Q&A #28: Gabriel Öberg


Gabriel shares his journey as a composer: How playing around with looping software grew his interest in creating his own music, not letting his lack of mixing/mastering skills keep him from finishing projects, and the importance of playing live.

Leigh Lim: Hi Gabriel, thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A! While on your Instagram feed, I noticed that the posts are mostly videos. Do you find that posting them ensures you don’t procrastinate?

Gabriel Öberg: Hey Leigh! No problem, it’s always rewarding and fun sharing your process to hopefully help and inspire others! I mainly upload videos because it’s essentially what my music is designed for Plus, I personally think videos are more enjoyable to watch than photos.


LL: Why do you think you do the things you do?

GO: Well, the simple answer is because I love what I do. Being able to find a way to make a living out of what you love is a dream for most people. Having that as a driving force gives me more than enough motivation to keep going, no matter how tough and exhausting it is at times.

LL: Can you give a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are as a composer?

GO: it started when I was a kid and got a demo of Ejay, which is a very simple program where you just drag and drop loops. That sparked my interest and eventually, I got into more advanced programs. From that point to where I am now, all my skills and knowledge come from just sitting and creating songs digitally. So, to sum it all up, creating music all the time is how I got to where I am as a composer.


(Editor’s note: A link of Ejay has not been provided as the site has tested positive for malware)




LL: Would you say that it was the looping software that got you into piano?

GO: Maybe not the looping software. But definitely music software piqued my interest, it all started with drawing midi notes to make a melody, which made me want to learn the piano and eventually guitar as well.


LL: Do you have specific books that you keep within reach that you regularly refer to?

GO: Not really. I do have “Oblique Strategies” that I use sometimes if I get stuck for whatever reason. The tips there are slightly abstract, but it can help to shift your perspective on things that helps me often. For more specific problems I’d say just use Google or YouTube. There is a lot of really great and helpful content all around us.

LL: Are you referring to the card deck from Brian Eno? (I’m keen to hear about a specific card from the deck that helped you tackle what you were stuck on. And yes…if you can include how web searches have helped you get unstuck and how you ended up deciding to purchase the deck!)

GO: Yes, exactly! The more abstract ones have helped me the most, when I’ve been completely stuck and need a new perspective. One good example is “convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element”. Or “what wouldn’t you do?”. Things that can put a spin on your entire approach can always be helpful. Regarding YouTube searches, I have no good examples. I just use that for a specific problem, like how a certain synth is made, etc.



LL: Were there any challenges that come to mind during your learning process?

GO: I’ve always struggled with mixing and mastering, probably because it’s on the technical side and I am not a technical person. And, since I am an all in one producer, it’s hard to keep track of everything sometimes since I do everything at once.

LL: Do you find the ‘everything at once’ approach gets things moving for you compared to doing things linearly?

GO: It’s the workflow I’ve developed over the years. I would not recommend it to anyone though. I think it’s better to have a linear workflow. A creation phase, then a mixing and mastering phase. It’s a bit chaotic doing all of those at once, but it works for me since I rarely have a clear vision for a track to begin with. It all shifts and changes while I’m working.

LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never composed anything before, so they could have the capacity to create at your level and skill. What would it look like?

GO: That’s a very tough question. I do think that everyone has to go through that hard journey, to find out if they really like it. But regarding music, there are so many paths. But if I were to decide, it would start very simple. I’d share a lot of music, with different mixing styles, compositions, genres and emotions and work on an individual level from there.

LL: Artists are known to be very protective for their work. What would you say to someone who can’t seem to let go, and share their ideas/work — while it is in progress?


GO: What I’ve learned from being in this business, which I think can be translated into all of the music business is that you have to take some distance away from what you’re making. It’s just a song. You’ll make so many more songs in your lifetime. Stop being selfish and afraid of being judged, and share your unfinished (and finished) work to the world is what I would say to them. Everyone will have a different opinion on your songs, every single time. All of us are struggling with doubt when it comes to our work, you’re not alone.



LL: How important was it to have someone help you learn a specific technique?

GO: I’m completely self-taught when it comes to music. I did have a teacher that inspired me in different ways but it didn’t really change my overall thoughts on music. What he did, though, was introducing me to Sigur Ros, a band that everyone in the entire world should check out!


LL: In what way would you say you are self taught?

GO: I just jumped into a program with both feet and learned that way. By just experimenting and creating. Eventually, I got pretty good at it and could make my very own song. So all my learning came from just listening to a lot of music and loving creating. If you love doing something, you will learn about it automatically.

LL: Would you say it was discipline that got you to where you are as a composer?

GO: As I said before, it was only really the love for music that made me who I am today. The discipline came out of that love, no matter how hard it’s been. Sometimes I’ve thought of giving up, but I can’t stay away.

LL: Is there a specific time of day you enjoy working?

GO: Early morning or late at night is where I get things going.



LL: Have you been always mindful of ergonomics when you sculpt your compositions?

GO: Honestly, not at all. Never even crossed my mind.

LL: How much do you plan before you start a project?

GO: I rarely ever plan anything, I usually come up with an idea on the spot, which turns into a song.

LL: What usually is the sign you look for that will give you the signal that it’ll be the take/version you like?

GO: It’s always about the song. If something I record isn’t perfect, but it fits for the song, then I’ll go with it. If a certain take makes your song a lot better, no matter the imperfections, then use it. There’s always a certain point when your track can be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5% better, that’s the point where you have to let go. Let someone else listen, listen to it in a weird speaker. Realize it’s just a song and move on. It’s never, ever going to be perfect, neither for you or for anyone else.


LL: How long would you say it takes, for you to complete a recording?

GO: I usually have a track done in a regular workday (so 6-8 hours), but it depends on the scale of the song and arrangement required. Some tracks take longer, some I have finished in 1 hour.

LL: How would you describe your creations?

GO: I’d describe my creations as heavily emotional, dynamic songs. The core of my songs is always to convey a clear emotion, and mostly I tend to do the melancholic or the euphoric ones.

LL: What are some misconceptions you find about you as a composer?

GO: Well, I guess it’s the misconceptions that everyone makes about the things they don’t understand: The enormous amount of time and the energy that goes into it all.

LL: Are you learning something specific at the moment?

GO: I’m always learning. Right now I’m looking more into the dynamics and placements of orchestral strings, as well as mixing.



LL: Can you share three approaches you take that helped you become a better artist?

GO: Distance yourself from your work, do not take what you do too seriously. Be curious about everything regarding music, it will help you. And finally, don’t forget why you do what you do.

LL: What’s your go-to set-up?

GO: Reason (my DAW) and my Nektar Panorama Keyboard is my setup when I’m creating a song from scratch.

LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the kind of set-up that you like?

GO: Not really. I’ve always been based on software

LL: So, your current MIDI controller, that’s something that you didn’t really have to research?

GO: Well, I did research what MIDI controller would work well with my DAW (Reason), and I found the Nektar. I’m not playing live, and have no plans for doing it right now so I only care how well the controller works when I’m composing.



LL: If you were to start with scratch to build the gear that suits you best, do you think you’ll end up with the same thing?

GO: Yes. I’d end up with a simple computer and Reason, maybe a cheap midi keyboard too for convenience.

LL: Do you think the rule of thumb for DAW use (gaming laptop specs: which would be at least 16 GB memory with an i5 processor), is too much for a workstation?

GO: It all depends on how big and demanding your projects are. I like to upgrade my workstation pretty often so that I don’t have to worry about that. But you can easily make a great song with a simple workstation.

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

GO: No warm-up, I just get up and do the work!

LL: What’s next for your projects?

GO: I’m working with different music libraries that keep me busy pretty much all the time. But when I have some time over, I like to try different creative techniques within my DAW, like weird sorts of processing, genre mixes and so on that hopefully gets me started on a new song.



LL: How do you maintain your gear?

GO: I don’t, but I’m trying to get better at it.

LL: Has any of your equipment undergone customisation?

GO: I’ve colorized my acoustic guitar some times. Other than that, no.

LL: Do you have a piece of equipment (or software) that you thought was a good buy at that time, but you eventually didn’t use it as much as you hoped?

GO: I’m very careful about that, especially software. So no, I haven’t purchased any software that I regret.

LL: Any learnings you’ve picked up through the years when playing live?

GO: I recommend every musician to play music live, even if it’s not in front of an audience. You learn how to communicate your ideas in a new way which is very helpful, especially if (like me) you’re always alone when making music. Getting an idea through in a way that other people can understand is very beneficial because you have to remove all the fluff. And, of course, getting inspired by other people’s ideas is always good for you.


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LL: Do you keep an archive of your work?

GO: Yes, I keep a backup of all tracks and project files. Since I’m selling my songs to music libraries, it might come a day when they want something to be changed or whatever it may be, then you have to be prepared for that.

LL: What I noticed when uploading videos on Instagram is that not all formats are accepted. Did you also struggle to find a way to upload video that has audio properly mixed? (Or are you looking to build more content on your YouTube channel as you can upload ones that go for longer?)

GO: Indeed I did, it took some time to figure out what formats work for Instagram. But now it’s all good. I could upload more on Youtube, but I really like the Instagram format. You only have one minute, which means you have to make that minute count. I like that, and I enjoy consuming that sort of content.

LL: Can you share a bit of background on how some of your videos came about? (You can choose your own, though I’m particularly keen on hearing about: ‘Reverse Piano’ and the process you went through with the audio. Did you flip the video then grab the audio? Or did you just slow down the video then overlay the processed audio?)

GO: Most of my videos are used as a way to showcase what I’ve been working on. Almost every time I record audio I take out my camera and film it. Regarding the reverse piano video, I just recorded myself playing. When I looked at it later it didn’t really grab me, so I tried reversing the video and I thought it sounded and looked cool and interesting. The audio is ripped straight from the camera and processed with lots of reverb and some tape saturation.



LL: What approach do you find is the best way to serve your listeners?

GO: Be humble, service minded and grateful that people find value in what you do.

LL: Are you looking into constantly tweak your site for yourself as a composer?

GO: I try to, but making new music is what takes up most of my time and it’s always my highest priority. Like with most musicians, marketing and self-promotion are definitely not my strong suit.


LL: Do you have a regular schedule of posting entries?

GO: Not really, although I try not to take too long between posts. I mainly post something if I think it’s good content. But ideally, you should be posting at least once a day.

LL: Were there instances when you hesitated about posting something?

GO: Almost every time, haha. I always have that voice in the back of my head saying: “no one is gonna care about this, why even post it?”. But now that thought is actually what encourage me to post it because I’m mainly doing it for myself and try to not take it too seriously.


LL: What’s the one thing you have to put time on —- but have been putting off?

GO: The marketing and business side of music, it always kills all my inspiration. But I’m learning one step at a time.

LL: Are you currently mentoring someone?

GO: Nope, and I never have. Maybe I will in the future, who knows.

LL: What do you do when you come across something that annoys you?

GO: It depends on the problem. Spending time fixing a problem is almost always a good investment of time I think. Like fixing a certain thing in a mix, a certain synth sound etc. But some problems are just not worth it, then you just have to let it go.

LL: Are there certain things you can’t help but ‘geek out’ about?

GO: I have pretty good knowledge in all fields regarding music, so I don’t have a certain field where I’m extra passionate, skilled or geeky. Which is both a strength and a weakness, I guess.



LL: Got any peers you’d like to mention? (Basically a chance for you to say to readers of your Q&A: ‘Hey, you’ve got to check these musicians out!’. Also I’d be interested to hear about something you’ve come across that has really inspired you — or a specific approach that a peer is doing…that made you go: ‘Whoa! I’d like to try that!’)

GO: Julius Wallenberg is a great composer and producer who makes music similar to mine. N-S makes some super cool techno and edm stuff, I recomend him too. Regarding what has inspired me lately, I would say the techniques by Mick Gordon has inspired me lately. He uses a simple sine wave and manipulates it with lots of different kinds of distortion. A technique I’ve had a lot of fun with.

LL: What were the last 5 things you pre-ordered?

GO: Oh, I never pre-order anything. The one and only thing I’ve ever pre-ordered was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PC.

LL: Are you a big listener of music?

GO: I am, but not as much as I should be. Constantly looking for new music is always a good investment, but I tend to fall back on the same old music that I love. My favorite band of all time is Radiohead. Other bands and producers that I take major inspiration from in my music right now are Sigur Ros (an Icelandic post-rock band which is also one of my favorite bands), Jon Hopkins (electronic music producer), Mac Quayle (tv-series composer) and Mick Gordon (video game composer)



LL: What are you reading at the moment?

GO: A book called “The Art Of Mixing”, which is student literature I should have read about 8 years ago.

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

GO: Always, whether it’s new genres or approaches to mixing and sound design. I recently found a Youtube channel called Sonic Scoop that has a lot of great mixing masterclasses.

LL: In what way do you approach motivation and inspiration?

GO: Watching other people create almost always gives me motivation. Also finding new music that you haven’t heard before can spark some ideas in your head. I usually get inspired when I can’t do anything about it, like when I’m not in my studio or at home. So if I’m feeling uninspired I usually go for a walk, I just find it easier to get ideas going when you don’t have your tools around so to speak.

LL: What makes you smile?

GO: First thing that come to mind is the movie “In Bruges”, a favorite of mine. Many scenes in that movie make me smile. Definitely check it out!



LL: What’s your view about social media?

GO: Personally, I’m not a big fan of the shallow climate on social media. The spamming of fire emojis on every post just to get clicks. But due to how extremely saturated everything is, I totally understand why that is and I’m a part of it as well. It is what it is, and it’s necessary to grow your brand.

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

GO: Splice.com is my favorite site at the moment because I can always find inspiring loops and samples there.


LL: What would you do when you need cheering up?

GO: I usually watch a comedy or a stand up show. Memes are also a good instant joy injection.

LL: Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists?

GO: Sure! Although I don’t do it that much currently. It’s always inspiring and rewarding letting someone else apply their ideas and thoughts on your work or vice versa. Even though the product isn’t always great, I feel like I’ve learned something new every time I collaborate with other musicians.



LL: Are you interested in technology?

GO: Can’t say that I am. I love new software and instruments that I can create something musical with, but the actual technical side doesn’t interest me that much. My computer is built by my friend, and contains an i7-7800X @ 3.50 GHz, 32 GB of RAM and some 2.5 TB of disk space split between some SSD’s and other drives. The software I use is Reason (DAW), Izotope Ozone 8 for mastering and Hitfilm Express for video editing.

LL: With your Instagram posts, do you have specific subjects that you go through a rotation of?

GO: Yes, I try to. I love posting snippets songs that I’ve made in different types of genres, or different spins on some recording technique etc. Keeping it varied is very important to me.

LL: If you were asked to pick from the entries (either a post or video on Instagram or elsewhere) you have, which one would be your favourite?

GO: I think it would be this one [using a violin bow on an acoustic guitar]. I’m very happy with the sound and melody I got from the guitar. I don’t know, it just makes me kinda uplifted.



LL: Are you the type of person that finds it easy to start something? (For example, you are hit with an idea — then within a couple of hours, you have written up a plan on how to make that happen. Or at least taken the first step! Or are you more of the person that waits until the idea is pulling you urgently before making a move?)

GO: Definitely the first type. I can get things going very quickly, and I rarely stop and plan things out. I work best when I just go for it without a solid plan.

LL: For someone listening to your work for the first time, what is the message you’re hoping they’ll take with them?

GO: I’m always after emotion and atmosphere when listening to music. And it’s pretty hard to pinpoint where that comes from. It could be from a certain chord progression, the sound of the synth that plays those chords, a vocal melody, or maybe just the ambient sounds and fx behind the actual song. And I always try to create that with my music, a mood that makes you feel uplifted and inspired (mostly).

LL: What makes your soul sing?

GO: Music, obviously. Good movies, video games, meditation, cooking are some things that gives me energy.

LL: What’s the best way to connect with people who admire your work?

GO: Can’t say I have that many people who admire my work since I currently just make music that’s aimed at supporting other mediums. But I think the best way is to always answer everyone who has taken the time to comment on your work, no matter in what form.



LL: Have you found your tribe yet?

GO: Can’t say that I have. I’ve always gone my own way, and I’ve met and worked with a lot of inspiring and talented people. But I can’t say I “belong” anywhere.

LL: What kind of opportunities are you looking forward to?

GO: Hopefully just getting some bigger projects and more clients. I really hope I get to do an actual custom soundtrack for a movie, that would be super cool.

LL: In what way do you enjoy helping others?

GO: Creative help, new perspective and new ideas are my favorite type of help to give. As i have mentioned, I’m not a technical person. So helping out with those sort of things isn’t as rewarding, but I’ll of course do it if it’s needed.


LL: Looking back through your journey, are you amazed at what you’ve accomplished so far?

GO: I’ve grown a lot as a musician and as a person, but I don’t like to look back too much. I’m very proud of some things I’ve accomplished, but I still feel like I’m in the middle of journey so I haven’t really reflected on that.

LL: How can we support your work?

GO: Following me on Instagram @gabrielobergmusic is more than enough if you want to support me! You’ll find more information If you’re interested there.






* Gabriel Öberg is a composer based in Borås. See things though his eyes via his Instagram feed. If you have any business suggestions or feedback on his tracks, he’ll welcome the news via email as something that can spark a creation is always fun! With that said, collaboration is also something he’ll welcome (as in the past he has been the one who has reached out and would be delighted if the reverse would happen).


Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (January – October 2020) between Gabriel and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is a Sydney composer helping brands get their mojo back. When she is not doing that, she can be found spending time through various rabbit holes (offline and online) or sniffing out stories for a music discovery project.


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Interested in reading more?

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The Quote Jar: Twenty Four

Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry including quotes from various sites and publications from the web. Clicking each of the links will open a new window containing the full article or video (if publicly accessible).

The names below were mentioned by Justin during his Q&A.


“It was something that we don’t see very much of today. We used to get together in each others home, believe it or not.” – Benny Golson (via Bob Rosenbaum)

“We both started playing piano at age six or seven…and we played for a long time. That’s where I learned most of my theory. We had an old Russian teacher who was a very fine concert pianist; in fact, our parents wanted us to be concert pianists.” – Eddie Van Halen


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What are some of your favourite quotes?


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Q&A #25: Justin Schroder

Justin shares his journey as a guitarist, a reason why unprepared drummers make him crazy, and his affection for his family.



Leigh Lim: Hi Justin, thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A! How would you describe your target audience?

Justin Schroder: I like this idea and you have chosen a great name for your blog. It’s important that we have real discussion regarding how players become good musicians.

I would say my audience is elusive. I have no idea who they are, what they want, nor what use I am to them. That reads poorly, but I just don’t know anything about my audience because there is so little commentary or conversation.



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

JS: How did I get to where I am as a player? Well, twenty years’ effort, frankly. If I may digress for a moment, there is a saying in the auto racing community, “There’s no replacement for displacement”. ‘Displacement’ is the size of an engine and all engines can be made to create more power than its original output, but bigger engines always have more potential for power. I use this example because no matter how many shortcuts, lessons, tips, tricks, etc. a person uses, one can only be as good as their CUMULATIVE PRACTICE TIME allows.


So, on to the specifics: I started playing songs. I didn’t learn exercises, scales, chords, etc; I learned songs. I still love learning songs. I also create songs. Sometimes I create songs from a musical concept, (e.g. scale, mode, chord type, etc.), other times I create songs by manipulating bits of other songs that I like to play/hear. I teach people a finger exercise to gain finger independence because I struggled with that as a beginner and it puts everyone a few steps ahead of me as I was at the beginner level. Same idea when I teach chords, chord groups, and barre chords; it’s just a way to bring people to a playing level in fewer years than I took to reach the same skill levels. Students that play for hours/day like I did are ALWAYS better than I within the same number of weeks, months, and years in my early days of playing. ALWAYS, but time spent playing is #1.




LL: You mentioned you create songs from a musical concept (e.g. scale, mode, chord type, etc.). Can you give two examples?


JS: Here is the link to the video of me discussing and playing Parking Lot Birds and Cream Soda:


Parking Lot Birds is a song for the little birds one sees in parking lots hopping about and picking at little bits of things on the ground. PLB started with the melody and I took a year or so to decide which chords I liked best. I essentially stole the A section chords from Benny Golson’s Killer Joe and from the Bridge of various I’ve Got Rhythm tunes, I developed the B section of PLB.


Cream Soda is a tune that started with chords from which I created a melody. I found myself drinking a lot of IBC Cream Soda at the time, and figured it would be a great title for a Smooth Jazz sort of a tune. I like most of my tunes which start with chords a little more than those which start with a melody, but I think Parking Lot Birds is my strongest Melody First tunes.


LL: What would your advice be to someone who has only a limited amount of time (Maybe 1-2 hours a day) to plan their learning and practice?


JS: If someone has limited time (Don’t we all?), I would suggest spending 90% of it playing. Too many people, myself included, spend too much time thinking or looking for efficiency or short-cuts; the truth comes with playing.




LL: How about getting the next generation to practice? Isn’t it all about starting as early as possible? (NPR has an article)

JS: Getting the next generation to practice is just like the old generations; if they want to play, they will. I still  get new students who outpace students who have been with me for a while just they spend more hours with their instrument.

My favorite concept: Be aware of the difference between a guitar OWNER and a guitar PLAYER.


People start playing music or anything else when they start. Age is only relevant because as we age, we often become more aware of our preferences and have developed better work habits. I find adults will advance with less effort because children waste more time and effort avoiding work than would be spent DOING the work in the first place.


I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 18 and I was teaching by age 23. I played many hours each day because I wanted to play. If my fingers hurt from playing, I moved to listening. I kept music playing while I slept. The funny part about that is when I suggest to students with the worst sense of time to sleep with the metronome on; the idea is for their brains to develop a sense of tempo.

This is a great article. The end of it is the real meat-and-potatoes of practice; getting good results regarding improved skill, higher self-worth, and organizational skill development.


LL: Sounded like you wanted to share a funny reaction to students with the worst sense of timing to sleep with the metronome on.


JS: No, that’s all there was the example of sleeping with the metronome clicking. I’m sure there are some funny stories, but I don’t think parents have told me about them.

One thing I’ve done in sessions with students who either A. Refuse to honor the time being clicked by the metronome, or B. Are so preoccupied with what their fingers are doing that they can’t ‘hear’ the metronome, is that I will plug the metronome into an amplifier and make it so loud they have no choice but to play ‘with’ it. To be clear, this is not so much an abuse tactic as it is a method in making the metronome as loud as a drummer.

People ALWAYS play in time with a drummer. This is what makes me crazy when a drummer is less than prepared for whatever we are playing; I can’t pull them back into place



LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never played before, so they could have the capacity to play at your level and skill. What would it look like?

JS: Start with thinking about where you want to be as a player by considering your favorite artists. There is usually something that someone else has done which inspires us to start playing.

Then discover where you are failing to have that ability and practice that until you are great. Remember there is no substitute for time on your instrument playing music. Just don’t forget that if you can’t play the music you want, you have some work to do and it should be in the form of an exercise using the actual music. If there is a two-measure section of a solo or rhythm part that you can’t play, then you should be playing it 5,000 times in a row as if it is an exercise, because it is and you will reach your goal directly.




LL: What would you advise a songwriter (who has never played guitar before) wanting to accumulate enough knowledge and skill to be able to translate musical ideas using the guitar?

JS: Learn piano. Seriously. Guitar is by and for crazy people. Piano is logically laid for the eyes and hands. If someone wants to be a songwriter, the keyboard is more intuitive so one will achieve better results in less time by using it.



LL: Is that why guitarists usually find it difficult to transition to piano? (and pianists usually have no problem…and if they do…they can easily figure out a work around?)

JS: Well, I don’t play piano, but I’ve tried a couple things on piano and I can certainly confirm that my problem with piano is trying to play one rhythm with the left hand and another with the right.

For guitarists, we need to have good timing with our left (or whichever hand is fretting), but it doesn’t exactly play rhythm. In a nutshell, the fretting hand arranges itself for the sound and the picking/plucking hand initiates the rhythmic quality of the music being played.

Eddie Van Halen is a primary exception because he played proper piano as a child before learning guitar.



LL: In one of your videos (Creative Soloing), you do a whole lesson (about an hour) — can you give a rundown of what you covered? And was it easy to get your students to agree to be videoed?

JS: The basic outline of the program is that we learn the five scale shapes, the five pentatonic shapes, the seven 7th harmony arpeggios in each of the five positions (many of which repeat), and we don’t move from the first of any shape until everyone in the class is competent to a certain level. Basically, it’s a 32-week course with so much playing that everyone’s skill jumps by leaps and bounds.


It’s really intense and it isn’t easy finding students who can dedicate the time to take it, but those who do grow tremendously as players/musicians and are very thankful to themselves for being dedicated to the process.



LL: What’s part of your guitar arsenal at the moment?

JS: Ah, the goods, the tools of the trade. Well, I have a Breedlove AC200/SM that I love to hate. We fight all the time. I have been playing it almost exclusively for the last several months almost with a battle mentality. I have recently started using 11 gauge strings, D’Addario EJ26. I had been using the originally intended set which were D’Addario EJ16, but I just couldn’t get what I wanted from them. It just sounded like there was a blanket over the instrument. I have played other guitars with 12s and they feel the same, so that eliminated ‘specific instrument’ from the equation.

(I have since returned to the D’Addario EJ16 strings and also using either Fender Medium or Jim Dunlop Big Stubby 1.0 picks for a brighter tone. This seems to be the best arrangement. At least until I change my mind again. Musicians: We’re a nutty lot.)

Funny enough, I will be using D’Addario EPN115 strings soon on my electrics. I have been using Ernie Ball Power Slinkys and D’Addario EXL115 for a while and just purchased a batch of the pure nickel strings to try. I think I will like them for their more mellow tone. I use a Bugera V22 that has a bright tone and I think a mellow set of strings will take some of the harshness away without making the sound dull. Just a hunch.

(Another update since first being asked, I sold the Bugera V22 because I wanted a smaller, lighter amp for greater portability. I now use a Fender Blues Junior with an Eminence Cannabis Rex replacement speaker. Yes, it’s made of Hemp, and yes, it sounds fantastic and is a solid 10+ pounds lighter. The D’Addario EPN115, Pure Nickel strings, are also here to stay. For now-ish.)

I also have a HiWatt Bulldog 10 from the 1990s. Great mellow clean tone from that and a nice RAWK sound on the distortion setting. Unfortunately, ten watts is not enough for any gig and the distortion setting is not foot-switchable. It’s very nice to carry though.

In the last couple years I have crossed the river regarding the use of pedals. I have been using a Electro-Harmonix LBP-1 in my effects loop to boost my solos when playing tunes that require some crunch for the rhythm sections. Using a booster in the effects loop allows me to make the tone remain exactly the same except louder. Plus, using a booster in the effects loop gives it a very wide range; it takes very little boost after the preamp section to make the volume increase a great deal. Putting a booster in the front end of an amp acts like a gain booster more than a volume booster.

I also have a DigiTechJamManlooper. Great for practicing, solo gigs, testing drummers’ listening skills, etc. I also use a HardWire SC-2 Valve Distortion pedal. I tried a Boss Super Overdrive and really liked its tone, but it isn’t touch sensitive like the HardWire series.

(Additional updates regarding effects: I have also acquired the Digitech Trio Plus which is a fantastic evolution of the looper to include the creation of bass and drum parts which are ‘Trainable’, and also a Tech21 Hot Rod Plexi pedal which emulates a Marshall Plexi sound and is a noticeably different sound than the Hardwire SC-2 Valve Distortion. I use each for different needs because both sound great, just different. The best function of the Tech21 HRP is that it has two stages of gain which gives me the opportunity to have a dirty rhythm sound and a slight boost in saturation for solos. The Hardwire SC-2 has similar functions, but the switch isn’t foot-operable. If only…)

My first guitar was a Peavey Predator from the early 90s. One of the ‘Crafted in USA’ models. I still have it and it sounds fantastic, but it needs a refret because, well, I played it a lot and now the frets are too low.

My favorite guitar is a Korean-Made Epiphone Dot from the late 90s. I sent it to Dan Erlewine for a refret, installation of Gibson ’57 Classics, TonePros bridge and placement modification, and a retrofit Buzz Feiten nut and tuning compensation. Plays and sounds like a dream to me. I have owned many Korean-Made Dots and this one is my favorite. Plus, it is a rare Tobacco Burst which had a small run for Dots and was mostly used on Sheratons.

My most recent acquisition, which was last year (2013) I think, is an Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top, or some such. The color is Trans Amber, which my wife says looks like baby poop, but I like it. The electronics are dull like most stock Epiphones, but I’m sure it will come to life when I upgrade the pickups. I’m also considering upgrading the pots and wiring with a rewiring pack from Stewart-MacDonald. I’m hoping to get it to function like my Dot which is wired so the volume and tone pots are independent.

I think that is all I have for guitars and amps. Picks are another story. I had used Fender 351 Medium Celluloid picks for a very long time. Then, I had a trio that played uptempo Blues and Jazz tunes with a set of Surf music like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and so forth. For some of the faster tunes, I noticed I was having trouble at higher tempi, then through some experiments I discovered that the pick was not returning to its ‘playable’ position soon enough to actually strike the string as my hand passed it. So, I tried heavier picks made of different materials. What I am using now are: Big Stubby 1.0 picks for acoustic playing and Fender 351 Heavy Celluloid for electric playing. The lexan of the Big Stubbys has a brighter tone and the Celluloid has a mellower tone (remember, the Bugera is bright).

Oh, and the same fingers as always. Much of our tone comes from the fingers, but everything else affects it too.



LL: How did you end up saying yes to a Breedlove guitar?


JS: It was the right shape, sound, and price for what I needed in an acoustic instrument. The Concert body style works best for my playing. It makes the single notes more defined whether these notes are melody or bass.


LL: So this love/hate thing you have with your Breedlove AC200/SM?

JS: I think the love/hate relationship is more about acoustic vs. electric than this specific instrument. I did recently change to an 11 set of strings on the Breedlove and I am feeling much better about everything. Now I have about ten sets too many of 12 gauge strings. Need any?


(…and have since returned to 12-gauge strings as mentioned above. Now I have two leftover sets of D’Addario EJ26, 11-Gauge strings which need a new home.)



LL: Have you used the HiWatt Bulldog 10 in any of your videos?

JS: Yes. I made a series of videos by playing some fun Rock tunes/solos/etc. and I’m pretty sure I used the HiWatt for most of them. Here is Judas Priest’s Livin’ After Midnight on which I used the HiWatt.

I think it’s a great sounding amp, especially for a solid state amp. I primarily use tube amps. The HiWatt is just 10 watts and, while plenty loud at full volume in a small room, it just doesn’t have enough volume for playing with a drummer in a larger room. I may experiment with it one day just to hear it in an A/B arrangement with my larger amp.


LL: Did you have to do any set-ups or adjustments to any of your guitars (strings closer to the fretboard)?

JS: I setup my guitars once when I acquire them. Sometimes they will need a minor adjustment every couple years, but I don’t break out the feeler gauges when the humidity or temperature changes ten points. The process I use is time-consuming and more intuitive than scientific. If the job gets into nut or fret work, I hire someone else for the job.


LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide? (tablet, bits of paper,mental notes..)

JS: For Rock, Country, other Pop type gigs, I try to play by memory so I can move around and make a show. I play musical theatre and read the book because: A. I need to be spot-on and predictable, and B. I’m not part of the show. I have been part of the show once though. I went wireless during a dance routine in one show and crossed the stage during an improvised solo. That was cool.

For Jazz or Holiday gigs I use lots of charts or charts with improvisation ideas because nobody is paying that much attention since we are usually just ‘Mood Music’. I take the opportunity to be an ‘Artist’ during these gigs by working on my ‘Improvisational Voice’ and play some of my own creations. I can usually predict/remember my screw-ups.

It’s very important to know one’s self as an artist and player. I need to work more on the ‘Artist Me’ by doing more concerts instead of atmosphere music gigs.



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

JS: I subscribe to the Barney Kessel school of warm-ups: “Stay hot.”. I warm up on mid-tempo tunes. I use exercises for mechanical problems. It took many years for me to realize I should have balance in this regard. I usually only discover playing problems during an improvisational concept that I try on a gig and fail because I never thought to try it before.

Exercises are for building a skill that one does not have; it is not a way to become a better musician, it is a way to become better at instrumental execution. (How do I play this musical idea on my instrument?)


LL: Description of your playing style? (i.e. you like keeping it simple, no riff-busyness/crazy solos, go-to picking style..etc)

JS: The music dictates my playing style. To me, there is no rhythm, lead, left-hand, right-hand, etc., there is only ‘What must I be able to do to play the music?’ and ‘Can I do it?’. Sometimes I can’t ‘do it’, and that informs my next practice session..

Most recently, a couple years ago, I was rehearsing with a Hard Rock band and I couldn’t play some of the solos at the final tempo. These were a Judas Priest and some Guns ‘N’ Roses tunes; a couple others too, I’m sure. Anyway, I had to spend about six months really working on these solos to be able to play them at tempo. I essentially went from sixteenths at about 120 to sixteenths at 160bpm. I’m not talking about an exercise at 160bpm, this was the music, what I really wanted to play.



LL: What was your practice routine structured like during those six months (to be able to go from soloing at sixteenths at about 120 to sixteenths at 160bpm)

JS: I used the same process I teach: Learn the music at a slow tempo (50% or less), then move the tempo up ten points and play through. Keep raising the tempo until mistakes begin, then return to the last perfectly played tempo. Stay at that tempo for one week, then start raising the tempo again until mistakes begin and repeat the process. I did this until I could comfortably play the music at 10 bpm higher than the final tempo required. It takes a long time, but it’s worth it.


LL: What’s next for your playing?

JS: Taming the acoustic, becoming more of an ‘Artist’ regarding my voice in arrangements, improvisation, song choice, etc.. I will discover my weaknesses sooner by learning new music.

I’m also pursuing more concert opportunities instead of ‘Club Dates’, (Which are gigs at venues ‘needing’ atmosphere music for 3-4 hours.). I’m sure I’ll still do some weddings and other special events, but concerts are where I believe I will grow the most as an artist with message.



LL: Are you working on something specific at the moment to spice up your playing?

JS: Not really since I don’t have any upcoming gigs, but I do have a voice and guitar duo that is on hiatus (the vocalist is having a baby in June 2014) and a guitar and sax duo. The guitar/sax duo is just two weeks in the making, so we are still finding a start to our voice and choosing tunes. The real work begins when we have the music chosen and we need to find ourselves inside of it.

(A bit more updates: I’m currently have a guitar/flugelhorn duo, solo-guitar arrangements, and two possible guitar/voice opportunities, and a full band concept for which I can start booking concerts. Since first answering the above question, I have decided to pursue concerts as a primary goal and I want to have different levels of hire available to select venues. Some venues are a small, intimate setting, and some are larger and prefer a larger group for a more intense experience.)


LL: Pretty happy with where you are at now?

JS: HA! Never happy! However, I do consciously decide to stop ‘Improving’ so I can really internalize the recent changes to my playing. In other words, I have to make myself stop trying to be a better ‘Guitarist’ and remain in the work of becoming a better, more soul-touching ‘Musician’ with my current skill level.

Ever hear a guitarist play only scales or strumming patterns? Yes. Did it touch your soul? Probably Not. We need to work on the other bits of musicianship by ceasing the work on mechanics.



LL: Are there questions you find yourself answering multiple times?

JS: The funny thing about questions is that I don’t believe I hear any of them repeated. I know that may seem strange, but while my answer to the students’ questions may contain the same information, every question is different because each student has a different hole in their understanding.

As an example, the most common topic I discuss is improvisation. Most people know something in regard to improvising by the time I see them, but there is always something they don’t like about their playing, or something that has become stagnant to them. So, we discuss keys and how we make chords and melodies from the notes within. Then we learn more about how we can play them in a practical manner on guitar.

I guess the second most common topic is that of rhythmic concepts. Unfortunately, none of us manipulate rhythms as much as we should; music could be so much more interesting if we did.


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

JS: No, I’m not part of any underground faction that is hip before anyone else. I’m 42. Ha!

Most of my new discoveries are from the social media posts of others, YouTube suggestions, online programs such as Tiny Desk Concerts by NPR, and other random finds.



LL: Are there songs/albums that you cannot get enough of?

JS:Man, what a list that would be and who has the time for all that listening? Joe Satriani, Led Zep, AC/DC, Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, Big Bands, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Stu Hamm, John Scofield, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Chuck Berry, Merle Haggard, Jerry Reed, Roy Clark, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Appetite for Destruction, INXS, U2, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Arlen Roth, Booker T. and the MGs, Christian McBride, James Brown, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Vince Guaraldi, Dave Holland, and many more.


LL: Do you go out of your way to discover music you haven’t heard before?

JS: Sometimes I accidentally find something on YouTube or a blog that I like or some Pop star like Lorde is in the news and I YouTube them. However, I certainly don’t go out of my way. I don’t think we need to go out of our way any more. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m 40 years old, so I remember when one had to hunt for music. Especially if you lived in the woods or the hills.


Now it’s almost like the matter of finding music is as easy as picking a blade of grass while in a park; we’re just surrounded my sources of music.



LL: Where do you go for inspiration?

JS: YouTube and watch the masters at work.


LL: What’s your view about social media?

JS: Social Media is, to me, a contradiction in terms, but it is important. I think ‘Social’ is about time with or making friends and ‘Media’ is a method of distributing information. I don’t think the two are ALWAYS good together as are chocolate and peanut butter. ‘Social’ and ‘Media’ are better as a small part of two concentric circles.

I like Twitter best, but some people lump YouTube in the Social Media box and I think we know by now how I feel about YouTube. Ha!



LL:Would you be willing to share your Twitter handle? (What do you think of Twitter so far?)

JS:  Twitter.com/ JustinSchroder

I’m concerned about upcoming changes to Twitter since there have been some leadership/ownership changes, but so far, they haven’t pulled a Yahoo! and done anything ridiculous.

I like Twitter better than Facebook, primarily because I only have so many characters to create posts. This has helped me learn to communicate more effectively. I find that most of the people that don’t like Twitter are people who don’t like to work on their communication. I don’t feel good about my communication, so I like to work on it.


I also go through phases of posting in Haiku form, just add an additional challenge.



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

JS: Most websites have good designs now. Site design means little to me unless I’m trying to pay a bill or see my bank balance. Some companies have websites which drive me bonkers. How wrong can one be when designing a website? Well, pretty wrong sometimes.


LL: Name a website that you would go to when you need cheering up/inspiration?

JS: Outside. Not a website. I find my pets, children, or wife when I need good feelings.

I like bike rides, especially in the woods. My wife likes hikes, I like hiking with her, but I would never decide to go on a hike on my own. I prefer rolling friction.


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

JS: Absolutely.


My strong skills are harmony and melody, not lyrics or singing. So, I need to have others to complete my work. Also, I’m good at developing and leading bands, and most musicians/singers are not good at the management of musical endeavors.



LL: Are you interested in technology?

JS: Nope. It’s just a means to an end and, thankfully, systems like WordPress, YouTube, SoundCloud, et al are great for technologically imbecilic people like me.


I think that is the greatest societal improvement given by computers and the internet; it allows otherwise incompetent people like me to be able to produce documents, audio, video, and other forms of gaining an audience without needing to hire someone or develop into a Jack-Of-All-Trades to be an artist.


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

JS: No. Frankly, I have found that very few of my videos are being discovered or watched by people whom I believe I am trying to help. So, evidently, I’m not as helpful via video as I thought.



LL: Or are you looking to do different things?

JS: Something that a lot of people will find helpful. It’s not so much of an ego-centric ‘Hey, look how many views I have!’. It’s more a matter of ‘Hey, look how many views I have by people I can help!’.

We seem to be moving toward Live online events through FaceBook Live, Concert Window, Periscope, et al, and I am upgrading my tools to take advantage of this trend. It’s interesting how our intrinsic Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is fueling the technological and social changes we are seeing.


Perhaps FOMO has always been the foundation of technological and industrial advancement.



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

JS: That’s an impossible choice, but it would be one of my youngest daughter Claire either playing violin, singing, or riding her bike for the first time. We were too poor when my oldest daughter was little to have any video of her and now that she’s a teen we just have pictures of her being beautiful.




LL: In what way do you enjoy helping others? (Is there a particular cause that you resonate with the most?)

JS: What I enjoy most is helping people realize how being a good musician isn’t as difficult as many other people make it out to be.

Essentially, there are a lot of people discussing music concepts in such a convoluted manner that it’s nearly impossible to understand or apply them. I really enjoy working with performing musicians who want to discover more about themselves musically. Working with a group of musicians is probably my favorite environment because we can inspire each other to do our best. It’s easier and more fun to be creative in a group setting because one idea triggers another and the creativity builds.

If I were to describe a cause which motivates me the most, that would be the success of the student. Nothing motivates me more in teaching than seeing a student surprise themselves with their playing or with a sudden moment of clarity. Most of the time the problem isn’t the student’s level of effort, but rather the music concepts being made simple, clear, and immediately applicable.


LL: How can we support your work?

JS: I teach at TrueFire.com via video exchange, which is probably the most efficient way to teach and learn for the intermediate to advanced player.

Players should take this link to register and learn the benefits of studying with me there. Visiting my website, JustinSchroder.com, will give people the opportunity to learn what I am doing as a teacher and performer. It’s also the best way to contact me regarding how I can help them. I am currently focused on performance and group education. I am available for concerts in solo, duo, small combo, and big band settings, as well as related workshops, clinics, and guest performer bookings.

Simply put, supporting my work is as simple as hiring me to help people and organizations reach their musical goals.



LL: Looking back through your journey, are you amazed at what you’ve accomplished so far?

JS: I’m amazed that I survived! 🙂

Frankly, I’ve noticed more of the effect I’ve had on students, other musicians, and just people generally since I retired from teaching daily. For various reasons, my current schedule and physical/mental condition are more conducive to effective thought and being present in my daily activities than ever before.

When I am looking for a video I made or a blog post to send to someone, I must say I’m a little surprised at how many videos and blog posts I have created. I’m sure they’re not all great, but I did them and they were evidently something I felt worthy of sharing.

I guess what is most valuable to me at present is the growing awareness and appreciation that I have a family, a job, and the ability to create and re-create Sound Art for my enjoyment to share with others.



* Justin Schroder is a guitarist based in Lynchburg. Witness him working on learning to communicate more effectively (in 140 characters or less!) via Twitter. You can pick his brain by watching him share playing nuggets on Youtube, through his entries, or by going through the really intense 32 week course.


Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May 2014 – October 2016) between Justin and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is a musician based out of Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so based on this post. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her slightly cheeky FAQ.)


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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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