Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
There have been a few. I toured with platinum band AWOLNation for awhile, and have contributed piano tracks to several award winning songs. I sang backup vocals on Christopher James' debut album. He is a former high level exec. at Universal Records. That was pretty cool. I'm still young, and have only recently honed my skills, so I suspect the project that I will be most proud of is still out there.
What are you working on at the moment?
Several things. I always have a few clients that need piano tracks for their tunes, so that is one of my focuses right now. Other than that, I've been working on my own album since Summer of 2015. Using both my studio and Bob Stark's studio in Portland, OR. Songwriting is what I do in my spare time, and what I would love to do full time someday. I also perform regularly for weddings and high-end corporate events, and have a couple voiceover jobs for commercials in the pipeline.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
There are several talented dudes on the homepage, no one that I know personally yet, just know of them and their work. The best producer in Oregon is named Bob Stark, and he is my mentor and co-producer on my upcoming album. I will be recommending this site to him as well.
Analog or digital and why?
Digital, because I'm 36 and grew up using Vision, then moved on to Logic. All I've ever known is primarily in-the-box plugins. I've used analog compressors, EQ's, and reverb units several times and to my ears, digital is just as good, and much easier and more efficient to use. The emulators now are incredible. That said, there are still times when a saturation effect calls for an analog unit.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
If I work for you, my tracks will be flawless, because I don't settle for anything less.
What do you like most about your job?
Freedom of schedule, can wake up at 2AM if I want and work for a few hours before getting a nap in. Can set my own prices, and don't have to report to a boss if I want a bathroom break.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Do your hands ever get tired? I answer "no, sometimes my brain does though which is when I take a break."
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That pop music is easy to write and produce. I hear musicians on Facebook complain all the time about artists like Taylor Swift, and producers like Dr. Luke. I've been doing music in Portland for over 20 years and the closest I've ever heard to that level of production is my own stuff. Last year I spent 6 months on a single song, trying different lead singers, guitar solos, and different mixing chains. Producers of todays Top 40 are the equivalent of Oscar winning filmmakers. Masters of their craft.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What kind of vibe are you going for? What is your end goal for this song/project? Can I have a reference point for how you want this to sound (i.e artist, song, commercial, etc.)? What is your favorite style of piano music? There are too many questions and too big a possible spectrum of projects to list all the questions.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Don't always look for the cheapest price. Mediocrity is a plague upon society. Settle for only the best in whatever you do and it will raise the bar for everyone.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Macbook Pro, Nord Stage EX 2 88 for analog and midi, Manley Gold Condenser Mic, Apollo Audio Interface, and Logic Pro X.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Started playing piano at 5, wrote my first song and started singing at 12. Got my first paying gig at 17, and started a boy band at 19. Wrote game op music for the Blazers while in college, then helped found a band at 23 and toured the world. Almost got signed by Blue Note Records but the band fell apart. Went solo, improved my piano skills, started getting my name out there, and work picked up. Kept working and improved my mixing and production skills as well, and now I am considering moving to L.A to take it to the next level.
How would you describe your style?
Perfectionist, but easy to get along with. I will listen to a track on repeat for hours if necessary just to make sure a single note or line is correct.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Probably Michael Bolton. I write big beautiful ballads, and I would love to write him a hit song that could refresh his career with the younger crowd. Adele would be second.
Can you share one music production tip?
Don't be afraid to layer multiple types of the same instrument, specifically drums. Many people (even musicians) hear a song like "Firework" by Katy Perry and think it's just keyboards, drums, and a few tracks of vocals. The dirty secret is that song has around 140-150 tracks. Just the bass drum alone might be 4-5 different bass drums subtly mixed together. That's how modern pop music gets it's thickness.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Lots of R&B/soul, as folks like my rhodes sounds. I use AIR's Velvet usually, or the built in rhodes sound on the Nord. Lots of pop, since my hook-writing ability fits in well with that style. I can really work on anything though.
What's your strongest skill?
Ability on piano (30 years now), followed closely by songwriting.
What do you bring to a song?
A big, sexy hook, tight and flawless piano or keys, and beautiful and luscious backing vocals.
What's your typical work process?
Depends on the job. If it's piano for a track, then I need either the track, sheet music, or just an idea, to start. Record the track and get it to the client when it's perfect. Same with backing vocals. Many times they have slight tweaks or sound adjustments, so I will re-cut a couple versions for them. The order in which I do things can vary slightly regarding plugins and workflow. I'm very spur of the moment, which enhances my songwriting ability since I think on the fly. But I don't let anything out the door that is sub par.
Tell us about your studio setup.
27" fully loaded Mac Pro with an Apollo Audio Interface and two Yamaha HS80M Studio Reference Monitors. Nord Stage EX 2 88, Yamaha Motif, multiple other keyboards for sound ideas. Waves Platinum package, Native Instruments Komplete 11, Arturia V-Collection, Antares, Lennar Digital Sylenth 1 and many other plugins. Multiple condenser microphones including a Rode NT-1 and an Audio Technica AT4033.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Sting, Jamiroquai, D'Angelo, Chaka Khan, Michael Bolton, Michael McDonald, Diane Warren, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Dr. Dre, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones just to name a few.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Piano session work or performances is the most common. I'm a very skilled sight reader and improviser, and one of the most in-demand pianists in the state of Oregon. The second most common hire is background vocals for sessions. I have a very tender baritone, and can create harmonies and layer parts easily. I also write music, primarily adult contemporary, R&B, and pop, so I am often hired to write hooks or choruses. I have done quite a bit of voiceover and mixing work as well, though on a lesser scale than piano/keys or vocals.