A Brief History of Mine
I’m a multi-instrumentalist musician and music producer primarily working in rock and electronic music genres. To date, I’ve composed and produced the soundtracks to over 17 films, 3 of which were feature films. You can hear a lot of that work through the play button at the top of this site. I own a recording studio on Vancouver Island that I’ve spent the last couple of years building up and running. Before that, I was producing films in Vancouver, most notably Occupy: The Movie and developing websites (I made this one!). Like I said, brief.
A (not so) Brief History of Mine
My professional career as a musician began in Vancouver shortly after I completed a year studying at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria. I met an orchestra conductor on a film set who was putting together a big show that was to be held at a nightclub on Granville Street. His idea was to have the orchestra play a couple of classic rock songs during the show. Now, in those days, I really must have had the gift of the gab because he gave me the job of playing piano with this orchestra on the spot, sight unseen. I was twenty at the time and had been teaching myself piano since my last year of high school. I must have kept that little detail under my hat. We met again in between towers of disorganized sheet music at his office where he handed me a stack of paper and walked me through all theoretical mumbo jumbo to which I nodded like an agreeable idiot. I could barely read sheet music and this guy was throwing Bohemian Rhapsody and Another Brick in the Wall at me! I had learned music mostly by ear, chord charts and tablature. Needless to say, I was way out of my depth but this is not an uncommon theme as time would tell. I took the sheet music, smiled, shook hands and left.
Palms were sweaty, mom’s spaghetti.
I spent the next few months furiously practicing, learning each bar by rote in between shifts waiting tables. By the night of the (sold out) gig I was a nervous mess. I remember my family being there as well as a couple of supportive friends but not much else. I had a good handle on Pink Floyd but Bohemian Rhapsody was a song of monolithic proportions when all you’ve played up to that point is Coldplay! It couldn’t be avoided any longer, the time had come. I’d oversold my value and now my investors were cashing out; I was the musical equivalent to Bernie Madoff. Be it adrenaline or Freddie Mercury’s ghost watching over me in white sequin pants, holding half a microphone stand, I somehow made it through the entire song only flubbing during a couple of bars at the end. No one seemed to notice ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I beat myself up for those two bars but in hindsight, things could have gone much, much worse.
Mind the (income inequality) gap.
That same year I moved to London with my guitar, a microphone and a synthesizer. I found a pay-by-the-week flat above a dance club in Clapham that was run by the Russian mob. I made a living managing an e-commerce business that sold music equipment, which was owned by a guy who was on the UK version of the Apprentice that year (and subsequently went on to win it). In case you’re wondering, I blagged my way into that job, too. It put enough money in my pocket to keep the Russians from beating rent money out of my kneecaps, occasionally stuff my gullet with Asda chicken Kiev’s and make it to open mic gigs around the city.
I returned to Vancouver after nine months with the ambition to learn how to produce films. My friend Tommy and I had finished writing a TV pilot while I was away and it seemed like an appropriate time to put together something to hustle and see if we could get it off the ground. My friend Brianna was studying film and kindly took me under her wing, passing along all that she was learning, as well as access to gear and volunteer crew. Our friend Adam Lolacher put us in touch with a guy by the name Juan Riedinger, who was keen to start directing films. After what seemed like only a few conversations with Juan, I was crashing on his futon in Vancouver with a nice dog named Joonie. This may seem insignificant right now, but this was a real turning point for me. We pitched the pilot to a big wig at CTV in sharp black suits, he passed from the other side of his desk wearing a hoodie. That’s show business for ya!
The era of firsts.
What came from that whole experience was something much greater than expected. Juan and I continued to work together and ended up making two more, respectable, short films; Shark Out of Water and Float. At every occasion Juan allowed me to create the soundtracks for our films. I was fronting a Radiohead cover band at the time, which provided me with a jam space in Gastown that I could use to write and record in the wee hours of the morning when no one was around. When we submitted our films to festivals and for award consideration, my work as a music producer was recognized, putting a lot of wind in my sails to push on. I moved back to England for six months where I lived with my cousin, studied astronomy at university, and recorded my first EP from his dining room. Unable to find work due to the recession, I returned to Vancouver once more and landed my first gig to create music for a feature film, Nash: A Documentary.
Over the next five years I continued to produce both music and films while making websites for actual money on the side. In 2013, I took on Occupy: The Movie, a feature length documentary that was born from a successful YouTube web series about the Occupy Wall Street movement. I was both the film’s producer and music producer for the soundtrack. I worked with director Corey Ogilvie along with help from our friend and colleague, Liam Leahy of Boston (city, not the band). It was a highlight of my twenties that allowed me to live in New York City and Los Angeles, interview the likes of Noam Chomsky and Cornel West as well as many other brilliant people. We took on a journalistic role to document what was, at the heart, something palpable during a tumultuous time in American/western life. It sold out movie theatres during its run through the festival circuit and was generally well received from either side of the debate that surrounded the Occupy movement. That same year I produced one more feature film called Down River, which ended up getting the Leo award (western Canadian Film & TV) for best motion picture in 2014.
After all that, I was yearning for music. I came back to Vancouver Island and landed two soundtrack gigs, one for the mini documentary Paradise Island and the other for the feature film In No Particular Order. Upon completion of those two projects, I decided that the era, which spanned well over a decade, of making music out of my bedroom was to come to an end. If I was going to do music until I die then I needed to step up my creative space, somewhere with a real piano, real drum kit, etc. I joined together with a business partner, Greg, to build a music studio out of a space that was formerly an underground venue in town. We spent a summer and a winter building rooms, sound proofing, and continuing to hold shows and do recording gigs to pay the bills. He left the following spring and I continued with it, parting with the stage, and bringing in quality recording gear generously contributed by my friend Arlen Thompson, who plays drums in the rock band Wolf Parade. Wolf Parade spent much of the year that followed rehearsing, writing and demoing their fourth album at the studio after a 5+ year long hiatus. I’ve heard it and it’s on another level.
This brings us to present day where I’m currently cracking on with my first solo LP, Different Places. . As of yet in this not so brief history, there has been no mention of my family, arguably the most significant source of encouragement throughout years of crazy endeavours. Words cannot express my gratitude to them and every kind soul who has helped me along the way. I hope I get the opportunity to pay it all forward and pay off this insurmountable debt of gratitude.
by A Life In Binary
Different Places will be my first solo LP after one EP and 3 film soundtracks, something that I've been working towards for many years. It's proven to be my biggest undertaking to date, as I've written, produced, engineered and played the instruments with the exception of drums on some tunes. It's an art-rock album, if that's of any use to you. I can't play video games, take a holiday, get married, or have kids until it's complete. Please send food.
This is where I work. I've been building it up over the last couple of years with a lot of help from family and friends. For me, it's a dream come true to work in this space and that feeling seems to be shared by those who I've collaborated with here. It's only fair to say that I dedicate any (good) work that I produce going forward to those kind people.