Q&A #4: Scott Brahniuk



“LOL along with Scott as he talks about his journey as a pianist, the decision to use VST to augment his sound, and looking forward to the Moto 360.”


Leigh Lim: Hi Scott, thanks for giving your time to do a Q&A. Are your videos a mix of requests and ones you like?


Scott Brahniuk: Never been asked to do one before so it should be fun!

Almost all of the songs I play are ones I like but some of my personal friends have requested a few that I’ve played. I’m definitely up for song requests just never get any lol If the song is challenging to learn I’m up for that as well unless it’s something way too difficult for me.

I spend so many hours looking for good songs so receiving requests from people would be a nice break from the hours of searching I do sometimes lol


LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing?


SB: I’ve never had lessons on playing piano, all self taught. Right away I started learning songs and making my own songs as well, I never learned scales or chord names. Luckily when I first started it felt pretty natural playing and I have such a huge passion for it so I was very determined to learn how to play.

Back then I was also only working part time so I was probably playing 3-4 hours every day so after a short amount of time I was learning songs in a few hours when people who have been playing for a few years would still be struggling to play it after practicing it for over a week.


LL: How did you go about doing that? Learning without learning chord names. Were you going by ear? Or was it more memorisation? And you just eventually understood what sounded good, then…was able to work from that and do your own songs?

SB: Pretty much learned a lot by ear to begin with, I feel like watching lots of people play on YouTube helped. So when I finally got my first digital piano I had a general idea of where to start.

Also memorisation is probably a big part as well since I don’t read sheet music I heavily rely on my memory. I played bass for about 8-9 years and after awhile I just got really bored and that’s when I decided to start to learn piano.


LL: Any chance you’ll be doing a bass-piano video in the future? (with the right song and inspiration)


SB: Absolutely! Lately I’ve been thinking about dusting off my bass and maybe doing some videos.


LL: What is your warm-up / practice routine like?

SB: For warm ups usually I’ll play some of my favorite songs or I’ll just play and maybe come up with something that sounds good, and if it is good I’ll turn it into a song! lol


LL: What’s next for your playing? Are you working on something specific at the moment to spice up your playing?

SB: Sometimes I like to use other instruments to spice things up. I have a ton of VST programs so I can make my digital piano sound like drums/guitar/cello/violins, pretty much any instrument so if I feel like doing something different I have so many different sounds to really changed things up.

Right now I think I’m happy with where I am now but in the future I’ll probably try to learn how to read sheet music/scales and all that but for now I’m getting by just fine without that knowledge.


LL: Can you expand more about the VST programs you have? What’s the set-up like?

SB: So when I play piano you’re not actually hearing the sound built into the digital piano, I use a VST host program called Cubase and use programs that work with it. For piano I use Synthogy Ivory II and Synthogy Ivory II American Concert D.

Pretty expensive programs but I use them because they sound amazing and you can really create any type of piano tone/sound that you want which is great because some songs I want a softer tone or maybe something with more of a punch. I also use L.A scoring strings for cello/violins. My digital piano has a midi in/out which is how I connect it to my computer to get these sounds.


LL: How did you hear about each software? (Cubase, Synthogy, LA Scoring Strings – LASS) Were they used by the people you watched on YouTube?

SB: I heard about Cubase by searching on Google for different music production programs. For LASS/Synthogy Ivory II I found them on YouTube, usually I search for things like ‘best piano vst’ or ‘best cello vst’ and try to find ones that sound the best.

I’ve spent countless hours looking for new programs and sounds to use [and] always looking for something better. It takes a lot of time as there [are] sooo many different programs [but worth] it when you find the perfect ones that you need.


LL: What would you recommend to someone who’s interested in getting into VST and making the most out of it?


SB: For someone who is getting just getting into it I would recommend starting out small, there are lots of free VSTs that you can use and you can get a feel for how you can customize them. I also recommend Cubase, very easy program to use, never had any issues with it. Also if you don’t have a high end PC download Asio4all and it will help if you have latency issues.


LL: What’s your recording process?

SB: For software I pretty much covered it just above but for video editing I use Sony Vegas 11. My digital keyboard is a Yamaha Arius, I can’t remember the exact model number but it was one of the entry level ones I would say, it costs about 1,200. After my wedding in August I’ll be able to afford something better lol but for now it’s great. The camera I used is a Canon EOS T3 Rebel bought it a few months ago and before that I was using a pretty basic video camera. I don’t do much mixing, usually I find a piano tone that I think will be good for the song then I record it and that’s it.

Something maybe I should look into more maybe, adjusting audio levels etc..could be fun lol the one annoying thing about when I record is because the audio that I used get’s recorded into the computer so I’m not using the audio track from the camera which means I have to manually sync the audio to the video track which doesn’t take too long but it’s extra work lol


LL: Do you use the Canon EOS T3 Rebel for photographs as well?

SB: I bought the Canon mainly for videos but every now and then I’ll take some photos, usually of my cats lol.


LL: Taking pictures of your cats?

SB: Pretty much, my cats are always there and are pretty cute so it’s easy to take pics of them lol


LL: Some of your videos have maybe 30-40% less volume than the others…for example: Winter Night compared to Into The Fire. Was that intentional?

SB: Ah yes! the audio issues lol I recently found out why some are much more quiet then others. During the intros for my videos some time the audio for the intro is too loud and what happens is the program actually lowers the audio for the entire video by quite a bit. Now I realize that all I have to do is lower the audio for that one loud track that way once it’s rendered it’s not going to be 30-40% lower

LL: Is that a Cubase quirk?

SB: So the audio quirk is from Sony Vegas, when I render it from Cubase the audio volume is still good. I need to start paying more attention to when I render them from Sony Vegas, usually I just upload them right after I finish with Vegas without checking them lol.


LL: Piano Maintenance and Storage?

SB: For me piano maintenance is pretty easy as I use digital pianos so I don’t have to worry about tuning them. Storage wise I have a “Man den” lol as I call it, that’s where I keep all of my equipment.



LL: Are there artists that you absolutely dig, and are surprised that others haven’t heard of?

SB: Ludovico Einaudi and Helen Jane long are my favs for piano. I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t know Giovanni Allevi who which I really enjoy as well, he’s not quite as known as the others but his music is amazing!

Outside of piano music, lately I listen to Rage Against The Machine, Killswitch Engage, The Black Keys, Explosions In The Sky.


LL: Are there songs/albums that you cannot get enough of? (or ones that you listened to multiple times)

SB: Absolutely! some songs I can just listen to over and over again. ‘Your Hand In Mine’ by Explosions In The Sky, it’s such a beautiful song and never gets old to me. ‘Aria’ by Giovanni Allevi another great piano tune that I really enjoy. ‘Welcome Home’ by Coheed and Cambria. I could go on for a very long time but I won’t haha Music to me is very important so I [have a] massive list of songs I love.


LL: Does that mean you have a massive music library as well? (A mix of digital and physical libraries)

SB: Yeah I got a decent music collection, I try to mainly keep the music that I really like so it’s not too cluttered. Mainly all digital files, I’ve got no room for piles and piles of cd’s lol.

LL: Were there “piles and piles” of CDs at one point?

SB: Never really had too many cd’s. All of my bookshelf space is dedicated for video games :p

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new music?

SB: I definitely go out of my way to discover new music. When I’m looking for new songs I grab my tablet, headphones, and search for new songs on YouTube. Usually I type in stuff like ‘top ten favorite piano songs’ or ‘sad pianos songs’ — stuff like that. Sometimes, I spend over an hour listening to different songs trying to find ones I really like.


LL: Do you have a go-to site for new music?

SB: Go to site is YouTube, just do lots of searches to find new songs.


LL: Where do you go for inspiration? What do you do when you need to come up with a musical idea?

SB: For me inspiration comes from a few different places. Sometimes listening to my favorite songs will light the fire or sometimes depending on my mood will give me lots of inspiration as well.

Sometimes after watching a movie like Transformers, I get in the mood where I want to make something that sounds really epic and powerful or other times if I’ve had a bad day and am feeling down I’ll sit down and write a sad piano song.


LL: What’s your view about social media?

SB: I remember when my sis first asked [me] if I had a Facebook account and my response was “What the hell is Facebook?” lol Definitely was reluctant to join, I enjoy social media and don’t have much against. I’ve tried to get into using Twitter but I never end up using it lol


LL: Really!? When was this (When you asked your sister about Facebook)? Do you think the reason you aren’t hooked (or at least a regular user) compared to others, is you haven’t found the upside of spending time either on Facebook or Twitter?

SB: My sis first told me about Facebook when it first came out, because it was something new I think I was hesitant about it. I think if I got more into joining groups and posting more I would probably get into it more. For Twitter yeah just never really seen the upside to it, but then again I never used it long enough to find a upside lol

LL: What are your favourite sites at the moment?

SB: Favorite sites at the moment are N4G.com good site for keeping track of gaming news/IGN.com another favorite gaming site of mine (I play a lot of video games lol) Aside from those the only other sites I use are Facebook and YouTube


LL: Are there times when you find gaming competes with music for your attention and time?

SB: Gaming definitely competes with music, I have a Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U so that takes up a lot of time lol. Yup! even when I first started learning piano I was big into gaming, I’ve been into it since I was pretty young. Usually I try to create or learn a new song on my days off from work.


LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?


SB: Hmmm can’t think of any sites that I like from design, usually I’m more looking at the content of the site.


LL: Website that you would go to when you need cheering up/inspiration?


SB: If I need cheering up I’ll go to YouTube and listen to papa’s got a brand new bag, can’t be sad when listening to that song lol Listening to songs on YouTube is probably the only website I go to for Inspiration.



LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists?

SB: I’m always up for collaborations, I’ve done a couple with some fellow YouTubers but not many. Definitely looking to do more in the future.



LL: Other than VST, Are you interested in technology?


SB: I’m very interested in technology, I try to keep up with what’s new in the tech world. Lately Smart watches have my attention, Can’t wait to get my hands on the Moto 360.


LL: Your Channel Intro Clip — is that one of your creations?

SB: For my channel intros I find templates online and customize them, definitely do not have the time to make my own from scratch lol


LL: With your videos, are you looking to upload the same kind in the future? Or are you looking to do different things?

SB: Right now my videos will probably stay the same style for now but I’m sure that will change in the future.


LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favourite?

SB: My favorite video would be For Samantha just because it’s one that’s very important to me.




* Scott Brahniuk is a pianist based in (Nanaimo, BC). You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form below.

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May-July 2014) between Scott and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee before being posted.


Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)



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