If there is one aspect of music that is underrated, it is the storytelling and imagination it inspires. I have been infatuated by those qualities since I was four years old, and I have never stopped telling stories through music.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
Music, Movies & Games
There were five albums I remember my parents always playing in the car:
- Millennium by Backstreet Boys
- Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits
- MCMXC A.D. by Enigma
- The Sopranos First Season Soundtrack (yeah, I know…)
- Star Wars: The Motion Picture Soundtrack (20th Anniversary Special Edition)
I learned very early on that great music isn’t limited to a certain genre. And, when genres are used in unexpected ways, our understanding and appreciation of music is all the more broadened. Thanks to my dad, I have always been a massive film buff. I also am an avid gamer, which neither of my parents understand as much. I watch and read about movies all the time, I play games, and I have always been mesmerized by the way filmmakers and game developers would use musical instruments or even radio songs to tell their stories. I eventually realized at the age of 16 that composing music for those stories was (and still is) my calling.
I have been playing piano since I was four years old, and I played percussion in middle school and high school. So, I knew getting into a good music composition school was the first step. UT Austin was my first choice. It was close to my home in Plano, Texas, it was a Tier 1 University, and I didn’t have to sell my kidney to pay for tuition.
Now, you know that saying in track sports where your first step has to be perfectly executed to guarantee a good run? Well, they probably lied because, like a complete genius, I missed the deadline to apply for UT’s music composition program. My fallback option was this program called Music Recording Technology. The program is not there anymore, unfortunately. But, in that program, I met my first mentor, Gary Powell, who is a seasoned music producer with decades of experience as a former producer for Walt Disney Records, having sold over 41 million records with them. This is an attribute almost nobody else in the music faculty came close to. More on that, later.
I was already pretty well-versed in computers, given that I was raised by two computer scientists. Therefore, detailed in-box music production was something I picked up pretty quickly from Gary’s recording classes. But I wanted to study film, as well, which meant taking on a second major. I knew it would be more work, but as an IB student in high school who had to juggle hours of homework from classes that didn’t excite me IN ADDITION to band practice, my work ethic is a secret weapon when I do stuff I actually love.
First Film Scores
So, during my freshman year, I asked Gary if he knew of any avenues for me to gain some film scoring experience, in order to get a film portfolio that will get me recognized by UT’s RTF Institute. The second I asked that, without saying a word, he took out his MacBook and started typing an email to this film professor he knew at that school – Nancy Schiesari. He basically set up my meeting with her, and she would eventually become my second mentor. I first met her in her office and showed her some pieces I made during my free time in GarageBand. She was the first person outside of my parents to like my music. She allowed me to present myself to one of her advanced filmmaking classes. Me, a freshman, pitching my music skills to junior and senior undergraduates.
Within my first semester, I made music for two student films. Throughout my four years at UT and beyond, the number of films I worked on would increase. It’s about thirty short films at this point. I actually learned later that composition students didn’t get to score films until their senior year. Not to mention, Gary gave me insight into the industry that none of the other music faculty could give me. That is a happy accident if I ever experienced one. And, I got to have it in the nick of time, as I was in the last batch of students in the Recording Technology program. Here’s hoping that UT can resurrect that program at some point.
Becoming a Professional
During my sophomore year at UT, Nancy would ask me a question I would never forget:
“I am making this documentary film for PBS. Do you want to compose the score for it?”
A surprise to NOBODY, I said yes.
By the time I graduated in 2017, I had composed the score for Canine Soldiers: The militarization of Love, and it had aired on PBS. At the point of writing this, Nancy and I are currently working on our second documentary project together.
In 2018, I founded own my production house Evoaura™, which is now my outlet for producing personal content as well as helping other artists in their endeavors. I have released three EPs and multiple singles under Evoaura™, and I enjoy collaborating with other artists and filmmakers.
Moving to Los Angeles
A year later, I decided to move my operations to LA and seek more film projects, and I have been here ever since. Shortly after I came to LA, I started regularly going to this meetup called HYPERFLOW. Started by House/EDM producers as a way to get musicians to produce quickly, it has become a great outlet for me to deal with my analysis paralysis – a problem that many musicians and producers struggle with more and more as the market becomes more and more saturated.
As a matter of fact, the tracks I composed in HYPERFLOW gave me the basis of Underground. I was able to take six tracks I composed at those meetups and put together a cohesive narrative that listeners can enjoy.
Narratives and the musical experience are what drive my productions, and I always try to spark people’s imaginations the way film composers and music producers have done so for me. Hopefully, whatever I do with music can help and inspire the next person.