I've been riding my bicycle quite frequently. Not only does it allow me to get much needed exercise, it also gives me a chance to clear my head while simultaneously letting ideas flow through my head freely. Today, I started reminiscing on my humble beginnings in my pursuit of making a career in music. My wife and I are expecting our first child in late October which also had me thinking about our son's future. Anyway, I'd love to say I reached this point in my career all on my own, but that would be a lie.
My wife and I are from a small town in the southeast corner of Kansas. Not a whole lot to do their other than dream of getting out. My mother is a music teacher, so naturally music became a big part of my life. Without my mother pushing my brothers and I in music, I wouldn't be where I am today. My father is a electrical engineer and a man of many talents. He built my new custom studio desk pictured above. Sometimes, he even fixes my equipment! My dad has a huge influence on my technical skills when it comes to engineering.
Growing up in a small town before the internet was as accessible as it is today, I didn't know how many options there were in pursuing music as a career. Keep in mind, like most people pursing music, the world discourages you from attempting to make a career in the music industry. School counselor meetings usually ended up with me being instructed to go the typical route of college. Most teachers in my school had no idea colleges existed for music production, so I was never informed of my many options that would fit my goals in life.
Now, being from a small community, everyone knows everyone. A good friend of mine had an older brother who was in a Post Hardcore band in Lawrence, KS. They signed to a small Indie Label out of Kansas City at the time. My friends mother, Mrs. Bush, who was a teacher at our High School started driving me, her son Devon, and a few of our closest friends 90 minutes to Lawrence to see his shows. This is where the idea of playing music in a band really sparked for me. I was already in my first Rock Band at the time, but it didn't become clear to me that this was the path for me until I started seeing a kid from my hometown performing and traveling the country with his band. It really inspired me to accomplish the same things.
After playing many own shows and several bands in High School, we'll fast forward to my senior year. My father actually let me book my band a gig 4 hours away in Leavenworth, KS. I packed all my bands gear in my parents Dodge Caravan and we hit the road! A couple of friends tagged along and we took two vehicles. This journey is the moment I fell in love with playing music and traveling. I couldn't get enough. I kept booking shows as much as possible. Whenever, and wherever they would book my band.
After graduation, I had no idea what I was going to do other than music. I didn't want traditional music education so much so I passed on a full ride music scholarship, and another music scholarship that paid roughly 90% of tuition at the University my wife graduated from. Some might say, rock n' roll ruined my future passing on free education. However, this wasn't my path.
After a year of taking courses at the local Junior College, Mrs. Aikins, my 8th Grade careers teacher and home room teacher was also the High School and College age Sunday school teacher at my church. This is where the idea of music production took place. She knew me well and she had heard about career paths in Music Production and encouraged me to pursue it! I enrolled the following semester at Johnson County Community College in Kansas City, KS and attending one semester of their Recording Arts Program. I didn't like it much and moved back home where I began fiddling around with ADAT Machines that my wife's Uncle had as well as GarageBand.
I eventually enrolled in school at Labette Community College in their Recording Arts Program where the first day I was allowed to turn and twist knobs. Now, this is what I needed. Hands on learning. Russ Head was a huge influence on me in the world of music production. He was the director and instructor of this program. I learned many things from Russ and am grateful for his fortitude and desire to teach. My second year at this school I got my first job as a Sound Engineer working for the City of Parsons, KS. I worked under Matt Hoisington. This man taught me so many crucial things about Live Sound. I eventually found myself working for Larry Brockway at Hall of Fame Studios. Larry is an incredible teacher, producer, and engineer. I learned how to become a producer assisting him in his studio. I wanted to learn as much as possible from Larry. So much so, I continued to work for very little pay with him for several years before moving to Houston, TX. Larry challenged and pushed me to become better with every production I recorded. In fact, I'm still trying to reach his level!
I wouldn't be serving this blog justice if I didn't mention my wife Leah. She is my High School Sweetheart, College Sweetheart, and soon to be mother of my son! Without her, I definitely wouldn't be where I am and the studio wouldn't be as successful as it is today without her help, support, and belief in our future. She is the main reason I continue to pursue this crazy endeavor. She's always setting me back to reality and inspiring me to push through all the trials and discomfort running a small business entails.
The reason I wanted to talk about all these people in my life is that these individuals helped position me for success in a career I was born to pursue. Without each and everyone of these people, I would not be where I am today in my career. Teachers are some of the most important people in the world. Without them, many would not find their place in the world. I'm very fortunate to have these key people in my past and present life. Sometimes I have to remind myself that without these key people in my pursuit for greatness, I wouldn't be the man I am today. I truly hope God places people in my son Julian's life that help him find his place in the world.