Interview with Man Parrish
8Dio Artist Spotlight. Answers by Man Parrish / Questions by Troels Folmann. July 2014
Man Parrish is a songwriter, composer and producer who sits at the forefront of the ’80’s “electro” genre creation leading to the foundations of hip-hop, freestyle and techno (which led to EDM). Man has produced and managed some of the most popular acts of the day including; Gloria Gaynor and the Village People. One of his breakout hits was, Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop) which was released in 1982. He continues to adapt his craft into film scores and contemporary music with a broad palette of creativity.
Your acclaimed background and significant contributions to music are well established and documented, but let’s get to the fundamentals. From Funkmeister to B-Boy electro during the 80’s… please, share the bridge to that path.
Hmmm.. “Funkmeister to B-Boy” that’s a new one, I’ve never heard before… I like that, I think I’ll definitely use that! Growing up, all my friends listened to hard-core metal bands. I was into groups like Pink Floyd and David Bowie, etc. On the other hand I was a closet black kid and I was totally into groups like Parliament Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, George Clinton [who I finally got to meet] and groups like the Ohio Players. Compared to the rock-n-roll stuff my friends listened to, the funky stuff basically won me over. But, I still have that kick ass rock-n-roll spirit in me, for sure. When I finally got the hang of doing music, the funkier, street, and urban sound was something I was more attracted to. I liked radio pop music a lot, but the funky stuff really spoke to me. You also have to remember there were no forms of dance music played on the radio back then. If you wanted to hear dance music you had to go to a “disco”. So, I basically started playing with funky tunes and rhythms and with experimentation that eventually led to the B-Boy style of music that I heard around me in the late 70s and early 80s in New York City. Writing music has always been a huge struggle for me because I was never formally trained. To this day I can’t read or write music yet I can arrange orchestral pieces. It’s all done by ear. I get intimidated around people that have major conservatory and orchestral music scoring training but the greatest compliment is when they turn around and tell me that they love my scoring and arranging stuff and want to work with me. It blows my mind that a “B-Boy” can stand shoulder to shoulder with a polished composer and we’re suddenly all on the same wavelength.
As you were getting your start, you were exposed to and worked with some of the most avante-garde and creative creatures in the underground scene in NYC, (influencers and collaborators included Warhol, Stockhausen, Klaus Nomi, Cherry Vanilla, among others). Share some highlights and lowlights of those experiences.
Unlike today, where you have social media, the only way, back then, to have friends or to socialize was at a physical club. Since I was “an artist” and I could never hold a job down back then. I didn’t have to be up early the next day to go to work smo, out of boredom and the need to socialize and have friends, I went out to clubs every night. And I do mean every night. I basically became a club rat, by default, in New York City. That worked out hugely to my advantage. While in the clubs I started hanging around with the other “club rats”, as I saw them every night in the same usual places. Many of them were also artists, musicians, photographers, performers, etc.. Back then artists usually hung out in a “community” of friends. Their friends became your friends and so on. I started to get invites from my friends to some of these cool parties. People like Andy Warhol, Cherry Vanilla, Klaus Nomi, Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, Keith Haring, Brian Eno, Boy George, all threw parties at private lofts, VIP areas in clubs or at their homes. So, eventually hanging around this crowd, many who are now, but not then, famous, became my friends. That’s how many of my collaborations came to be. There was no social media, internet or email. You just simply met people face-to-face, talked with them, and if you liked their vibe, more often than not, you would collaborate on something.
One of the highlights from the ’70s and ’80s was being 14 years old at the infamous Continental Bathhouse in New York City. I was sitting next to Rudolph Nureyev, the famous classical ballet dancer, and several other NYC underground, “celebrities”. I didn’t know who these people were, they were just all “cool” in my mind. So there I was, 14 years old, with everybody in bathhouse towels, watching an unknown singer called Bette Midler and her unknown piano player named Barry Manilow perform a cabaret act, themselves in towels as a camp, to a large room of mostly gay men applauding… WTF, how did I ever survive that craziness? And believe me, there were MANY more crazy stories but I’m still standing..lol.
Another highlight was when I was invited to perform at the legendary Studio 54 Club which, by the way, we went to every weekend without fail. I was hired for the opening party of George Lucas’s, Return of the Jedi, New York movie premiere. I wore a Darth Vader like Cape in my act, which we rigged for dry ice to be pumped out from around my neck and underneath the cape as a live stage show effect… pretty cool for back then! I walked around on stage leaking dry ice.. haha! The house was packed with a million celebrities that night. Let me do a little name dropping here, not for arrogance, but it was simply amazing that I performed in front of such an elite crowd at 22 yrs old. Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Diana Vreeland, Halston, Grace Jones, Rick James, O. J. Simpson, Sylvester Stallone, Brooke Shields, Liza Minnelli, Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors [The Million Dollar Man] and I can go on and on. Even Henry Kissinger was there that night! It was a BIG deal. I went on at 1 o’clock in the morning to a packed house. During rehearsal they had asked me if I had any special requests. I told them I wanted to come down from the ceiling as an entrance. I did. Needless to say it went over extremely well to a wildly cheering audience. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… there was this weird new girl singer who was MY opening act. Her name was Madonna.
Another time I remember going to the circus with Angie Bowie and their son “Zowie”. I remember flying the Concorde to Europe and also being in the bowels of some club at 11am dancing all night, NOT on drugs..lol. I was on the front cover of the British tabloids for sleeping with Madonna. I was also, literally, there when the wall came down in Berlin, Germany… Some amazing and incredible times. I have many, many other stories, too long to mention here.
Some of the lows of that time: I remember I played in Trenton New Jersey. You have to realize, I was the only white boy doing urban black street music at that time. In my stage show I had this Darth Vader cape covering my head for most of the first song of a three song club track act we did in smaller venues. The hood and cape leaked dry ice… cool. During the second song two guys in full gold glitter makeup, wearing plastic Kansai Yamamoto graffiti jackets, completely flaming with full blown David Bowie glam and glitter makeup, came on stage as my backup support. You have to remember, most performers were wearing Kangol hats and Fila tracksuits and sneakers. We were nuts and were bringing “glitter to da hood”.. lol. We were the only white kids in this completely black club at that time. I clearly remember when that Darth Vader hood came off my head and it revealed me, a white boy who was literally sprayed with gold glitter all over my face along side these two twirling mad queens to the left and right of me. The place went silent. I remember looking at the audience, and them staring back at me in shock. I leaned over to one of the guys and said “we’re going to get killed tonight” LOL! The audience actually really got into it especially since we had the balls to pull this off, and it was actually fun.
But, afterwards, one of the guys that worked in the club knew we got paid a few thousand dollars and he tried to rob us at gunpoint in the parking lot as we were jumping back in the van we had rented. We probably screamed like girls in fear which actually shocked him long enough that we sped away. It was like a bad ’70’s car chase movie through the streets of Trenton New Jersey. He chased us in his car until we got on the turnpike and headed back up to New York. The Turnpike had state troopers, he didn’t follow. Remembering that is really funny now, but not so then….
Listen, I’ve worked with, remixed, produced and/or managed some major names in the business, each person or job has taught me stuff I could never learn in any class room. Boy George, Michael Jackson, Gloria Gaynor, Village People, Crystal Waters, Man2Man, Visage, Klaus Nomi and many others. It’s all been a wonderful, wonderful “life class’! I’m blessed.
You worked with the “notorious” Bowie manager, Tony DeFries. How would you describe Tony and your relationship with him.
It’s well documented that Tony DeFries wasn’t exactly the most honest and upfront character. He kept most of David Bowie’s money through bad contract signings, mostly in his favor. Tony had a serial habit of overcharging artists for everything from insane and illegal manager percentages, to “exorbitant miscellaneous expenses”. Faberge eggs, Cuban cigars, first class flights and hookers. Obviously, I didn’t know any of this at the time I met him. I was helping out a singer friend of mine named Sandy Dillon. She told me that they were going to do a live presentation at the Hit Factory Studio in New York for some major record label. Bob Krasnow, then President of Elektra Records, and his son Mitchell, were coming down to hear her, in hopes she would get signed to the label. She mentioned that she had a manager, “Tony” and that he would be there too. They were paying me a couple of hundred bucks to sit at the mixing board to make her sound good live. Bob Krasnow walked in to the control room and Tony DeFries introduced me to them. He turned to Tony and said, “Can I speak to you in the hallway for a minute?” I thought I did something wrong. Bob Krasnow came back in the control room, and said Tony wants to speak with you in the hallway. I went outside and Tony told me that they want to sign ME to the label – over Sandy – immediately. I had already had a few charted records out. Tony DeFries then said, “I can also be your manager and I’ll include Sandy as part of any deal, so don’t feel bad”. I did not know that he was David Bowie’s ex-manager. He stuck out his hand, said he takes 50% – his share – as in… “we split this 50 / 50.. so, do we have a deal? “ I didn’t know anything about percentages or even managers. I said sure. I was 23 years old. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. I didn’t know that 50% was illegal for a manager to take.
The next day I went up to his penthouse apartment on Central Park South and Seventh Avenue to meet him and the staff. His living room looked over Central Park and his bedroom looked over Times Square. On the couch was sitting David Bowie’s legendary guitar player, Mick Ronson , and the guys from Mott the Hoople. They were working on some sort of project together. I recognized them immediately and was very impressed. I thought, this is the big leagues. I’ve finally arrived. Tony took a five-minute break from their meeting and called me into the other room. He put a huge 30 or 40 page contract in front of me and said if you sign this I can then have permission to get you that record deal. I was a dumb kid back then. I signed the management deal. [same technique he did with Bowie, by the way]. I got an unprecedented $125,000 SINGLES deal from Elektra. That kind of money was reserved for albums. Tony then told me I should forget about ever doing dance music again because it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Rock-n-Roll is king, and I should get a “real band” together like David Bowie did, and I should learn how to slide across the stage and lick my guitar.. LOL. So, following his “expert advice”, I delivered a rock’n roll single to the record label. Needless to say, they signed me for dance music and they totally freaked out. Tony went back and got another $200,000 to redo another single! All this money was, by the way, unknown to me. I didn’t even know I got the original advance money. He handles “everything” without even calling me. Tony kept all this money in his bank account, not mine. I saw none of it. I would get beautiful monthly printed, hardbound statements, saying that I owe them $50,000 here, $100,000 there, etc. I was 23, I didn’t know what that meant. I figured it would all even out somehow.
In three months he burned through over $325,000 advance money and I delivered one bad rock single. The label obviously dropped me and when they did Tony’s secretary called me up and told me that Tony was no longer interested in being my manager. When I asked to speak to him, she told me that was not possible and hung up the phone on me. Two days later my mom passed away and at the end of that month I’d lost the loft I was living in, because I was so poor, and completely “broke” (with $300,000 + in his bank account, btw) and was four months behind in my rent. Needless to say that was not a great experience with Tony. Obviously the record label had high hopes in me, if they were spending that kind of money. I know a lot of heads rolled at the label after that fiasco. I wound up on welfare, food stamps and public health assistance. But in a twisted way it taught me a lot about the music industry. I started picking up legal books and learned how to read, write and negotiate contracts. I finally learned how to properly survive in that business. “Tough street love” baby !
You were at the melting pot of the first surge of EDM during the Club scene in NYC. Looking back, would you say that you had any perceived notion of where it would go?
I’m not saying this because they called me the “Godfather” of EDM but I honestly knew that EDM was going to become popular. What I didn’t know was that it would take 20 years of waiting on the sidelines of rap before people would turn to “dance music” as a main staple of commercial music. I had a few number one charted records in England, Europe and Australia. Dance music was, at that time, already welcomed on the charts there as mainstream music. I was in heaven with the possibility of being considered a “real artist” overseas. But, as far as the US, it was still going through its, “rap phase”. You have to remember that we Americans had the notion that dance music wasn’t “real music”. We liked it in our clubs, but didn’t take it seriously on the radio or definitely not enough to purchase a single or album. If you mentioned the phrase, “dance music”, it usually conjured up images of a bimbo singer with the Solid Gold dancers (in hot pants) as backups. That perception stayed with mainstream America for quite a long time. Some people haven’t progressed with the times and still see it that way today.
Well, in 1982, suddenly this “urban” underground dance movement grew up organically from the streets of New York. Real artists started to embrace this genre and really good work started to appear. I didn’t do anything special back then other than being the first artist to put out a full-length, synthesized, dance-pop album. All of a sudden, in a market where people only released dance singles, I had big credibility outside my genre. Dance artists back then were basically doing singles to be played in clubs. I was doing music to be listened to. And if my stuff was also played in clubs I was definitely happy about that. But club music wasn’t my prime motivation. I came from an era where you put the needle down on the record, put on a pair headphones, and the music took you on a journey from the first track to the last. In every record that I’ve done since I still have that motivation. I want my music to be listenable. The fact that sometimes it’s dance is a actually side note. I paint with my mind and ears instead of brushes. EDM to me is not about the language or tools that I use, it’s about the final product. I grew up as a funky, middle class white boy so dance and funk was probably a natural evolution for me.
Any particular events or performances during that formative period that changed or enhanced your direction?
Well, being a young student of synthesis, artists like Kraftwerk, Stockhausen, Brian Eno, Wendy [then Walter] Carlos, very early Philip Glass, Roger Powell (from Todd Rundgren’s band) and others were just starting to experiment with sound. Back then I couldn’t afford to buy records so I used to go to places like the Darnell library, across from the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, and the library at Lincoln Center. They both had unique audio archives where you could listen to rare and unique recordings. I must’ve listened to every electronic and experimental album 10 times over. That was my schooling, my University of learning and knowledge for audio and sound. Very early on I learned that through many of these experimental artists I had permission to experiment with sounds and audio and that I didn’t need to conform to the idea of a band or a pop song to make music or audio art. So, the fact that I probably never had conventional music training allowed me to think outside the box when producing or creating music. That was seriously and deeply influential. I recommend this type of study for anybody interested in becoming a true master of their work. If you’re just hung up on notes, arrangements and music theory, you’ll never get out of that box and be great. You have to think outside that box, dig deep, and THEN go back and use your conventional and nonconventional tools to to express your ideas. I believe that’s why I can freely move between pop, rock, orchestral, dance, ambient and film- trailer music. I use the genres only as guidelines but the core of what I do always emanates from the same place.
There aren’t many artists who maintain an influence over a whole genre of music and stay identified with it but you have. Are you, at all, paternalistic about it?
Yes I am. Very. But not in an arrogant sort of way at all. As with any musician or artist there is always what I call, the “public persona”. It’s that record, song, or genre that an artist or musician works in, that the public identifies them with. I’ve personally been very lucky because I’ve managed to do many types of music and still stay connected with people that enjoy listening to what I do.
Funny, I managed the real Village People for six years. I know, stop laughing… LOL. But I saw a group of guys that were forever stuck singing YMCA. I produced their live show music on the road, and you know as well as I do, everybody came to see that one or two songs. Those guys actually had good voices and tried to sing other music but nobody wanted to hear it.
Again, after seeing that, I consider myself very lucky that I can do ambient music or a twisted Rock ‘n’ Roll track. Maybe a dance remix or an orchestral piece and still get my stuff out there. That diversity has definitely helped my name grow as a artist. So, it’s for that reason that I become a little paternalistic about this. I want to show other artists and musicians that you don’t have to get stuck in some idea rut and tell yourself, “well, this is what I do”. It’s okay to try something different and grow. Many people are afraid if they try another genre they will lose all the work they’ve previously done and will be stranded out in some left field starving and unnoticed. The true great “masters” are the ones that take those chances and show others it’s okay to step out on the ledge. Trust me, you won’t fall. We all get very comfortable in our patterns and styles that we move and work in. Be it in music or business or our daily routines or patterned lifestyles. Experimentation is scary stuff and I’ve seen it hold many people back. If I can be “Paternalistic” or even someone that somebody else can look up to, then I’ve far exceeded my expectations in this world. I think that’s a beautiful thing. People helping people. We need a little more of that in the world.
EDM is huge business today; how it is constructed, orchestrated and spun and, especially, commercialized. How do you feel about its life cycle to this point and how, do you think, it may evolve further?
Here’s honestly how I feel about this. You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. From what I understand, some huge production company like Dick Clark Productions or something is going to be doing a huge national televised EDM award show. Dance music is barely even acknowledged at the Grammys. Times have changed and as more people discover the many various subdivisions of Electronic Dance Music, it’s gonna grow. It will probably grow to the point of any other movement where people will get sick and tired of it. And at that point the bad stuff will fall by the wayside and the good stuff will float. We are starting now to have “Dance Classics”. That means people are looking back and really listening to what these artists have done. What they are realizing is that EDM is not just a “boom boom” disco beat. Look at groups like Underworld & Kraftwerk. Totally listening EDM that I guess you can dance too as well. EDM has matured. I think the apex of dance music is many years off in the future and will continue to build until then. The reason why I think it will build is that unlike other styles of music there are so many subdivisions of EDM;from ambient chill-out stuff with a cool slow beat to high-end frenzied dub step. In the EDM world there’s probably something that people will like listening to. That diversity in itself ensures EDM many more years of success. Other genres have that “one layer model” of rules on how to compose, perform, and even listen within those styles. That creates boredom. I find EDM very varied. No boredom here.. (as I strike a John Travolta disco pose..lol)
It appears that 80’s signature musical styles are arcing back around to us. As a pioneer and visionary of the genre, will you be on the welcoming committee?
Already have.. LOL. One of my new and recent “80s” Highlights is that I just did a remix of ’80s supergroup, Visage [remember the huge ’80’s hit “Fade To Grey”?]. I just remixed one of the tracks off their latest album called, “She’s Electric”. I decided to give a modern “’80s sound” to it. I thought, if I’m doing this remix and ’80’s style was still alive today what would it sound like.? So, I kept the core sound in an ’80’s style but added modern synthesizers and sequencers to give it a cool “future-retro” vibe. It came out great. I also, on occasion, do music lectures and often get to be a presenter at a few award shows. I guess that is kind of like being on a Welcome Wagon. LOL. So, if anybody wants to hire me for a judge on The Voice or America’s Got Talent, I’ll be there in a heartbeat and in a horse drawn Welcome Wagon wearing Liberace’s old outfits. I’m easy.. LOL
Film scoring has come into your realm of work as of late. Tell us what projects you are on. How has your background set you up for this relatively new undertaking?
Actually, film scoring is not a new undertaking. My first film score was back in 1979 for an independent dance company. The film was called “Beehive”. I scored a few other films with a film collective in downtown New York called, “Young Filmmakers” during 1980 /81. In early 1982 I actually scored a porn film… LOL. That score got me my first record contract. How? Because the freak who owned the first record label that I was signed to was a huge porn connoisseur. Such class. That’s hysterical, now that I look back on it. Anyway, a DJ heard my music on this porn soundtrack, burnt an acetate of one of the tracks from betamax video tape [moaning and all] and played it in a notorious New York City underground club called the Anvil. My friends told me that my song was playing at this club and I should go down there and talk to the DJ. I couldn’t even begin to describe the club here, because then this would become an X-rated article… LOL! Let’s just say it was a type of “swingers club” with “creative” live performances… lol. I went over to the DJ and said, “Hey that’s my record you’re playing” he brought me to the record company the next day and I got my record deal signed. Crazy but true.
Currently, I’m concentrating on doing movie trailers and soundtracks. I’m a complete movie buff and usually go two or three times a week, literally. They all know me at the local theaters by now. I sometimes love the trailers more than the movies. I had most of the same sounds they were using in my sample libraries so last year I decided to give it a shot. I’m also working on producing the music for a Broadway-bound musical. Think of it as an EDM Opera [instead of a Rock Opera]. It’s a really great story – classic Greek tragedy story line – and the director from Broadway’s mega Spiderman, Turn Off The Dark, is very interested in directing! Composer and dear friend, Michael A. Levine, wrote the music and the book. We’re planning to put this into workshop soon and any commercial theater release is obviously a few years away.
I went to High School of the Performing Arts in Manhattan. That’s where they got the idea for the movie, FAME, from. I also worked onstage at the Metropolitan Opera as an “extra” in many operas at 16yrs old so theatre is deep in my blood. I personally love film scores and I’ve often walked out of the theater, jumped on iTunes, and purchased soundtracks for movies that I’ve just seen. I use those soundtracks as study, like an open university, so I can learn even more about my craft. Also, in the early 1970s I built my first synthesizer with a soldering gun. I had a “sound-on-sound” tape recorder. I used to build up experimental audio layers in what I then called, “SoundScapes”. We now know that as Ambient Music. To me, film scoring is very atmospheric at times, so my ambient, theatre and experimental background totally fits right into the scoring and composing process.
How does using orchestral sounds effect your creative and end game process? Has this sonic universe opened up streams of creativity for you?
I was actually getting tired of only doing dance music, it was too easy for me. I was also simultaneously listening to lots of wonderful orchestral pieces. I wished that I knew more about music and I wanted to create such beautiful pieces that I was hearing. I decided to take an orchestral scoring an arrangement class at Berkeley. My dear friend the composer, Michael A Levine, knew the teacher at Berkeley and helped me get special permission to attend the class since I couldn’t read music sheets or charts. That was one of the best experiences of my life. I always thought that orchestras were these incredibly complex tools that you needed precise individual knowledge of each instrument, and had you had to compose each individual instrument and score that way. That, obviously, was overwhelming to me. Then, two years ago, I spent two weeks in Greece with the wonderful composer, Vangelis [Blade Runner, Chariots Of Fire, 1492, etc]. I absolutely love his music. He was doing hybrid type stuff back in the ’70’s. I mentioned to him that I wished I could do orchestral music like he did but was intimidated by the orchestra itself. He told me that the orchestra basically has four sections; strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. He said, let’s take one of these sections, the strings for example, and break it down. He said, if you look at that section as a musical keyboard, which you are already familiar with, picture that the basses would be down at the bottom of your keyboard. As you played notes and went up that keyboard, when the basses ran out of string or notes, the notes would then transfer up to the cellos then to the viola’s and finally to the violins. He said it’s that simple, and you can apply that to the other sections as well. I thought, well that’s pretty easy to digest so I lost my fear of doing orchestral work.
Once I started to compose with orchestral sounds I then went back and started to add in some synthetic sounds as well, which I am very well versed in. I didn’t know it, but I was making “hybrid” music that is quite popular today on screen. The use of orchestral sounds has vastly expanded my sonic universe and if I can’t find sounds in the orchestra then I turn to my 40+ years of synthesis as a secondary source to create a feeling for a sound I can’t get with an orchestra. I especially love 8DIO’s, Cage library. Not only does it have aleatoric orchestral effects but, I believe, it’s real power is in the randomization engine. Suddenly CAGE becomes a sound designers dream. It takes organic sounds and twists them into almost synthetic like textures but still retains that organic sonic base to it. I have always been a big student of experimental, ambient, and random or accidental “art” music. Now that my pallet of sound has deepened it’s easier than ever bring some of that back into my compositions, but in a much more controlled and structured way. So yes, my sonic universe has expanded and that universe just had a big bang! Thanks 8DIO!
Tell us how you discovered 8DIO products and how you are using them. What impresses you most about the products?
I discovered 8DIO by basically buying other content libraries that I was miserable with. I wound up spending days and weeks online searching for better sound libraries. I knew the stuff, I had, didn’t quite cut it compared to what I was hearing in movies and on audio recordings. I remember stumbling across the 8DIO website and had followed along with some of the video demos and tutorials. A lot of other websites just ran a couple of MP3s but 8DIO actually dug into their products and showed me how they worked. That made me feel secure that their product was not going to be a waste of money. I got to see it explained and in action. The one major big thing that I kept noticing is that the sound quality and attention to detail was far above what other companies were doing. I can’t remember what my first 8DIO purchase was but I remember being quite blown away by the quality. I think at this point I probably own 40 or so 8DIO products, which is probably everything that they released… It’s nice to know that I help pay the rent around there .. LOL.
8DIO products have basically been my main ‘go to” products when I compose. It’s not because I’m heavily invested in just their product. I’m a bit of a sound library junkie so I have all the other major libraries that are released out there. Name it, I probably have it. I personally find the flexibility of 8DIO’s products amazing. Many companies go for one particular style or sound. 8DIO is now releasing multiple microphone setups within their libraries. So if you need a close tight sound you don’t have to go to another library, it’s right there. If you need that wide open scoring stage lush sound, that’s there as well. And since 8DIO is not a hardcore “classical sound library”company, they have other cool products like Sound Design, Trap and EDM libraries. I think that keeps them more on the edge than some old fuddy-duddy companies that have their noses in the air because they’re all “pure orchestra”. We all know Hanz Zimmer influenced a lot in changing modern orchestral sound, the same way the previous generations like John Williams and Alan Silvestri did, coming on the heels of Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herman and Henry Mancini before them.
I think 8DIO is in perfect step with the times and because of their ability to do adapt with their other types of libraries, I think they have the best chance of moving into the future with what ever trends will come down the pipeline. With 8DIO you can do traditional scoring, hybrid scoring, sound design, and even EDM and dance. I don’t know of any other single company that has that type of flexibility. There are, of course, websites where you can buy from multiple vendors but then the sound quality varies from developer to developer and the consistency is just not there. I know with 8DIO I don’t have to worry about quality or interface functions. It’s simply there. it works, and it’s good. Period.
Have the 8DIO products influenced your stylings?
Yes, absolutely – in two ways. First, since I don’t have any formal music training, I tend to approach things less conventionally. For example, I’ll dig down in the low ends of cellos or bases and create extreme eq’s and compression to bring out subtle sounds of those instruments that a standard composer probably wouldn’t do. In doing so, I’ve obviously developed a stylized type of sound. So, in that sense, yes, 8DIO has affected my stylings. They give me good source material to produce with. Secondly, since the products are pretty flexible sound wise, it’s changed the way I arrange music. Since I don’t have to layer multiple libraries on top of each other to create the sounds I’m looking for, their stuff prevents me from winding up in a production bottleneck while my creative juices get lost in frustration. We’ve all been there. Fighting with a sound library can wear down your creative juices. With 8DIO products, I don’t have that battle, it simply works, so I’m free to think about composition and arrangement instead of stopping and fighting to get it to sound right. I think that’s a good thing. Don’t you?
What would you like to see as part of the future of music?
Near future: Wearable streaming technology that allows a user to enter a club, theatre or performance space and stream HD audio into super high-definition headsets, and in turn, headsets that can provide true three dimensional sound. 3D sound is in its infancy. It’s an amazing creative tool if used properly and not just as side or background filler. Also, I’d love wearable streaming headsets that can be used anywhere [dense buildings, underground subways, remote locations, with some sort of a universal 2-way wifi streaming system…Apple are you listening? Hire me, I’ll make you a few more billion.]
Distant future: Simple audio implants that deliver sound impulses [under the users control of course] directly to the neural audio network in your head thus avoiding noise hearing damage and low quality playback listening devices. I came to realize that 3/4 of the people that listen to the things I create listen on small speakers or bad headsets. Jeeze, it’s like watching the movie Avatar 3-D on a small iPhone screen. Once you’ve heard the difference HD sound makes you can never go back. I want to see HD audio delivered to everyone and have them be able to listen in HD as well. It changes everything for both the composer and the listener. It’s all do-able with today’s technology and online audio and music delivery is only getting bigger and better. I think HD audio can be used, not only for music, but for general sound as well. What if you could download a full performance, audio art, or a concert in HD-3D sound? Close your eyes, be taken away. Wouldn’t that be amazing? When I grew up in Brooklyn, there were tons of birds, crickets and all kinds of natural environmental sounds right out my bedroom window. Now, as species are dying off on our planet, and the fact that we’re cementing over our urban and sub-urban areas, those sound are disappearing for good. Hello…they are not coming back. Do you know that there is a whole generation of kids that never heard a blue jay or cicada call or frogs or crickets live other than in a sound recording? I think having HD audio can replace that. As sad as that is. I know that the human mind responds positively to such natural sounds. It’s been in our DNA for thousands of years and suddenly, now, the sounds of nature are leaving us forever. Not good.
I foresee homes with HD audio throughout creating “environments” with sound. That sound can sit at lower volumes in the background. It becomes quite powerful. It calms you down, relaxes you, helps you sleep, etc. I personally actually use sound everyday [mostly ambient] to help me sleep, or as a stress tool instead of taking a pill. 3D-HD sound can be very powerful by fully immersing you in an audio environment. Now, if I can only get one of those damn Amazon flying delivery drones to land on my front porch, I’d feel like the future has arrived… lol.