I spent over a decade only dreaming of being a professional musician. This is the year I fight to make that a reality. I love progressive metal and DC Comics. Is there even a niche for me? I want to collaborate and learn from as many diverse musicians as possible. I don't just want gigs. I want to forge relationships.
- Composition / Arrangement
- Guitar and Bass Live Session Work
- Guest Guitar and Bass Tracking
- General Collaboration
- Avant Garde Song Structures
- Odd Meter
- Rock Solid Sense of Pace and Rhythm
- Serving the Song (or Film)
- Working Knowledge of Theory
- Selective Picking
- Synth Sound Design
Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.
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Interview with Shae Charles Valko
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was a session drummer for a friend of mine who was an indie songwriter, back in my home state of Michigan. We played 3 shows one summer in 2010. He gave me 3 weeks to learn 2 EP's worth of songs before the first gig. That was my first session gig.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: My first full length album, under the moniker KRONA.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. Adapt or die. Digital is the way of the future. Now, I can produce professional-grade music out of my home instead of investing thousands and thousands on bulky analog gear and a space to store it. Evolution is inevitable.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will give you the entirety of my talent, passion, and work ethic. I will work until your song is exactly what you had envisioned. I will never stop learning and researching new techniques in order to bring out the best of your performance. We're in this together.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The endless possibilities.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I haven't had any yet.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That you can't make a living unless you are producing for Kanye West or Taylor Swift.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: - What they want done - When their deadline is - Why they want their song to sound a certain way - What their biggest influences are - What got them into music - Where they hope to go
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Find a producer that gels with the genre your project fits within. They should understand what you want out them. Be direct and clear. It's your career and money on the line. Make sure you like them. If you don't look forward to the weekly follow-ups and progress reports, it's not worth it in my eyes.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My 8-string guitar, my MacBook, my Helix LT, Apple Logic Pro X, and probably some sort of infinite power generator (which I would, of course, have already invented, patented, and had rejected on Shark Tank by then)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was talked out of being a professional musician by my parents (with good intentions). I was a microbiologist in Austin from 2013-2015, and then a personal trainer in San Antonio from 2015-2020. 2020 was a year of reflection and reinvention. I have been a lifelong musician, recreationally. This is my first professional year.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Eclectic and diverse
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Haken. I damn-near idolize those guys. They are brilliant composers and masterful performers. I would love nothing more than to tell Richard Henshall to give me "one more take".
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: There is no such thing as the "perfect mix". However, an immersive listening experience is about balance. Get specific with your clients, learn how to use the tools available, and just trust you ears. It takes practice. If it sounds good, more than likely it is good.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I am drawn to the more experimental sides of metal and rock, but I incorporate elements of pop, jazz, classical, electronica, and funk.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Swift adaptation
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: The perspective of someone looking to push boundaries. What I love about "progressive" rock or "experimental" music is the fact that they take risks and test the expectations of listeners without totally abandoning what came before. I don't intend to be generic, but I certainly don't aim to be different for difference's sake either.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I was a drummer first so often times, my songwriting process starts from the almighty groove. I've worked quite hard at "humanizing" programmed drums and taking it from there, especially on rock and metal tunes. However, my recent love affair with dark wave and synthwave have led me to start my compositions with the synthesizers. I usually start with pure composition on software and sheet music before I even pick up my guitar.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Oh well since this is a new career for me, my studio is nomadic in nature. I have some top notch gear, especially on the software plug-in front. However, right now, my studio is simply our guest bedroom. Hopefully, one day, I can finance a full-on studio space. A man can dream.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: From a writing and performing standpoint, my biggest influences are Devin Townsend, Haken, VOLA, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Riverside, Steven Wilson, Rush, King Crimson, and Dream Theater. I like it when artists dare to reach outside of their label and incorporate left-field elements into their writing. I have always been a film score buff. I am a sucker for the hybridization of the traditional orchestra and modern electronic elements, especially in the low end. Look no further than guys like Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross. They build tension and atmosphere that enhances what is visually on-screen rather than drown you in grandiosity. From a technical production standpoint, I think Adam "Nolly" Getgood's mixes are one of the best in the game, especially in the world of very heavy and technical metal. I've never heard such low-tuned guitars sound so crisp and clear.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I have no music CV yet. This is a clean slate for me.