Start With Why, For Real Though
I’ve been breaking into the freelance instrumental composer for ads, games, podcasts, film, tv, etc. game for a couple years now, specializing in horror and sci-fi. This is quite a bit of a different terrain for me as I have previously played guitar and bass in reggae and hard rock bands, respectively.
This was basically my "headshot" around 2007 as guitarist of Tropidelic.
I'm not even embarrassed. That was what felt right at the time and I damn well knew it was dorky even back then.
Here we are in 2020, and this is now my headshot.
Quite the....wait for it.....transformation, amirite?
With this transformation has come a journey of experimentation and learning, which will be the main theme of these blogs. Is that a word, “blogs”?
Towards the end of 2018, I had been practicing and creating a lot. I realized I was sitting on a whole bunch of instrumentals that I really liked, but I have done NOTHING with them, At best, I posted a few up on Youtube or Soundcloud even as unfinished mixes. This is stupid. Don’t post unfinished mixes, dipshit. Hold your horses! I also realized I am doing a shit job of trying to network and put myself out there to get work in this field.
I have this book on a bookshelf in my studio that my place of employment (normal job, gross) ordered for me titled “Start With Why”. You know, for one of those terrible work-place book clubs that everyone secretly hates.
Now, of course, I did not read that book. Let me actually pause for 2 minutes and REALLY try to think of something that would be more boring than to read a book about "management style" and "inspirational workplace" stuff.
**2 minutes pass**
After 120 seconds of deep soul searching and consulting with high ranking gurus in the highest mountaintops, I truly could not conjure up anything that would be more boring. Like, in the world.
Thankfully, it turns out I don’t need to read that book anyway. I gleaned everything I needed just by passing the book and seeing its title (consciously or otherwise) a few times each day.
My “why” behind making this music, even with no project attached currently? I had to create an awesome album.
I thought to myself, I will take the time to really mix it well, get it professionally mastered, and ensure I am happy with how it turns out. This will be my official “resume´", or at least the first page of it (you can have more than a 1 page resume´, the “1 page” thing is an old wives tale. Those wives must be super old by now, right?).
With a solid body of work, surely someone will want to use my services in their project. Yeah, that’s the ticket (Jon Lovtiz voice). Oh, and stop calling me Shirley.
It has been a fun process picking out which tracks will be a solid representation of what I can do as a composer and the type of niche I fit into. It took some time but I finally narrowed it down to 11 tracks. I felt these were all cool tracks, and with a little bit more work and experimentation, I thought I could really get something I am proud of out there.
Eventually, the title of the project emerged, Running Through The Maze.
Why “Running Through The Maze” ?
I had this track I really liked but didn’t have an actual name for it. It’s important to me to have a fitting name for all my tracks, always has been. That may seem weird given that it’s instrumental music, but, it’s all about building worlds with sound. So one evening, I brought my wife, Jackie, into the studio and played it. I asked her to just tell me what image(s) come to mind when hearing the music.
I cranked it up and let it play all the way through. I asked her what she thought, and she said something along the lines of “It was kind of like running through a maze.” I immediately saved the project file as “Running Through The Maze” and absolutely knew there would be no better title for it.
Quick shout out! Jackie is an amazing artist and you should check her out at www.EclipseAfterglowStudios.com. She does all my artwork (album cover, single cover, headshot, everything bruh) and I will totes be featuring the artwork in a future post. Or maybe she will write it? Probably both.
We now return to the show.
When it finally donned on me that I should put together an album, I knew “Running Through The Maze” would not only be a track on the album, it would also be the namesake of the whole project. It's the world I am creating. It all started clicking. The phrase “Don’t spend all of your days just running through the maze” popped in my head and I also realized it’s 11 words. There are 11 tracks on the album.
I’m not trying to be a “weirdo” or anything (well, maybe a little), but it’s nice to receive signs like that. Sure, it’s quite likely just coincidence when things like that line up, but, you can’t deny that it’s oddly reassuring when it happens, nawsayin’? All you creatives out there know what I’m talking about. Just that little nudge that tells you "you're on the right path".
Assembling the proper tracklist is also of high importance to me. I know, the kids these days don’t give a shit about full albums and only mostly just listen to playlists, but I’m sticking with my phaser guns on this one.
I went through a couple revisions in the tracklist itself, but one of those weirdo signs of reassurance that never changed was having my track “Lots of Bats, Many Belfries” as the opener. I consider this my first real instrumental I put together for my trajectory shift into spooky instrumental composer dude. I’ve always been super pumped about it and think it’s an easily digestible representation of the type of vibe my music has.
Everything was clicking, or so I thought. I liked the songs, I liked the titles, I had the tracklist set. But the more I listened to professionally produced music for reference, the more I was unhappy with the actual mixing and sound of my music in comparison. I’ve basically developed a phobia of submitting my album to be published on streaming services but cringing at the production.
As such, I embarked on a journey to be happier with my mixes and to be confident in what Im putting on my “resume´".
More about that, next time on Kyle Cheuvront’s Trapped Inside This Blog.
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An instrumental score and theme producer specializing in horror and sci-fi.