Randy Greer - Image from: randygreermusic.com
The Cogswell Pulse interviewed senior Digital Audio Technology student Randy Greer about the creation of his compilation album that was released last semester. Randy began studying classical music in 2007, under DR. Scott K Bowen, Travis Silvers and Aaron Garner. He later shifted his focus from classical music to digital music while at Cogswell College. We asked about his experience in producing an album and the journey that he went through.
Q: What is the inspiration for your music?
A: The inspiration varies from song to song really. Because the songs have to cover a wide variety of styles, I have to draw inspiration from all over. I might listen to jazz and country back-to-back for a week straight in while I’m working on a rock song. I got one of my catchiest melodies “glock jams” from a mechanic who was whistling to my music as I wrote with my window open.
Q: What project did you create your music for? Why did you create your album?
A: I created an album for my Portfolio II class. It’s license free music to hand out to businesses to help get my name out there as a composer.
Q: How long did it take you to create? What software did you use?
A: It took me the whole semester to create the album. I wrote about 3 songs a week, but some of the songs had to be recorded. All songs had to be edited, mixed, and mastered. The album art and website had to be created as well. I used Pro Tools 10 a lot. I also used a MIDI notation program called Guitar Pro, mastering was done with iZotope, and I used Propellerhead Reason 5 for a lot of my electronic sounds.
Q: What is your favorite part about the album?
A: My favorite part of the album was probably the country song. I had to learn to play the banjo just for that song and I fell in love with the instrument and its unique characteristics.
Q: What was the most challenging part about creating the album?
A: The most challenging part, believe it or not, was not the time constraints. It was not knowing how the music will be used. This meant I had to make music without direction even though it still had to fit parameters to stay as useful as possible.
Q: What did you learn while creating this?
A: I learned that although the people guiding you have knowledge, it is often faster and more consistent to execute your own decisions – with confidence and reason. I learned how to write a simple work-for-hire contract. I learned how to play the banjo, and I also learned how to prep meals for marathon work sessions. That might not be important to everyone but I don’t believe it’s necessary to kill your body to make good work while meeting tight deadlines.
Q: Did you create the album with the help of other people? If so, how did they contribute?
A: Having outside help was a must. I have original music falling out of my ears to the point where it’s a distraction on any given day. But finding ways to manage and present the music can be overwhelming with 45 songs at a time. I had to use other students in the audio department for mixing and mastering: Justin Floyd, Joey White, Marc Rivas, and Andrew Wilkins were all a huge help. Often times, the school’s studios were overbooked, or equipment I reserved was rented out to someone else when I had booked a session with a professional musician. Those other students pulled through to help me out in emergencies.
My whole class also helped with feedback on songs and how they might need reworking. It was a critical listening process. Also Katie Fortune was a huge help, she worked with me remotely to get the album art to present in a professional way.Q: What was your experience with working with other people on a project like this? What did you learn? What were the benefits and challenges?
A: Most of the people I worked with who were also Cogswell students were reliable and fast, however most of the people who were not from the school – like my session musicians – were flaky. They were willing to commit but reluctant to execute, without some coaxing and encouragement. The best thing I did was playing the instruments myself. I made recordings by myself. I mixed by myself. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to work with these people, but when I’m on a timeline and being graded and they are not, I can’t expect them to put the same amount of care and determination into a piece of work that I would.
Q: What would you do differently for your next album?
A: Hands down, I would write for a project that had a specific need. I like to make music that is uniform and collectively representational. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll write anything for the right price, but I only had a week to formulate this project. At the time, I was also doing work with MediaWorks
. That said, I’m currently working on an app that requires a diversity of music. Funny how that works I guess.Q: What career do you hope to get into?
A: As far as careers go, my first choice would be to create original music and sound effects for video games, followed by movies or television. I’d also be happy to be hired to write music for apps, commercials, online videos and startup promotions. Ideally I would like to work full-time for a company that has good benefits. I’m not sure how many 9-to-5′s are out there that fit that description, but I my goal is to one day start a family. I want to be able to support them without compromise and I will need a job that can ensure that that happens.