Thursday, November 3, 2011

Midi Madness! an in-depth with Paul Zimmer.


Posted by AreJay Smith
As someone who went from a live instrument musician into scoring film, I have deep respect and gratitude for the midi musician. Most of us composers can't or don’t have an orchestra at our disposal for scoring film, so we really on vst plug-ins, samplers, ect. I quickly found myself behind a computer screen with my Korg micro key more so than an actually guitar or other instrument. The process of midi in my opinion is a different beast all together from any other instrument. So when I hear or find artists who are able to harness the power of midi regardless of genre I get excited. Well, I found a great midi musician and a live musician from a past life!

I first knew of Paul Zimmer when I attended Centennial High in Corona California sort of a friend of a friend situation, crossing paths here and there. So needless to say I didn’t really know him at all but, in my recent searches to find new talent to feature on, I asked my old friends in Cali for a list or a who’s who in the local scene and sure enough Paul Zimmer and his band Sea of Skies both came up! I got in contact with him, next thing I know I'm jamming out to his brilliantly composed midi tracks! Now, enough of the back story lets actually get in to featuring and covering this amazing artist, cause lets face it that’s why you’re here!

Paul sprouted from a strong lineage of musicians forge in the volcano of…. Wait what? Sorry to much?
In all seriousness Paul comes from a family of musicians where learning an instrument was just as common as throwing the ball or learning how to ride a bike. His father being a professional classical guitarist. I first started off at the Fender Center for Performing Arts where his father taught as a drummer. Then quickly lead into piano lessons and just as fast lead to nothing. Then like many musicians try and do is join a band, but like many musicians know easy said then done. If I counted how many bands I “started” or was “in” it would be a very big list. For several reasons 98% of them just don’t work or even really get passed the stage of jamming once or twice. Which is frustrated for the already struggling musician to say the least. So like many of us he started writing himself and then once again found himself behind a keyboard this time armed with a midi keyboard and Reason. He started making great music which he describes as “ethereal and layered music”.

Heavily influenced by not only classical music brought on by his raising and his father, Paul also was influenced by Prog-Rock including the artist of Porcupine Tree, Peter Gabriel and Pain of Salvation. Which usually peaks its head up while listening to his music.

So now that we’ve covered the man lets get into the juicy details of his mind and music! I wanted to know the song writing method or process that he uses so I asked (duh, obvious right?). He replied with “ I mostly just jam out on my keyboard until something click. Once it does, I write the main underlying part first, then bass parts, drums and embellishments. I always write the leads last, for some reason. That just works for me. I love to fool around with arpeggiators and sequencers as well. I am a huge synth junkie!” simple right? Who doesn’t love messing around isn’t that how all good music is created? I know from my experience it is. I then asked him about presets and if he used them which for a lot of midi fans is taboo. “I do use presets for things I can’t do with synthesizers, namely strings and piano. I do however, tweak them to my liking. I create my own synth patches, though. I really, really want a modular synth and a mellotron. Then we from there quickly went into the equipment he uses. The keyboard of choice is a M-Audio Oxygen 61. He programs his drums by keyboard until he got an E-kit. He will be running superior drummer through that saying “so my drum parts will have some pizzazz.”

I truly excited I got to cover to feature this artist, and enjoyed exploring this musical expression and the vast world of midi and will continue to explore as a musician and cover the amazing artists in the midi world as a blogger. We will soon also be featuring Sea of Skies which Paul is drummer of! Be sure to check him and his band out on facebook and soundcloud.

thoughts about the track itself.

I truly love the serene almost atmospheric quality of this track. Makes me close my eyes and just sway my head and gain a floating feeling. The melodic line of the piano and the power and ambience of the strings and how they both interact with another is truly blissful and the explosion of the drums manage to still give that constant state of motion and edge needed to really pick the track up. All of it beautifully mixed together to provide a great balance and accents the sudden drops with out the feeling of emptiness or lack of audio.

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