Name: Lalo Davis, aka Five Stone
Hometown: Portland, OR
Specialty/Style: High-energy Hip Hop, Rock, Turntablism (but I listen to everything)
Tools of Choice:Reason, Abelton, voice recorder
Years producing music/sound design pre-Pyramind Training: 3 years
1. Tell us a bit about this project? How did you build a relationship with the Winter X-Games?
One thing I’ve learned is that there are many different ways to be compensated for participation in a project – and only one of them is with dollar bills. You can be compensated through exposure for your music, new connections made both business and creative, the chance to be a Team Member on an interesting concept, and other equally important ways.
I originally connected with the X Games by helping out some friends in Australia. My buddy Angus, who owns Firestorm Films, specializes in highlight videos and films for motorcycle Stunt Riders, Freestyle Motocross, V8 supercar drivers, BMX, and even for pilots from the Red Bull Air Race. He was shooting some FMX videos on a limited budget and was looking for new music, so I sent him several Five Stone tracks. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that one of those projects was for an X Games profile of Australian Freestyle Motocross professional Mark Monea, who landed the first ever front flip 360 on a motorcycle. My track “Now or Never” was used in the profile video of that new trick (which they named a ‘Carry On’) and I was credited at the end. Mark Monea’s ’Carry On’ front flip 360 video became the second highest viewed video on the ESPN YouTube page and had over 700k views in the first 3 days.
That video basically opened the door for the beginning of a relationship with the X Games. By helping out on one seemingly unrelated project, I “got heard” and it led to an opportunity to meet the X Games producers and eventually be commissioned to design a custom theme song for the opening video for the 2012 ESPN Winter X Games. You never know where you’ll be heard or what a certain project will lead to, so it’s important to commit to always do high quality work and to maintain an open mind about which projects to participate in.
2. How has your career evolved post Pyramind Training? Any new projects you would like to reveal to us!
Actually I’m still always taking audio and songwriting classes, so my training has really never ceased. Last week, I sat in on Matt Donner’s new ‘Producing and Arranging’ class and am planning on enrolling and becoming a student again at Pyramind when it restarts in May.
Overall, I’m moving toward a focus on collaborating with vocalists and songwriters on songs with lyrics, while still composing instrumental music for extreme sports events and sports television. I’m writing with 3 different Artists at this time and hope to release some of the first singles in a month or two.
3. In what capacity did Matt Donner (CAO/Pyramind Training Instructor) help you on this project?
Matt Donner has been the Mastering Engineer on my last 3 instrumental albums and has helped me to think about composition from unique perspectives and with more intention.
When writing highlights music for sports, it’s critical that you don’t lose any energy in the track while you go through changes in the song to keep it interesting. I recently received an awesome compliment from someone for my song ‘Right Now’, written for the Dartmoor Vienna Air Kings competition, where the viewer stated that she would not have watched the whole video without the song there; the soundtrack was keeping her glued to the highlight video.
While we’re mastering Five Stone tracks, Matt makes constructive comments and provides solid feedback on each song and what it’s doing – which I take forward to each new composition.
Specifically on the Winter X Games track ‘Evolve’, I basically had just :30 seconds to make an impact and come with an attitude that would compliment the high adrenaline sequences of the visual. The track changes four times in that :30 seconds, so there’s no time to waste and the energy level has to be purposefully directed.
4. Any memories or funny incident you would like to share with us during your time here?
There was a Music Supervisor that I had heard about and wanted to meet who is based here in San Francisco – but I didn’t really know how to go about getting a track or two in front of him and having him actually listen to it. Music Supervisors obviously get so much music thrown at them that it’s humanly impossible to listen to it all. Based on some prodding from a fellow Pyramind student, I submitted a track to the Pyramind TestPress event for peer review. After my track was played at TestPress, the Music Supervisor that I had wanted to meet, introduced himself to me and asked me for a CD! It was some pretty cool luck – Five Stone is now a part of that Supervisor’s music licensing library.
5. Advice for future students?
1. Do what your instructors at Pyramind tell you to do – it works!
2. Be precise about your goals and then be completely directed toward those goals. If your goal is to do music for CSI, then remove the music from an episode and score it yourself. Then do that 20 times; score one episode a week for 20 weeks. By the end of that 5 months – guaranteed you’ll be rolling with some top notch sound. Then when you reach out to the CSI Music Supervisor with your best stuff and he says yes, you’ll have a ton of already completed material that fits the show’s format.
3. Use the creativity you use with your music creation and apply it to all other aspects of your music business; there’s 1,000 different ways to communicate with people – don’t just send an email or make a phone call. The business side or the marketing can really be just as creative as the music side.
4. Write your own song. Be true to what moves you in music, to your own sound, and to what you want to communicate.