Starting last Wednesday, ten participants enrolled in the Red Bull Music Lab, a program where they learned about different aspects of music production and then proceeded to make their own tracks.
Tommy Capistrano, 32, is one of the students who participated in the program.
Students spent five days at a decked-out house in Malibu stocked with professional recording equipment and software, classes from the very best in music production, and enough Red Bull to keep any musician awake for days on end.
Capistrano, who works for Napster as music programming manager, graduated from CSUN in 1996 with a degree in radio production. He went on to manage several DJs and work at various labels until he got his current job three years ago.
For quite sometime, his main influences were The Beatles until he entered junior high school, where everything changed for him. While his friends were listening to Def Leppard and Ozzy Osbourne, he simply couldn’t get himself to like the harder rock of the time.
Until, one fateful day in the late 80s, his friend gave him a record that he was going to throw away. The album was LL Cool J’s “Radio,” and it changed the way he looked at music. Up until that point all he knew was The Beatles, and this new drastic change in music opened the floodgates of rap music for him.
After hearing “Radio,” he was introduced to KDAY 1580AM, a radio station that played rap and hip-hop music that other stations weren’t even aware of at the time.
From there, he began listening to such artists as Pete Rock, NWA, Public Enemy, and Dr. Dre, to name a just a few.
Capistrano said many of the artists still have an effect on his musical influences today, such as Bob Marley, Miles Davis, and King Tubby and more rock oriented performers like Ernest Ranglin and The Beatles.
Capistrano has been a DJ for quite some, and the love for music eventually evolved to a passion for remixing and sampling other work.
He hopes it will ultimately lead him to create all original material.
Capistrano said he would enjoy working with some of his fellow “music heads” in the future on possible music collaboration or any other type of project.
He said he would like to come out of the program possessing much more knowledge about music. He hopes to acquire the tools of the trade that are used in the industry today, and create new songs that he can call his own.
When asked about the current state of popular rap music like 50 Cent or Eminem, Capistrano said that he wasn’t really into any of it. He decided to explore other genres of music like jazz, rock, reggae, and dub music.
Paul Anthony, a teacher at the Red Bull Music Lab, shared some insight into the actual nuts and bolts of the program.
Anthony is the CEO of his own company, Rumblefish, a music licensing company. He first became involved with the Music Lab when it came to Portland, which is where Rumblefish has its main offices. They asked him to speak as a guest lecturer. After giving some lectures, he was asked to come aboard as one of the teachers for the program.
He currently lectures on topics related to the business aspect of the music industry, such as setting up an independent record label and how to properly place music in movies, video games and television.
Anthony also teaches some of the technical lectures.
At the beginning of the program, Anthony set up three objectives that can be accomplished over the duration of the program, or shortly thereafter, that way students have something tangible to accomplish while in the program.
Anthony said that the Red Bull Music Lab makes a big difference for a few specific people, as opposed to a program where so many participants are barely affected.
Since the program is only five days long, the students are expected to participate in lectures and create music in a short time. The schedule is densely packed with classes based on how to operate specific programs, or for instance, a lesson on how to make a drum beat on a keyboard. After the lectures are given, the majority of the time is dedicated to applying concepts taught in class to actually playing and recording their own music.
Often times, the students will be in the studio through the night working until around 6 or 7 a.m., according to Anthony.
In addition to having many musical instruments at their disposal, the students use two major computer programs, Reason and Live, to meet their entire recording, sequencing, and mixing needs.
Co-founder of the Music Labs Lorin Ashton, also known as Bassnectar, plays an integral role in the program’s functioning.
He is a DJ, recording artist, and producer in the electronic music genre who tours regularly, bringing his diversely influenced music to raves and clubs.
Ashton is the primary instructor of the participants for many of the lectures, and is big on the notion of fostering a solid relationship between teachers and students that can best accommodate each musician’s creativity.
Over the five days, these participants spend much time with the teachers.
They are constantly working with them and trying to help them perfect their craft. One very interesting and positive aspect of the program is the sole student ownership of all the work created during those five days.
This is an unusual policy for a high profile company like Red Bull.
The people running and teaching this program are all professional musicians in some capacity and know how important ownership of a work can be to an artist.
On Sunday March 6th, the students debuted their music at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica to a live crowd showing the public how the program worked for them.
Anthony said that the goal of these students is to get their music out into TV, film and video games, and to get to the point where the students can work as full-time musicians.