What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
They ask if I write lyrics, because although they've written lyrics and I'm doing the music (and singing), they worry that perhaps the lyrics could be better. The answer is, yes, I have written hundreds of songs. And, yes, if I have your permission, I will make minor changes for the sake of rhythm, flow of language, and sometimes word choice. Of course, you can always request that the original lyric be used, and that's OK too.
What's your typical work process?
Listen. Listen again. Try to hear the accompaniment in my mind's ear, and then start experimenting. Happy accidents happen, but they happen more often when I familiarize myself with a close listening of the tune.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I really enjoy the songwriting of Ryan Adams, Wilco, Son Volt, Elliott Smith, The Shins, The Decemberists, Gram Parsons, Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Neko Case, Johnny Cash, Andrew Bird, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Folds, REM, The Replacements, 16 Horsepower, Uncle Tupelo, Hank Williams Sr., Yo La Tengo, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Pixies, Big Star, Pell Mell, Interpol, and way too many others to mention.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Almost daily, I am recording original songs and instrumental compositions for a music production company and various music libraries. Most recently, I recorded the lead vocal for a client's demo. In addition to endless virtual instruments, these I play in the real world: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel, keys, melodica, banjo, ukulele, bass, drums, and percussion. I am a perpetual songwriter and lyricist.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just released an EP, "Oh, California!" by Sons of the Golden West. Two follow-up albums are in the works: one of songs, the other of instrumental music.
Analog or digital and why?
If I had the patience and know-how to keep up analog gear, I would. But the convenience of digital -- especially for TV production music -- is just too good to pass up.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
You'll be happy with the results. I have not had a client return a project. If something's not right, I'll fix it. Up front, if I don't think I'm the right person for your project, I'll tell you. I am very good at what I do. But I don't pretend to do absolutely everything under the sun. I won't waste your time trying to be something I'm not. Your music deserves the best player for your style and needs.
What do you like most about your job?
Writing, playing and recording music. What could be better?
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What kind of music do you like that you want your music to resemble without exactly mimicking? Is there a genre outside of the obvious that you might want to subtly make its way into your music?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Be clear about what you want. Nothing takes the joy out of a project (and the resulting music) quicker than bad communication and the resulting disappointment.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Assuming this desert island has no electricity, I'd take my acoustic guitar, classical guitar, ukulele, banjo, and drum set.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Music has always been a big part of my life. And I've played many shows in many bands over the years. But in 2008, at a fork in my career path, I began a concerted effort to build a career producing music for TV, film and advertising. So far, I have over 60 TV credits and a radio ad to my name.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I recorded a demo vocal for a client, and was pleased that they liked it. I'm used to singing my own songs, so helping someone else hear what he invisioned, but couldn't do himself, was very gratifying.
How would you describe your style?
Nuanced singer/songwriter and indie rock with an Americana undercurrent.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Ryan Adams. I simply love his songwriting.
Can you share one music production tip?
Don't rush it. Go for the overall feel, not chopped-up perfection.
What type of music do you usually work on?
For full songs with vocals, I usually am writing singer/songwriter tunes with a strong Americana, indie rock, or power pop influence. Sometimes more indie folk or alt country. But I am always working on a wide variety of genres for a music production company, which also can include jazz, easy listening, and orchestral indie pop, etc.
What's your strongest skill?
I think songwriting is my strongest skill, the ability to create a mood. And, I think I write some pretty strong lyrics.
What do you bring to a song?
Good melodic sense and judgement. My goal is not a smear of notes -- I seek the melodic phrase that is just right for the music, the right note at the right time, to make the listener feel what the music wants to say. Knowing when to shut up and let it breathe. It's about the song, and doesn't usually require that every instrument be filling every space, every opportunity to comment.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I record in Pro Tools with a vast array of top-notch plugins and microphones, such as Sennheiser MD 421 II, Shure SM57, and AKG C414.