I love synthesizers and electronic music.
The very first time I heard Howard Jones’ “New Song” in 1983, I knew that I wanted to be involved with electronic music in some way, and within a couple of years I began “producing “ my own tracks with my cobbled-together bedroom “studio” consisting of a Casio CZ-101 synth, SK-1 sampler, a Korg DDM-110 drum machine and some consumer-grade tape decks. As a self-taught keyboardist, the music was rudimentary and the multi-tracked dubs were as noisy as hell, but I loved every second of it!
In the early 90’s, I was able to upgrade my keyboard rig with my first “professional” synthesizer: the venerable Roland JUNO-106. My songwriting skills were sharpening, and the recordings – by this time done with a Tascam Portastudio – were still pretty raw, but I was learning the basics of production and discovered how much fun it can be to eke out the best results possible from such limited gear.
By the end of the decade, I had upgraded my synthesizer collection with something “real-sounding” (a Roland XP-50 workstation) and got my first official composing gig to go along with it – producing short, whimsical music clips for some rudimentary web animations (created in Macromedia Shockwave, the precursor to Flash!) for a Pennsylvania-based e-magazine site (can’t call it a blog, because they hadn’t quite been invented yet). Shortly thereafter, the creator of those early animations, Bob Cesca, established Camp Chaos Entertainment, a viral-in-the-days-before-viral destination website which featured original Flash animations produced in-house alongside those contributed from dozens of other clever and talented independent animators/humorists from around the world.
For the next several years, I worked with the Camp Chaos crew as an audio director and webmaster. During my time there, I wrote and engineered hundreds of original music clips, parody songs, and even complete soundtracks for both our own IP and client projects. The highlights of my tenure with Camp Chaos include collaborating with the amazing vocalist Mark Slaughter on the track “Thumbs Up To The U.S.A.”, a Spinal Tap-esque mock patriotic anthem I wrote for the subversive independent film The War Effort, and re-imagining/remixing a new version of the song “Long Distance Runaround” by the legendary progressive rock group Yes.
Ultimately, Camp Chaos was able to parlay the viral success of our biggest web animation “Napster Bad!” into a television pitch called The Camp Chaos Show, which after some minor retooling, eventually aired as VH1 ILL-ustrated. The show – a fully-animated sketch-comedy show that skewered politics and pop culture – ran for 2 ½ seasons on MTV Networks worldwide in the early 2000’s. Each 21-minute episode had almost a full-runtime musical soundtrack that ran the gamut of every style imaginable: orchestral, pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, techno, world, and – of course! – dozens of song parodies and soundalikes ranging from Michael Jackson and Enrique Iglesias to Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd, Schoolhouse Rock and more.
Despite the modest initial success of our “Camp Chaos TV Series”, when the network decided to shift its main focus to “Celeb-reality” content, VH1 ILL-ustrated was not renewed for an additional season and Camp Chaos eventually shuttered amidst the economic downturn of 2007-2008. For me, it was an opportunity to branch out into an off-shoot industry of the very same Flash development where I had cut my production teeth: online games.
In 2007, I was hired as an independent contractor by Mattel Online to begin creating music clips and sound effects for the marketing websites for several of their most popular toy lines. My first game music gig involved creating two “chip music” bonus tracks for “Monster Baby”, a Flash-based game promoting their Pixel Chix branded toys. The producer I was working with liked the clips I submitted and asked me for additional tracks to replace all of the music they had already put in the game. For several years, I continued to work on audio production for various Mattel-branded online games and website environments including large sections of the 2008 BarbieGirl.com web presence – a interactive community chat and play space for girls featuring customizable avatars in an isometric environment with links to a multitude of minigames.
Shortly thereafter, several ex-Mattel employees established their own production company, Jet Morgan Games. They were able to retain the development contracts for many of the Mattel p brands for which they had been building games and other interactives. I was privileged to keep working with them for the next several years, first as an independent contractor and then as a full-time music composer/producer and sound effects artist.
At Jet Morgan, I continued to work on a wide variety of game audio projects, creating original soundtracks and sound effects for Mattel (Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Fijit Friends, Polly Pocket) and Spin Master Toys (La Dee Da), and curating the sound effects and remixing music loops for several online minigames for Activision’s Skylanders.
Alongside these various toy brands, I also had the opportunity to work on game audio for various web-based minigames promoting some of Disney’s most popular properties at the time, including: Frozen, Pixar’s Up!, Tron: Legacy, Avengers Assemble, The Princess and the Frog, programming from the Disney Jr. and XD channels, and even the revamped Mickey Mouse animated shorts.
Today, I am working in a hybrid studio with a much larger collection of modern and vintage gear and tons of software instruments and libraries. I continue to focus on writing new tracks and connecting with other talented animators, media developers, game engineers and filmmakers who are looking for high-quality audio to use in their productions. For me, it’s been a wild ride from the days of cassette tapes and Casios, but I still love electronic music and sounds, and the gear and technology that helps facilitate their creation. And the CZ and JUNO-106 still find their way into my productions, even though the physical instruments have long since been retired and they mainly reside on my computer as software plugins now.
This site is thus both an archive and a showcase for my personal and professional music and audio design work, old and new, but it represents just one part of a lifelong musical journey. So please feel free to take a look and a listen and I sincerely hope you hear something you like along the way.