Pixel Pirate Preview

Pixel Pirate Preview

Update! Here’s the latest track we’re using in the game. Had tons of fun writing this. Anyone catch the throw back to Castlevania? Just a tiny motif reference. Hawken King who runs an indie game development company called Dadako approached me to do music and SFX for a new game of his called Pixel Pirate.  Knowing that the work load could get heavy, I approached my friend and  pianist/organist of Pink Floyd acclaim, Harry Waters to join me.  Harry is a more avid gamer than myself, a great musician and has a great sense of melody. Since the game is a retro style Metroidvania, we initially started writing using the genius Magical 8-bit Plugin instrument developed and used by the Japanese retro 8-bit jazz group YMCK.  I didn’t want it to be pure chip tune, so I started to introduce reverb/delay and this amazing plugin called DECIMORT on any pure audio sources. This is a preview video that was used for the first presentation of the game.  Check out our music...
Midi CC Guide

Midi CC Guide

If you’re interested in writing music using a DAW and aren’t familiar with MIDI CC, here’s a quick easy guide that I found online. I also have something similar printed out at the studio I work at because every once in awhile, I hear “Justin, what’s the Midi CC for Foot Pedal?” etc… So it’s good to have a list nearby.  You can usually find CC lists for hardware synths as well.  The Nord Stage 2 occasionally will dump all sorts of CC into Digital Performer and this can wreck havoc when running that midi track to a different software synthesizer. List of Standard MIDI Continuous Controllers (CCs) 0 Bank Select (MSB)  Never re-route anything to Controller 0.  It will mess up your program changes. 1 Modulation Wheel or Joystick (positive polarity) (MSB)  Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths 2 Breath controller sometimes Joystick (negative polarity) (MSB)  Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths 4 Foot Pedal (MSB)  Don’t mess with it 5 Portamento Time (MSB)  Only use this for portamento time 6 Data Entry (MSB)  Better leave this one alone too. 7 Volume (MSB)  If you re-route to Controller 7, your software mixer will mess up 8 Balance (MSB)  Some synths use it 10 Pan position (MSB) If you re-route to Controller 10, your software mixer will mess up 11 Expression (MSB)  Roland synths use it.  Some synths use it for LFOs, some for crescendo/ decrescendo (loudness).  Sometimes routed to keyboard aftertouch. Also, Spitfire’s amazing sounding orchestral instruments seem to use CC11 for overall volume.  Which it seems CC7 also does fine, but in case you don’t want your faders moving...
KING MORELLI – David & Goliath

KING MORELLI – David & Goliath

When I turned 35 in 2014, I had a little get together at a bar in Silverlake to celebrate and on whim, I invited an old friend from high school who I knew lived in LA now. To my surprise, he showed up and after a few beers started telling me about how he writes raps & songs, as well as paints, and designs clothing. A few days later I decided to send him a few tracks that I had made during my time with David Schwartz on the TV show “Benched“. Not more than a few weeks later, KING told me he had a few songs to go to my beats I’d sent him.  We got together and tracked our first official song together. That track was called: DAVID & GOLIATH KING MORELLI sent the track over to another guy from our hometown who edits picture for the FOX TV show Empire.  He loved it so much, he found a perfect spot for it and dropped it in a party scene in the season finale of Empire.  This led to the two of us getting interviewed in our hometown of St. Louis, MO. In this interview, I’m standing outside of composer John Leftwich’s studio  where I was in the middle of helping him finish a 6 hour session for the movie The...
ゴジラ、ゴジラ、ゴー (gojira, gojira go)

ゴジラ、ゴジラ、ゴー (gojira, gojira go)

So I’ve always been in love with a band called “The Divine Comedy” and always strived to write something in that over the top orchestrated style that Neil Hannon and his previous orchestrator Joby Talbot and current Andrew Skeet create.  Thus, when my best friend Misung sent me a demo of his song called “Gojira: Half Whale, Half Gorilla” I decided it’d be the perfect chance to try my hand at some orchestration in my Digital Performer template and try my hardest to sing like a wannabe Neil...
Production Library Music

Production Library Music

As things wound down with Benched, I got to focus on writing and mixing tracks for one of Universal’s production music libraries. It was a really interesting experience. We were given a task to create music for “reality tv” in a comedic style. One thing I’ve learned from working at David Schwartz‘ studio is that comedy music should be FUN not funny. Here’s a few of my favorite examples from what we...
Only In Dreams (cover)

Only In Dreams (cover)

I really enjoyed this song when I was growing up, so I thought I’d do my own version of it.  Originally recorded most of this in Japan and added vocals here.  Finally learned how to mix a little better and printed this for the INTERPET. Secret for you to know: I ONLY USED BASS & KEYS...
Benched on USA

Benched on USA

We started working on a hysterical new TV show at David Schwartz’ studio called Benched. The show was pretty edgey and at times required some serious heavy urban style score.  Early on, my friend Freddy Scott was called over to help us make the music sound legit.  This gave me some insight on to how TRAP music was made.  So many places to get TRAP sounds on the internet, I reached out to producer/composer friend Ludwig Goransson who produces Childish Gambino, and he suggested starting with some Lex Luger packs.  I’d link to those but I’m not sure where he keeps his stuff these days.  Whoops. Here’s the stuff I ended up doing for the show:   We were fortunate enough to have a music editor from MICDS on that ABC Family show, so my job as an assistant and mixer was easier because I didn’t have to run to the editing suites to make sure everyone was placing music in the right place.  Really sad the show didn’t last more than one season.  Hope to work with that same group again sometime.  It kinda felt like...
Under the Table

Under the Table

I scored my first short in early 2014 for film maker Grace McCleod.  The film premiered at the Tribeca film festival and went on to be featured on NPR as well as the Brooklyn film festival.  Exciting!  This was my first short in a long time, but incredibly gratifying. When I first scored the short, I just did what I thought would hit the comedy better, and wrote the following.  Turns out Grace was looking for something more along the lines of dark comedy, not satire.  But liked the upright bass and pizzicato strings.   Here are the unused tracks from the first...
2014: Year of Improvement

2014: Year of Improvement

I spent hours and hours refining my skills with software like Digital Performer, Ableton Live and Pro Tools during 2014 and wrote a ton of music.  Working with composer David Schwartz, I was given loads of feedback on what could make my music better.  My mixes got better, arrangements, bass parts, melodies, all thanks to the job at David’s studio.  This playlist includes music from the TV show Benched, some library music, a few commercials and an awful pop song I did with my best friend Dave...
Ghost writing!

Ghost writing!

I had a chance to audition some music for a TV show pilot as a ghost writer.  Had lots of fun making this, but kinda wished I could’ve hired a musician or two to play on it!  I’m playing everything on...