Welcome to the very first edition of my new series, QAs Doing Cool Things. This series features one of the members of my Super Cool Newsletter for the Quietly Ambitious with what they're up to and what lessons they're learning right now. We've got writers, teachers, moms, software developers, professional musicians, and more on this list, and we've all got tons we can learn from each other. (What? You're not on the list!? Sign up in the side bar or on the bottom of this page.)
Plus, isn't it so much more fun to read about cool people doing cool things than scrolling through the hot garbage fire of negativity burning in your social media feeds?
This week, we're featuring musician and composer Alexander Bornstein.
I've known Alex for about 15 years, and he's one of the best people I know. He's a loyal friend, a Simpsons quoting machine, and always fun to hang out with. Back in high school, Alex used to listen to film scores in his car and would burn me CDs full of tracks by James Horner and Danny Elfman. You might say Alex knew pretty early on what he wanted to do for a career, and I've watched in awe as he's worked tirelessly to make it happen. He now lives in SoCal with his wife Brett (who is also super cool).
So, for this first QA Profile, Alex graciously volunteered to be my guinea pig. Let's dig in.
What have you been working on lately?
Schematic - Schematic is an electronic music album I composed and produced in 2017. It features a mix of eclectic synthesized textures, processed sounds, and small string orchestra. There's also some cool synthwave inspirations, too! I've planned a follow up album for 2018 and am hoping to explore more vocal and string orchestra ideas. It's available on all music platforms.
Lost in Space (Netflix Original Series) - From Sept. 2017 until January of this year, I contributed music and sound design for the upcoming Netflix reboot of the 1960s series Lost in Space. I was also lucky enough to conduct some of the orchestral recording sessions held at Abbey Road Studios in London. It was a completely surreal experience! Samples from the show are available on my website, and Lost in Space premieres April 13th on Netflix.
Music Consulting in Japan - More recently, I returned from a business trip to Tokyo, Japan that involved meeting with composers tomh@ck (K-ON!, Ace of Diamond) and Rei Kondoh (Bayonetta, Star Fox Zero, Mario Party 8). My goal was to begin an outreach between the music industries here in Los Angeles and Japan. It was a fantastic trip, and our hope is that we can begin to foster a fresh exchange of ideas that will help each other's production methodologies and even potentially work opportunities.
What lessons have you been learning lately, personally and professionally?
Sit back, and relax. We spend so much time trying to fill in the blanks of so many things and it just makes me feel awful. Appreciating and slowing down is becoming more important to me as I see other people my age completely burned out and learning to hate things they used to enjoy. Cynicism just creates the illusion of wisdom and I struggle daily with this.
Personally, just learning to not take anything personally ever. All of this is a work in progress.
What's keeping you going/motivated/producing?
Music is a consistently humbling pursuit. There is no end to the things I can learn to keep improving, and it adds value to the journey of understanding it. Regardless of its status as an art form, I don't think craftsmanship is touted as much as it should be. The never ending climb is a fascinating cyclical period of satisfaction to see how high you have climbed, and humility in how far you have yet to go. I'm also very fortunate to have a wonderful support network of my wife, friends, and family.
When I need a break from music, studying language has been a great change in the last year to stay engaged--rather than just default to more TV! Verbling.com is a site I've used to take weekly Japanese lessons for the past year or so, and it's been really productive without becoming a chore.
What's the best way for people to support or help you right now?
Supporting music projects like Schematic and spreading the word if it's your cup of chai. Being a musician in this day and age is like trying to be a special grain of sand, and it's very hard to feel like you're cultivating much of a following or group of people who are interested in your work. Such problems are par for the course, but I think tech makes it easy to be another drop in the bucket.
You can get in touch with Alex through his website.
Interview numero uno is in the books. I'm super excited to see where this goes. I plan on featuring everyone from moms to photographers to engineers. Good people doing cool things — it's not as uncommon as the world would lead you to believe, my friend.
If you're not on the list and feel like you're one of those people who is smart and works hard but really doesn't like to shout your name from the rooftops, have I got the community for you! Sign up below right meow.