Quiet Entertainer creates and performs music that is anything but quiet and is most certainly entertaining.
The moniker is that of Nashville artist and DJ Greg Freeman. In this interview, we’ll find out how he uses technology to blend electronic and hip-hop into a style all his own and reach his fans in the information age.
Bill Welense: Your music is a unique blend of styles, with melodies and structures that aren’t typical of most electronic music. What artists are your major influences and inspiration? Do you have any classical or otherwise formal training in music?
Quiet Entertainer: My major influences originate from DJ Shadow to Tangerine Dream. I discovered both during the same week at college. Also, Mutemath has been a big influence. I’ve spent a lot of hours listening to them. Blue Man Group is a big performance influence as well. I think the big thing that all of these artists do is blend styles and add lots of layers. As I listen to even newer music, I’m listening for how they do those things. I don’t have any formal training in music.
BW: You seem to have some “geek cred” between your web site, your on-line store and your use of social media sites. How did you come about using technologies like blogging and Twitter to promote your work? What are some lessons you have learned along the way?
QE: Geek Cred. I like that. I actually got to work for a band a few years ago. That experience helped me learn about all the different channels you ultimately have to be on. After that job ended, I kept researching and reading up on the industry and different social media sites. Eventually, I discovered sites like Audible Hype,GenYRockstars, & Evolvor.com. Finally about 6 months ago, I joined Label 2.0, which is a subscription site geared for musicians to learn how to leverage internet marketing strategies. All that to say, I have learned a lot about the internet in general in the past few months. The internet should actually make things easier instead of harder! It’s a great tool, but shouldn’t consume you as an artist.
BW: What hardware and software do you use to create your music? How does that differ, if at all, from what you use for your live performances?
QE: I have always used FLStudio as my main sequencing program. Also, turntables and a mixer; along with a Roland SP404. I use all of those things live as well along with a midi controller and a regular old keyboard. I am currently teaching myselfAbleton Live for both live performance and producing. I will still use FLStudio to do a lot for now since I am still comfortable with it.
BW: Many rock bands starting out struggle to strike a balance between playing covers and original music in their local scenes. What has your experience been like being a musician coming up in the DJ/dance scene?
QE: Nashville has an amazing scene for DJs and Electronic music. One of the things I’ve noticed here is the different types of DJs. Some only play other people’s music, while some only play originals. I have tried to be someone who mostly plays things that I’ve created while throwing a sprinkling of other samples in for live shows. I’ve been learning though that since no one knows my music that well, people aren’t really responding the way I’d want. When some guy just gets up there and plays House of Pain or some well known 90s hip-hop song and the crowd goes nuts, I always feel like a chump sometimes. :-) As I continue to grow as an artist, I hope to find the proper balance between doing your own thing while also giving the crowd what they want. Again, there are a lot of DJs who do this very well. Other than trial and error, my main method of learning is to watch and study these DJs.
BW: You seem incapable of blending musical styles in a bad way. Have you considered broadening beyond electronic and hip-hop? Perhaps collaborating with rock or jazz musicians? What about incorporating different vocal styles, such as something Norah Jones-esque or even something metal, like Converge?
QE: Thank you! I’ve considered branching out. Working with other musicians and other genres can always promote artistic growth if you do it right. Actually, I have done some things for local artists in Nashville that are different from my norm. For example, I did some programming for Max Beizer on his track, “Bear With Me.” I’d love to do something totally mine with a great vocalist. I’m open to do more things like that, but I also want to focus more on becoming better at what I actually am doing in electronica and hip-hop. It’s becoming easier to do music now; so a lot more people are doing it. If you’re not careful, you can spread yourself too thin. It’s kind of like what we were saying before about the internet. Focusing your efforts is sometimes more important than casting a wide net in some cases.
BW: Lastly, the Apple iPad is “all the rage” these days. Have you considered using one (or two, or three) for live production or performances, such as what Rana Sobhany has done?
QE: I’m not super excited about the iPad as an instrument at this time. I’m sure some things can change, but for now I don’t see the iPad as making anything easier for me as a DJ the way that Serato or Ableton has. I’ve seen people use the iPhone as an instrument and it wasn’t necessarily a good look even though it was “cool.” Just because you can, doesn’t mean you always should. So I’m not impressed yet, but I want to be. Here’s the coolest thing I’ve seen with an iPad so far.
midiPad in action from kai on Vimeo.