Name: Andres Salerno, aka Stepwise
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Tools of Choice: Apple Logic Studio, Serato Scratch, CamTwist
Years Producing Music & Audio pre-Pyramind: 5
What sorts of projects are you working on today?
Wow, that’s a big question… Well my main focus in the last three years has really been helping to develop the reggae music industry and scene in Latin America, so most everything I do touches on that at some point. This includes: DJing both nationally and internationally, producing two radio shows, running my own booking agency (Guiding Star – which focuses on bringing international reggae talent to Latin America), working on artist development and marketing for upcoming reggae artists on both sides of the equator, music production, mixtape production (download my latest mixtape done in conjunction with Anthony B here) and also becoming fairly involved in graphic design.
In 2008 I also did some programing and production work for Alika from Argentina (see below) on her latest album and have been touring with her as her DJ ever since. She is by far the biggest spanish speaking female reggae artist out there today so that alliance has really helped glue together most of the projects that I am involved with.
Describe the music you produce for the radio/ podcasts?
Currently the main radio project I am pushing is an Internet reggae radio show called Galang Radio that is broadcast through Colombia’s (South America) largest Internet station radio station (Superestacion –www.superestacion.fm). I started the show almost two years ago in an attempt to help further promote and develop reggae music and culture throughout Latin America, where interest in the genre has exploded in recent years. The show has really taken off and has grown a solid reputation as one of the most authentic reggae radio shows in Latin America.
The main selling point of the show and what really sets it apart from other reggae shows down south is the fact that it is a “DJ mixshow” where I DJ live on air every week. Although this format is fairly common here in the States, as far as I could tell there really wasn’t another show utilizing it in all of Latin America, so once Galang started it really drew a lot of attention. I really wanted to utilize this “mixshow” format to help highlight the roll of the “selector” in reggae culture, where many aspects of the music really trace back to the DJ.
To this I also added monthly artist interviews with several of the biggest names in the bizz (Buju Banton, Anthony B, Collie Buddz and many others) and two webcams (one of which focuses 100% on the turntables so that the audience can really see what I’m doing) and in no time the show picked up steam and international recognition. We now have weekly dedicated listeners in more than 12 spanish-speaking countries worldwide!
Everyone has their favorite tools. What are some of yours, and why?
Well it would really depend on the kind of project I’m working on, but my most favorite tools at the moment are:
1) Logic for all things production/recording based – I’ve been a dedicated user for years!
2) Serato Scratch Live for my DJ sets (club and radio) – Hands down the new and undisputed industry standard!
3) Camtwist Video Software (at right) – This free program is an absolute MUST for anyone doing any type of Internet webcasting. It’s a tiny program that turns your computer into a full functioning TV-studio.
Switch between cameras, add picture in picture images or slide shows, insert text, add video effects and much much more, all live on the fly! I use this software religiously!
How do you feel Pyramind best prepared you for your career in the music & sound industry?
I’d say that hands down the most valuable piece of information that I took from Pyramind was the importance of being a “jack of all trades” in this industry. I feel like this is a rule of thumb when dealing with any area of the arts or entertainment industry, but I feel like it’s even more imperative when working within the world of music as we know it today.
The fact remains that times are CHANGING, and seeing as how we’re right smack in the middle of the current gigantic evolutionary shift, it’s really best to be prepared for anything. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the more able you’ll be to adapt and pivot as needed.
Is there a unique story or memory you wouldn’t mind sharing about your time at Pyramind?
Haha several come to mind but what sticks out more than anything were my last couple of months at Pyramind where things reaaaally started getting hectic for me — apart from trying to wrap up all of the class projects I was also dealing with organizing a huge DVD release party for a well-known clothing brand, the planning of two separate DJ tours, and who knows what else. That was the first time I was really able to put to use the wise words of Steve Heithecker: “Life first.” It was during those months that I truly learned the invaluable tool of juggling several things at once and knowing how to prioritize.
Any advice you’d like to share with future students?
Pay attention to everything presented to you and try to soak up as much info as you can! Even if you feel like the subject matter will never have any relevance to you, as you develop as an artist, musician or businessman/woman you will undoubtedly be suprised by the paths life has in store for you.
Any future plans?
I actually just came back from a month-long tour of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela and my current plan is to take a much-needed 2-3 month break from DJing to focus on production. My 12 month plan is to release a self-produced reggae and dancehall compilation with several of the biggest names in Spanish reggae out there today.