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Skip_Erickson_A_day_at_the_office_2023

who
is
this
guy?

In this life of music I was only taught one instrument...

...the coronet, from 4th grade through to 6th grade. Coming home after school to practice scales and songs every day in preparation to play in all the evening concerts, the annoying before school and after school band practices and soon after the dreaded marching band.

It is in middle school where I began to loath parades and football games, and most of all... inclement weather. Oh, how I hated the cold and rain. Truth told... I still do.

During the nightmare time spent in the middle school band, I chose to learn another instrument... the acoustic guitar.

I began self-teaching myself the acoustic guitar. I spent time watching others play, then stumbling through chord charts on my own, eventually learning songs by ear. From the Beatles 'A Hard Days Night', to folk tunes like America's 'Ventura Highway', to the Eagles 'Take It Easy', I was finding that I was fortunately blessed to be able to pick up music by ear pretty fast.

Then high school came, as did a savior of sorts - it was called... rock and roll!

I was saved!! This was what I was looking for! 

So I traded in that coronet, all of the out of tune concerts, and all those cold rainy football games... to be in a rock and roll band!

It's around this time when I began composing songs. From aggressive rock songs, to your typical broken-hearted, high school love songs. This guy's musical journey (one of my favorite bands during those years, by the way) had begun.

I soon found that playing guitar wasn't enough. I found myself in my first band as its bass player and lead singer. I had been bit deeply by the rock and roll bug. There would be no turning back... EVER! First songs learned on bass by ear: Eminent Front (the Who), You Got Another Thing Coming (Judas Priest).

So I kept learning. The drummer in my first band would leave his drum kit in my basement... thank you! I would watch him walk down the street and turn the corner to go home. I would then run down to the basement, sit behind his drum kit, and slug away at learning how to play them. My two influences: John Bonham and Neil Peart. First songs learned on drums by ear: Black Country Woman (Led Zeppelin) and Tom Sawyer (RUSH - go big or go home, right?)

I couldn't stop. I was addicted. Next on my list... the piano.

I was very fortunate and blessed to have a choir teacher, the wonderful Mr. Clavin Phillips. He allowed me to spent my lunch hours sitting at the Steinway grand piano in our choir room. It is there where I learned to teach myself how to play the piano. First song learned on piano by ear: Evil Woman (ELO).

I had a tenacious spirit, one in which yearned to learn as many instruments as possible.

I found myself performing in bands and moving from lead singer/bassist/songwriter to singer/guitarist/songwriter, to singer/drummer/songwriter, to singer/keyboardist/songwriter...

I think you can see where this is going.

So I continued learning more instruments, and I began collecting them along the way.

Side note: I took up smoking in middle school... for a week. Thought it was cool. Coughed a lot. Then I saw an Eddie Van Halen Frankenstein Kramer mockup for sale at a pawn shop.

I did the math - if I kept smoking I would never be able to afford the guitar - so I stopped smoking and got the guitar. Never smoked again. Well... nicotine that is.

Years later, the next step in the evolution of my musical career... take my love for film and music... and score a film. My first film score was a friend's comedy-western called: 'Cold Day In Hell'. First score influence: Raiders of the Lost Ark (John Williams).

BTW... another side note: I come from a time when older movies kept their original names.

It will always be Raider of the Lost Ark. That's the movie I saw in the theater as a teenager.

I did NOT see, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Well, scoring for film was a virus that would flow in my system forever - one in which I never wanted a vaccine for. This musical viral invasion into my mind, body and soul - I never wanted it to be cured. EVER!

And so we now move forward again in time.

While attending Full Sail in Florida to get my degree in recording engineering, I made a vow to score at least one student film before I graduated. Well, I ended up scoring three films, three months in a row, three different genres, all while going through advanced finals during that last three months of school. The first score was a classic noir score (influence: Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner). Next was a guitar, bass, and drums blues score (influence: Ry Cooder). And the third was a synth driven score (influence: Mark Snow, Wendy Carlos).

That was one of the most challenging years in my life, as well as being one of the most blessed years of my life. Music literally helped me to survive.

Years later I would be blessed yet again regarding a film I wrote, directed, produced, edited, and scored. My film: M3554G3 (Message) would go on to win three Best Picture, three Best Actress, and Best Music Score awards.

And so now that you are acquainted with my backstory, and my love of music, I transport you now to the present day. I spend both days and nights composing music. Be it for film, TV, or music libraries, it really doesn't matter. That's the joy of it. And my love for writing for the orchestra is never ending. The best part? Well, I've never truly learned how to write music... the correct way, I guess you'd say. Is there really a correct way though? I don't know music theory and quite honestly I don't care.

Let me tell you why...

Every time I sit down to compose, via my fingertips, I'm blessed with orchestral and instruments samples from some of the most incredible musicians, who play in some of the most incredible sounding orchestras, which are recorded in some of the most famous recording studios.

Big shout out and huge thank you to:

Christian Henson [https://thecrowhillcompany.com]

and

Paul Thomson [https://www.youtube.com/c/PaulThomsonMusic]

and

Spitfire Audio - [https://www.spitfireaudio.com]

I have learned so much from these two men. Spitfire Audio opened up my creative world. I was honored when I got to meet Paul. And I was relieved when I found that Christian was also like me... someone else with basically no formal background in music education. Someone like me having the audacity to self-teach himself orchestrating. That's what we non-music educated composers call - tenacity.

Another quick shout out to the Pianobook community:

[https://www.pianobook.co.uk]

Pianobook is a vast collection of free sample libraries, created by the Pianobook community. If you're a composer, you need to be a part of this community. Trust me, it's a great family of sample creators, musicians and composers, assisting other sample creators, musicians and composers.

And so, I now make my way to my office, fire up the computer, sit down at my keyboard, and with nothing in mind - a true empty slate - I hit the first note of what will be a musical journey.

Where will it take me... to another city, state or country? To some place out in the universe? Will it be the music of tribal natives, angels or devils? Will it elicit visions of war, peace, love?

Will I laugh? Will I cry? I hope so... because wherever it finally takes me, I'm always ready and eager to go. It doesn't matter where I'll end up.

See, that's the thrill of composing without a proper musical education - not knowing the math, not knowing the theory; writing from the very center of the heart and being surprised by the magic created - that's very powerful and quite literally my favorite part of the composing journey.

 

And with that, thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I hope you enjoyed the story. If you haven't listened to any of my music yet, there's no better time than now.

If you're ever in the need of a composer, give me a shout. I'll be here.

How about we take a musical journey together. Cheers.

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