Michael Green Interviews... Jerome Sullivan
Originally posted on September 4th 2019 here is a Q & A with music producer, songwriter and musician Jerome Sullivan. He talked about his experiences in music.
Where did it start for you getting into music?
The first inclination I got was from banging and tapping everything I could lay my hands on. I would watch a film with my parents and beat the chair in time with whatever was playing over the film much to the annoyance of all around me. I was really into computers in my early teens. One year I wanted a modem for my computer but my parents fearing a break in attempt to NASA or something just as easy got me a keyboard that plugged into the computer. It was basic but the software allowed me to play 4 mono tracks into it and once I put together my first beat, I was hooked. From there I spent everyday playing and teaching myself as much as I could.
Who are your influences?
Growing up I was surrounded by a variety of musical styles and influences. My parents were into 70s cocaine rock (eagles, 10CC, Foreigner etc) Motown and the usual baby boomer music. My brother was into Guns & Roses and Rock and a lot of Irish Country & Western was heard at my grandparents and cousins’ homes. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised that all music forms are valid and can have something truly beautiful within them. Even Jazz. I have a love of classical music and even Andrew Lloyd Webber gets a play every now and then. You should never disregard any musical form if you want to be a complete musician and writer in my opinion.
What's your process when creating and producing a song?
It varies from track to track. For something I have written from start to finish, typically I'll have a guitar in hand and usually when I’m not thinking about it, just noodling I’ll start playing something I haven’t before. Once I’m at that stage I’ll lay down a basic demo and add some layers to it. For the next few days I’ll play the song in my “head radio”. I will try and imagine how the full song would go and again once I’m happy I will look to capture the song as best I can from what I’ve heard. I equate the whole process to that of a sculpture’s creation. The song is in the piece of rock. Once you know what the song is you chip away at the rock and the song reveals itself. The more you do the better you get and the greater detail you can add. My view on production is that I’m there to take away the stuff that’s not needed and to polish up the remains so that it can be seen as it was meant to be.
For tracks where I just produce for other people It's much the same process only without the hassle of deciding how the music goes. I sometimes will make changes or decisions that I feel work better for the song but ultimately It's about capturing the song and the mood right so the singer/writer can perform with freedom and confidence.
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
For the longest time I didn’t listen to music full stop. I was of the opinion that as I was making it I didn’t need or necessarily want to hear anything that may influence me but I realise that was utter stupidity and slight egotism on my part. I once had some friends round for dinner and left them to pick the music. When I returned from the kitchen I was asked if I had anything other than cock rock. It occurred to me at that point I'd been blinkered and started to listen to music again and across many genres. Anything but cock rock.
Like a lot of people of my age, young peoples music tends to annoy me but as a producer I actually love what I hear from new music. Software and plugins allow for so much expression and ways of manipulating sound and the eclectic nature of today's world has brought forward some incredible talent. I would say listen to music all the time but definitely don’t stick to the music you like. Branch out and don’t be afraid to take time to listen. Except for Justin Bieber, there is no reason for that , none at all.
Finally what advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into music production?
Be prepared to put in lots of hours doing some pretty mundane and non glamourous tasks for the sake of what you love. Listen to as much music as possible but don’t listen as a listener. Listen to how the track is mixed, what EQs and frequencies are being used, what is it that makes the track exciting. Develop a critical & educated set of ears. Get some good Mics. Learn how to use a compressor . Get a DAW and go through every single function and feature it has so you know what it can do. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Make sure you are happy with your work but certain your next production will be better.
To listen to more of Jerome's music go to https://soundcloud.com/jerome-sullivan-1
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