Better, the first single from his album was just selected as one of 1,000 semifinalists out of 16,000 submissions in an international song competition. He is a young man who is successfully balancing the stresses of high school, the college search, international competitions and a full-time music career. A humble Kulak said, “I just liked playing the guitar. I never expected it all to play out like this.”
Kulak will learn in a few weeks if he made it to the finalist pool of 100-200 selections. He said, “I was not expecting it at all; it completely came out of the blue.” Past winners include Vance Joy, an Australian singer, and songwriter who signed a five-album deal with Atlantic Records in 2013 and won Best Male Artist at the ARIA Music Awards in 2015.
Coming in on the heels of this honor, Kulak was also recently inducted into the Connecticut Blues Hall of Fame. Representatives from the organization, based out of New York, search New England for talent of all ages. Selections are unanimous, and Kulak was one of three recent inductees, who were honored on February 9 at a ceremony at Black Eyed Sally's in Hartford, a hip roadhouse restaurant famous for its live blues, jazz and soul music. The occasion was filled with family and friends who came to celebrate his accomplishment. He found the celebration itself to be a perfect representation of his attitude and music. “We just played a few songs and hung out. They keep it very chill,” he said. “The whole experience was so wonderful it just didn’t seem real at times.”
A true singer/songwriter at heart, Kulak first started playing the piano at five and guitar at 11 and singing and writing shortly thereafter. He credits his parents, both avid music lovers and his biggest supporters, with igniting this passion. “They always thought that music was an important part of development. After I got my guitar they introduced me all of the good bands like White Stripes, Led Zeppelin, Jack White.” He also says they have helped a lot with trying to find good competitions to submit his music. “I try and keep a low key attitude about it,” he explains. “I send 100 submissions out, and I get five responses back.
Inspiration is everywhere, according to Kulak, who makes sure to carry a notepad at all times. “I try to write everything I am feeling and take inspiration from everything around me. In English class, we are reading Steinbeck, and I hear these ideas and quotes and I get new ideas.”
It is no surprise that Kulak is looking at a variety of colleges with strong music programs, however, his intended major is quite pragmatic. “I want to do something in business. Who knows where my music will take me? I want to be my own boss, possibly my own manager. Or get into session work, recording. I am trying to leave as many as roads possible to see what happens.”
Next year there is no doubt he will be off to do great things but says he will keep his alma mater close. “My experience at Kingswood Oxford has helped my journey without question,” he said. “Everyone has been so accepting and willing to go out and watch and help. I have had to be an expert in time management. There have been instances where I had to talk to teachers and try and navigate things. I never had a teacher that forced me to pick or wasn’t flexible with things because of my music.”