Note: This post hasn't been updated in over 2 years.
Playing in a band, studying Sound Recording Technology, watching Clint Eastwood Westerns, and having the worst possible workspace for a musician. Today we meet Cliff Obrist (TheAudioOtter) from AudioJungle.
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Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
I am 25 years old and live in Buffalo, NY. I am originally from Syracuse, NY, but moved out here to find a job in audio engineering after the music store I worked at shut down.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
Currently I only belong to AudioJungle selling music and logo/indent files. I do not belong to any of the other marketplaces due to my lack of knowledge in anything other than music.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
I started playing piano when I was 11 years old and guitar when I was 13, taking lessons on both instruments. I’ve also taught myself how to play the harmonica and the accordion. In college I studied Sound Recording Technology at SUNY Fredonia and continued to take lessons on piano. Throughout the past eight years I have been playing with and writing songs for indie rock band Thrifter.
Describe your home workspace.
My workplace is in the basement of a duplex home. The runway for the Buffalo International Airport is directly across the street, which is a huge problem for recording (unless I need to record airplanes taking off). The heater for the house is in the basement and turns on every ten minutes and I can’t play anything too loud otherwise the neighbors will complain. Other than that, excellent recording space.
Anyway, I use mainly Nuendo 4 and Reason 4 to record songs for AudioJungle. For monitors, I have a pair of KRK Rockit 8’s and my interface is an M-Audio Profire 2626. The keyboard at left in the photo is a Korg Polysix, top right is a Roland Juno 6 and bottom right is a Casio CDP-100. Oh yeah, and the keyboard on the very right next to the computer is a Novation 49SL MKII.
The guitars are, from front to back, a Fender Jaguar Special, a Jay Turser Shark, a Martin DC-15e and a Seagull S6. For a preamp, we have a Universal Audio LA-610 MKII and for microphones, I usually use either a BLUE Blueberry or a Rode K2.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
Most of my ideas come from just messing around on the piano or guitar. I carry around a handheld recorder in order to capture any ideas that pop into my head. I will then take one of those ideas and try to develop it into a song. Sometimes I will just pick a genre I want to write in and try to develop an idea from that.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Seeing as how I only have two sales, I wouldn’t say that my portfolio is very successful. However, from what I’ve see on the marketplaces it seems that everyone on the website genuinely enjoys what they do. I believe that is the key to becoming successful in anything that you do.
What do you do to market your files?
Every time I have a new file on AudioJungle, I make a post on Facebook so people can stay up to date on what I’m doing. I’ve also been using the Music Video loops to post songs on my YouTube channel. Sometimes I just browse the marketplaces for unique artists that I enjoy and then follow them. Its a good way for people to see what you’re up to and who knows, maybe they will want to use something from your portfolio.
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
I really like Ginger Ale Rag. After learning how to play Scott Joplin’s “Pineapple Rag”, I was inspired to write my own ragtime piece. I really enjoy the syncopation of ragtime and the happy, upbeat feel that most rags have.
My next favorite would have to be European Electronic Pop Rock. If you are a fan of Muse, you could probably tell that I was inspired by them to write this. I really like how they use the chord changes to switch keys during a song. I tried to emulate that in this piece.
Third favorite would probably be Stunt It. The section that starts at 0:23 reminds me of the band Wolf Mother and I think thats why I like it. Also, for some reason the kick drum part at 0:21 gets me pumped up every time I hear it.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
I really like IndieGround on GraphicRiver. They make really awesome posters for music shows. I was really impressed by their work.
What do you do in your spare time?
Most of the spare time I have is dedicated to making music either for AudioJungle or for my band Thrifter. However, in the slight chance that I find a moment where I don’t feel like playing music, I will either be golfing, swimming, snowboarding, or exercising in a feeble attempt to maintain the rather unattractive body that I have. I’m also a big fan of Clint Eastwood westerns and classic Disney movies.