Tell us a little about the music you make.
The music I end up making has a lot to do with the process I use to record and write music. I have always been a fan of vinyl record shopping, crate digging, and the art of sampling, so I would say that a lot of the music I make comes from the school of Hip-Hop and beatmaking. I like to take long exploratory trips through vinyl records to find sounds that interest me or draw some curiosity out of me. From there, I explore the rhythms that could accompany these sounds, as well as production techniques that can bring out these interesting sounds or take them somewhere completely new. But that’s only one way of making music in my studio. Sometimes an artist will come to me with ideas already written and we just work to frame these ideas and give them a shape or musical arc. And there are other times when I’m just messing around on my guitar to find a riff I like and want to build on. I let the genre pick the music after we’re done creating.
How did your musical education start?
I started playing music when I was 5, my parents started me on the piano and I kept at it until I was 16 or 17. I also began percussion and bass (in jazz band and orchestra) and was teaching myself electronic music production and guitar at home while I was in high school. I’m always trying to chase new sounds and new ways of making music, I think that started at a really early age.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of your musical education?
The possibilities of what you can do musically are infinite. There’s always something more to learn, some other way of looking at the same set of notes. At first, this used to frustrate me, almost antagonize me when I was more analytical about my music education. But when I started to look at music more as a global, continual conversation, these challenges became cool and interesting to me again. Music will do that, push you to your limits!
Tell us about your current music goals.
Right now I am working with several musicians in the city that are just so talented and a true honor to work with. My goal as a producer is to help these musicians realize their ideas in the studio and to see the arc of their career as it’s forming in front of them. Sometimes as musicians we can get myopic with our goals, so just being part of the process to say “hey, can you see yourself in 5 years?” is really exciting.
What music gets you excited about making music?
Old school crate diggers like J Dilla and Madlib still excite me because it feels like they are old sages painstakingly combing through forgotten musical memories. Everything they do is detail oriented but full of vibe and flow. This combination has and always will be exciting to me!
Why did you decide to teach music?
I’ve always felt that passing on what you know to the next generation is a responsibility for all of us to undertake. Music has helped me through the toughest of spots, has helped me understand myself and the people around me. It has helped me to learn discipline, commitment, passion, and patience. Music has been this vehicle that has been trustily moving me along my entire life. It is such a privilege to be able to pass that knowledge on to the next generation. Seeing new sets of eyes on these very old musical ideas is fascinating. I cannot wait to see where they take the art form!
How long have you been involved with Intonation?
I started teaching with Intonation about 3 years ago! How the time flies!
Tell us about your upcoming release.
The group of musicians I work with regularly and I just started a new music collective/record label called Rosebud, right here in Chicago. We’ve got a ton of new songs coming out soon, so I’m very excited to see these songs make it out into the world! I’ve also got a California Wives album that’s finished but we’re still waiting to release it in just the right way. There’s a lot coming, stay tuned!
Why do you believe music education is important?
Music is one of those magical things in the world. Hard to put your finger on, hard to really describe, but ALWAYS there for you when you need it. Always inside of you! Music education is so important because it teaches young people how to get in touch with that music that’s already there inside. The journey is not always intuitive and often frustrating! Good music teachers are the guides on this journey to self realization! It’s also fun! Don’t forget that part!