It's my brithday today, and I'm sick (been sick for over a week now). Just got home from dinner with friends--ate a big ~~~ piece of cake. I'm so stuffed... Since it's also New Years Eve, I guess I'm in an introspective mood, so I was just wondering what all your personal milestones/important memories were that made you fall madly in love with music and became who you are today.
For me, I remember a few distinct periods/incidences that were the most important memories that lead up to today.
When I was around 9, I found a cassette tape of Richard Claderman's music. I would listen to it at night before going to sleep, and I'd love it so much that I tried to stay awake as long as I could and keep on listening to it over and over. I think that was my first time realizing how magical melody can be and how it can affect your mood in ways you can't explain.
When I was around 13, I fell in love with film/animation scores. The main culprit was Japanese animation scores--all masterfully composed and performed. One in particular--the score for Macross: Do You Remember Love? (a sci-fi epic drama involving a love triangle and alien invasion) had a beautiful score that combined classical, jazz, fusion, pop..etc in a way I had never heard before. Some tracks had gorgeous 19th Century French impresisonistic lush strings with jazzy flute solos on top, or a majestic brass section blasting away while an electric guitar jammed out awesome fusion guitar solos on top of sweeping strings. Sakamoto Ryuichi's score for Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise also floored me--such artistry and creativity, with cutting edge avant-garde sensitibilities, yet firmly grounded in classical traditions. Some tracks featured opera singing on top of synth arrangements, some had middle-eastern styled electric guitars on top of aggressive electronic beats, some had ambient soundscapes with classical piano playing on top--all just drop-dead gorgeous. Those scores were the straw that broke the camel's back--I just knew I wanted to make music for the rest of my life.
When I was around 15, I discovered alternative/underground music (modern rock, synth pop, shoegaze, industrial, goth,..etc). The socio-politial messages and the innovative approach that differed so much from mainstream music really hooked me. It was intelligent music made with real passion--not just radio friendly fodder that the other kids listened to. Bands like XTC, The Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode, Ninch Inch Nails, The Sundays, Cocteau Twins, Bigod 20, REM, Meat Beat Manifesto, Consolidated, U2, Concrete Blonde..etc really opened my eyes to a different world of music.
Around that same time, I also fell in love with electronic music--from progressive house stuff like 808 State, LFO, Orbital, Young American Primitive, Single Cell Orchestra, to the pioneers like Kraftwerk, Yello, Art of Noise, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Tangerine Dream..etc. Electronic music showed me that unconventional approaches to musical structure is just as valid and rewarding, and often more innovative and refreshing than the established ways of making music.
During those years I really got into jazz as well--also because of Japanese animation scores, and a local jazz fusion radio station. Once you fall in love with jazz it's a whole different world of sonic possiblities, and you could never look at music the same again. A whole new approach to using unconventional timbres, improvisitions, constantly shifting rhythmic elements..etc really opened up my eyes.
After those early years of being exposed to a wide range of musical styles, I became anti-musical tunnel vision. I wanted to keep an open mind and give all styles of music a chance as that can only be a good thing for you, and IMO, much more fulfilling creatively. I could never understand those guys who only passionately play heavy metal or funk or country or classical. To me, they're missing out on so much more fun they could also be having. It's almost like only watching one genre of film for the rest of your life--kind of a waste.
Around my mid-20's I started to pay more attention to classical music, and that lead to a better understanding of film scores as well, since so much is borrowed from classical music. I also started paying more attention to progressive rock, as I find the superior musicianship fascinating--although not always emotionally satisfying.
Now I'm in my early 30's (I turned 33 today), I hope to go on exploring as many different styles and try to incorporate them all into my own sonic palette. I never had supportive parents--they did not allow me to take music lessons--no matter how I begged. I had to take matters into my own hands when I turned 18--by buying a synthesizer and a 2-track sequencer. I learned everything on my own--by ear, by reading books..etc. But that lack of formal education is a real handicap and the greatest regret of my life. It's something I have to live with everytime I create music.
I played in an industrial band in my late teens/early 20's, then went to Taiwan to write songs for record companies (pop songs for big name celebrities). But it seemed like my art career was the better success, so music always remained a moonlighting thing, and often had to take a backseat and remain just a passionate hobby. In the last couple of years I've had more freetime on my hands, so I've started to slowly get back more into music--putting together a DAW, buying sample libraries, learning modern sequencers..etc. I toy with the idea of going back to school just for music, but at my age, making a living is top priority, especially that I'm married. I can't just run off and spend 4 years studying composition at some college. Maybe I could when I retire?
Today, I still compose by ear, and try to learn as much music theory as I can get my hands on. I play keyboard, drums, and guitar, but I'm mediocre at them--just enough to get by for recording my own music. I could never be a session player or anything. My current focus is to strenghthen my orchestral and jazz chops and advance music theory. I have no desire to make a living with music, as my wife and I have our own business ventures--and they allow a lot of freetime at home. Composing for a living would mean less freedom, and the money isn't very good anyway. However, when I feel I'm good enough to take on some gigs composing for games or other things, I would probably do it just for the experience. As long as our business ventures remain profitable, I could just go on making music for the love and never consider making a career out of it. Well, my art career is probably a lot more bankable anyway.
So, now let's hear your story.