Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oscar Ortega interview - This shredder-on-the-rise gives us some tips on the industry

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
Read as much as possible about the music industry and its laws.
I bought a few books before starting a mentoring program that Tom Hess has created. I am currently in this program and have not needed to purchase any more books. However, I am confident in recommending the following books:

Legal Aspects of the Music Industry by Richard Schulenberg, All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 6th Edition by Donald S. Passman, The inner game of music by Barry Green.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
Understand that the music and the music industry are separated by a very, very fine line.
When you are in the music industry/business you have become a product.
It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, the music business IS a business and the product to sell is your music and you.

Before you take a leap into the unknown, I would recommend you do some research and try and find info about managers, laws, copyrights, agents and what they do for you. They all have an important role in the music industry and sometimes you might not even need a few of them because you can do it on your own, it just takes more time.

Completely lose your ego. Talk about karma at its best - your ego could potentially destroy your musical career if you use it in a negative way. In the music business you have to be smart, humble and own the ground you walk on.


What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
There are no true pressures in the music industry (unless you are a huge pop celebrity). The pressures are made because of the choices you take. You can have either a successful career without the drama or you can have a successful career WITH drama. It just depends on how the person handles the celebrity status they gain after a few touring shows. The ego could play a huge part in this.

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
In all honesty, I practiced about 3 to 4 hours a day. Sometimes I would try to practice for 12 hours but with my case of ADD, that wasn’t really practical. Now, I have a schedule for each day and only practice for an hour or two, tops. I concentrate on my weaknesses but also evaluate my strong points and make them stronger. This could mean in composition, technique, scales and chord shapes, reading jazz charts, sight reading, slide guitar, etc.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
Take the time to make mistakes. And once you notice that you have made a mistake; correct it. Muscle memory could have a huge impact on you if you have done something wrong for several years then try to correct it. I am mostly self-taught and I learned some bad habits that I am not trying to change.

Check out who is the best teacher in your community and try to take lessons from them. The value of the guitar lessons from a great teacher is something that you will carry for the rest of your life, so why not learn the right way from the start?

What gear do you use and (more importantly) why?
I am currently endorsed by Halo Guitars. This guitar is a beast! It’s an 8 String guitar with EMG pickups. The most amazing guitar I’ve ever owned. Action is really low, and I can get a massive low with the F#. I use the best cables out there IMO, guitar-cable.com, I am also endorsed by them and they make the cables to your preference! They are fantastic.

I’ve wanted the best instruments possible, always. Not for bragging rights, but more because of the dynamics I have to have when performing gigs. One day I can play in a metal band and the next day I could be hired to do a latin jazz combo.

My guitar, cables, amps and pedals HAVE to be there in order for me to be the best. However, equipment is a 10% part of what makes a guitar player amazing. It’s the heart of the player that communicates the most, not the 25K replica guitar.

For my guitars I like to use a mahogany body with maple neck to achieve the most sustain. I only use BOSS pedals. I think they are the best for my situation. The guitar picks vary. I sometimes use the lightest I can find or the heaviest I find, it all depends on the type of gig I have to do. For metal, I use Jim Dunlop (the purple picks) and for jazz I use a Jazz III guitar pick.

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self expression most accurately?
Everything I play on the guitar reflects my character and personality.
Every time I grab my instrument, I become close to it and in return I leave a little part of my soul in that performance or recording. In music, I either have to give it my all, all the time, or nothing at all. Freedom exists in music and this is where I am free.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
I try to achieve self expression. It’s a real simple concept, but a few people understand it. Since I am no poet with words I have to make my instrument tell a story with music. For example, in my song ”Power of One”, the song is an achievement of what 1 person can do. 1 person can make a difference and when I wrote that song I was filled with adrenaline! I was ready For the world and the world wasn’t ready for me! That’s why the song has a fast passed groove and an intense solo and interesting riffs that make it powerful.

Talk about the process of recording your album. Are there any tips and trick that you could pass on? How did you choose the other instrumentalists (if you did).
I could go on for days on this, but I’m going to give you a list of things to do before you set foot in the studio.

1. Know your songs
2. Choose the right musicians for your project
3. Have a schedule for the musicians you are going to hire
4. Write a contract for the musician’s time. If you are paying them or not.
5. Copyright your material after it has been recorded
6. If possible, rehearse the songs with the musicians before they go to the studio
7. ONLY use the time needed at the studio and don’t fool around at the studio. The more time you spend at the studio, the less money you will have.
8. If you have an engineer working on the CD, talk to that person and express your gratitude in working with them. No matter if you pay them or not. They can either make your CD crap or make it awesome.
9. ORGANIZE, EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
10. Enjoy the process of recording and learn from the things you do there. It’s a huge eye opener on how much time artists spend time doing a full CD.

My tip to everyone: Enjoy, live and breathe music. Set goals for yourself and try to achieve them. You have the power to become great or to become weak and powerless. What will you choose?

Oscar Ortega
www.oscarortega.net
www.myspace.com/oscarortega
www.kamphirecollective.net
www.myspace.com/kamphirecollective

1 comment:

Richard said...

Oscar:
Ehanks for the plug. And top billing too!
Rich Schulenberg