1- Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Webster, New York, which is a suburb of Rochester. Our public schools, at the time, had top-notch music and arts programs and my teachers were hugely inspirational in my formation as a creative person. I was really fortunate to have grown up as a kid in a school system that supported and encouraged artistic development in its students.
2- What is one of the first songs you remember liking as a kid?
My dad used to play music all the time at home on his record player and introduced me to the worlds of pop, rock, and progressive music. Some tunes that stand out are "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, and lots of Genesis and Beatles albums. He would spin "Revolution 9" from The White Album backwards on the turntable, and my brothers and I would try to decipher all the weird, creepy, hidden spoken messages embedded into the music.
3- What influenced you to get into music?
Growing up as a kid, I loved listening to movie scores on cassette, and later, CD. I started collecting John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Danny Elfman soundtracks at a pretty early age and used to listen to their works obsessively, memorizing themes, paying attention to chord progressions, and just letting the emotion of their music wash over me and inspire all sorts of crazy ideas for drawings, home movies, etc.
This opened up the door to classical and orchestral music, and I started getting pretty heavy into Stravinsky, Respighi, John Adams, Aaron Copeland, and more. I remember watching "The Blues Brothers" for the first time with my family, as a kid, and I immediately fell in love with the incredible jazz, blues, and funk music in the soundtrack. Shortly afterwards, I started listening to many different jazz musicians, which led to an interest in jazz performance and improvisation.
4- At what age did you start playing/singing?
I started playing the trombone in 4th grade. My grade school was very unique because they had a wide variety of ensembles (including a full big band!) available to kids who were very young, and just getting started in music. Through concert band and jazz band, my eyes were opened up to so many amazing composers and musicians in a wide variety of genres and styles.
Most of my musical experiences through high school were in these types of groups, and I ended up learning and performing on a few different brass instruments all the way through college.
5- If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself after finishing school
Take piano lessons as soon as possible! I never learned how to properly play the piano, and now (having a family and busy careers outside of music) it's extremely difficult to find the time to do so. And, as you get older, your brain gets all hard and crusty so it takes longer to learn new things. With a proper education in piano technique and performance, I would be much more proficient (and efficient) at creating music now.
Also, very importantly, keep playing/singing despite the challenges of adulthood like work, raising kids, and dealing with all sorts of other stressful situations that inevitably emerge after school is over. I left music performance for almost two decades, and it started to eat away at me emotionally and spiritually. I wish that I had kept up with it on a more regular basis.
6- What are some of your favorite songs at the moment?
I stopped listening to new music a long time ago, I'm sort of embarrassed to say, so I have no idea what's going on in the world of music these days. I tend to stick with my favorite bands such as Rush, Genesis, The Police, Billy Joel, The Doors, Oasis, etc.
Recently, I started getting pretty deep in the The Alan Parsons Project and Depeche Mode, which somehow I never really listened to before. I usually jump around between 80s pop, progressive rock, jazz, and 20th century orchestral music.
7- Do you listen to your own music?
Only while I'm actively working on it. Once I release a single or full album, I let it go to live out its life in the world, and then I start working on whatever is next.
While I'm making new music though, I focus on it intensely and it's on my mind constantly. I listen to my music with a critical ear towards emotional impact early on. Is this track making me feel something? Does it suggest a story and spark my imagination? Is it a song I would actually pay money to listen to? Later on in the process, I focus more on the technical aspects like mixing and mastering - polishing up a song that I feel pretty good about, creatively and compositionally.
I'm not currently working with a label, so I don't have pressing production deadlines that I need to hit. I like to take my time making music. I work on tracks, step away from them for weeks or sometimes months, and then return to work on them with fresh ears and new perspectives, which almost always results in better (and more original) musical output.
8- Which musician would you like to collaborate with next?
Jasper De Ceuster, Mitch Murder, Ehsan Gelsi, L' Avenue (Jesse Reuben Wilson), and Droid Bishop are a few synthwave artists that I have huge respect for. If you dudes are reading this, please contact me (haha). The only folks I've collaborated with to-date are vocalists, so I think it would be fun and rewarding to work with another composer/musician on a track.
9- What is one of your favorite memories so far in your music career?
Marching in the horn line with The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps back in the late 1990s. More recently - slowly and persistently grinding away at learning the tools and techniques of music composition and production over many years, and then releasing original music that people seem to like!
10- What advice would you give to someone that is just starting to get into music?
Learn the fundamentals of whatever it is you are interested in, musically, be it voice, a string/brass/wind instrument, guitar, piano, synth, etc and then practice, practice, practice. Don't be in a rush to sprint past the basics in order to get to "the fun stuff." Take lessons from a professional if you can afford it - a good music teacher is worth their weight in gold.
If you want to make electronic music, use a computer, MIDI keyboard, and software instruments (at least initially). They sound amazing and are much cheaper, easier, and more convenient to use than hardware synths and drum machines.
Don't let your age stop you from living out your musical dreams and aspirations. I started working on music production and composition well into my adult life, two decades into my career, but I decided to pursue it, because I felt very passionately about it, and I thought I could be pretty good at it if I stuck with it. So if you're in your 40s, or 50s, or whatever age - if you feel a calling towards musical expression - go for it!
I heard a story a few years back about a gentleman living in New York City who wrote his first opera in his early 80s! Reading about his story was hugely inspirational.
Lastly, for anyone pursuing a career in art, music, writing, or anything else creative, I highly recommend reading the insightful and inspirational book "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.
Electron Odyssey released his debut album, "Your Future Awaits," on August 13, 2021. Check out his profile page on the website and also take a listen to his music below: