Johannesburg, South Africa
082 961 3219

History

Making music happen

Early years

Looking back on life I realise that from a young age I would obsess over things.

My first ever obsession was with He-man action figures. This was replaced by obsessions with wood work and video games.

At some point the action figure and video game obsessions merged.

Enter the Yamaha keyboard

All of these obsessions lasted a few years but when I started to obsess over music in 1994 nothing ever dislodged the obsession in subsequent years. In primary school I had a brief stint doing solo and choir singing, but at age 14, armed with a primitive sequencer and a Yamaha PSR 48-note keyboard an entirely different world opened up within my mind.

Whilst attending school, my body would be present but my fingers and mind were busy practicing melodies gleaned from Amiga format MOD files. This soon progressed to piano lessons on Saturdays and my rugby career came to a screeching halt as a result.

Enter the electric guitar

From piano lessons, I was learning how to read music and in May of 1995 I purchased a guitar magazine covering the ’50 heaviest guitar riffs of all time’.

I promptly started playing these on keyboard but it just didn’t sound right. Keep in mind that I was 15 years of age in 1995 and the airwaves were dominated by guitar-based music. The grunge evolution was already in full swing. After some hints, my mother gifted me my first electric guitar and amp combo. Being a musician herself, I had the full support of my mom which would explain the instruments and lessons which were quite a luxury for a lad from the wrong side of the Germiston tracks.

At this time I divided my music time between playing guitar and piano until the day my piano teacher forgot about me in the annual prize giving. I then made the switch wholeheartedly to guitar and it would be many years later before I would make any form of return to playing keys again.

Henceforth I became obsessed with songwriting (mostly in the rock genre). And to do that I was very much focused on singing and playing guitar. Or what would pass for singing in those days!

How did I learn to write songs? I studied and covered other musicians’ songs. With the benefit of hindsight, these early efforts were actually quite decent. I also became a devout collector and reader of guitar magazines. In the pages of these magazines I found valuable instruction from some of the world’s best. In short, I geeked out in a big way!

Early 20s

I would also team up with other guitarists (and occasionally drummers) during my late teens and into early adulthood. A lot of jamming was taking place on weekends but nothing would ultimately coalesce from these jams. Some of my friends joined bands but I suffered from stage fright and it took a couple of drunken encounters where I’d find myself on stage before realising that being in front of people playing music could actually be a lot of fun.

In the background, I would be working jobs to fuel my gear acquisition syndrome. In the early years this was mainly confined to better amps, guitars and pedals. I was also a keen attendee at live music venues to see the big boys play in the late 90s and early 2000s version of rock n roll.

My first proper band – 7even

After several failed attempts to get a proper band going, I eventually joined my first ever serious band as the bassist of a band called Seven (weirdly spelled 7even) in my mid 20s. It was only at this age that I became slightly more comfortable in my own skin as well. My shyness in early years was a huge stumbling block but I was about to bust out of it in a big way.

The interesting thing about me joining the band was the fact that I opted to switch from guitar to bass. Having struggled to form a band in earlier years, I noticed that almost all rockers became guitarists or, to a lesser extent, singers or, an even lesser extent – drummers.

The number of bassists on the scene was very low and I went from just one more guitarist to a very in demand bassist.

Me joining 7even made the quartet complete and I suddenly found myself often playing in front of club and small festival audiences. A huge leap to be sure from the apathetic typical pub crowds that came before.

First studio encounter

It was during this time (2004), I had my first ever studio experience with Dave Cohoe of ex-Saron Gas/Seether fame and a sound engineer called Charl. This experience introduced the world of click tracks, microphone placement and live drum tracking.

Some of the songs would find their way to radio and for a short while, the band experience shaped up to be one of the most gratifying musical experiences of my life.

That was until our singer/frontman & rhythm guitarist turned over to the dark side. The guy was super talented but his general mental health was on a slippery slope and unfortunately he slid into a life of alcohol addiction at the age of around 20 to 21.

As a strange pre-emptive strike to avoid the inevitable demise of the band, I left first to pursue an obsession with Jeet Kune Do and competitive martial arts. But, that’s a story for another day. My martial arts obsession ultimately lead me to discover Buddhism which was immensely beneficial in getting my own mental demons wrestled to the ground and also stop me in my tracks along the egocentric and big-headed road I was travelling on at the time.

To this day, discovering meditation was the most significant spiritual event in my life.

Show must go on

When the band broke up, I switched back to guitar and built my first ever audio PC, capable of recording 4 tracks simultaneously.

Armed with this Maya 4-in 4-out PCI card, a cracked copy of some Steinberg/Cakewalk DAW, I was once again focused on my songwriting mission.

I soon afterwards purchased my first ever Midi keyboard and discovered soft synths at the same time.

Emergency Exit

My career (which had nothing to do with music!) took some twists and turns over the course of the next two years and when things settled down, I joined a new band called Emergency Exit in my late 20s.

For Emergency Exit I was the vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Being driven by demons to succeed, we were on the hunt for a bassist. We never secured one in the several months we were together and this prohibited moving forward in a big way.

Our persistent practice sessions with two guitars and drums did however provide me a solid enough platform to grow as a songwriter. The other guitarist (Joe) was a poet and there was no shortage of lyrical ideas from him.

I also found that my time as a bassist had a huge impact on how I now approached the guitar and I was locking in quite heavily with the drums in a rhythmic sense.

I started writing huge low riffs matched quite well by vocals. I would dare say that at this point, my voice and guitar were blurring into a single instrument.

Kicked out of the band

My push for regular rehearsals and trying to get the band into a gigging unit unfortunately stretched the drummer way beyond his comfort zone and I was soon afterwards kicked out of the band.

It was the first time in my life that that had happened to me and I was a bit crestfallen to once again be ‘band-less’.

The writing must go on

On the positive, I had established a lot of momentum in the writing department and wanted to maintain it. So I focused on writing and recording.

This was probably the event that pushed me towards becoming more of a producer as I was programming drums and bass and recording guitar and vox on top. It so happens that I was at a point in my career that I could afford to buy a DAW and I invested in new plugins. I also purchased my first ever condensor mic and preamp.

Not long after, a major disruption in my professional life took place and I was retrenched from work. The subsequent job search was incredibly frustrating and led to a decision to start my own consultancy and supplement my income by playing as a one-man band in pubs and corporate events.

Solo days

In order to play gigs, I needed backtracks and took another leap forward by investing in an electronic drumkit and set out to compile a setlist of covers to perform.

Writing midi drums, played through EZ drummer and recording actual bass parts gave me my own rhythm section over which to perform guitar and vocals in a live setting.

These cover gigs lasted at least 4 hours per night and not only did it help pay the bills, the value and impact of all this music was immense.

Enter the composer

Most significant during this period was how my ear started developing to new levels of awesomeness and I started writing songs that I’m still very proud of today.

I was very focused on writing and producing more and this component of my music life led to the first version of the Lab studio.

In addition to all the guitar, bass and drums playing, I was also playing keyboard and in 2012 I made my first proper return to the instrument.

The keeper of time

I soon after also joined a three piece rock band called Deklaration as the drummer. I wanted long hours behind the kit and that is exactly what I got. Slowly my evolution started as a half decent drummer. Being the keeper of time was a role I relished.

After a few months and continually writing new songs an itch to start a new band as frontman and guitarist started to take hold again. It was something I had never been able to pull off before as I was always in a support role and the one man band days imbued me with a confidence I had never experienced before.

Time of the wolf

Thus was born the Three Bad Wolves. I joined forces with super a talented bassist and deadly drummer.

3BW days

Our first gig was at a corporate year end function during which I pulled double duty with Deklaration on drums playing covers and switched to 3BW blasting the roof of the venue. Every molecule in the air vibrated with our music and the satisfaction that ensued was next level.

We had a great run. We jammed, gigged often and had a blast. One line-up change occurred and our momentum was preserved despite the setback. Knowing that nothing ever last forever we spent a lot of time recording songs and eventually released a track in 2016 on streaming services. As of this writing in Jan 2022, this song is approaching 10,000 plays on streaming services. The production value was an improvement but not nearly where it is in 2022.

When our bassist had to return to Nigeria for his father’s funeral, the band went on a permanent hiatus.

The Lab 2.0

In the following years I changed houses and spent a few years converting a garage space into the new Lab studio.

In 2019 I collaborated with a number of artists and started released my first track under the moniker EmDm.

Molding Myself

In 2021 I released a second collab and this time everything came together. I’d been playing keyboard/piano on most tracks and finally I achieved my best mix to date. In retrospect, part of the puzzle was to do my own mastering as well.

I felt like I had finally achieved the world-class level I’d been striving for for all these years.

The future

Composing music comes naturally to me, but it took 10 years to achieve great results in the mixing department.

Many more tracks are in progress at the moment both with and without guest artists and it is my aim to ensure 2022 will be the year that my musical journey grows by a quantum leap.

My focus now is on shortening the period from writing to release as quick as possible.

It’s been an amazing journey thus far and I’m looking forward to sharing it with like minded artists.