Artist Spotlight out my “feelers” and voila I found Jay everywhere I went – a very popular guy it seems. Actually the more involved I become in the world of internet music collaborating, the smaller the world seems and I keep running into the same people. It’s fantastic to be chatting with a collaborator in Russia at the same time as a collaborator in Australia. I honestly don’t think internet musicians sleep – at least that’s my experience!
Jay Schankman, keyboardist, internet musician
Well, this interview will be just about as informal as any interview can get. And why is that you ask? Well for one, I’m sitting at home in my pyjamas in front of the computer chatting with Jay on MSN. I did manage to forget to ask what he was wearing though! Jay is a keyboardist from the U.S.A. and I’m interviewing Jay from my home office in Canada nice and safe and snug with a warm cup of tea and honey. Rumour has it that Jay is “the man” to track down if you’re looking for a session player. So, that is exactly what I did. I put out my “feelers” and voila I found Jay
Actually, I met Jay several months ago, he was a session player on one of my very first internet collaboration projects. He popped in, laid down some tracks and was off to the next project, and only God knows where. Since then, Jay’s been mysteriously sneaking in and laying down tracks on several of my songs and I can’t even keep track of him anymore. I did happen to catch up with him before Christmas and managed to convince him to be the session player on an upand coming album I’m working on with an internet band called “Stonehinged”. Anyways, let’s see what’s up with Jay.
Jay Schankman Q: So Jay, tell me about your music career from as far back as you can remember. A: I actually started plucking on a piano at the age of three and started formal lessons at ten. I tested out the trumpet, then clarinet, oboe, bassoon and the sax. At twelve, I acquired a piano and started playing that almost exclusively. I owned a couple of guitars, but never spent the time necessary to learn to play fluently. I majored in music in college and studied formally under Herb Drury in St. Louis for a few years, jazz improvisation. Great teacher, terrible student. But I did pick up a few things despite my resistance to discipline. A couple of years ago I transitioned from multiple hardware synths to a softwarebased rig. Q: Have you ever played in a live band or have you just always been involved with internet music? A: I played in various basement and garage bands as a kid and I had my first performance with a rock band at 15. The band Spectre was the precursor to Spinal Tap. After playing halfway through our first gig at a 'teen night', our singer left to rock and roll with some chick in his van. Upon his return to the stage, we threw him into the pool and that was the end of that band. I later played with various blues and top 40 bar bands in the St. Louis area. I
decided I enjoyed studio work more than 3 hours of load in/load out time a night playing to loud drunks that could care less how well we played. Oh, I did sing backstage once with Brad Whitford from Aerosmith to an audience of 6 or 7. Q: You have to tell me your musical influences Jay, I can only guess. A: Like everyone, there are just too many to list. Believe it or not, my Grandpa was my chief influence. He was a classically schooled violinist and played radio, tv and movie appearances. At the same time he survived a 35 year career with the St. Louis Symphony. But in his early days (late 20's early 30's), he played violin through an amplifier as a lead soloist in various jazz bands. Grandpa was an innovator, I think. My Grandma says the chicks really dug him. And isn't that what music is all about, guys? Q: I hear you’re involved with a couple of different internet bands. That must keep you busy. How do you find time for everything? A: Yeah, I’m doing projects for the internet band “Stonehinged” and “Cool Beyond Zero”. Both fantastic rock bands and both bands will be releasing an album this year. And, I still find time for collaborating on my favorite sites with my favorite people. You gotta do what you love.
Q: When creating a piece of music, how do you stay unique? A: I don't try to be unique, I can't help but be different. I'm not sure if that carries over to my music or not. It's not something I think about, really. Q: What influence do you think the internet has on your music? A: It’s huge. I’ve met many compatible band mates and am able to choose through a large pool of talent. In the old days one would put up a small 3x5 card in the local music stores to fine potential band mates to audition. The net has made the process so much more efficient. Q: I see that you belong to two internet bands "Cool Beyond Zero" and "Stonehinged". How do you manage to stay on top of all the work that is coming in? A: It helps to be able to work with no deadlines, in fact I could never get anything done if there were strict deadlines. It is a luxury that unsigned artists and hobbiests have to be able to spend as much time as it takes to get a track right without watching the clock.. or the wallet. So the driving force behind my productivity is simply the love of creating music. Often I will be inspired by something Marc (CBZ) or Billy (Stonehinged) does, and I will put everything else aside to focus.. lay down my track, and move on.
Q: How many other projects do
you have going on at one time? A: At least a half dozen songs at any one time. Once I see a song approaching the mix stage, I give it another listen to make sure I have
Jay Made the best choices. I usually retrack one or two before I’m satisfied. Q: What genres do you play in? A: Mostly I enjoy exploring the different forms of rock, although I love the blues and jazz as well. Q: How many hours per week do you spend on internet collaborating? A: Lately I have pared down my writing time, but when I am cooking, I’d say I put 2030 hours a week in. Q: Who are the band members in CBZ? A: Steve McAndrew – guitar/vocals, Marc Traynor – bass, Todd Vierra drums, and myself.
Q: What's new with CBZ upcoming albums or projectst you are working on? A: CBZ is probably approaching the one year anniversary.. we have probably 20 songs close to completion. The end goal is in sight, but none of us feel pressured.. it’s understood that we will take care of the business end of things after the music is the way we want it. I can’t say enough for the advantages of creating music for the sake of the music itself. I think all working songwriters should take note of the trend in the industry to completely devalue the recorded piece. Without money being the motivating factor, only those true musical intentions will remain.
Q: What's new with Stonehinged? A: We’ve just finished our third track for our new album to be released later this year called “Trevor and Roger’s 13 Stygian Tales”. It’s an album of quirky rock songs. Actually, this album covers a whole range of genres and no two songs are anything alike. We’ve got classic rock, progressive, alternative, ballads, instrumental...you name it. We have some cool stuff planned but I’m told it’s hushhush for now. Certainly an album worth waiting for. Q: Where are the people from that you collaborate with? A: All over the map really – players come together from all over the world.. it can make skype meetings a logistical challenge. But really, the only limitation would be communication, but I’ve found that it really takes very few words to communicate the direction of the song, when the members work well and have the same musical influences.. I understand a request to “make it a little more Jon Lord and less Keith Emerson”, for example. Q: Do you ever perform live? A: I have yes, but not for 12 years I think. Q: Do you have any other hobbies besides music? A: Music is it. I work a fulltime job, in my other spare time.
Q: Favorite Movie? A: Goodfellas, Wall Street, This Is Spinal Tap Q: Favorite band? A: Too many to mention. Q: Do you have a favorite instrument or musical "treasure" from your past that you have as a keepsake? A: Yeah without a doubt it would be my grandpa’s violin and the original amplifier he used back in the 30’s. Q: Anything else you want to add that would be of interest to others listening to your music A: Someday I will fade away into obscurity and almost no one will notice. So if you enjoy what I do, you have my sincere gratitude. Well, there we have it, Jay Shankman, internet musician extrordinaire. Good night Jay!! It’s always a pleasure chatting.
The Collaborator profiles internet musicians from around the world. If you are an internet musician and would like a profile, please contact us at the email below. This is an excellent marketing tool to include as part of an EPK or a band page.
Q: Favorite song? A: Quite a moving target.. usually what I am working on at the time.
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