"I've been obsessed with music since I came into the world. From birth." This is composer-producer Arlin Godwin explaining why he's been wearing out keyboards, turntables, CD players, DAT machines, and hard drives for most of his life.
"There was always music in the house when I was growing up. My mother played piano and she loved the classics. But later I discovered The Beatles, Miles Davis, Elton John, Lindsey Buckingham, Prince, and Trent Reznor. They influenced me at least as much as those earlier guys did."
"And people ask all the time but no, I don't read notes. What would be the point? I'm not a "musician". I compose original music. There's a huge difference between the two. I come up with the sounds and I play keys on a keyboard but the actual notes get written by the software as MIDI and if that offends you then awesome. Go check out Kenny G's page!
Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, Eric Clapton, and Lindsey Buckingham don't read or write notation. Neither did Michael Jackson or John Lennon. And I didn't want to be a musician anyway. I wanted to make original music, not play somebody else's."
As a teenager, Arlin was fascinated by electronics and got his FCC broadcast license at the age of 14. Then a job at a Pensacola, Florida FM radio station where he became fascinated by the reel-to-reel tape recorders used there. Eventually, he discovered multi-track tape machines which allowed him to record something different on each channel, building up a piece of music without the need for a band or other musicians.
"I learned multi-track tape recording when I was pretty young. Then I learned to work with MIDI, which is a kind of musical computer language. I learned how to program sequencers, my first being an Alesis MMT-8 which you might have guessed only had 8 channels. And that forced me to learn to think about music in my head.
I had to plan out the intro, first verse, chorus, all the parts, and be aware of how many measures I needed of each and also the drum fills and transitions. I had to work backward because I might start with a hi-hat and then overdub more and more passes on top of that so the hat would eventually get quieter and I had to think all that out before I would begin to record. The most important thing was that I learned to do everything by myself. I was self-contained and still am today. There are no musicians playing on my records."
"If I need a guitar—I play it myself. Keyboards, same thing. I used to use trash cans and office chairs for drums. I hit, slapped or banged on whatever made the sounds I wanted!"
In 2003 Arlin was signed by Robb McDaniels to San Francisco label INgrooves, at that time home to a diverse roster of acts including Tina Turner, The Crystal Method, Jimmy Buffet, Jody Whatley, Paul Oakenfold and Dolly Parton.
As for playing live Arlin explains, "I've avoided the difficulties of touring small clubs, instead choosing to perform occasionally at huge festivals like Washington, DC's Capitol Pride show (before 225,000 people on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the U.S. Capitol building) or Baltimore Pride opening for Crystal Waters in front of a crowd of 30,000."
"Those festival shows are the equivalent of at least two stadium audiences! Why play the bar circuit when you can reach an audience twice the size of Madonna's when she's in town? In fact, the first time I ever performed at a big festival — she was in DC and she played for 15,000 at Verizon Center. That same afternoon I was on stage in front of a quarter of a million people on the National Mall. No comparison. Forget playing at a bar. Those big shows are a lot more fun!"