Will this Giants prospect be the next hit DJ?

'Music is inspiration for me,' says Hunter Bishop

February 22nd, 2021

Giants outfield prospect Hunter Bishop has hit in a batting cage with legendary slugger Barry Bonds, his “baseball idol” and fellow Serra High School and Arizona State alum. He shared a field with Angels superstar Mike Trout during Spring Training last year. But those interactions didn’t elicit the same level of awe as meeting the man he described as his “musical idol.”

“Those guys are two of the best to ever play the game,” Bishop said. “I would say I was less starstruck to see them than I was to see Kygo.”

Last February, Kygo, a Norwegian-born DJ and music producer, came to Scottsdale, Ariz., to headline a concert series held in conjunction with the Phoenix Open, a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour. Bishop’s agent had a connection with Kygo’s manager and helped arrange a brief meeting between the two at the event.

“Being able to meet him was one of the best days of my entire life,” Bishop, 22, said. “It was really cool.”

Bishop discovered Kygo five or six years ago and became so transfixed by his music that he was inspired to begin creating his own. Bishop has always been musically inclined -- he’s played the piano from a young age -- but when the baseball season was put on hold by the pandemic last year, he found himself with extra time to devote to his other passions.

He invested in professional music production software and began honing his skills by watching various YouTube tutorials. He released his first electronic dance music (EDM) single, “Hard to Find,” on SoundCloud last February under the stage name Bish. Six more tracks have followed since then, including a few collaborations with other artists.

Bishop, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, spent the offseason training in the mornings before heading to his new studio at his home in Chandler, Ariz., to make music. On the field and in the studio, his goal remained the same: producing hits.

“I think in the back of his mind he pictures himself being like a resident DJ at like some Las Vegas club or something,” said his older brother, Braden, an outfielder for the Mariners. “At least he’s working for something, I guess.”

Hunter’s budding music career isn’t much of a surprise to Braden, who noticed his sibling’s musical aptitude when they were growing up in Palo Alto, Calif.

“I would say from a very early age, I realized he had that artistic, creative, musician-type vibe,” Braden, 27, said. “He would always sing at our family parties. Not like anything serious, but he’d just sing the songs that were playing. You could just tell he kind of had that inner tune in his head.”

Hunter dabbled in playing the guitar and the piano in high school and always seemed to have playlists for every occasion, but his athletic and academic commitments initially restricted the amount of time he could dedicate toward music. Once he enrolled at Arizona State, his schedule freed up a bit, allowing him to pursue his musical interests more seriously. In an interview with FanSided’s Devils in Detail blog two years ago, Hunter said his favorite movie is "We Are Your Friends," a 2015 drama that stars Zac Efron as an aspiring DJ in the EDM scene.

“In my secret life I want to be a DJ,” he confessed.

Still, Hunter admits that he received mixed reviews when he began releasing his first songs.

“When I first started, everybody thought it was kind of like just a joke,” Hunter said. “I was putting out not great music.”

Undeterred, Hunter sought ways to improve and refine his sound. He leveraged the built-in platform he has as a rising baseball prospect (and that all-powerful blue checkmark on his verified social media accounts) to build connections with more established producers in the music industry, including Canadian DJ Conro, who has offered unvarnished opinions on Hunter’s work.

“They're always honest with me,” Hunter said. “So if I send something, and they don't think it sounds good, they'll tell me. … Just to have guys who are better than me helping me out is something that I'm super thankful for because it's the same thing as baseball, really. When I got to hit with Barry in the cage, and he says something, he's the best at what he does. I'm going to listen. It's the same kind of thing, but just in music. Having those kinds of people in my life, it's super important for me to get better.”

How do Hunter’s most recent songs compare to the first ones he released?

“They’re way better,” Braden said. “Way better now. I don't really think it was, like, Hunter’s doing, because I think his melody and beats have always been good. But I think just in terms of like mixing the vocals with his beats, he's gotten a lot better. If you go listen to his first song compared to the most recent, it's much different.”

Braden actually played a big role in setting up Hunter’s latest single, “I’ll Go,” featuring Jared Grimble, a singer-songwriter based in Chicago. Braden was scrolling through his social media feed one night when he stumbled across a video of Grimble performing a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Intentions,” which had gone viral on TikTok. Braden thought Grimble’s voice might pair well with Hunter’s beats and suggested that his younger brother try reaching out.

Hunter emailed Grimble, who was immediately receptive to the idea of working together. The two began collaborating remotely in July and spoke frequently over FaceTime to workshop ideas and exchange feedback. Grimble wrote the lyrics after being inspired by one of the beats Hunter sent over, and the two worked to finalize the song over the ensuing six months.

“Outside of the production phase, I think we also grew a friendship,” Grimble said. “Even if we didn't [work together again], we would still have that and still stay connected. But I'm hoping we get that opportunity to create music again because I think he's very talented. All the things that he does inspire me, and I hope I also inspire him.”

Braden said he was able to see the entire process play out and was impressed with the final product.

“I loved it,” Braden said. “I kind of got to see it through each stage as Hunter produced the melody, and then the vocals that Jared would send back. I just saw it all get pieced together. It turned out really well.”

“I'm super happy with the feedback,” Hunter said. “I think people are starting to take it more and more seriously as every song comes out. It's just been a total process of growing and learning every day and trying to make my sound sound better.”

Braden said that relentless drive for self-improvement has long been one of Hunter’s defining traits, one he’s been able to apply to his diverse range of interests, including golf, music and, of course, baseball.

“I think one of the most interesting parts of Hunter is when I was growing up, I always wanted to play professional baseball, so that's what I put everything into,” Braden said. “Every action I had was probably over the top to make that happen, so I sacrificed a lot. With Hunter, I felt like he had such a wide, broad view of the world and what was happening, so he would throw himself into so many different things. But every time, it was with the goal of actually making progress in that area.

“Every time he committed himself to get really good at it, so he's a really good golfer. He's obviously a really good baseball player. Now he’s becoming a really good producer. It's definitely been interesting, from my point of view, to see him really flourish in all these different areas because he was passionate about it. He wanted to get there. He didn't give up.”

To be clear, Hunter regards music as secondary to baseball, which became his primary occupation after the Giants drafted him with the 10th overall selection in the 2019 Draft. He hopes to release a few more songs in the coming months, but with Spring Training underway, his current focus is impressing at his first big league camp, where he will be among several high-profile prospects who have the potential to develop into the core of the next great Giants teams.

“The truth is I'm a professional baseball player,” Hunter said. “Music is an inspiration for me. It's a passion of mine, but at the same time, my job is to be a professional baseball player for San Francisco, and that's my number one priority. I haven't let music get in the way of that at all. My goal is for one of my songs to blow up, of course, but I would say in terms of going forward in my music career, I'm just going to let it take care of itself and see where it goes.”

Either way, he appears primed for the show.