Burt, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, has played on nearly every stage available at SF State, many others in the Bay Area and in his hometown of Sacramento. With a captivating voice on stage and a quiet demeanor in person, he is looking to expand his audience.
“I’m constantly kind of working on music,” he said. “Outside of school and performing music, I’m just kind of working on it and managing it in my head, making connections.”
Burt prefers to share new songs on his own through the internet and self-recorded videos, as he did March 25 with a song called “Silly Trouble.”
“I kind of like keeping to myself with my music until I feel ready, so self-promoting isn’t necessarily something I like doing,” he said. “I kind of have hazy feelings for it.”
But when a last-minute opportunity to play at the SXSW music festival in Texas arose, Burt took a step out of his comfort zone. Having missed the initial deadline to play in the festival, he entered a tournament-style contest to try to win a spot through talent discovery site TopBlip.com.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” he said. “It’s very nerve-wracking. I really don’t like those things, because it involves a lot of self-promotion, and a lot of things can go wrong with that.”
He made it to the third round of the tournament, but was disqualified after the next song he entered into the competition’s website failed to upload.
Not one to dwell on a loss, Burt released a video for his song “A Shaken Snow Globe” at the same time that he announced his disqualification from the SXSW contest. It features Burt and his band, A Big Gust of Wind, and was shot by local director and cinematographer Brad Brok.
“It was shot at Fort Funston, in one of the barracks,” said Burt. “(Brok and I) started working together through a company called the Bay Area Native. And after that we kind of just stuck together and started working together on some more videos.”
Burt is currently working with Owl Paws frontman and SF State broadcast and electronic communication arts major student Derek Schultz to record his next demo, a five or six track work that Burt describes as having a different “flavor” from his previous recordings. He has hopes for a full-band album and more “strategically” planned shows in the city in the near future.
“It depends on what venue you play at first and how many times you play there, and how close is that venue to the next show you’re planning on playing,” he explained. “There are just some semantics about it all that you’ve got to pay attention to.”
Stephanie Escoto, assistant manager at The Depot, praised Burt’s talent and the simplicity of his sound.
“He’s great,” said Escoto. “He has a good blend of voice and acoustic guitar, and when he adds other instruments, it brings everything out.”
Even as part of the collective sound of Tre Burt and a Big Gust of Wind, guitarist Jordon Jo draws attention to the lyrical ground upon which their music is built.
“He’s very good-hearted,” said Jo. “For how young he is, he’s a very mature writer with a developed sound that’s earthy and genuine.”
Burt arrived at this sound through a transition of musical taste from hard core screamo, to Ace Enders of The Early November, to Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, and mixed in an interest with contemporary and ragtime jazz. His music tends to be autobiographical, but in an “abstract” sense.
“It’s about events I’ve gone through, but kind of in a more fictional format,” he explained.
Burt’s previous recordings, including his album “Little Mornings,” are available on his Bandcamp page for free. He prefers to not charge for his music.
“If I could have it my way, it would be completely free,” he said. “But at the same time, I need food. So I think I’m going to start charging for future albums. But as much as I can, I’ll put songs up for free.”