I blame my father for my obsession with music. Dance band Singer/Bassist/Accordionist, Robert Rentsch would, as the years went by, drift away from playing, but his efforts left a huge impression on his oldest son. Over the years I’ve dabbled in guitar, keys, bass, bongos, ukulele, harmonica, Theremin, Windrow, Tibetan bowls, slide whistle, on and on… never coming near mastering any, but enjoying the journey with all nonetheless. In fact, if you walked into my studio, you’d think I WAS a musician with all the instruments scattered around, but honestly that would be a generous statement.
I suppose music was my gateway drug to audio production. As a pre-teen in the ‘60s I loved every strange, garbled effect that musicians were filling their songs with, and was always trying to figure out how they achieved the latest bizarre audio experience. It’s little wonder that most of my early commercial production was swimming in reverb and tape delay (thank God for bulk tape erasers…).
The advent of MIDI in the ‘80s allowed me to ignore my lack of playing chops and start sequencing the little tunes that were looping around in my head. Yeah, I even produced some commercial jingles, and have since come up with background tracks for some DVD projects… even released my own CD at one point. Still, I always know, deep down, that I’m faking it, and I’m not proud of that fact.
In May I finally managed to tick off a bucket list item and attended Moogfest in Durham, NC. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a celebration of the art and culture of electronic music and one of its most influential pioneers, Robert Moog. Unless you’ve had your fingers in your ears since the 1960s, you’ve heard a Moog synthesizer, and until you’ve sat down in front of one, you can’t imagine the giddy Creative feeling you get the moment you start fiddling with the knobs on one. The ‘90s saw a loss of interest in everything analog; you could’ve pulled a Minimoog Model D out of the dumpster behind any number of recording studios by ‘95, but the renaissance of analog warmth has given Moog and a host of other analog noise-maker companies new life, and judging from the average age of the attendees, analog music-making isn’t going anywhere soon.
For my part, the Marketplace was an electronic candy store, as companies allowed the attendees to tweak to their heart’s content. My wife lasted as long as she could, finally kissing me on the cheek and escaping as I built a beat on a Novation Circuit (yeah, I do remember what I was messing with when she left… I did notice… pretty much). For 3 days I was totally immersed in electronic music, surrounded by others who revel in making music for the sheer creative love of it. Gathered together, one big, beautiful, diverse family, it makes a person believe that music can change the world for the better. Of course, then I come home and face reality… and all of those instruments.
Reality check time. I’m not going to be a virtuoso of any instrument. However, as a musician, I make a better than average Sound Designer, and the little riffs and beats and synth sequences I come up with make perfectly good underscores for my production… and I have the production chops to make them sound respectable. I’ve always believed that a person shouldn’t hesitate to Create with the skills they have, regardless of experience, and build from what’s learned in the process. I didn’t start out focusing on producing my own CD; I just kept messing around with one song after another until it was pointed out to me that I should go for it. That effort, while often cringe-worthy almost a decade later, gave me the confidence and skills to keep experimenting, applying it to my audio productions, and again on new music works… each step evolving my musical journey.
I keep going back to that feeling of Creative joy I felt at Moogfest. While there were big names in attendance, the majority of the people were much like me… folks who love music & creating, not for fame, but simply for the love. There’s a lesson there for all Creatives. If you love it, make it, and share the love. You can’t fake that.
Trent Creates. Write him: