I just self released a new single, entitiled "JLP". Check it out!
I just self released a new single, entitiled "JLP". Check it out!
Big changes have been happening around here. I just graduated and received my Master's in Music Production from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Getting the degree in hand feels good, but to be honest, it's been the past few years of learning, making music, editing, re-editing, mixing, mastering, and so on that has really been the accomplishment. I'm glad to have it finished, and I feel armed to the teeth with a lot of knowledge and experience that I never could have obtained so quickly without the program.
In other news, I've decided to move with my family to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina- so we'll be going coast to coast this summer on an epic road trip, stopping to see some amazing things and eventually settling down in our new home. San Francisco and Seattle have been great in so many ways, but it's time for a new adventure, and since I grew up in Cincinnati and went to school in Charleston, South Carolina, I feel a strong and acute urge to get back to the east. Here's hoping that it will be a great new chapter in our lives.
I've also been tirelessly working on new music for the past few months. I'm finishing up writing and mixing/mastering on a three track EP right now, which I'll be shopping just as tirelessly to every record label out there that releases funky electronic dance music. I'd say the material is along the lines of nu-disco, tehcno, minimal, a little bit of tech-house and deep house thrown in. Really a hodge podge of a lot of different electronic dance music styles, as usual. While I've been working on that EP, I've also been cranking out some new music for my supporters out there, and just released one such track on my social networks. The track is called M.A.R.T.A., and was totally influenced by my love for southern hip hop artists like Outkast, Big K.R.I.T., Goodie Mob, etc. You can check it out here and download it for free:
I'll be working on some more music for free downloads coming up, so stay tuned for that as well. And if you want to join my email list right about now, I'll send you 10 free downloads just for joining. So think about it, and stay tuned for some more new music!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into EDM.
Well, I just moved to Seattle about one year ago. Before that I had lived in San Francisco for about five years, and I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. I had been playing keys in various groups and writing songs since college, and when I moved to San Francisco I decided to enroll in a Master’s program for Music Production and Sound Design for Visual Media at the Academy of Art. The program was pretty much geared towards writing and producing music for Films, TV, Etc. (which I still do), but everything was digital, and throughout the course of the program, the more I produced pieces of music using a midi controller and Logic (more or less), the more I realized that I liked just producing electronic music. I had played keys in a lot of bands that played various forms of funk, jazz, soul, etc., and I had been writing music with pen and paper for years, so I decided to combine the two and start producing EDM. That’s really how it all came together, and since then it’s kind of taken on a life of its own, and now it seems like I can’t listen to or write anything but EDM. So there you have it.
What was your experience like at the Academy of Art in San Francisco? How did this influence the music you produce now?
Well like I said, it gave me the skills to be able to produce music electronically, which was really a foreign world to me at the time. I was doing everything analog, and by that I really mean analog. I actually remember, in about 2007, talking to one of my friends about how awesome it would be if there was some kind of software out there that I could use to record one track, then play it back and layer another track on top. That’s really how clueless I was at the time about DAW’s and digital recording! I was doing everything on staff paper for years. So after a few intense years of learning about digital production and lot more advanced music theory, I was in a completely different world.
What other genres of music do you get inspiration from?
Like I said, right now I’m pretty obsessed with EDM- but that includes a pretty wide variety of electronic music for me. I like a good Trance track just as much as Deep House or Electro. If I feel it immediately, I like it. It doesn’t really matter to me what it is. I’ve been listening to different forms of Electro-Cumbia for a while now. Also Samba, Afro Beat, Afro-Colombian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Peruvian, etc. I’ve always listened to a lot of Hip-Hop as well- mostly East Coast (Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Wu-Tang, etc.) I listen to a lot of Soul and Funk as well. But then I also listen to Indie Rock, Minimal Classical, all different forms of Jazz, etc. I’ve also been a hardcore fan of traditional Jamaican Ska for a long time, and like some good Reggae as well (mostly of the Rocksteady variety). I think I’ve always had eclectic tastes, and doing my masters in Music for Visual Media has only widened them, because when you’re writing music for films or tv, you really have to be versatile. I think that also really helps with EDM, because my favorite EDM is the type that really pulls in influences from a lot of different styles of music. The kind of thing that hardcore fans end up getting in arguments about what genre and sub-genre it is. That kind of stuff…
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
I feel like I’m really at the beginning of my career, but I think some of the artists and engineers I have been able to work with over the years would definitely qualify as pretty good accomplishments. I produced an EP in 2008 and worked with some players that had worked with Ray Charles, The Temptations, Fred Wesley, etc. The engineer on that project had worked with David Bowie and tons of others. That was a pretty great experience. I also wrote string arrangements for a band in San Francisco that were recorded by The Magik*Magik Orchestra (who has worked with The Dodos, Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, recorded the soundtrack for Looper, etc.) I got to be in the studio with the conductor and the players during the session, so that was a really cool experience. And of course getting my Master’s from AAU is a big accomplishment for me.
Tell us about your new track “Stars”. It certainly goes in a different direction than your previous Dance Craze EP that’s much more traditional Trance. What inspired you to go in this direction?
Well, the way music is working these days, I just want to be able to continuously give something to the people out there that are supporting me at this time. I also learned a lot about producing EDM through doing my Dance Craze EP, so now I feel like I’m smoothing it out a little, making things a little more minimal, and creating the type of music that I really want to. I’m working on another track right now as well, and I really feel like things are getting better and better, so I just want to keep releasing things to my fans and keep the ball rolling. Plus I want to get enough quality tracks out there by the end of the year so that I can start do live sets of my own music.
What is next for you?
I’m just going to keep releasing tracks, do another EP, and keep trying to build momentum and get some attention for the music I’m releasing. I want to start releasing on an indie label, and like I said, I want to get a set together and start performing live. I want to work with a visual artist and create something really original and engaging for my live sets, because even though I’ve performed onstage with bands for years, I’ve never done it with just myself and a DJ rig, and I’m a firm believer in making a live performance a real performance, theater and all. I’ve never liked going to a show and just watching guys sit there in t-shirts and tight jeans, so watching a DJ perform (or being that DJ) is no different for me. If I’m going to perform live and ask people to pay for it, I want them to get there money’s worth, on both auditory and visual levels. So I’m going to be working on developing that, and just keep releasing music and moving forward.
Let us into your hard drive… who’s in your heavy rotation right now?
Well, I’ve been on SoundCloud a lot lately and have been making a playlist of stuff that I really enjoy listening to at this exact moment. You can check it out here:
But aside from that, it’s really been all over the place:
Paloma Kippes, Bruce Springsteen, Bebo Valdes, The Polish Ambassador, Lorde, David Byrne, Stevie Wonder, Bettie Davis, Moroder, Matias Aguayo, John Talabot, Uproot Andy, Herbie Hancock, Kavinsky, Surkin… And I could go on and on, but check out the SoundCloud list and you should get a pretty good idea about where my head is at right now.
Back in May of this year I decided that I was going to take a song that I wrote a long time ago and give it a 21st century, totally electronic makeover. "Dance Craze", the song I "wrote" over ten years ago and have been playing with various ensembles intermittently since then, has just been sitting around waiting to get produced electronically. I put "wrote" in quotations because originally the song was just three chords that I came up with out of nowhere while practicing material for the band Doublestack with my friend Sandlin Gaither. This was back in 2001, when I was going to college and living in Charleston, South Carolina. It was just three chords and Sandlin tapping his foot on the base of a microphone stand, which through the PA sounded a little bit like a typical House beat. We played the song in Doublestack as a quartet (drums, bass, electric guitar and myself on keys), and I subsequently played the song with my group Trifectafunk in Cincinnati (Drums, Bass, Keys). It started out being called "The Techno Song," and when we continued to play it in Cincinnati it morphed into "Dance Craze." We also played it in a much larger ensemble called Homeskillet- a Voltronesque group comprised of many Cincinnati bands that played once a year on Thanksgiving. The funny thing was that none of us (in any of the groups) really listened to EDM or Electronic Music, and the song was kind of a joke for us. It was fun to play, and it always got the crowd going, no matter where we were playing. But we never released the song, and it eventually got put up on the shelf when I disbanded Trifectafunk in 2008 and moved to San Francisco.
So now I'm living in Seattle with my wife and son, and finishing up a Master's degree in Music Production and Sound Design for Visual Media. And ironically, the skills I've learned during my studies are what have inspired me to start producing Electronic Dance Music. I started thinking to myself, I can produce music electronically now, and I love upbeat music that people can dance to, and I even have a song sitting on the shelf that could be a great EDM song. So that's how it happened. I thought it would be fun and sound good, and I thought it might be able to catch the attention of music supervisors that I was checking out at the time. Once I started to produce it though, I quickly realized that this was a path I was ready to go all the way down. So I decided to write and produce two more songs in somewhat the same vein and release it as an EP, aptly entitled "Dance Craze". And six months later, here's the result:
So now I've decided that I like producing "dance music" electronically so much, I'm going to do it forever. Of course, because of my background of playing and writing for bands and ensembles, I'm inclined to take a different approach then many "DJ's" out there. I've never used a turntable in my life, and don't really intend to start now. I want to create Dance Music that is produced electronically, sounds great and gets people moving, but isn't relegated exclusively to the world of EDM. In other words, I want to create Electronic Dance Music that people that don't necessarily like EDM will still be into. I want to breath as much soul into it as I possibly can, but still make the beat smash you in the face when you press play. I'd ideally like to take these songs and have actual ensembles play them live in the future (as opposed to the more traditional "Dj" setup). I also want to infuse my musical influences (which range from Talking Heads, Fela Kuti, and Novalima to Daft Punk, Deadmau5, and Buraka Som Sistema) into the creation of this music, and hopefully come out on the other end with something completely different than what's out there right now. And hopefully people will dig it. Because that's all I really ask, anyway. I just want to make music that makes people get up and DANCE.
Lately I've been taking a break from visual media to focus on producing an electronic dance music EP (which I'm super excited about) that I'm planning on self-releasing this fall. But between diving down endless rabbit holes of production tips, builds, beats, dj's, producers, and lots of new music, I've still found the time to work on a few visual media projects, and I've been lucky enough to work with some really talented people.
Check out this award winning web series pilot, directed by Gary Allen. I did the Original Music and Music Editing:
These past few months have been really crazy around here, and now my family and I find ourselves in our new house in the wonderful city of Seattle, Washington. We have just finished the move up here, and my new studio is officially up and running. Seattle is a great city full of wonderful musicians, film makers, and other artists, and it's so far shaping up to be a great move for all of us.
It seems that when you surrender to the universe things always start to flow in a good direction, and such has been the case since we have moved to the Emeral City. At about the same time as we were finalizing our move, projects starting rolling in from all kinds of different directions. I'm currently in the beginning phases of a half dozen projects, ranging from artist production and compostion to film composition and writing for a production company.
So I'll be continuing to settle in and explore here in seattle, and I will definitely be posting updates on all the projects that are currently getting off the ground. Stay tuned, and feel free to check my music page regularly, as I'm constantly posting new sounds from various different projects that I've been working on.
Well, it was quite a year, and I don't really know where to start... It seems that these days a year goes by so fast, I have to think really hard to remember what even happened at the beginning of it. This past year was full of exciting musical and life adventures, and 2013 looks to be even more so. Here are some 2012 Highlights:
This was one of my last shows performing Keyboards with Taxes, and it was a great one, playing the opening night of the 2012 San Francisco Noise Pop Festival. Brandon Moore shot video for the concert, which came out great. You can watch it here. I have now stopped performing with Taxes, opting to focus 100% on Songwriting, Composition, and Producing. I had a great three years performing, writing, and arranging for this group, and I wish them all the success in the future.
2012 Also was a great year for me in the realm of writing music for visual media- writing and producing score for over ten projects for Film, Commercials, and Animation.
I produced the music for Director Brandon Moore's Riviera Skateboards Promotional Video, which went on to win the Panasonic Shoot it/Share it Contest. Brandon is a great film maker and an all around cool guy, and it was a pleasure working with him, along with mastering engineer and drummer Dylan Travis.
I also wrote, mixed/mastered, and produced the music for Director Ray Hu's film Blind Painter, which went on to win several awards in China, along with being an official selection of the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival. This was a great film, and I am continuing my partnership with Ray on multiple upcoming projects, in one of which I even had a small acting role. This was a first for me, and it's given me a whole new respect for the work of genuine actors. We're currently in the post production phase of that film, and it should be coming out this spring.
I also wrote and produced the music and sound design for multiple projects with animator extraordinaire Reem Ali Adeeb. Reem has since obtained a job in Los Angeles for acclaimed animation studio Titmouse, and continues to create great, original work. Working with Reem is always a pleasure, and I'm sure that she will be very successful in L.A.
Towards the end of the year I wrote and produced the score for the short film A Long Distance Love, directed by James Long. This is a great short film, and it was very fun producing the music, as James specifically asked for a Jazz feel. As I've always had a special place in my heart for writing and performing Jazz music, this was an especially fun project for me.
2013 is already finding me busy writing and producing new music, both for Film and the Concert Hall, as well as preparing for my last year of Grad School in pursuit of my Master's Degree in Music for Visual Media at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. My wife, two year old son, and I are also planning a move to Seattle, Washington in the spring, where I will continue to work as a Composer, Songwriter, and Producer, immersing myself in the wonderful music and art community that Seattle has to offer. We are very excited about this move and the possibilities it brings, and I will keep you updated as it progresses. Thanks for reading, and the best of luck to you in 2013!
P.S. If you haven't already, please sign up for my Mailing List to receive updates about New Music, Film Projects, etc. Thank you and Happy New Year!
I am happy to announce that Blind Painter, the short film for which I have recently composed the score, has been selected for screening at the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival. This is a major film festival, attracting stars, directors, and producers from all over the world, and it's a great honor for all of the crew at Iron International Films to have been selected.
Ray Hu, the Director of the film, is currently in China leading a promotional tour of the film, presenting it at film festivals, high schools, and colleges all throughout China. The film has garnered almost 15,000 votes online for a short film competition in China, all in less than a month's time. Needless to say, expectations are high for the success of this short film, as well as Ray's next project, which is slated to start in the fall.
I had a great time composing the score for this film. It was a challenging experience, but the crew was always great and enjoyable to work with, and I learned a lot about my own craft along the way. I'm excited to see what Ray has in store for us next, as he is a very talented Director, and at only 21 years old, I think the best is definitely yet to come.
You can view the entire film here:
Brandon Moore's Riveria Skateboards Promo Video, which I produced the music for, has won the illustrious Panasonic Shoot it/Share it Contest for Best Commercial Video. I am really happy for Brandon, and excited to have worked on an award winning video. You can view the video below, and listen to the song that I produced with Dylan Travis.
It was great working with Brandon on this video, and I wish him continued success in the future. Make sure and check out the video and the music, and enjoy!
As promised, here is the video shot by Cinematographer/Director Brandon Moore, with music produced by myself and Dylan Travis. Brandon asked me to produce a sound-alike for the Washed Out song "Soft." I turned the project around in two days, and Dylan Travis added live drums and re-mastered. It was a great experience, and I became a fan of Washed Out in the process! This video is also up for an award as part of the Panasonic Shoot it/Share it contest, so vote here while you still can:
Here it is... Enjoy....Share the love... And don't forget to vote!
Was that February? Wow, time flies... February was a busy month for Taxes, a rock group in which I play Keyboards, Arrange, and Co-Write. Probably the best moment was our show at the Great American Music Hall for the San Francisco Noise Pop Festival, opening for Cursive.
It was a great set in a great venue, and luckily we had an extremely talented Cinematographer/Director to document it. Brandon Moore of Surreel Studios filmed the event, and he did a great job. Check out the video for our opener of the night, "Pyramid Scheme," off the first Taxes EP "This is going to end Badly."
I also just finished working on the music for a project Brandon did for Riviera Skateboards, featuring pro skateboarder Cody Hager, so I will be posting that as the project develops, as well as adding it to my Film Music Portfolio. The project is up for a big award as well, so keep your fingers crossed.
I have been slammed for the past month with Film Projects at the Academy, so I will be posting updates and clips as those projects develop as well. There are some very talented filmmakers at the Academy, and I have been lucky enough to hook up with a few of them to write the music for their projects. In the mean time, you can check out the film music I have already completed, as well as my Film Music Portolio. More to come, so stay tuned....
2011. What a year. I have been out in San Francisco for almost four years now, but this last year seems to have been especially eventful. Where do I start? Outside of the music world, my wife and I saw our son turn one years old, we moved to the beach, I quit my full time job running a transitional housing program and became a full time Masters student at the Academy of Art, rang in the new year in Medellin, Colombia, took our first trip to Kauai, and made a two week homecoming trip to Cincinnati over the holidays. Living out on Baker Beach in San Francisco has been a wonderful experience, and getting to focus full time on my family and my passion of creating music has been an extremely rewarding experience so far, and promises to only get better in the future.
A lot happened in the music world as well. As I said, I went from part time to full time in my Master’s program at the Academy, studying for a degree in Music for Visual media. I’ve had the privilege of learning from class A session musicians and Film Composers like Daniel Fabricant, Brad Hughes, and Gunnard Doboze, and I’ve had the opportunity to write and produce orchestral music and sound design and score commercials and scenes from film. I’ve also finished writing, producing, and scoring my first piece for Piano and Orchestra, entitled Espejo Cristal, and I have recently sent it off to various composition competitions. I have also finished a few other pieces that have been coming together for some time now, and I’m continuing to work on both orchestral/indie classical compositions, as well as a collection of pop songs that I hope will be picked up and recorded in the near future.
I have also continued to play in Bay Area Indie Rock band Taxes, which has taken great strides this past year, and continues to build steam in the local music scene. We recorded our first full length LP in L.A. and San Francisco with Ryan Williams engineering at Pulse Studios in L.A. and Tiny Telephone (the studio of singer/songwriter John Vanderslice) here in San Francisco. I shared songwriting credits on the album, and also had the opportunity to arrange the strings for a few songs on the album, which were recorded by Minna Choi and members of her Magik*Magik Orchestra. This being my first professional gig as an arranger, I was more than pleased to be in the studio talking over my scores with Minna and watching Magik*Magik record them flawlessly.
The album, entitled “It’s Always Something,” was released to a sold out crowd at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, sharing the bill with Seeking Empire, the brainchild of Good Charlotte bassist Paul Thomas. Taxes also had the opportunity to play at the illustrious SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, alongside such acts as John Vanderslice and The Dodos. With the addition of Level 4 PR to the Taxes team and a slot opening for Cursive at the 2012 Noise Pop festival, this year is shaping up to be even better than 2011 for Taxes.
It’s always been a challenge for me, but I am resolving in 2012 to be a much better blogger. Here’s to resolutions, right? As I’m sure you’re aware if you’re reading this, tristaneckerson.com is up and running, and I’ve also officially started my mailing list, which you can join on this page. Stay tuned for a whole lot of new music and events in 2012, and thanks for all of your support and time in the past year; it’s been a good one!