Can you tell me when you first took an interest in music? What inspired you, and how did you begin creating your own music?
I seemed to always have an interest in music. I can remember riding in the car listening to my dad’s Bruce Springsteen cassettes when I was probably three years old. And I had a toy guitar that I would make noise on back then as well. But I really took an interest in writing music once I got to college. I had a basic Yamaha workstation keyboard that I would come up with simple melodies and songs on, and eventually that turned into composing more complicated stuff over time. Piano was the first instrument I could play decently well, and I eventually taught myself how to play guitar and drums, which really allowed me to write more complex tracks.
How would you describe your music?
I get asked this often, it seems, and I still don’t have a good way to describe it. It’s a mix of electronic and indie rock. All the songs have acoustic instruments used in them – some more than others. But each song usually ends up sounding a tad more electronic than not. So I suppose electronic indie rock is the best description.
How often do you write new material? And where does your inspiration come from?
I’m constantly writing new stuff. My songs usually start out as short snippets on my guitar and looping pedal. I’ll probably come up with 5 or 6 a week that I get down as rough song ideas. But probably 1 in 10 makes it past that stage. I can’t say there’s one thing that really inspires me to write a song. Often, I just feel like picking up a guitar or sitting down at the piano and playing, and the ideas usually come about as I’m playing. It’s really an improvisational way of writing music. Although I can read music at a basic level, I play mostly by ear, so writing songs on the fly suits me best.
What subjects do you most enjoy writing songs about?
Much of my music is instrumental, although some songs do have meaningful lyrics. Usually those lyrics come about after the music is already written. I’ll have heard the music so many times over that what seems like a natural vocal melody will start to get stuck in my head and I’ll put words to it. They are usually ‘present sense’ lyrics, based on something that’s recently happened or simply how I’m feeling at the time.
What draws you to those subjects?
Daily living, I suppose. I’ve been a lucky person to this point in my life as far as life events go. With that said, I’m not an overly emotional songwriter in a lyrical sense, so most of my songs don’t have lyrics with veiled underlying meaning or anything, or touch on painful moments in my life. The emotion in my songs comes out in the music. Hopefully, it tells a story for the listeners even if it isn’t with words.
How long does it take to create a new song and what is the process?
I can usually write a song, start to finish, in a day. But then the editing and mixing can take several days. I think my process is a bit unconventional. I usually pick up my acoustic guitar, pluck out some melodies, start looping them, and eventually I’ll have the beginnings of a song. Eventually, I’ll record that into Logic Pro and really start the process of layering instruments and electronics into the song. I do this by triggering Logic Pro’s midi instruments on my keyboard. So the majority of the instruments and sounds you hear are played individually by me and aren’t loops. One of the things that I’ve been asked about a lot is the percussion in my songs. I play the basic parts on a Roland V-drums kit and then usually include various layers of percussion loops on top, which gives the tracks a more electronic feel. Generally, the last part of the writing process is done by adding accents throughout the songs with electric guitar. Sometimes modest and understated, other times more out-front in the song.
After the song is written, I’ll usually step away from it for a few days. You get close enough to a song and your ears start getting fatigued and can’t really hear where changes need to be made. My most significant editing and instrumental changes are made almost immediately when I sit back down with the song again and listen to it with a bit of unfamiliarity.
You have chosen ‘Valves & Sneakers’ for readers to listen to. Can you tell me what inspired that song and what it means to you?
My album, Barnegat, was released on November 1st, and this was one of the last songs I wrote for the album. I think it has a good mix of musical elements in it. This was a song that started out as nothing more than an idea on a weekend morning and turned into, I feel, one of the better tracks on the album. It’s definitely one of my favourites. There wasn’t a particular inspiration for the song other than the fact that I had been listening to some soaring indie rock the night before and that influence probably crept into the song.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
TDEL2 is my current music project. I had played in a band before, but I really enjoy the flexibility of being a solo musician. Technology has really made it possible to be a full blown ‘band’ with one person, a computer, and an instrument or two. I’m writing songs all the time, and I plan to put out a follow-up LP in late spring or early summer 2014.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue to write and record and release music that people (hopefully) enjoy.
Where can people find out more about you?