Today: Jul 14, 2024

Senior hosts radio show on campus while pursuing music career

JON MORENOArts & Entertainment Editor

With his own radio show on campus and a solo album for sale on iTunes, Amazon and more, senior music major Robert Weiss is out to make a name for himself in the music industry. Weiss says he decided to pursue music at a serious level when he first picked up a guitar in 2004. He quickly acquainted himself with Mac programs such as Garageband and Logic to begin his own orginal recordings. He is a big Beatles fan and says friends and family are his biggest non-musical influences.

 

photo courtesy Robert Weiss
Weiss has been playing the trumpet since fourth grade and later learned how to play new instruments.

Q. First off, how did Southern become your school of choice? Bring us back. Also, what’s your major, year, give us the basics to what makes Robert Weiss, Robert Weiss.

A. I’ve been here at Southern for five years and I plan to graduate in 2012. I knew from day one I wanted to be a music major. When I first came here, the music department was smaller and did not have certain amenities such as a recording studio. Now in 2011, we have a studio, we have more music performing groups, and we majors even get private lessons. I myself can usually be found in Earl hall singing/playing harmonica in the blues band, playing trumpet in Latin Jazz, and even jamming on guitar all around campus.

Q. How did it all start for you? What was the first moment that you realized music is a passion for you, and what made you pursue it to this point?

A. My first moment I realized I wanted to pursue a career in music was when I started playing the guitar in 2004. I had already been playing the trumpet since fourth grade, but I realized with the guitar, I could write music and take that talent to new heights by creating a true rock sound. I took up bass shortly after coming to Southern and I soon started doing home recordings using recording programs such as Garage Band and Logic (both Apple recording software). Being able to put my recordings onto tape helped me get song ideas out to the general public, and I want to use that knowledge to help others and maybe even to further my music career.

Q. Who are some of your favorite artists, and how have they influenced you musically or personally?

A. My favorite artist, hands down, is The Beatles. I started listening to them at 3-years-old and I even learned then how to play some of their songs on a keyboard at that early age. I now know every single Beatles song by heart. Besides the Beatles, I love basically any genre and era of rock music, but I hold a soft spot for rock made in the 60s and 70s: from The Who, to the Beach Boys, to progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd. Also, a really underrated various artist’s album is Rhino Records’ “Nuggets” box set. It consists of 118 songs by various garage and/or psychedelic rock bands from the mid-to-late 1960s who were either underdogs, or bands that broke up too soon. For any indie rock lover, it’s a must own, and it’s one of my favorite albums.

Q. Where would you like to take the music you do? Are you a solo artist or part of a band? Are you trying to get a deal somewhere or is this simply for the love?

A. I have been mostly a solo artist. My first big music project, in 2008 was re-recording an entire Beatles’ album. I then spent a year and a half recording nearly 30 original songs, 12 of which were selected for my actual debut album of original songs – “Turn Back The Years.” I tried to incorporate all styles and eras of all the rock music I have enjoyed over the years. My first actual band I was in was shortly before I came to Southern; I played rhythm guitar and helped write the music. Currently I’m playing bass in another band and we are still working on new songs. Whenever I am involved with a band, or a solo project, I do it strictly for my love of music.

Q. Who has influenced you most in life (not musically) and how so? What would you like to tell this person?

A. My biggest non-musical influence has honestly been my family and friends. In life, those are your biggest fans, and when working on a music project, they are the best people to turn to when looking for either support or constructive criticism. One of my friends, Cisco Barahona, has contributed some backing vocals as well as some lyrics to my album “Turn Back The Years,” and he and I have worked on various music projects over the years and continue to do so today.

Q. What is your advice to local artists who are trying to get their music heard or who just feel discouraged sometimes? What do you do to get yourself out of a rut if you are ever in one musically?

A. My biggest advice is to write not only about what you want to sing about, but also play what genres or music you most relate to. I have often found myself with either songwriter’s block or I’ve just felt discouraged. The best way to get out of those is to listen to your favorite music or go out of your way to discover classic albums that you haven’t heard yet. Albums like the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” and even more recent work like The Fleet Foxes’ “Helplessness Blues” are very moving and inspirational pieces of music, and helped me get out of creative slumps. Also, don’t be afraid of your true singing voice. Autotune to me is by far the worst thing to happen to music, as it takes away that individuality of the singer and makes them androgynous. Don’t be afraid to just sing out. Your idea of a vocal imperfection might be the vocal charm that positively catches the listener’s ear.

Q. What is a way for people to go and listen to your music, and when can we expect new material?

A. My album – “Turn Back The Years,” is available on iTunes, Amazon.com (as an mp3 album), CDbaby, and a number of other music download sites. I have been very slowly writing new songs for a second project. Meanwhile, most of my effort has been going toward the band I am in, which plays pure rock music. This next solo project of mine might be a whole different style. If and when the sequel to “Turn Back The Years” comes, all I can say is, expect a big progression, both musically and lyrically.

Q. What is something about you that most people don’t know? It can be music related or not.

A. I have perfect pitch, which I didn’t realize until my last year of high school. It means that if I hear a musical note, or even the sound of a loud machine, I can tell instantly what key it is in. It has helped me a great deal with jamming and learning song parts quickly.

Q. What are your plans once you graduate from Southern?

A. I plan to either become a music recording and sound engineer or maybe make it big with a music project or band. Either way, my final goal is to one day build a true home music studio complete with perfect sound acoustics and all of the recording equipment a real studio uses.

Q. What is your fondest memory here, and what would you like to tell the Southern body for those who don’t know you?

A. My fondest memories here at Southern are currently being made right now. Ever since spring of this year, I have hosted a radio show on WSIN radio called “Holding Down The Rock”, where I play rock music of the 60’s and 70s. What makes the show unique is I play the songs chronologically, and I also sometimes play underrated bands that nobody has heard of, but are just as good as the well known bands. I also try to include the history of each of these songs/bands in each broadcast. At the end of a long day, nothing beats getting to spend an hour each day talking about your favorite music! You can tune in to the program every Thursday from four to five.

My final words to any aspiring musicians or performers are be yourself, and always keep reaching for your goals. With hard work and a dream, you can achieve greatness and recognition, and that is the greatest gift of all!

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