive no cumulative benefit from changing actions—assuming other players remain constant in their strategies. Basically, no one loses.
“That’s what I really enjoy about my idea. If someone on the other end of the earth came up with the same exact idea, we would not get in each others way because we stand for promoting something that is beyond just a single person,” Bujold says.
Bujold also records his own music under his superhero persona, Attaboy. “I used to be just a sad, little guitar player. I went through a bad breakup in high school, and so the music has gone from being very depressing and rinky-dink. As soon as I took on the Attaboy persona, my music took a turn. The music has become more lyrically heavy, it’s become more positive, but with an aggressive attitude,” Bujold says. His music addresses his listeners directly with questions of how they perceive their lives, and why “[they] have any excuse to belay [their] own happiness.”
His intense lyrics create a powerful punch, juxtaposing his cheerful guitar melodies with lines such as “It's like 'I’m harnessing something that most would consider great, and all I know is it keeps me up late having sex with my hate, turmoil, trauma, I’ve taken them all on a date and the only one I never called back was that bitch 'how to be fake.'”
Bujold identifies himself as an anti-folk guitar player. The title was given to him as an undergraduate freshman when playing guitar in a Potsam record store named Strawberry Fields.
“I play intricate riffs but play punk style rhythm and the words and lyrics on top of that are very middle finger to the system. I don’t like music like Bruno Mars’ 'Grenade.' Nobody should be out saying sad shit like that, she’s up on the balcony nailing some other dude so why would you throw yourself under a bus for that?”Bujold says.
Bujold is also in a band with Raines entitled Late Earth. The sound of Late Earth contrasts that of Attaboy’s individual work. Raines and Bujold identify Late Earth as “ska,” a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s. Ska was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae, with combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and R&B. The band’s sound is greatly similar to Attaboy’s lifestyle: upbeat and energized, building up to a whirlwind of different beats and musical components.
Attaboy was recently nominated for a SAMMY award, the Syracuse music people's choice awards. His superhero persona is contagious—everyone wants a piece of Attaboy.
“You know that scene in Jaws where the guy is standing in front of the camera and he realizes that there’s a shark offshore and the background gets really far away but he stays there? That happened when I found out I was nominated for a SAMMY. I put the ears on and started doing pushups,” Bujold says.
Like Bujold’s commanding and powerful presence, his message through his music leaves a powerful punch. His statement is simple: be bold, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to kick some ass.
He drives this message with resonating lyrics: “I'd rather sprout from the trash than wither on a shelf, I inspect myself, and though the pages are in no particular order the story respects itself.