About Me

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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


New York City landlords, 0.  Tim and Katrina, 1.

I didn't think that the post office operated the day after Thanksgiving but there was a stack of letters in the mailbox last night when I got home from rehearsing with Tania.  Through the window of one envelope, I saw both mine and Katrina's names, then the apartment number of my old apartment next to the words MEMO.   Knowing what it was right away, I started to do a little dance in the hallway and exclaim my disbelief out loud, trying to be as quiet as possible, being it 1 in the morning at this point.

Dropping all of my stuff unceremoniously once inside the door to my apartment, I ripped open the envelope to see a check for the entire amount of our security deposit!  Upon closer inspection I realized that the check was dated the 17th of November, before I sent the letter the second time.  Even closer inspection revealed that the street number of my landlord's address was actually one number off from what I recall putting on both copies of the letter that I sent.  This explains why the first one bounced back.  I remember now that I actually called him shortly after I figured that first letter should have arrived (even though I hadn't seen the receipt saying he'd signed for it).  I ended up leaving a message but whatever I said in that message must have prompted them to finally send it along.  I didn't even need to send the letter the second time and it doesn't matter now anyway, because it's most certainly going to bounce back again.

In a way, I'm slightly disappointed that he didn't get to read the masterpiece I crafted with the help of my loyal editors (thanks mom and Josee!).  But I'm in no way disappointed that the money is now in our possession.  In fact, some combination of floored, ecstatic, incredulous and relieved might come closer to encapsulating the feeling I had upon receiving it.

That having been said, go us.  Now, I can really say that we landed on our feet.  Moving right along, I rehearsed Moon, Tides, Cycles with Tania last night in Queens.   It went pretty well, considering I didn't have my score with me.  Everything in the Mainstage template worked as before, with me barely having to do anything with regards to setup.  I'm thinking about adding some more things to it, like a control for some delay effects on the ring modulation and perhaps a filter sweep for the Absynth sounds.

I already added a channel to record the whole performance which I'm surprised I didn't think to do before when we performed it at the Metropolitan Room.  It's going to be so much better to actually have control over the recording and not have to worry about whether it's going to be in stereo or whether or whether or not some guy is even going to record it and hand it over in a timely fashion.

It occurs to me now that I do have that recording of the Metropolitan Room performance but I haven't posted it yet.  Wha?  But speaking of posting, I posted new voice over demos in advance of attending the New York Voiceover Mixer next Saturday (the same night of the concert!)  So, check those out if you're interested.  I composed all the music beds for the newest demo, the documentary demo and one of the new cuts on the old narration demo which has only been re-edited a little with the addition of one new script at the end.

Anyway, I'm going to return to being giddy about the security deposit and see if I can't get some work done on the Mainstage template for next weekend's concert.  Huzzah!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Composing at Roots...

Trying out the Roots Cafe on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn right now.  There was a fussy child in here earlier with an excessively baby-talking mother and then another sort of spastic child who was taken to running in circles for no apparent reason.  The fussy child and squeaky sounding mother left and the spastic child has since calmed down.  And she is actually kind of cute.  The music playing over the stereo system has even been turned down so most of the distraction has abated.  So, perhaps I will be able to work here after all.  Besides, I really like the atmosphere at this place. Leaning on the wall next to my table is the sound board from a grand piano.  And there are all kinds of neat pieces of art and old musical instruments laying around.

That said, I'm editing the score for the piano piece at the moment.  I was tweaking a few of the chords here and there and trying out some things but now I've resigned myself to adjusting the layout and cleaning up the look of it ahead of time on the pages I know I'm done with.  Tania and I should be rehearsing Moon, Tides, Cycles next week sometime for the concert on the 3rd at Waltz Astoria.  Hopefully by then I'll be able to show her the score to this new one.  She's seen the piano sketch version from 3 years ago but this one is much longer now and there are some logistical nightmares in our future.

First, I can't freakin' decide what the nature of the electronic part should be.  First I wanted to sample the piano live, then I wanted to record her at rehearsal and cut and process samples from the recording to create some textural stuff for the middle section.  Now, I'm thinking about looping her and having her layer new parts on top of it while I process the sounds that I'm recording.   Or, some mix of all of the above.  So the logistical nightmare is really on my side.  But I want to do something really innovative with this piece…while at the same time trying not to let the material suffer.  Like I don't want to just write any old crap to do this with.

I will say that I'm liking the way the middle section of the piece is coming along.  It's funny.  When I left this sketch alone about 2 years ago, I felt it was done and I couldn't write any more.  It was probably a mix of being tired of working on it and really feeling like the statement the end of the piece made was enough.  Like there was nothing more to be said.  Then I just played what sounded like the next chord and this new part was birthed.

Anyhow, I'm having fun fleshing out these ideas but I have to know when to stop.  But I'm not sure that particular eureka moment is going to come to me while sitting in this coffee shop.  So, I'd probably better go.  I'm also going to a concert tonight at Brooklyn Bowl.  Mike Doughty, the lead singer to the band Soul Coughing is playing.  So psyched.  So at some point I need to go and get ready for that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Schedule full...

When it rains it pours doesn't even begin to describe it.  Well, it guess it does begin to describe it but it doesn't finish describing it.   I'm speaking about jobs.  Work.  Lots of it.  And most of it I'm excited about.

First, I'm working overnights and overtime and my full time job, and I'm getting more calls from Technicolor.  Second, I've been helping shoot a film with my friend George.  He's shooting a few scenes from his pilot to drum up interest in making the series and he's asked me to help with audio.  So for two nights out of my weekend I was operating boom mic on a sidewalk in Hell's Kitchen for a scene between two pimps and a prostitute.  Edgy subject matter.  But more on that later.  I'm also going to be writing some music, a theme, for this particular piece.  And on top of that, Mohammad has me working on a tune for his production reel, utilizing the accordion.  Bringing in my friend Crystal on this one potentially.

So, on top of writing the piano piece Tania and I will be performing together in Feburary, I'm suddenly writing two other pieces and working like a mad man.  I LOVE IT!

I'm crazy, I know.

Anyway, on the VO front, I just caught wind of an event in midtown in a few weeks that I desperately want to be at and for which I would hope to have at least one of my new demos done.  The 2011 New York Voiceover Mixer.  I've been waiting for something like this for a long time.  And now it comes at a time when it's going to push me to finally get my new demos done.  But I'm not sure it's going to be enough time.  So, a little nervous about that.  I guess I could go with my old demo but I would much prefer to get the new ones done.

Guess there's no rest for the weary!

On another note altogether, I still love my apartment and the new neighborhood…in fact, more and more everyday.  Under the blanket of my apartment is included my landlord, whom I also love.  Leaky radiator?  Fixed in a day.  Breaker blown?  Fixed in minutes.   The other day, I took a bike ride and was at Prospect Park in minutes, where I took these pics:

Fall Colors Prospect Park 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Breaking in the new apartment...

I finally posted a clip from the finished DVD of Sides of the Track on the new website.  Had a little time this afternoon around the apartment since I was preparing to host my friend Lauren for dinner.  The first guest we've had in the apartment since moving in.   Also, put some more touches on the piano and electronics piece that I've been working on.  I've got a neat workflow going on with the laptop and the piano.  With the piano being in my room I can put the laptop behind me on the bed with my notation software open and all I have to do is just swing around on the bench and enter notes in Sibelius as I riff on the piano.   It's great.

While I was at it, I couldn't resist, since the apartment was looking so nice after I tidied up for my guest, taking a few pictures of what the place looks like, specifically my den/lair/studio/bedroom.  Here they are:

New Apartment all set up best

Some of those were taken on another night when we were bored playing with the cat.

I can't describe how amazing it is to have a space that I enjoy working in…and cooking in.  I made a nice roasted root vegetable soup for my friend to break in the kitchen…unfortunately though, I had to come in to work tonight, for my fifth overnight in a row.  Tomorrow's technically a day off but I'll be working until 7am Friday so it won't really feel like one.  I go back in to work at 10am Saturday and straight afterwards, I go to the location for the film shoot.  Another shoot, same time on Sunday and then I come back in for another overnight at NY1.  Five more in a row and then I'm back on my regular schedule.  If I survive this, I can do anything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Composing on the go...

It's warm(er) out and I'm sitting in DUMBO with some unexpected free time, contemplating composing at the piano vs. composing on the laptop.  This is something I keep going back to in my mind, now more than ever because I actually have the laptop and can compose anywhere…like, I could be composing right now but instead I'm typing this blog.

There are many reasons why one would prefer to compose at the piano, ranging from the practical to the more aesthetic.  One practical reason is that when composing at the piano, it's a lot easier to tell if the stuff you are writing is playable and that there are no voice crossings or hand crossings or ridiculously large chords (piano music) that might require inhuman Rachmaninov-type hand stretches.  You can get pretty carried away with a computer program that will play back anything you input, using professionally recorded samples of every instrument imaginable.

Aesthetically speaking, the stuff you play vs. the stuff your computer software plays back from what notes you input is a lot more inspiring.  There's something about playing an actual instrument.  You can get lost in playing it and just record yourself and transcribe later.  You can play the lines with a lot more artistry and feeling than a computer can and are therefore more likely to come up with something more musical than mechanic.  Plus, since improvisation on ideas is a huge part of my own compositional process, actual playing the lines is essential.  In this way, it certainly helps to have at least a MIDI keyboard plugged up to my computer when I'm composing with the computer (something I can't carry around with me as easily right now).  Otherwise, you're basically just inputting values with the computer keyboard and tweaking them this way or that without regard necessarily to all those practical things like voice crossing, hand crossing and whether or not any real person can play the notes.

Having a laptop to jot down ideas, though, is invaluable these days.  Ultimately, I've saved time if I can put something into Sibelius while at work and then have something to play around with when I get home to the piano.  But that having been said, I do get to a point where I've done as much as I can, or care to, with the laptop and I just want to bang things out on the piano.

The piano which now sits at the foot of my bed.  I really need to get into a routine of just jumping up and playing piano first thing in the morning after turning off my alarm.  Only, of course, on mornings when I wake up after my cousin has left for the day.

So starting tomorrow afternoon, then.  Barring any unexpected work.  I got called in to Technicolor a few times this week so that blew out a lot of my plans for what I have to get done.  One of the other things I can only really do at home ultimately, voice over, being one of them.  I was able to do some test records in my room and wrestle with the noise floor and the acoustics.  Synopsis: I really need to put some stuff on the walls to tone down some of the reflections that are making their way into the portable audio booth I built.  I have all of my scripts together though for the Narration Demo and only really need to get a couple better takes for the Documentary Demo and I'll be ready to do some more coaching with my old voice coach, the one who also volunteers at Learning Ally.

So, at this point, I think I'm going to compose the piano and electronics piece I'm working on out here for a bit and maybe work on logistics of performing said piece.  I've decided that it's pure insanity, not to mention severely limiting and somewhat impractical, to do all the sampling live. I'd be better off taking a recording of her playing and chopping it up and doing all the processing (reversing samples, etc.) at home and then having it ready to perform alongside her.

So wish me luck.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A room with a view...

I would just like to point out that I live in an apartment with a view of Manhattan. Partial view, but still.  I dub that cool. I probably spoke at one point about things happening so slowly that you don't realize that your life is getting better or that you are getting closer to achieving your goals.  Sometimes, though, one little thing changes in a big way and you start to look around at other things to see what might happen next. 

I just keep working at all this stuff I do hoping that one day things will come to fruition, but not always being able to tell whether or not the things I'm doing are having an effect.  I spoke about the voice over thing a while back and how I had one or two people tell me I was doing all that I should be doing. Same with music, when I met with that composer who's a friend of a friend. Just keep plugging away was the advice I got in both instances.  Of course, they were a little more specific than that but that was the gist. 

Now, seeing myself finally land an apartment that I love, here in New York, makes me realize that good things can and do happen.  Granted sometimes there's a hefty dose of luck involved.  But in all honesty, when I look at this situation, yes there was luck, but there was also action on mine and Katrina's part.  We saw, we agreed, we moved, we seized and then we moved in.  And I don't think we could have pulled it off had we not had all the previous experiences we've had with apartments and apartment hunting in this city.  No one gets it right the first time.

In the same way, the strides I'm making in music and voice over are stacking up and it's because I'm doing all these small things and gaining experience that I'm opening myself up to other opportunities.  Building a foundation, as it were.  I find excitement sometimes in that I don't know where it's going to lead but I have a strong feeling that it's somewhere good or at least somewhere interesting. 

Sometimes, I think back on my life before New York (and by before I mean, before I even hatched the idea of moving up here to pursue a career in music and film).  Back then I was practically at a standstill paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of what I wanted to achieve and how little I knew.  I had to learn a lot.  But without that despairing feeling of knowing what I wanted but not knowing how to get it, I wouldn't have even been able to begin. 

It's probably pretty normal, at the beginning of an endeavor like this one, or at the beginning of any difficult career course, to feel it's pretty massive.  But I think the more you work at it, the less overwhelmed you feel.  Because you're not trying to do it all at once.  You begin to understand that it has to be bit by bit.  That's the only way anyone can handle anything this size.  And the more you build on it the more you start to feel you're on the right track after all, even when you can't see the end.  And because no one can see the end, you come to terms with the fact that you have to go at it with faith that you can accomplish it against the odds.  You obviously can't go at it thinking, "this may or may not work."

So anyway, I'm feeling a little more strongly about the fact that I might be on the right track here with a lot of things.  But right now, I'm so incredibly tired I think I might just sleep.  Now.