Tell us about your studio setup.
Right now, I've set up a corner desk in my apartment in Beech Creek, PA. I've got two KRK's, a Focusrite 2i2b audio interface, a Sterling Audio cardioid microphone w/pop filter, and believe it or not I work off of an Alienware 14x laptop PC. My main MIDI interface is a Novation Launchkey keyboard. As I don't have a lot of space to work with, a lot of my work is done within Ableton Live 9. I've found you don't need a lot of gadgets to make quality music.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Recently, I had a chance to work with Brian in Altoona, PA. He LOVES his 90's ska, and we did a one-night recording session where I played some samples for him to work with at his home. He's a great ska player and singer. I think he's definitely captured his favorite genre over the years.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I've got a client in D.C. who is a hypnotist; she's requiring some specific frequency stuff for her clients. I don't get a lot of clients like her, as you can imagine. Definitely requires a LOT of attention to detail and listening skills, as well as background knowledge in what she does.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
I know a few of the trumpet players, I think, or at least have heard of them. There are thousands of us though! Unfortunately, I can't recommend anyone specific, but I DO recommend looking for their sample work and deciding for yourself who to contract for a project.
Analog or digital and why?
Digital. Analog, to me, is fantastic if you're looking for that raw sound; however, everything is replicable digitally now, and it's an immense time-saver. Many movie scores are purely digital these days.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I always tell them to at least give me a week, as long as they know exactly what they want. If they don't communicate with me, I promise I'll give them something of quality if they don't know exactly what they're looking for. Many times, unfortunately, this is the case, and I have to create the music from my own head from scratch.
What do you like most about your job?
Writing music for me is like breathing. Playing trumpet alone (literally) was like breathing, but when I discovered I knew how to craft feelings through my art out of thin air, it simply augmented my overall passion for music.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
So far, they just ask if I can make a certain kind of song for them. My answer is always yes; if it's not my specialty, I'll figure it out. The neat thing about my talent is that I'm classically trained, so the only obstacle I face isn't the music theory behind the music, but how to get that specific sound.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That I don't know what I'm doing. I do, but I don't have a lot of requests for anything specific, so I end up just making my own music.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What genre do you want? How long do you want your song? Vocals? Any specific chord changes, time meters, etc.? How about any specific sounds?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
If you're looking for someone affordable, I'm your guy. I don't have all the fancy equipment, but you bet I'll personally work with you to tweak your music until it's the way you want it. If you are looking to publish your music for big record companies like Sony, Warner Brothers Music, etc., you may want to go to someone with an actual studio. Not to cut myself short, but I simply don't have the space for a good recording session. But if you just want synthetic instrumentals? I'm still your guy.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
On a desert island? Well my trumpet, laptop, midi keyboard, microphone (of course all the cables are included!), a solar-powered battery (no I don't own one, just for power!), and headphones.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Well I began playing the trumpet when I was nine years old. I've played mostly orchestral music my whole life, as well as jazz and concert band music. I've played for many musicals, etc., and they were always charming pieces to play. I've played with "The Commandant's Own" U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C.; becoming a Marine is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's helped to hone my self-discipline, and I incorporate that into my writing schedule and how I write.
I've been a DJ as well for a short period of time, since about 2014. I played small house parties in D.C., tutored for a short period of time with Yit Entertainment, and when I moved back to Pennsylvania after leaving the Corps, I got a gig subcontracted under DJ Flurr at The Castle Pub in Ebensburg and Kildare's Irish Pub in State College. I learned a lot about hip-hop and rap, as a lot of folks around there enjoy it.
How would you describe your style?
My style is, well, still evolving. I like chill and relaxing music. I want someone to be able to just lay in their bed, or relax in an armchair, be able to put headphones on and relax to my music.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I would love to work with Avicii. The guy seems pretty down-to-earth from his interviews, and that's important. True musicians, at least the ones worth anything, are willing to talk about their art on a level plane with another musician. You may be good at what you do, but to hold your talent over anyone else's head just shows how insecure you really are about your own skills. Besides, his music is emotionally charged, and he definitely expands beyond pure EDM; take "Hey Brother", for example. Great song!
Can you share one music production tip?
If I had one music production tip, it's this: work on your own style. It takes a few years to learn a particular style or genre, but much, much longer to learn your own. There's the question out there if we've created all the genres that could possibly ever exist. Obviously, every year we hear different genres, subgenres, etc. emerging from the woodworks. I love the idea of the possibilities.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I like tropical house, or generic electronic music. I know that's a bit of a misnomer, because no genre is "generic". I feel like so far, however, I've mastered what generic electronic music would sound like. Not very exciting, but pleasant to listen to. I also enjoy creating ambient music, or working on something orchestral with some powerful chords and progressions.
What's your strongest skill?
I believe my strongest skill [in production] is my focus on getting it "right". They say there isn't a 'wrong' way to do things in art; however, if you're looking for a certain sound or genre, there most certainly is a wrong way to do things. That doesn't mean you can't stretch your imagination a little!
What do you bring to a song?
If I can, I'll stick a little trumpet in my songs. But many times I don't. I bring feeling into my work; I want the listener to feel relaxed, or hopeful, or something of that nature.
What's your typical work process?
If I'm just working on my own project, I'll have an idea what genre I want to write. Sometimes this will actually change through the writing process if I hear that what I'm writing might sound better in another genre. I'll get as much done in the mornings as I can (I have a dayjob at the moment from 10:30am to 9:00pm), and come back to it the next morning. I find I get more quality if I take a week to make all the necessary tweaks.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Personally, I'm a huge fan of Timmy Trumpet (can't imagine why!). But as I'm not really an EDM festival attendee, I just like the idea of mixing trumpet with electronic music. It's only been explored in jazz, mostly, and I think the trumpet has a lot of potential. I also love Chris Botti (smooth as hell), Above and Beyond (for their acoustic arrangements of their work), and anyone who can write a fantastic tropical house track. There's lots of potential in that.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Some of the most common work I do is creating custom theme songs for folks, as well as performing as a trumpet-for-hire. I've also created some ambient work for hypnotists who require very specific frequencies and song flow for their audio tracks for their clients.