Music Production, Electronic Music, and Sound Design.
Music was my first love. It still is, if I’m honest. But my own music production work is the first thing to go when my days at work get long. That’s why I come back to it, and why I miss it so much. It’s not a job, it’s my first-love.
How I Got Into Music and Sound Design
I started in music when I was 5 years old. My dad would get so upset with me because I had some level of musical skill but I wouldn’t practice the way I should have. Don’t tell him, but he was right. He was right, too, that I was always very technical about it. I would have made a terrible jazz player. But that technical side did help me as a sound designer and music producer.
In school I picked up the clarinet, then the bassoon. Clarinet and bassoon aren’t very “rock and roll”. So, at the advice of my friend who had been in bands for 30 years, I bought a lovely cream-colored Fender bass.
“Guitarists are everywhere,” he said. (He was the best guitarist I’ve ever known.) “It’s hard to find a good bass player.”
I spent years playing in church, and in bands. But I didn’t love the bass, though I did like it enough. What connected with me was music production, sound design, and composition. I remember sampling beeping noises around the house and then distorting them. For fun. I had no idea I was taking on the role of “sound designer”, but looking back it was so obvious. I started as a music producer and engineer somewhere around 1994 and never looked back. With electronic music’s slow appearance, I connected there as well.
Music Production and Sound Design
In college I thought about quitting music to pursue other things, but I stuck with it. I finagled my elective credits so that I could take an electronic music course. At the time that was all about music production, and composition. But it included almost everything you could ever want to know about running a recording studio or live sound.
Even into seminary I was still writing electronic music. I honed my live skills a lot more while playing in live bands there. Grad school absorbed my time, but I still managed to write music. Most of that got shoe-boxed and stashed away for later.
When I got married, I dropped a lot of hobbies. But a few years back I started dusting things off again and took a few jobs as a music producer and sound designer. I wrote a few songs, for myself, and made some generative art to go with it. When I’m not working on web sites and apps, I’m still working on those to release as an album.
And I’m completely happy with that.
Soundtracks and Music Production
I have engineered and produced full albums and EPs, but I’m usually asked to do compositions for soundtracks. My early music production work was for podcasts. Recently it has been more for video games. There I try to push myself to do generative sound design. I find that doing a few different types of things keeps me interested. I don’t ever want to find myself writing the same kinds of songs or producing for one genre every day.
The technical side of me also loves to hack sounds apart. I used to study the best musicians and sound designers around, all with the goal of figuring out their tricks. Sound design has always been something on which I have leaned. But I always try to keep things musical, even if the goal is to turn a beautiful orchestra into a glitchy mess.