Today: Jul 17, 2024

Double-major senior looks to join show business with versatile music

Photo Courtesy Sebastian S. Smith
Smith is also a graphic designer on top of a music producer.

JON MORENO — A&E Editor

Sebastian S. Smith, a double-major in music and graphic design, doesn’t call himself a “musician” because he doesn’t play any instruments but he uses mixers to make music. That includes everything from mixing, recording, mastering and using programs such as Logic Pro and Reason. With an influence that began with Dr. Dre and Eminem, Smith says he is always looking for people to work with no matter what the genre is. 

Q.) Let’s start with the basics. What’s your major, year, and what separates you from other musicians?

A.) My name is Sebastian S. Smith, and I am actually a double-major. My majors are music, with a concentration in electronic composition and theory, and studio art, with a concentration in graphic design. Based on credits, I am a senior, and it’s also the beginning of my fourth year here, so that makes sense but because I am doing the double-major, I will probably continue going to Southern for at least another three years (including this semester). What separates me from other musicians, is that I’m not really a musician? Just kidding, sort of. I don’t exactly play an instrument, unless you consider the mixer an instrument, but rather I focus on music production. This includes the recording, mixing, and mastering of audio, using technology, such as Logic Pro and Reason.

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

A.) I don’t remember this, but I always hear the story of when I was 3-years-old, and I pointed to some guy on the TV and said something like, “I want to do that when I grow up.” The guy was playing a violin, so my parents got me a violin, not a full-size, obviously, because I wouldn’t have been able to hold it. I played the violin off and on from that moment through high school. As a child and through adolescence, I frequently visited Switzerland, where my mom is from and where I have friends. One of my good friends, Günther, who is a few years older than me, was and still is into making music, and introduced me to Reason. That was the moment I discovered that using a computer I could produce virtually any sound. “So, why again am I playing an instrument?” I thought to myself. Between starting the violin and discovering all that Reason has to offer, I also tried playing the electric bass, which lasted about half a year, the guitar, which lasted about two weeks, the drums, which lasted about four or five years, and I’ve always messed around on the piano but nothing serious ever came of any of that.

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

A.) That’s an interesting topic that I think you’re getting at here. It used to be that I would answer this question with an answer like, “Dr. Dre and Eminem’s beats influence my music making.” But that has changed over the last one or two years, now that I have started listening to more mainstream music, in addition to people like Dr. Dre and Eminem. But the strangest part of all this is that when I listen to music like that, it almost never shows in my own music productions. And to top it all off, I actually listen to my own music a lot more than anything else. The reason for this is because I always want to improve my music, and I rarely think any of my songs are “done.” This is the main reason why I love to collaborate. That is, I come up with the skeleton of a track, and then work with other instrumentalists, composers, and producers, to get their twist on my tracks. Usually, this process yields awesome results.

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

A.) I would ultimately like to take my music to somewhere in the entertainment business wherever my unique twist on music can fit in. I guess you could call me a solo artist, although I thoroughly enjoy working with most other artists, with backgrounds all over the place. I have worked with musicians with backgrounds and specialties that range from rock and punk, to hip-hop and rap, and I recently met another artists who is interested in working on some funk and soul music. I am not currently looking to get a deal anywhere, but if the chance came along, I would most likely take it. Although, I would like to finish both the graphic design and the electronic music degrees I am currently working on at Southern.

Q.) What is your advice to local artists 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.) Well, personally, I used to put some of my music on YouTube, but I stopped doing that because people I didn’t know were inboxing me, asking to use some of the tracks. Also, with the right knowledge, anyone can rip a track from YouTube and spit over it which is not what I want. I want the experience of working with the vocalists, as well as instrumentalists, and mixing, mastering, and producing the tracks. When I am in that mood or phase when I don’t feel like making music, it’s probably because I have other things to do. I am not at all saying that I have more important things to do, because making music is my top priority 99 percent of the time; it’s just that sometimes, school and life get in the way. This is  the one downside to being a non-traditional “musician.” Because I do not play an instrument, and I can’t really carry my equipment everywhere with me, because it’s just so much, sometimes it’s hard for me to be able to put down my ideas. And ultimately, I do end up forgetting some ideas, but luckily not many.

Q.) What is a way for people to go and listen to your music? Do you have any projects you’re currently working on and when can we expect that to be out?

A.) If people are interested in working with me on a track, just contact me. Friend me on Facebook and tell me what’s good. Or just email me (SebastianSSmith@gmail.com). Like I said before, I like working with any type of instrumentalists or vocalists and any type of genre, even if it’s just to jam. Let me be the recording engineer in the background. All I ask is that before we hit the studio, I would just like to meet you and just talk about what it is you want to do musically and if I can help you achieve your musical goals through recording, I’ll most likely do it. As far as listening to my music, you can listen to some of my not-so-great older stuff on YouTube, but I wouldn’t advise that. My style is now much broader and really, I am willing to work on anything.

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

A.) Many of my “music friends” or acquaintances don’t know that I also do graphic design, just like many of my “graphic design friends” or acquaintances don’t know I make music. I just want people to know that I do both. They are both passions I have and love to explore.

Q.) If it wasn’t for music, how do you think life would’ve turned out for you?

A.) Honestly, I have no idea what I would do without music in my life. I mean, maybe I would have more money saved up because I have spent so much over the years on my studio, but other than that, I really don’t know. Every day, when I get home, I sit in front of my computer and either create or edit a track. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, my day is just not complete without doing that.

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

A.) Same as everyone else – get a job. But seriously, as I said before, I would like a job that explores music and graphics in the entertainment industry, so I can use both of my “talents,” if you will, at the same job.

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 memory from my experience at Southern so far is when I took MUS 428 with Dr. Kuss. If I hadn’t gotten into that course, I probably wouldn’t have decided to add the music major to my art/graphic design major. I ended up with an awesome grade in the class, and soon after, I added the second major (the music major).

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