.

I really believe that an inner life balance has to exist for us to reach our best creative output and to find inspiration within.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I am a music producer and sound designer. I am the founder and partner at Drastic Music, an audio production studio currently based in Toronto, Canada. I also produce my own music and work with other artists locally and globally. 

What do you do for inspiration?

I disconnect from technology and step away from the computer. I think we all need time for our minds to process information and experiences. My inspiration comes from feeling rested and mentally refreshed. It's important to create space and empty our minds to make room for new ideas and inspiration. Spending time away from the studio, with friends or alone will give me best ideas and results when I step back into production mode.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

At the moment, they are:

1. http://www.createdigitalmusic.com

2. http://www.thecreatorsproject.com

3. http://www.creativeapplications.net

As a bonus #4, I have to give big credit to thefwa.com, as it has played a major role in discovering new cool work out there, and more importantly, finding studios we wanted to work and get in touch with.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

I was honoured to do an interactive music performance at TEDxToronto last year. I was also very honoured to see my collaborative project "VISION" (with Alex Gardenberg and Ola Syse) appear on the PressPausePlay film, amongst some other really amazing artists. (www.presspauseplay.com). The music track I produced was featured in Computer Music Magazine and in a few other online features. 

On the business side of things, I think that the loyal relationships we built from the ground up with some of the biggest studios and agencies is a great achievement. 

 What does your creative process look like?

I constantly experiment with my production approach. My creative process depends on what type of work I am doing at the time. This could be a music production gig for an advertising client, an artist, my own project, sound design for interactive, music for film, sound design for custom sample libraries, etc. Whatever it is, I try to refreshen the routine with new tools and methods in order to keep myself interested and inspired every time. I notice that when I begin a creative process by simply experimenting without specific goals in mind, I tend to get best and unique results.

If you weren't working on music and the internet what would you be doing?

I'd pursue my childhood dreams of becoming a Ninja. 

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

Maintaining integrity and being a good person. Believing in my work. Getting out of comfort zones and taking risks. Eliminating negative pressures and fears. Surrounding myself with people that challenge me and push me to be stronger and better. Being excited and eager to learn. Not being afraid of sharing ideas, collaborating, and bringing others in to grow with me. If you want to pioneer, you have to be ready for resistance and discouragement. Don't give in to mediocre expectations and fears of being the first one to do something new. Being different and being you is the ONLY thing that will set you apart. So you may as well embrace it.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

Max 6 and some of the tools that people create with it really blow my mind. 

What area of web design lacks the most in terms of music integration?

There was a huge growth and emphasis on music integration in the past 5 years. Music and sound design are no longer just the 'bonus' components if the project's budget permits. Audio is now sometimes 50% of the interactive experience. Audio is given lots of thought in a pre-production process and plays an important role during production and how it is being integrated into the interactive experience, whether that be a website, mobile app or game. Even though audio is given much more thought these days - there are still plenty of limitations when it comes to how audio is played back or the level of interactivity a user can have with sound. I think we will be seeing huge improvements and more experiences with emphasis on sound, in experiences based around learning and gaming for kids and adults.

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

I am always intrigued by websites that effectively synchronize and simplify real-time creation or collaboration. Especially on the music side of things. I really liked playing with Audio Tool (www.audiotool.com) and the idea of modular and customizable production. I also like the recently launched Club Create (www.clubcreate.com) and its seamless and quick loop based creating process. 

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Yes! We were lucky to work with some great companies on FWA winning projects. It helped significantly from the standpoint of being credited and approved amongst the top studios out there. 

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

One of the first major client interactive sites we worked on was for my friend Craig Swan of Crash ! Media - and it actually won the FWA, here it is: http://www.thefwa.com/site/american-airlines-flagship-experience

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I really believe that an inner life balance has to exist for us to reach our best creative output and to find inspiration within. 

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

Probably a revolutionary step up in how we experience them. Maybe it will no longer be an additional component of having to access a website through a device, but somehow constantly a part of our waking life through our environment or even bodies? 

Of all the projects you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

I am proud of projects where I truly expressed myself and produced my idea without compromise. The latest example would be t1/2. As a company - we are proud of all of the stuff we put out in the world - something special went into each project. Recent ones would be Google Android spots we did with B-Reel - as some reached over 4 million views and had many people asking for the soundtrack, which B-Reel decided to post the mp3 as an available download. That was cool. 

What are your views on audio production schools? Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

I think that it's totally possible and that it does often happen, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But the educational experience and a school environment can provide more than just technical and theoretical knowledge. It can be good preparation and experience in areas of team management, people politics, unfair situations, last minute deadlines, and more things along those lines. A school can be like a mini-real-world of its own sometimes.

If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

I think that the FWA winners are usually projects that surprise and twist the approach and presentation of the idea / topic they produced. In order to achieve this - I would recommend trusting your instinct and doing the craziest thing you believe in without worrying about how and if will be accepted. Trying to fit in or shape your idea based on (what you imagine are) expectations of others - is the biggest mistake a creator/artist/producer can make.

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Taking time to understand and get to know your potential client and the person you are in contact with. Relationships are everything. This is where trust and loyalty seeds are planted - technical capability and portfolios come second. Showing (and really having) genuine understanding and interest in the company  or brand you want to work with will help you kick off the relationship but will also make your life easier, considering you'll be working on things you actually want to do. 

How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

I read, watch and listen to any new material I come across that strikes me as something that may have useful information I could learn from. I think it's really important to have the natural hunger for continuous learning and curiosity for whatever field you work in. Knowing how much I don't know always makes me eager to dedicate time and energy to learning.

My advice for newbies would be:

1. Be yourself, it's the only way to be unique and the only thing that will set you and your work apart.

2. Keep your attention on your intention. Energy flows where attention goes. Stay focused and stay set on your goals, short and long term.

3. Visualize and set a clear plan for your goals and be organized about your approach.

4. Don't try to learn everything at once. Focus on one or two areas of your craft at a time and learn them really well. 

5. Be observant of how your time is spent - put limits on your day and work hours. It is easy to spend 16 hours in the mindset of your craft without really accomplishing much, while 8 hours of focused work can bring much better results in your work and personal life.

6. Don't be afraid to use and innovate your own methods and ideas in your creative process just because of other 'standards' in place.

7. Cross-collaborate with artists from other industries. 

8. Give back to your field and creative community. In ways that satisfy you. 

9. Listen to your gut and follow your instinct, before your mind and logic convince you of taking the 'safe' route.

10. Ask yourself what satisfies you most in your work. Step back and think about what you can improve in order to grow.

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

From the company standpoint, we are working towards expanding to Los Angeles in the next little while. We are hoping to do a bit more work in gaming and artists, which is also very fun. Another thing lined up is a virtual plug-in instrument and sound library I am building with Matt Davis, Adrian Ellis and Josh Fielstra. As for personal stuff, I have an upcoming 12" record release on Detroit Underground, and a few other music releases and collaborations down the line.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

Just a few hours ago I ordered the new synth by Elektron - "Analog Four". Excited to geek out on it. 

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Keep it real - seriously. Be yourself and create pure and honest work. Face your fears as a creator and kick ass. 

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you!


Links

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t1/2 - Original Music and Sound Design

Google Maps - Original Music and Sound Design

TEDxToronto Interactive Music Performance

Sid Lee Interactive Music Table
Sid Lee Interactive Music Table

Toy Hacking / Circuit Bending Recording Session
Toy Hacking / Circuit Bending Recording Session

VISION - Original Music and Sound Design

Singularity - Original Music and Sound Design

Recording an abandoned factory
Recording an abandoned factory

Archer - Original Music and Sound Design

Typical day at the office
Typical day at the office

Some tools we use
Some tools we use

Studio Space
Studio Space

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