Past Lives and Other Interests
I've made music under my own name and with my band Outer Spaces. I also played synthesizers and bass for The Dan Deacon Ensemble. I was in a theatrical synth-noise band called Nuclear Power Pants (there were blacklights involved and I played the keytar). I have done seven national tours, numerous tours in the eastern and southern USA, and several tours to Europe and Australia. With Dan Deacon, I played Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Primavera.
But being a DIY musician is more than making music! I've shot and edited music videos in davinci resolve (here, here, and here), booked tours, took press photos, did album layout in illustrator/photoshop, designed websites (they aren't great... but the one you're on and this one) designed merchandise, set up online shops, and maintained vehicles (much more of that below).
Playing as a sideman to Dan Deacon led to working as his tour manager for a time. The job mostly entailed managing the logistical and technical requirements for the shows. Things like booking flights, handling fee payouts and expenses, wrangling personnel, and driving and maintaining a school bus converted to run on vegetable oil. For one tour, we opened for Miley Cyrus with The Flaming Lips as her backing band.
Being an independent musician is not typically a lucrative gig and it requires a flexible schedule that few employers will accommodate. I supported my musical endeavors at times through art handling. I packaged, transported, and installed high value works of art, working regularly with the Smithsonian, the Met, The National Archives, and private collectors. I did long haul trucking throughout the eastern USA, generally on five day runs, covering either the southeast (anywhere between Baltimore and Miami) or midwest (between Baltimore and Minneapolis). The truck we used was the largest box truck that doesn't require a CDL to drive.
App Support and Consulting
Wham City Lights was an app that used ultrasonic audio to trigger a synchronized smartphone light show. We licensed our software to Disneyland, Cirque du Soleil, The NBA, the NHL, and America's Got Talent. This video does a decent job showing what it did. I started out at the company as a light show designer. I would talk to event producers about their color palette and overall vision, then use our custom built editing software to create a light show for their chosen music. Because the app was triggered by an ultrasonic watermark, I began using my audio engineering skills as an on-site technician. I would travel to the events and set up the trigger tone. I worked at events in China, Australia, Argentina, Italy, the UK, and all over the USA. I also worked as a customer and technical support representative, doing phone and email support, as well as writing help articles and shooting instructional videos. Sadly, the company folded in 2019.
Antique Barn Restoration
As a student, I spent my summers (7 years) working at the New Jersey Barn Company disassembling, restoring, and re-assembling 19th century buildings. The job was mostly carrying around massive oak beams (seriously... they were heavy) but was also an opportunity to learn some history - not just architectural history, but also what life in 1800's New Jersey was like. Some barn raisings were conducted without a crane, and we could erect a barn in a single day using simple machines (pulleys, pike poles, etc) and a bunch of volunteers.
I learned something new every day, like how to drive stick shift (on a 1948 1-ton flatbed), how to make a mortise-and-tenon joint, and that digging holes is my least favorite thing to do.
Vegetable Oil Conversions
It bothered me that almost all the money we made as a band went to oil companies. I've been involved in four vegetable oil conversions – two school busses, one 1991 GMC Suburban ("the beast"), and a 1982 VW Westphalia. All of them are (were) in constant need of repair, and ending up on the side of the road was always a possibility. Finding fuel was not guaranteed, and it was very dirty work. In the end, I don't know if we saved all that much money, but there are a lot of good stories. Listen to this song for the vibe.
I don't know if this really qualifies for this list... but I'm casually obsessed with making spreadsheets. Sometimes I think I should have been an accountant or something. Let's nerd out over spreadsheets sometime! But seriously, I don't think I could do what I do without Google Sheets. Here's my template for collecting QC notes for audio dramas. Impressed? I didn't think so :/