Raheem Jarbo interview

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Find Raheem @
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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I make original hip hop songs, as a vocalist and producer, and video game remixes; and spend about half the year touring and performing my music on stage. For the past 6 years I have been a middle school teacher, until I resigned in 2012 to make music independently.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I feel like having one foot firmly immersed in the hip hop world and another deeply planted in the video games industry has enabled me to get into some pretty amazing situations. I don’t see many people with my passion and knowledge of both in my industry.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I produce on Reason 4.0 with a huge midi keyboard, and use Garage Band and an AKAI MPK for live shows. My DJ/engineer records most of my vocals on Acid.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
Audacity is a lifesaver, though I hear that the new Reason all but eliminates the need for sample-chopping. Mixmeister allows me to get BPMs of music quick fast.

When do you find you are most creative?
I’m most creative after watching the news, or reading an interesting book, or when I first wake up in the morning. I dream about new ideas, so I spend the first few hours of the day trying to get those ideas out of my head and onto paper or a notepad app.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
When creating, I draw inspiration from everything around me…. when in a positive mood, my music reflects that, when I’m down, my music also reflects that. I’ve been pretty upbeat for most of this year, but now after the Sandy Hook Elementary situation, I’ve just been in a perpetual state of depression, as a former teacher, my heart goes out to all involved. I’m working on music that reflects my current mood so I just hope my next project doesn’t bring anyone down.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
There’s no secret to what I do, it’s really a matter of how my brain wants to work on a particular day. Some days nothing, other days, 5-6 songs. I make sure to get out of the house as much as possible, either going to the lake or to the library, I try to experience new things in the course of a day so that I can think differently. Now that I don’t work a 9-5, every day is Friday, haha….. it’s easy for every day to feel the same unless you specifically go out of your way to be sure to do something differently to make this day stand out. When that happens, new ideas come.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I bring my mic with me whenever I go someplace, and I hook up a makeshift lab in any hotel room I stay in, and usually, creativity follows. I wind up writing more and more music when in a new creative space.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
Every project is a lesson, but I learned this past year that it’s all about pleasing yourself….unless you’ve been hired for a specific job, of course. But if you aren’t pleased, it doesn’t matter how many accolades you get, if you can’t be proud of the work you’ve finished. I don’t do much freelance work, so I’m working for myself most of the time. This year, I made more music than I ever had in my life and the results were great. I’m learning that there are no rules in the independent music game, everyone is starting from level 1-1 and the game keeps changing. Evolve or die.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Stay on top of everything… be a fan! Play what people are playing, listen to what people are listening to, and stay knowledgeable about as many new software innovations as you can. You want to be an asset to anyone you work with and the best way is to increase your knowledge base. I won’t tell you the obvious “stay true to yourself” or “follow your dreams,” but if you don’t make the things you care about a bigger part of your life, you aren’t really living.

About The Author

Pasi Pitkänen

Pasi is more than just a man from Finland with video game and movie addictions. He is also a TIGA award-winning sound designer and composer with versatility and passion. Pasi currently works as a sound designer at Rovio Entertainment Ltd.