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, August 31, 2013

Working Composer...

I get paid to compose music.  If I could say that to my 23 year old self he probably wouldn't have believed it.  Or he would have been psyched to hear that his efforts would eventually pay off.

Still a little surreal though.  It's a good feeling.  But I know to be proud of my accomplishments and at the same time, not in utter disbelief.  I have, after all, been hard at work for the past 10 years and, to some degree, I was always confident that I would achieve some level of success.  Hopeful yet realistic, I never found myself getting ahead of myself with my expectations.  I always knew it would be hard work; that I would need to overcome many challenges and that it wouldn't happen overnight.  Any musings about Oscars acceptance speeches were exercises in pure imagination, meant mainly as pep talks to keep me going and not as a realistic goal in themselves.  

I'm still floored at the realization that I am, in fact, what one might call a working composer.  With three simultaneous projects, all with different deadlines and all for different types of projects, I'm feeling more creatively stimulated than I have in quite a while.

Just this week things started to move forward with two out of the three.  The bumper for the .org, and the song collaboration with Amanda Brecker for the end credits for "The Life" have both moved on to the next stage.  The bumper is almost done and the rest of the team likes what I've done so far.  I'm in a holding pattern while they talk final stages and decide if they need any further revisions.

Amanda and I are talking about getting together next week to hash out the structure of the song and talk instrumentation, etc. and possibly do a scratch recording.  We will likely eventually record the song with a friend of hers who has a pro tools set up.  Meanwhile, I will take some time this week to come up with more ideas and solidify the ones I've been playing around with.

For the piano theme for the short film, I'll be writing a lengthier version for the end credits in addition to the shorter opening theme.  I have some time to work on that so I've been taking a bit of a break from it. I want to get started again pretty soon though I haven't found enough time to sit back down at the piano and write a contrasting section.  After my trip to NC, I worked 17 days straight and had my first day off yesterday, a day which I used to catch up with friends.

I began notating the piece just so I can have it in front of me when I record it.  I like using the software to expand a song idea but my general feeling about composing almost anything is that I want to be able to write it all while at the piano and then bring the ideas to my laptop to notate and flesh out the ideas into something coherent.  Never writing solely on the computer.  That way what I write will be more organic and playable.  I was met with this dilemma a few times in grad school, especially when composing for instruments I did not play myself.  It was too easy to compose in a vacuum with the computer software and then get to a rehearsal and find that the instrumentalists couldn't play (or had trouble playing) what I had written.  Beyond that though, when composed away from the instrument, the music often sounds not as honest, perhaps even contrived.  It doesn't have that certain something.

Anyway, so far I've been lucky that the deadlines for all these projects have been pretty flexible.  Plus, I've found myself between revisions on one or more when feedback comes in on another such that I've never felt too taxed throughout the process of working on them all and have never had to work on more than one at a time.  Now, while I wait for the next round of feedback on the bumper, I can be working on ideas for the song Amanda and I are writing together and at some point, I can casually revisit the piano theme.  Compartmentalization.

The cool thing is, the experience of juggling all of these projects on top of the full time and freelance jobs gives me a sense of how I would manage multiple projects (potentially more than I have on my plate right now) were I just composing and doing nothing else.  Can't wait for such a time to come.

That's all I got for now.  I'm insanely tired because I stayed up far too late last night.  Now, it's back to work.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

More train analogies...

It's late and I feel alive so I'm writing.  It's been a bit but I have more train analogies.  I swear waiting on the train platform is better than sitting on the toilet for generating ideas sometimes. 

Anyway, the New York City subway system, the MTA, short for Metropolitan Transit Authority, is notorious for delays and night time and weekend service changes because of the simple fact that it runs 24/7.  It's easy to forget this fact and get angry at your predicament to the point where you forget to appreciate that at any hour of the night, you could feasibly hop on a train and get somewhere...maybe not always as close to your front door as you'd like but still...somewhere.  But last night, trying to get back to Brooklyn after the Mets game was an epic ordeal that took me almost two hours.  Back when I lived in NC, a two hour car ride would be unacceptable unless I had planned to be somewhere for 24 hours or more.  I'd probably even plan to sleep at my destination as opposed to braving the return trip at an ungodly hour.

In truth, the main frustration on nights like these is that, in my almost 5 years of living here, I like to think that I've gotten better at figuring out what the best way to get home is, factoring in service changes for construction and reduced frequency of train arrivals late at night.  But sometimes you just eff things all up by making one snap decision, thinking it'll get you somewhere quicker and it ends up extending the length of your trip long enough that you find yourself standing on the platform for the third time in one night muttering rapid fire F words because your phone is dead and you can't even listen to music or play cell phone games to pass the time and all you wanna do is get home.

So this past Friday night I went to a Mets game in Queens with some coworkers from the freelance gig at TruTV.  A fun time all around and I got to see one of my favorite bands play a show after the concert (Third Eye Blind...a band I haven't seen perform in 15 years!).  But because I stayed so late and because every single train line that I might take home from Citifield is having some kind of track work related to Hurricane Sandy damage, it took me, as mentioned previously, 2 hours to get home. 

I can trace my mistake back to one pivotal moment at Roosevelt Avenue when I took the first train that came, an E train, thinking I would just catch up with the F in Manhattan and take it the rest of the way home, and walk the extra ten blocks from 7th Avenue and 9th Street.  I somehow forgot (let's face it, I never go to Queens anymore) that the E is local and the F is express (or maybe I was thinking both would be local at that hour...I don't knwo).  So, no sooner do I get on the E train and it goes two stops, do I see an F train passing us in the tunnel on the express track.  It probably arrived at Roosevelt Avenue mere minutes after I jumped on the E.

Now, because I did this, I found myself waiting for an absurd amount of time for the next F train to come.  The lesson?  Maybe it's not always the best advice to jump on the first train that comes along...even if it is late at night.  Even waiting at Broadway Lafayette for the F, I had to pass up two D trains that rode by because I knew they wouldn't be stopping at Prospect Avenue due to construction on the R line.  They might have gotten me close but not close enough unless I wanted to take a cab the rest of the way.  I found out earlier in the week that the D, N and R were not only not stopping at my stop Bay Ridge bound but also Manhattan bound.  So there was essentially no way for me to get to the stop closest to my apartment and I would have needed to take the F no matter what.  Now, if I had waited two more minutes at Roosevelt Avenue I'd have made it onto that first F train and could have freaking napped on the way home if I wanted to and been home a good 45 minutes earlier than I was!

But, that is not what happened.  No, in fact I stayed on that E train all the way to the LES, gave a group of kids some directions because our E train wasn't going to Canal like they had expected, noticed they had beer cans in plastic bags and watched one of them light up a joint on the train (even joked with him about getting a contact buzz), made it to Broadway Lafayette, waited for three trains to pass through that weren't mine before finally landing on the F train and riding home, all the while people watching and listening in on people's conversations since my phone battery had died at the game and I had nothing do but be a fly on the wall. 

It was fun, but ultimately, considering my aim was to get home in a timely manner and get a decent amount of sleep for a change, not the way I wanted to spend my Friday night.   What if I had waited for the right opportunity?  Patiently....Then I got to thinking about that in terms of my career, because, let's face it, that kind of thing always comes up when I have the extra time for introspection that these long train rides afford me.  I have a lot of opportunities here.  That's literally the main reason I came to this amazing city.  Often I'm compelled to take the first ones that come along.  It's easy to think that's all you might get and that you'd better seize it while you can.  But, as evidenced by my train trip, you could take the first thing that comes along but then immediately realize (or maybe not always immediately realize) that there was something else coming that you are now going to miss out on because you've devoted your energies elsewhere. 

I happened to see the F train passing my E train in the tunnel but I thought about how you may not always realize that the choices you make cause you to miss out on opportunities.  That's sort of a mind job if you think about it.  How do you know what the best opportunities are?  I have had occasions where I didn't realize for years that something I had seized upon, thinking it was a great opportunity, whether it was career-wise or relationship-wise, had potentially caused me to miss out on other opportunities.  Or maybe not so much miss out on them but delay them while I wasted time on something fruitless.

I'm not terribly depressed by this thought.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from every single encounter one has.  It does kind of make me reconsider a lot of what I'm doing though...the recent focused search for a voice over agent, some live performing opportunities, film scores I've written for films that never got finished.  I've spent a lot of time paring back some of my activities and bringing others to the forefront and slowly over the years I've gotten closer to satisfied with my endeavors. Fruitful or not.  I had to give up some things that I really enjoyed because they were simply taking up time I could have been devoting to making ends meet or spending time on my own creative work.  

That said, I'm thinking there's going to be some changes soon.  I'm revamping my approach to the voice over agent and I'm going to start writing again with a mind to perform my originals.

On that note, I'm in dire need of sleep.  Why am I still awake?!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anticipation, a baby, some mountains and a thunderstorm...

The D, N and R trains are finally not skipping my stop at nights and I began to realize this week how long it's been since I've even been in the Prospect Ave. R station on the Bay Ridge bound side.  I had been taking the F to 7th avenue on my way home from work and walking the 10 blocks south to my apartment.  While it did afford me a little extra time to walk and think, and, on some nights when I didn't feel like the hassle, got me a little more comfortable taking cab rides that would eventually be reimbursed by Time Warner Cable, it also put me dangerously close to Barbes on more than one occasion, which excused a few random stops during which I got to meet some interesting and cool people.

To be fair I only went in once directly after work last week for a drink and it was to kick off a nice 4 day weekend during which I traveled to NC to see family and meet a brand new addition, the nephew I spoke of  a few entries ago.


The mountain house in which we stayed was also quite comfortable and came with an amazing view of the mountain ridges.  We watched a thunderstorm one afternoon while we sat outside on the porch drinking, too. It was pretty spectacular and calming to sit and listen to the rain. 



After two nights, getting to hold my sleepy 2 week old nephew a few times, a few games of ping pong, some Dr. Who and Nintendo DS with the nephews and neice (my sister's kids), I took a ride down to Greensboro in my mom's convertible to see some old friends and paint the town.  Saw my old haunts and caught up with a few friends.  It all ended with me lazing around in the pool at my parents' house with my other sister and her kids and spending too much time in the sun before heading off to the airport.  Couldn't have planned a better trip unless it were longer and involved more relaxing.

Now I'm back to the daily grind, jumping right back in with a day at both jobs (for which the MTA made me 15 minutes late), some work on the trailer for "The Life," and even a phone call to an agent I've been trying to chase down.  There, I said it.  I told myself I wouldn't say anything so as not to jinx it but it's getting close enough I think I can mention it.  I'm also realizing I'm not as superstitious anymore.  If it doesn't happen it won't be because I got my hopes up but because it wasn't the right time.

And now I wait.  But I spoke about waiting a few entries ago.  Sometimes the anticipation can be just as stimulating as the outcome.  And it is an experience in and of itself.  Certain things may not pan out but the important thing is that I've worked hard enough that I'm up at bat for a change and that alone gets me pretty ecstatic.  Yes, I used a baseball analogy.  They're useful sometimes. What can I say?

Anyhow, there are lots of other exciting things that I have varying levels of confidence about coming up, some musical collaborations, some film scoring work and even a few concerts.  2013 has already been a pretty amazing year and I only expect it to get better.  Now I have to find some way to get to sleep amidst all this excitement.