Industry Pro: Composer & Recording Studio Owner Brett Perry
Brett Perry is one of those lucky people who discovered a passion from a young age. But knowing how to follow that love of music and apply it to a real life career is the tricky part. Brett’s path was carved through a combination of instinct (incl. knowing when to change gears completely) and impressing the right people to make the right opportunities come his way. Read on for details about this multi-faceted musical talent.
Current position: Composer & Owner of Daddy Jack Music in Burbank
What was the beginning of your love of music? Kind of twofold. My parents had all these patriotic records and I grew up on marches. But the cooler answer is: the day my brother brought home “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” I was blown away by it. My older brother and sister got me into the music of the late 60s. I consider myself blessed to be of that time period. As far as creating music, I started playing the drums when I was about five. When I was in junior high, I was playing in a band with 20 year-olds and I had to get permission to play in clubs.
College & degree: BA, Music Composition from Ouachita Baptist University
Internship: I interned at various studios in Nashville, TN At Goldmine Studios, I worked at as the assistant engineer on a project.
First job in the entertainment industry: At Goldmine, the producer & engineer did three projects back-to-back. By the second project, the producer paid me to do some programming of synthesis sound. We developed a relationship and, for eight months to a year, I worked for them. I programmed a Synclavier System that they bought and eventually I started breaking off for different projects for other people.
Career path: I met Robbie Buchanan in Nashville on a recording session for Amy Grant. (YII note: Robbie Buchanan is a legendary keyboardist, record producer, and composer.) He had a position available working for him so I moved to LA. The first project was Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville’s “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind” and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
After about five years working for this man I had grown to consider my “musical father,” I changed paths. At the time, rap was becoming big. I knew it wasn’t something I was going to be successful at, so I made a lateral move into TV and Film. Orchestral music was my passion in college, which I had traded for a safer path. This move brought my dream back alive. I worked for Jonathan Wolff for 2 ½ years and then went on my own and opened Daddy Jack’s.
Big breaks: There are a few breaks: Working on “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind” and on Amy Grant’s ”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Becoming a staff composer at Jonathan Wolff’s Music Consultants Group. (It was an amazing place to get the lateral training I needed for the technical differences between TV and Film versus records.) Being the composer for “That 70′s Show,” a job I got after about a year and a half of being on my own. (It was a great run. Working for Carsey Warner was a dream. They really made our jobs fun.) And, lastly, doing my first feature, 40 SUNDAYS, which I’m still working on. It’s hard to get a first full-length feature film. I love writing shorter pieces, but to be able to say something long and slow, to elongate the expression, it’s just a dream for a composer.
Eureka moment (when you realized you did or did not want to do something or that you should do something differently, etc.): My first TV show didn’t call to be scored to picture, but I chose to do it to get my chops up. I could’ve just written a lot of music for them to cut into the show as they wanted, but knowing the physical and mental stamina that it would take to do it, I still convinced myself to do it. This was 40 minutes of music a week and I could’ve made just as much money and slept a lot more if I hadn’t done it that way. But it better prepared me for my future and made my next opportunities much more manageable.
Describe a typical work day in your current position: I usually try to just write in the mornings – no orchestration. Then after lunch, go back over what I’ve written and orchestrate.
Worst day in entertainment industry: I write music for a living. There’s bad stuff for sure but at the end of the day, I’m really grateful for my job.
Best day in entertainment industry: Seeing tears when someone hears my music. Other emotions are great, but tears tells me I was right on.
Best thing about your current job: It’s always hearing your stuff being played live. Nothing like it in the world!
Worst thing about your current job: When the communication isn’t working. Many producers and directors can’t speak in a musical language. The worst instruction you can get as a composer is “I’ll know it when I hear it.” It leads to a process of trial and error, of excluding what they don’t like rather than giving them what they want.
Brush with greatness (can be a celebrity encounter or just being exposed to someone being brilliant at what they do): Talking to the doctor post-op at my four month-old son’s heart surgery. My career felt pretty insignificant that day.
Secret of your success/advice to the newbie: This career is 90% business, 10% art. If you can’t accept those percentages, I would think twice about being a composer.
Next move: To implement the strategies we’ve been working on here at Daddy Jack Music. We’re all excited to see our five year plan take flight. The team here has designed Daddy Jack’s to be a modern day Brill Building, a place where writers and composers can express themselves, and to implement a new model based way more out the enjoyment of people collaborating that just outputting a bunch of music.
Visit Daddy Jack Musicto find out more about projects Brett has worked on and keep up with current events at Daddy Jack.
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