I’ve been into listening to music for about as long as I could remember. Apparently the first time I heard Aerosmith at about 3 I stripped naked and started dancing to the music. I listened and listened and listened as much as I could. My parents eventually got me my own albums, one of the first was a tape of “Just Push Play” which was Aerosmith’s new album at the time. I played that thing so much I wore it out, and then when I went to exchange it the music shop had to give me a CD because they didn’t have anymore tapes (this was '02 or '03). And then because I had a CD now my parents had to get me a CD player.
I stayed into rock, punk, metal, and country (my dad likes the old stuff so I heard a lot of it) up until highschool, adding the occasional CD along the way. Not a ton, just found what I really liked and zoned in on it super hard. Then in highschool I finally got my first Ipod (bear in mind this was only like 10 years ago, I was super late to the game) and for the first time I could get music for way way cheaper than on a CD (by pirating the hell out of it). I got a bunch of stuff from my friends, and that was the first time I really heard electronic music. One of my close friends gave me the Daft Punk discography and Cross by Justice (which at the time was their discography).
I listened to Discovery and Cross every day for months before I decided I wanted to be a DJ. I could hear in my head how I would remix these songs and I was going to remake them in my image. Only, I didn’t realize that DJ software wouldn’t let me do that, I needed full blown production software. And that meant I wanted to be a producer, not a DJ. After toying around with it for a week and doing a “remix” of one track (which was just that track played out of time with itself) I quit. Everyone I’d shown it to had said it sucked ballz and I knew that song wasn’t where I’d wanted it to be. I was a few months from graduating highschool and I had a lot of other stuff going on.
Then I got to college, got my first real pair of headphones, and I started to be an audiophile. Got really into listening again, but more detailed than ever before. This went on for about another 6 months. Then in my second semester, I was idly talking with someone between classes about how I wanted to do these remixes but I didn’t know how, and she said her brother used Fruity Loops. And that name got my attention, so I looked it up. My music buddy got me a cracked copy of it. And this, this was what I had been missing. Now that I had the right tools, I didn’t feel like there was any reason I couldn’t figure this music business out.
Within minutes, I figured out rhythm. Within days, I was putting OK melodies together. I spent a month on my first track, which was a mess, but it was all my mess, not even a remix. It took about 6 months for me to realize what a chord was. One night, I sat down with virtual oscilloscope and just sat there playing every interval on the keyboard (well my computer keyboard, which does about 2.5 octaves of midi) and looking and listening to how the notes interacted with each other. I didn’t know what chords and intervals were, but I was figuring them out.
I started putting my tracks up on soundcloud and sharing them around. Found a few music reddits. They were not kind to me, but one of them did point me here. At the same time, I was getting messages on my soundcloud from “mastering services” (and I say that in airquotes for a reason) telling me how my tracks needed to be pumped up to compete. That wasn’t something I’d heard about before, so I looked it up and found the Izotope suite, as well as their comprehensive guides on mixing and mastering, in the olden days before they just had tutorials for everything. So for the first time (and this is about 18 months after I got FL), I started actually doing something that would be recognized as mixing - before I just did EQ on everything until it sounded like I had in my head - and there was a lot of my trying to fix bad sounds with way too much EQ because up until now, I didn’t know how synthesis worked.
Yep, for a year before I joined IDMf, I was making music by just guessing what everything would do when I touched it. I joined here and in a single night, I had the basics of subtractive synthesis down. Needless to say I was thrilled and I think my music took a significant step forward around that time. I still had a lot more to learn, but I had more or less figured out how to figure stuff out. I finally knew places I could go and get answers when I had questions ( and I more or less knew how to ask the questions). That much took about two years.
So I hung around here a lot, shared what I was working on, tackled issues/questions as they came up. That went on for about a year before A.M offered some pointers on something I was doing. He was super helpful and I am eternally grateful for him showing me around some EQ and reverb tricks that took my ambient stuff to the next level, enough that I really focused on the ambient side of my music for a few years after that as I thought it was my strong suit. Somewhere along the way, I picked up pointers from Metaside (who told me to get my stuff the hell off the grid, and that’s a challenge I only just now feel I have a satisfactory answer for) and MystaFX did a remix of one of my tracks and showed me the power of structure (which is something I feel I’ve only gotten competent at in the last two years or so).
After hanging around here for a while, the mods were getting ready to do 048 and needed a mastering engineer. Luckily, a few months prior to that, I had salvaged what was really a bad mix on my part into an OK master, which gave me the confidence to throw my hat into the ring. I was pleasantly surprised to get picked do that album. I think looking back I did a passable job, but I was saved by the fact that that album was dark techno, which is pretty hard to screw up. I learned a lot mastering that album though, and the mods reached out again when they needed 049 done. Then they reached out again for 050. I had to learn to hear gooder real fast, but I managed to do OK at that one (still wish I’d gone louder though). Anyways, the pattern was developing that I was passable at songwriting and mixing, but getting really good at mastering.
And in the… 4 years since then (time flies huh?) I’ve started to look a bit more often outside the forum for new answers and techniques and try to bring back more than I’ve been taking. 050 felt like I’d arrived to me, couldn’t get much higher on the totem pole from the technical side at least (creatively I know I’m not the best this place has to offer and that’s OK). I’ve been working on that creative side a bit more. Bought some hardware synths, do a lot of sound design and writing on them now. Finally figured out wavetable and FM synthesis in the last year. Still getting better at the mastering thing too. I feel like I’m mostly out of the learning phase and into the “practice makes perfect” phase. About time, it’s been a decade.
Oh, almost forgot, way back at the beginning I talked about how Daft Punk and Justice is what got me into electronic music in the first place, and last I’d talked about genre it was 6 years ago and I was doing ambient. About 3 years ago, I started listening to deep house playlists to pass the time at work, combination of new stuff like Harrison BDP and old stuff like Joe Smooth. I got into house again, which was what had started this whole journey. Did a deep house EP and most of my singles since then have been focused that way. Trying to get my stuff on the youtube channels where I discovered the new artists, but I’m just not on that level yet (or perhaps not focused enough on just the house sound and distracted by my ambient skills). Still working on that though I find my music is drifting away from the house sound again. Not sure where to go, but I would like to get this stuff in front of more people and genre definition is a big help in getting there.
And that’s where we are today - I’m pretty happy with the music I’m making. I’ve made some good friends thanks to music the last decade (here on IDMf and elsewhere). And my music has made some of them happy, improved a bad day, etc. On the one hand, I’m thrilled I’ve been able to improve lives, however little it may be, with my music. On the other, I do wish more people could hear this stuff since I do spend a lot of damn time on it. But overall, I’m happy. I feel like given my personality and life experiences outside of music, worldwide fame and festival headlines aren’t for me. But finally just understanding how all this stuff works and knowing what I was hearing in my head all those years ago, and being damn good at doing it, that’s satisfying for me. Don’t really know what to do next. Worked on music for the first time in a few days for hours today, feels good. Sitting on like 5 finished songs I need to start releasing, so I guess that’s next.
After that, IDK. Haven’t really had a plan most of the way this far, and it worked out OK.