I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love music. My entry into filmmaking came only after an internship at a North Hollywood recording studio brought my recording chops up, and then I used that skillset to start location recording, and then sound editing, picture editing, post production supe duties, and finally producing…but I digress.
I’ve been playing music since I was five years old. First piano and drums (orchestra percussionist for five years), then classical guitar for a while, then cello for a few years, voice lessons in high school, and on-the-job accompanist training in college. So it should come as no surprise that my current business has a soft spot for musicians.
What does that mean? Well, I still need to make money. But I can cut deals that benefit an artist or label because of my varied skillset. I can do your product packaging, but I can also work on your website and advertising. We can work on a music video, brilliant photography, and even do some recording. Later on I’ll show you a few examples.
But first: the newest project that I’m working on is with a fantastic San Antonio-based artist, Matt McCormack. Check out this guy’s amazing songwriting. We met through a friend, and I played onstage with him a few months ago when he traveled to L.A. at Genghis Cohen (fantastic venue, and fantastic restaurant too).
So when Matt asked me to add some keyboard parts to his new recording project, we embarked on a long-distance back-and-forth to find the right sounds for these new songs. Here are the first two:
I’m really excited about the collaboration, and I hope to be onstage with Matt again sometime soon.
Check out this amazing 70s-style photo from a recording session with Shakedown Mambo:
…and the photo that ended up on the back cover of their most recent album:
I did a rather long blog post on the creation of the CD packaging for T-Lou, a Zydeco/accordion artist here in L.A., but there are a few other recent additions. These are varied, but fantastic:
(notice that I started with photography and moved to doing Shakedown Mambo’s packaging?)
(Buddy Zapata is also the guy who introduced me to Matt McCormack…)
Avery Roberts (my son!)(see the above CD cover) needed some demos recorded. Those demos turned into a self-published album entitled “Where Nothing Can Hurt Me“.
The aforementioned keyboard tracks for Matt McCormack’s new album were recorded in my studio, and then added to the mix by Matt’s amazing production team in San Antonio — an engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer.
Check out my “audio” page for more examples of my experience working as a composer, engineer, and producer.
All of these videos were shot and produced by Hearken Creative:
I was a founding member (keyboards again) of a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and developed an “homage” logo for that band:
As you can see, we are a one-stop shop for marketing musical acts. Does this limit us? No! We are still working on communications and marketing for pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, colleges, museums, and more. But it’s fun to look at one market segment, and see how much incredibly fun material we have produced.
(The blog post title is from 2003’s movie “School of Rock”…)
I dislike the question “Are you busy?” — because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t crave “busy-ness” — being busy just for the sake of being busy. However!…I love filling my life with experiences. Over the past decade, between my wife and I, we have added a teaching credential, several certifications, graduating from Cal State L.A., thousands of miles of travel for both business and pleasure, and — as of a few days ago — not one but two teenagers in the house! (Ooops — I forgot — now I’m directing a church choir too.) And that’s on top of the day-to-day running of a household and business.
The point is this: I love learning. Lately I have been reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why (unsure if I agree with his premise, but still interesting), a bunch of blogs on HTML5 and e-mail deliverability, someone’s senior thesis comparing the Contemporary Christian worship/music industry to European Communism, and a bunch of online articles on both marketing and studio music production. I also try and read at least one work of fiction per month. Tonight I’ll be a chaperone for a children’s choir while they rehearse with Gustavo Dudamel at Disney Hall. All of this activity keeps my mind constantly seeing new things, new solutions, new issues, new opportunities. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But would I jump at helping you out with a new project tomorrow? Of course! Give me a call.
Busy-ness aside, here are some new projects that just launched this week:
Matt Frazier website. Matt and I have been friends for over 20 years, and when it was time for him to get a website makeover, he came to me with very specific hopes: short, easy-to-navigate, boldly individual, and something that he could continue to update on his own. We developed a one-page website out of relatively-simple HTML5, and Matt has already done a bunch of updates himself since it launched a few days ago. Matt has been in the music industry for a long time (and he’s a fantastic musician himself!), and has a deep understanding of music theory, money — as it relates to music, and recording/producing. We wish him all the best with the new website, and a new stage in his career.
Jon Leonoudakis website. Jon and I have worked on several films together — both behind the camera, and in the marketing department. I shot footage for his award-winning documentaries “The Day the World Series Stopped” and “Hano! A Century In the Bleachers“, and then designed the packaging and websites for both films when principal photography was wrapped. So, when Jon needed a new website, he contacted me and we worked out a deal that was win-win for everyone. Like Matt, Jon was interested in having something that he could continue to update himself, so Hearken Creative set up a robust WordPress site where everything is modular, and Jon can continue to grow the site as his production company grows. We’re excited to see where Jon goes next with his unique brand of storytelling, and awesome producing style!
Other projects that have been happening recently:
I designed much of the collateral artwork for The Planetary Society’s spacecraft-building Kickstarter campaign, and they have almost completed fulfilling all of the “rewards” for the campaign. They also have recently named the new spacecraft — which will hopefully launch later this year — Lightsail2. You can see many of my photographs in the updates to the campaign.
Kendra Celise continues to post music videos from the live studio session we filmed at my studio. Over the course of six weeks, these videos have given her several thousand new views, and helped her launch her upcoming EP and her newest single “Admit It Baby” — we love her music, and hope that the launch is wildly successful!
Finally, I have been going back to revisit the footage that I shot during my two trips to northern Japan after the tsunami. We only publicly released one video from that footage — the wildly-popular “Nozomi Project” mini-documentary — and I’d like to see if I can show more of how local churches in Japan have been assisting with the re-building…both physically and emotionally. The people that I have met on my many trips to Asia are held in a special place in my heart, and it makes me happy when people see what great community-building work is going on there. So I hope to have some new Japan videos out soon — maybe even to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the tsunami in a few weeks.
So yes…we’re busy. But not in a bad way. And do you need a project like one of these for yourself of your company? Give me a call — I’m sure we can get something wonderful going. I’m never too busy to sit down and talk with you.
We keep pressing forward on many projects simultaneously. The newest video clip is the first of a series that we recorded and filmed in my studio for singer/songwriter Kendra Celise.
Kendra sent a few sample YouTube videos so we could get a feel for what she wanted, and we spent the better part of a day filming her performances. A new camera — the Sony PXW-W70 — was used for this shoot, as well as some of our amazing Michael Joly-modified microphones. The camera was mounted on a mini-jib so that we could move around smoothly throughout the song.
The rest of the videos will drop over the coming weeks. We had fun on this project, and believe the final product will help Kendra market her new EP successfully. Congrats to Kendra!
A confession: my wife and I loved watching Xena: Warrior Princess when it was on TV back in the ’90s. So when a friend introduced me to the co-creator of that series, I kinda geeked out. And then he asked me to build him a website!
So…my newest website is for John Schulian, who is promoting his first novel after writing magazine columns and editing books and crafting screenplays for the past few decades. For someone who is writing hard-boiled noir, and has covered bloody sports (he has some great articles on boxing), John is a wonderful human being — we end up talking about life, music, favorite books, and film every time we get together.
My aims in building the website were:
reflect the gritty quality of the novel, as well as the iconic L.A. skyline that graces the book’s cover
create an easy-to-navigate, responsive website that encouraged sales of the book
honor (and capitalize on) the body of work that John has amassed through books, magazines, and online stories
I think the initial website is very successful here, and we will keep adding more content to the site as the book drops — signing and reading dates, sales, reviews and endorsements, and more.
As the web continues to evolve, it becomes more and more important to recognize the specific needs of each client. Do we need a static website? Do we need dynamic content? Is some sort of interaction warranted? How does what’s online affect the overall brand? As a marketing expert, these are the questions that I ask at the beginning of every project. Beautiful websites (or any design, for that matter) are secondary to the ultimate goal: achieving increased sales, donations, or overall market share. What we do is innovate in such a way that your company — be it one author or a major company — can attract eyeballs…and sales.
Loren A. Roberts shot the “hero” studio photography for the film’s key art
When coming to Hearken Creative, director Jon Leonoudakis knew the breadth of skills that were available from us: Jon has collaborated with us on two previous film projects — Not Exactly Cooperstown (camera) and The Day the World Series Stopped (camera, packaging, website). Jon’s passion for baseball is infectious, and we have found ourselves with a new respect for the game — even hitting up some major and minor league games recently! Jon’s professionalism and passion has paid off: both previous films have been recognized worldwide in film festivals (and Not Exactly Cooperstown has even been screened at the Baseball Hall of Fame).
We love working on projects like this: where quality and passion come together to make something truly unique. We congratulate Jon on his newest release, and look forward to the next project that we get to work on with him!
Hearken Creative provided lights, sound, and video support for the Children’s Advocacy Center’s first ever (and hopefully annual) fundraising gala on the gorgeous grounds of the Masonic Home in Covina, California on October 12, 2014.
We worked with the organization, as well as rental companies, the featured band, and on-site personnel to make sure that everything ran smoothly — from power concerns, to the ability to hobnob over the live music, to making every word intelligible — from honorees and speakers. We received numerous accolades from event planners and the 200+ attendees, stating that this was the smoothest and best-sounding event they had attended.
Photos from the event are below. The young (but very good) band “Them Kool Kats” [ http://www.themkoolkats.com/ ] was the featured entertainment. Hearken Creative provided them with onstage monitors so they could hear everything, and they had a great time working the crowd.
It’s remarkable what Hearken Creative can accomplish — from branding, to websites, to video, to event support (sound and lighting). Why don’t you give us a call for your next project and see how Hearken Creative can help you?
In July Hearken Creative was asked to film a very special event for the Baseball Reliquary at the Pasadena Public Library. Assisted on second camera by Jordan McMahon, we filmed the 2+ hour event, and edited the piece for posting to the Pasadena Public Library’s website.
Most important for this event was capturing perfect audio or each of the speakers. Some of them are elderly, and we needed to be able to understand every word that was said. A combination of HCS’s own microphones on the podium ensured that we would get perfect audio from every distinguished speaker, including members of the Jackie and Mack Robinson family (who were there to accept on behalf of Rachel Robinson for her induction into the Reliquary’s “Shrine of the Eternals”).
We had a great time, met some fun people, and turned this into a living document that will be used by the Reliquary for years to come.
The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus asked me to create some short introductory videos on each of their choirs. Previously I had produced one for their First Experiences in Singing class [see my eailer post]. These new videos required many hours of filming rehearsals and concerts for all six choirs, as well as music theory classes. Then we interviewed all the different directors to get their take on each chorus. Finally, we edited each piece together, trying to give new parents and members of the ensemble a sense of each chorus’ identity. And we attempted to keep them all under four minutes.
I’m excited about how these will be used to further the educational and artistic mission of the L.A. Children’s Chorus.
Do you want an event that is amazing? Hearken Creative can help, much like we did last night. Loren A. Roberts/HearkenCreative worked with the board of FASGI (Filipino American Service Group Inc.) to stage an incredibly fun event at SPIN L.A. (in the Standard Hotel) on May 6, 2014.
First (months ago), Hearken Creative worked with FASGI on social media, creating “save-the-date” images that got people interested in the event.
Next, we extended the same branding through invitations, flyers, and additional social media pushes.
At the event, HCS handled the printed programs, which continued to extend the exciting “party” brand that we had created.
Finally — through our partnership with Visions Lighting and our own expertise in event A/V — Hearken Creative handled sound, lights and video for three separate rooms in the venue, including providing sound reinforcement for hired musicians throughout the evening. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was honored along with Lou Diamond Phillips and several other community leaders, with Filipina community star Yong Chavez as the emcee for the evening. The party was hopping all night, FASGI had standing-room-only attendance, and the event was a complete success — both as a fundraiser and as an opportunity to extend the FASGI name throughout the community.