My dad has been my number one biggest musical influence. It seemed to me there was never a time when he didn’t have a guitar in his hands, and he was always listening to new music and sharing it with us. Playing and writing music is cathartic for him, and he passed that on to me. From a very young age, music was a crucial form of communication for me. My parents always encouraged me to make music. My dad was by my side as I taught myself to play guitar and bass alongside my classical french horn training throughout middle and high school. He accompanied me on guitar when I sang in elementary school talent shows, I remember singing “Good Riddance” by Green Day and the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl” as he played. I started learning guitar and writing my own songs when I was about 12, and with help and support from my parents, I began playing open mic’s and then gigs at 14. In those early days, my dad accompanied me as I played short, eclectic sets with covers from ranging from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift, interspersed with embarrassing originals.
We’ve spent countless evenings sitting on the couch playing acoustic guitars together, taking turns singing lead and harmony, talking about notes and melody. In high school, I decided that I wanted to study Studio Production at SUNY Purchase. The program is by audition only, which meant that I had to present at 15 minutes of music that I recorded and produced myself. My dad helped me through the process of putting together my audition, and he was the one who helped me buy the equipment that became the first fragments of our home studio. From there, we began adding more and more to our collection of gear. We had been keeping everything confined to what used to be our family room, which had our garage attached to it. We eventually hit a point where we chose to close off the garage and reconfigure the space. Since then, the garage has become the live room and the family room is now the control room.
The primary purpose of our studio is to produce ourselves. When we first got started recording our own music, we were traveling to a studio in Brooklyn. Once we started putting together our own equipment, the restrictions that come from being on a budget were gone. This opened endless doors for my band Pandafan
. We’ve been doing all the producing ourselves since the band first started out in 2012. My dad and I are a team when we’re in our studio
together, bouncing ideas off each other and crafting Pandafan’s sound with dedication and devotion. I love producing, and I especially love producing my own music, but it can be difficult to engineer and produce on your own projects. Bill always seems to know what I’m hearing in my head, and knows when to indulge my weird ideas and when to pull it back a bit. He and I also work on his band, The Black River Republic
, where he is the primary songwriter and I play bass and add my vocal harmony. We’ve also moved beyond just working for ourselves, running sessions for many of our friend’s projects, from noise-rock bands to folk trios to spoken word podcasts.
My dad has always encouraged Pandafan, as well as me as an individual, to look ever forward and always be working on the next project. His involvement in the band has been vital to our success. Without this help and guidance, Pandafan and I would be nowhere near where we are now, and I have him to thank for so much of what I’ve been able to achieve since starting my career as a producer and musician.