Who Am I?
My name is Keith and I have been playing music for 17+ years, beginning with guitar.
Music has been my constant companion, my therapy and my escape, my entire teenage and adult life. Although I have yet to make it as an artist, I’ve learned a lot about myself and realized some tracks I’m very proud of.
I have a real-world existence including holding down a demanding day-job, raising a family, and lots of other responsibilities that can narrow my time spent indulging in my creative passions.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be efficient, self-reliant, and productive when it comes to making music, because as we all know—life happens!
How I Started
I began the piece-wise assembling of my home project studio all the way back at age 19, with a RadioShack keyboard, a digital 8 track recorder, a cheap electric guitar and a multi-FX pedal. My gear was crap but I loved the idea of being able to write whatever music I wanted, whenever I wanted. Complete artistic freedom!
Yet a lot of what goes into music production can be quite challenging, mysterious and frustrating. I would have grand ideas for songs that would always turn out sounding like some pale caricature of what I heard in my mind.
Several phases of trial and error, studying, and experimenting led me to continued success in translating my ideas into listenable music. This is the knowledge I’d like to share with you!
And I am still growing and learning myself, and don’t intend to ever stop.
I thought the word “odyssey” perfectly described my own experiences with music and being an independent artist. From Merriam-Webster, odyssey is defined as:
1: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
2: an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest
I have certainly had many “changes of fortune” and varying degrees of success. I have produced some of the worst sounding recordings early on, and have made some astronomical leaps in ability over the years. These days, I’m steadily creating tracks with a sound that seemed impossible a few years ago.
I even had a promising start as a freelance mixing and mastering engineer, working on some releases for some very talented and hard-working independent or small-label artists. I eventually decided this path wasn’t ALL I wanted to do musically, and cooled it on promoting myself as simply an engineer.
My personal and for-hire musical projects have spanned different genres including metal, alt-rock, electronica, trip-hop, soundtrack, shoe-gaze, folk and electro-acoustic. By far the most challenging genre to produce right is metal, and it is by far the genre I am most excited about playing and producing (although I do love my mellow, relaxing, head-spaces of ambient/trip-hop/electronica)!
In my long quest to figure this music production thing out, there were hard-learned lessons, lots of failure, frustration, giving up, crawling back and humbling myself.
Figuring it Out
A turning point came around 2011 when, after some encouragement from a very successful audio-engineer acquaintance of mine, I took quite a bit of time to dive deep and learn everything I could about audio-engineering (what the hell does this compressor thing actually do?). It was a lot of work, and not all of it was particularly interesting, but it all helped me to more easily realize the sounds I heard in my head.
The problem in my productions was not lack of expensive gear, lack of talent or not knowing a secret technique, it was lack of understanding.
I’m not what you’d call an A-list producer/engineer, but I can make something that is pleasing to listen to and does good justice to my ideas and vision. At the end of the day, that is what is important to me.
Empowering Yourself as an Artist
Over the years I have never lost that initial spark and that passion for creating music in my own space, by my own rules. I created this blog to help other independent and so-called “bedroom musicians” (and bands!) find their footing and catalyze the development of their music.
Some of the information out there concerning audio engineering – mixing and the ever-enigmatic mastering process – can seem impenetrable and maybe even boring to a newbie or someone wanting to just get down to making music!
The thing is, music is meant to be shared. When we put our hearts and souls into our art, we would like for it to be polished and of a quality that, while maybe not stellar, at least won’t interfere with the listener’s ability to enjoy it. Your guitar genius might be obscured by the fact that your listener winces in pain at the uncontrolled high-frequencies in your mix (as an example)!
So, this audio engineering stuff, whether it sparks your interest or not, is a necessary part of being a self-produced musician or project-studio owner. I will demystify and simply explain some of these staple processes of music production, and how we can execute them in our project/home studio.
Beyond Technical Tips
But there is a hell of a lot more that goes into making music besides the technical bits …
To be honest, there are a lot of talented music producers offering technical tips via YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. However, through my Perspective Pieces and Ideas posts I hope to offer you something a little deeper as an artist and as someone trying to translate that inner-force into something tangible.
Like you, I have struggled in my journey; I have wanted to quit and take up something less humiliating (photography, maybe?), but the fire of music burns deep inside of me and demands to live and breathe.
I hope you find this blog informative, engaging and inspiring!