Hailing from Baltimore, MD, veteran musician Zircon has been making music for the majority of his life. Zircon’s passion for music – EDM in particular – can be seen all throughout his collective work. His EP Getaway (2014) will give you a taste of just how magical his music is. With more than 15 albums under his belt, there is no slowing down this sound-scientist.
You have made music for quite a while now, written, produced or collaborated over 15 albums, with gobs of remixes with an array of music styles. How did all of this start?
Like many kids, I took piano lessons growing up and played an instrument in my school band. Music was a fun hobby, but it wasn’t until high school that I was introduced to the world of music production. A friend of mine showed me a simple tool for layering audio files together and we made some awful Linkin Park mashups. (Don’t judge, we were 15 at the time!)
After having fun with that, I started trying my hand at remixing video game music for a website called OverClocked ReMix. Hearing lots of other talented producers on that site gave me the inspiration & motivation to get better and make even more music. The rest is history!
Your portfolio includes – but is not limited to – a number of video game soundtracks, EDM music, and video game music remixes. Which is your favourite to do?
That’s a tough one. There have been extremely fun projects in all of those categories, for sure. At the end of the day though, EDM is my home and there’s nothing more satisfying than wrapping up an awesome dance tune.
It seems as though you are not limiting your music style to just one area, but instead have this eclectic vibe with an all around passion for music. Is that fair to say?
Oh definitely. And thanks for the kind words! I love making music in general. Besides EDM, I’ve written orchestral scores, funk, jazz, rock, metal, new age, ambient, hip hop, world music… it’s all fun. I try to listen to a wide range of music as well. What I care about is good writing, good arrangements, and interesting production. Genre doesn’t matter.
The Zircon Vault includes an entire catalogue of music, over 200 plus songs, that people can use for services like YouTube and Twitch. What were your thoughts behind the Zircron vault? How do you think streaming services like Spotify, and Pandora have impacted the music industry?
It’s funny – a lot of musicians I know are really anti-Spotify and streaming in general. They see the really low per-stream rates, like 1/100th of a penny, and say that’s devaluing music. But the opposite is true, in my experience. I get more money from streaming than from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play combined. Not to mention Pandora is probably the #1 way people find out about me, since I don’t play live.
As for the vault, I created it because a lot of streamers and YouTubers were using some of my albums for their content. That was translating into more people hearing my stuff and becoming fans, so I wanted to offer a way for them to get even MORE music at a very low price (compared to buying $1 songs individually). It’s worked well so far!
Besides making music you can also be found teaching and mentoring other musicians, you have quite a few tutorials on YouTube. Teaching music seems to be another passion of yours. Do you find there are a lot of people trying to get into the music industry? What advice do you tell young musicians that are just starting off?
There are a LOT of people looking to get into the industry. No question. My own college degree was in Music Industry and there are quite a few similar programs across the U.S. and worldwide. Not everyone has the motivation and the discipline to succeed, though.
It takes a ton of hard work and a sprinkle of luck to stand out. You can’t go into it with the expectation that you can work an hour or two a day, goof around, and get successful. All of the biggest DJs and producers are out there making music and touring pretty much every day, and ultimately you’re competing with them for people’s attention.
Put another way, my advice to young musicians is to PRACTICE and be motivated to learn on your own. Read magazines like Electronic Musician and Computer Music. Spend time watching YouTube tutorials on production. Take lessons in an instrument or composition. Save your money and spend it on good software & hardware tools. This isn’t an industry for the faint-of-heart. You really need to give it 100%!
You are also co-founder and lead designer of Impact Soundworks. Could you tell us a little about that venture?
It started out as a side project in college with a friend of mine who had created a small but successful sample library. Every composer has lots of sample libraries on their hard drive for all sorts of instruments, and we’re always looking for new sounds. Over time, more and more people began using our instruments and I took the reins running the day-to-day of the business, along with sound design & programming for our releases.
Today, over 25,000 people are using ISW instruments including some of the biggest film, TV & game composers. It’s immensely gratifying. Creating a virtual instrument is also a fantastic challenge, since it draws upon technical skills and creativity at the same time. I love it and couldn’t imagine not doing this all the time.
Its been a little over a year now since you released your EP titled Getaway. Are there plans for another full length album? What is on the horizon for you right now?
Right now I’m working on the soundtrack to www.servogame.com using a combination of rock, electronic & epic orchestral elements – so that’s probably the next thing people will hear from me. For original albums, I have so many ideas… I’m not sure what will happen next! Maybe something drum and bass/drumstep, or possibly going a little old-school with breakbeat.