For most of my life, computers and music have been two completely integrated interests of mine. Growing up in the ambitiously futuristic California culture of the 1980s, it was obvious to me that the future of music was digital. Being raised in a music business family, I ended up hanging around recording studios a fair amount, and I often found myself fascinated by the racks full of crazy looking gear, the mixing consoles, the tape machines, and the attention to detail of professional musicians and mixing engineers. The whole process of making a record seemed so vast, elusive, and mysterious to me. I asked lots of questions, and people were generally cool enough to explain things to me in a way that wasn’t condescending.
By 1988 or so, I’d often listen to my favorite CDs on headphones, with a critical ear for stereo imaging, arrangement nuances, punch-in points, and other details of the music that seemed far more important to me that the song lyrics for example (which I didn’t usually “get” as a 9 or 10 year old kid anyway.) Whether it was Van Halen, Rush, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Police, Genesis, Def Leppard, Yes, or Peter Gabriel, I was as amazed by the way the music sounded as I was about the music itself.
In 1988, my family got our first powerful computer, the Amiga 2000, and in 1990, we upgraded to an Amiga 3000. It was mind-blowing what you could do with an Amiga, they were 20 years ahead of their time, but that’s another story. As avid Amiga users, my dad and I began doing all kinds of projects – 3D animation, music, multimedia, desktop publishing, programming, radical customization of the operating system itself, you name it. I had no career goals associated with computers, I just knew that I enjoyed creating cool things on the Amiga. It’s in that same spirit that I approach all of my endeavors to this day.
By the early 1990s, I’d also become a total guitar geek, practicing many hours a day and learning songs by my favorite shredders (Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag Darrell, Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, John Petrucci, etc.) When it was time to make college plans, I decided to become a music major, to further my knowledge of music theory (which was relatively lacking at that point.) I graduated with a BA in Music from UCSB in 2000, having learned a lot of valuable things, but I still had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
Along the way, I enthusiastically pursued web technology from its inception as a hobby, which led to becoming a professional web developer. In college, I somewhat randomly landed an unpaid intern gig as web designer with Megadeth‘s web team, which, as a fan, was an honor and a lot of fun. This also resulted in me designing the Megadeth font, which is very popular to this day, and has been used in movies, television, billboards, local business signage, etc.
After college, I worked for a variety of tech companies. Most notably, when I worked at Citrix Online (formerly ExpertCity), I got the chance to work with some of my heroes from MetaCreations (one of my favorite software companies of all time.) In particular, the lessons that Darin Sullivan taught me in UI/UX design have stuck with me to this day.
At the same time, I pursued music with my (now defunct) band, Backmask. By 2005, I began creating convolution impulse responses of guitar speaker cabinets to get guitar tones direct without bothering my neighbors. A small community of enthusiasts had assembled online, and I contributed some IRs to this community. What dawned on me, though, was that none of these IRs were being done in pro studios, and that there weren’t enough of them to get a truly diverse array of tones. I toyed with the idea of creating a big library of impulse responses in a pro studio, but I didn’t get around to it until 2008…
In 2008, I created the first version of Recabinet (now part of Thermionik), and had no expectation that it would succeed in the market. After all, nobody had created a commercial library of speaker cabinet IRs before, and people were trading IRs for free online. But I figured it was a risk worth taking, because even if it failed commercially, I would use it on my own productions every day. Much to my surprise, Recabinet became a success, major artists started using it out of the blue, and all of a sudden, competitors began to emerge.
Fast forward to 2011, and Recabinet evolved from a content library into actual software, which required me to spend a couple of years learning a variety of new skills to make possible. At that point, everything I’ve pursued in my life so far, from music performance and production to web development to audio DSP to 3D graphics to UI/UX design, had fully converged into a cohesive totality, and the business began to expand. I never imagined myself starting a software company, but in retrospect it makes complete sense, and I’m very happy to be doing this for the long haul.