What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I became entranced with making music around 5, after watching my uncle (he was in the Austin Symphony) practicing viola. I had always made up songs and loved to sing and listen to music, but that’s when I can remember really getting stuck on the idea of making music. In middle and high school I started writing and recording songs on boomboxes, then eventually a four track I borrowed from a friend. From there, I went to college, started a record label, put out a record, went to recording school, interned at Wire Recording, started a new band, put out some more records, did some touring, moved back to El Paso, worked at Sonic Ranch for awhile, opened my own studio, started and ended another band, moved the studio, started a new band, put out a record for that band and started a new label, and now, finally FINALLY starting to put out solo records.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Last Night I Didn’t Dream at All was recorded over the last three years or so at my studio, Brainville. The songs explore different levels of loss, from temporary and trivial loss of companionship in A Barricade, through loss of relationships and hope in New Year and Holding Pattern, to loss of a loved one in Transmission Loss.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
One of the advantages of working on the production side of music is getting to work with a variety of bands and to hear their influences. I get exposed to a lot of music I wouldn’t normally hear through the artists I work with, giving me a lot of sources from which I can draw influence and inspiration.
Outside of music, I love visual art and photography. My mom is a retired professional photographer and, growing up, she and my dad introduced me to a lot of art… our vacations were more likely to be to art and history museums than to theme parks. I try to keep this going now when I travel with my kids, too. The past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to join my wife on a trip she makes to DC for work every year, and I get to explore all the incredible art museums there. It’s always hugely inspiring and it’s such a privilege to have that opportunity.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
With this record, especially, I tried not to enter into the arrangement and recording process with any sort of preconcieved goals as far as genre/aesthetic. The only guitar on the whole record was on New Year, which is a big change for me from previous records I’ve made with my bands, and I think gives the record a more unique sound and feel.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
ALBUMS: Portishead – Live at Roseland NYC, John Vanderslice – Pixel Revolt, Now It’s Overhead – Fall Back Open
MOVIES: Bottle Rocket, Blade Runner, Back to the Future (cue Jim dressed as Dwight meme…)
BOOKS: Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott, Siddartha – Herman Hesse, The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I love to perform live, but the studio is my favorite. I love hearing a song come together, whether it’s my own, or a project I’m engineering or producing.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
The largest royalty check I ever received was due to a clerical error at a Performing Rights Organization in Europe. Sound Exchange had just picked up a bunch of new territories and I had signed an authorization for them to collect royalties in those territories. About a week later, I got a check for $1500. I immediately called everyone in the band (this was after the band had ended and I had moved back to El Paso) to let them know they needed to make sure their contact and banking info was current so they could all get their checks. Then, curious as to which of our songs were doing so well, I pulled up the detailed royalty statement and was rather disappointed to realize I had been mistakenly paid royalties that should have gone to a well-known actor who had starred in one of the most successful musicals of all time. Upside was that, because the European agency had made the error and reimbursed Sound Exchange, their accounting was made whole, so I ended up getting to keep the money (it ended up being part of my startup cash for the studio). Downside was I had to call everyone back and let them know they wouldn’t be getting anywhere near the amount I thought they would.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I’m really happy with how the end of Transmission Loss turned out. The song is basically built around an electric piano loop, so I needed something on the outro to push it to another level, sonically and emotionally. I took a single sample of a cello playing a melodic phrase and cut it into pieces a couple of different pitch altering plugins to write new melodies and change the tonality of the sound into the ragged sounding ensemble you hear on the record.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I am working on a collaborative LP with my studio partner, J Sebastian, that will hopefully come out this spring, as well as another project he and I are working on with our friend Rosie Varela (who helped me put out this record and has become a frequent collaborator) called Something Something Sound System. I have some west coast solo dates coming together in March, and a short east coast tour (with J Sebastian) on the calendar for April. Hopefully, I will also have a full length solo record out by next fall, but I need to finish writing that. Pet People (my other band) will also be putting out a record next year, probably a long EP or an LP… not sure yet, with a tour to follow.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
I have been married for 14 years and have 4 kids: three boys (11, 8, and 6) and a girl (3 ½), and one cat.
Photo credits: Ross Ingram (1st one), Christopher Trian (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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