Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Passion For Production by Sarah Tither-Kaplan

Fela Ross, 15-year-old Electronic Music Production GRAMMY Camper, has been playing, writing, recording, and producing music throughout the majority of his life. Last year he decided to take his work to the next level, and thanks to his mother’s serendipitous discovery of a GRAMMY Camp® flyer, Fela became one of the youngest participants in the fifth annual GRAMMY Camp.

With wisdom beyond his years, Fela pursues his musical passions with enthusiasm and discipline. And by constantly broadening his knowledge and refining his skills, he’s been able to experiment and excel in almost every aspect of creating music.

Busy preparing for recording GRAMMY Camp’s final recording and showcase, Fela pulled himself out of the electronic music production room for a few minutes to talk to us about the his “strange” passion for music and his first week at GRAMMY Camp.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan: What are you involved in at GRAMMY Camp and what other musical realms do you pursue?
Fela Ross: I’m in music production, I’m a multi-instrumentalist, I’m a songwriter, and I’m into dance and stuff like that.

STK: Most kids your age would rather spend time just being kids than practicing and maintaining such a clear focus on such a demanding discipline. Why do you think music has such a strong hold on your life?
FR: They say you should always do what you love, and I feel like this is what I was made for. Since I was four, this is what I love; I have that passion born inside of me.

STK: Where do you want to go with your music in the future?
FR: I want to go with this as far as I am meant to go with this. Who knows, I might just rule the road. I just want to reach people through music in a different way that’s never been done. There are a lot of artists that take the clich├ęd road. I just want to take the road that’s never been taken before and reach everywhere. I want to spread my message to where everyone can relate and everyone can be touched by it. But it’s not always about a message, sometimes you really love this song, and you want the world to dance to it, and you want the world to see the dedication you’ve put into the track. It could either be “One Love,” by Bob Marley, or just “I want to rock and roll, and party all night" (by Kiss).

STK: What is your approach to production and why does it appeal to you?
FR: When we produce, we have to get [the track] from the basics, like drum and bass, to where it can be in a stage setting. We have to pull all these people together -- the singers, the songwriters, and we know how the audience is going to react, we have to mix all these different fields and artistry, as the producer. But it gets awkward to display your skill as a producer outside of the studio, like I’m in a band and I don’t display the whole music production thing in that setting. I produce my own band’s music. It goes hand in hand being in a band and production, and it’s all arrangement and composition. I started singing at seven, my mom’s a singer, I started writing songs at seven, playing keys at nine, trumpet at 10. I’m 15 now and I started producing when I was 10. It’s something that appealed to me, I just researched, and it came natural to me; the first time I got on a program it was just instinct.

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