I never studied music formally but around the age of 6 I did take maybe 3 or 4 piano lessons from a very elderly and very mean lady who liked to slap the tops of my hands if I didn't hold them the way she wanted me to over the keys. So, I told my parents, "No more lessons because that woman is ruining something I really love." And so the lessons stopped and it didn't matter anyway because I could pick out any music I heard pretty easily by ear.
Later, when I got older, a series of events occurred which led to me secretly recording my first tracks in the studio of a famous Fundamentalist tv preacher who I will call J. (now deceased).
My father had gone to work for the Reverend and as a fringe benefit I was given a job in the Audio Services department — which included a recording studio. I loved electronics and had already received an FCC broadcast license at the age of 14. So I was happy to have a job working in a studio even though I found the religious mumbo jumbo hard to take.
Time passed. I did a good job and got promoted. Then one day the boss walks in and hands me the literal keys to the tv minister's radio empire (yes he was also on the radio). Instantly a plan popped into my head. Think about it — what would you do if you had been writing songs since you were 6 years old and somebody gave you the keys to a freakin' recording studio? Exactly! Without further thought I happily started writing songs of a highly questionable moral nature. Songs like "Boy Seventeen" & "God Damn You're Beautiful".Probably the most interesting aspect of this story is that I was, at that time, a very closeted gay boy working in an environment controlled by religiously fanatical, white, middle-aged, heterosexual males. Yet there I was — a "queer", a "pervert" — allowed inside the gates, so to speak, secretly taking advantage of a heavenly situation: full access to some really cool and very expensive equipment. And all the while nobody knew I played for the other team or that I was writing and recording pop songs that the good Reverend would have described as "the Devil's music".
Of course, the door was locked and I was in complete isolation. But I could work all day on the most sinful song I could think up and nobody knew. And in that studio I actually wrote early versions of songs that I would later go on to perform at huge festivals and sell on iTunes.
When I think back to those early days of learning how to write, produce and record music I get a little nostalgic. It was the coolest and most creative thing I had ever done. Still is. And it was a revelation to a young nerdy gay kid with no friends who was forced to be a Bible-banging Fundamentalist by day but who turned into Freddy Mercury and Elton John at night.
Fast forward — I've had a record deal with INgrooves, worked on projects with Donna Summer, Parliament Funkadelic and Pet Shop Boys. Performed in front of a quarter million people at one time. And these days I get to work in my own studio at home in Washington, DC where I live, just up 16th Street about 5 blocks from the President of the United States. Yeah him. We're definitely not friends but we are neighbors. He spends his days Tweeting---and I make electronic music.
Lots and lots of it.