I have to open with the fact that I love Fleet Foxes—like, a lot. I can’t even really pin down exactly what it is that draws me to them. I can speak in tangible terms and talk about their awesome harmonies and intriguing rhythms, but I think it’s deeper than that. Sometimes a band just resonates with you on a deeper level. They’re folksy but with a lot more energy, spirit, and musical complexity than I’ve heard in that genre. Go listen to all their stuff!
Fleet Foxes – Third of May / Ōdaigahara
I was a programmer before I was a composer (just barely, though). I got burnt out on coding at one point, but for me it’s become challenging and exciting again, so I’m back into it. At one point in my life, I felt like I had to either give up music or coding, but I realize now that I have to have both. Oddly enough, as different as these two disciplines are, they both fulfill the same desire to dream something up and create something from nothing. And those creations influence people’s lives, just in different ways.
There’s something special about this city, enough to lure me back from Los Angeles. My wife and I spent three years in LA and kept trying to find a suitable facsimile of that “city experience,” but we never did. The closest we got was downtown LA, which was a lot of fun. If you enjoy living among an urban buzz of activity and want that experience in LA, look no further than downtown! But for me—whether it’s the people, the amazing food, the lake, the beer scene, or just the culture—Chicago is #1. Oh yeah, and the band is pretty fantastic too.
I remember hearing The Shins many years ago and I wasn’t really into them. Then I heard “Simple Song” while living in LA a couple years ago, Shazam’d it, and went home to listen to the rest of their stuff. I was instantly hooked! Their songs are really catchy and lyrical and hard not to like.
The Shins – Dead Alive
I’ve always been drawn to music that leans towards melancholy. I think I discovered The National on Spotify, and my musical brain was like “yep, more of that please!” Matt Berninger’s finely-crafted lyrics are intriguing, and they always make me curious to look into their deeper meaning.
The National – I Need My Girl
A Way Out
For the past couple years, I’ve been working with Hazelight and co-composing the score for their highly-anticipated game, A Way Out. I really love the sound palette that Gustaf Grefberg and I came up with for the score. Take a modern orchestra (with a focus on strings), throw in electric guitars, bass guitar, an awful lot of Wurlitzer 200A and Rhodes Mark I, a tiny bit of synth, and the occasional drum kit. That’s pretty much the sound for A Way Out! I know it might sound kind of like a '70s jam session, but it’s not. It’s actually surprising how much raw emotional power you can get out of the Mark I and 200A! I don’t want to give away too much, but the game is looking fantastic, and I think the gameplay will offer something fresh for people looking for something different and “outside the box.” I’m extremely excited to be a part of this game!
As a Gen-X’er, '80s music was a staple of my childhood. The Cars, Prince, Genesis, Howard Jones, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode—the list is infinitely long! With really catchy melodies and plenty of layers of tasty synth work, CHVRCHES scratches the synth-pop itch nicely, and Lauren Mayberry’s saccharin lead vocals are the icing on the cake. I was fortunate enough to see them live here in Chicago, and it was a killer show!
CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
On the very last day of October in 2016, I launched ReelCrafter, the first-of-its-kind online demo reel service. I put my coding skills to work and spent about a year and a half working on this thing. I didn’t really have the luxury of hiring help, so all 26,000 lines of code were spawned by my tired fingers. I’ll avoid a sales pitch, but will say that this service is a game-changer for composers. Check it out!
photo: Sam Hulick at the LACMA with his wife, jewelry designer Sara Pocius.