Alumni Interview with Christian Valencia
What are some of the major accomplishments of your career?
Composed, arranged and produced four (4) songs for the soundtrack of the movie Proof of Life directed by Taylor Hackford for Warner Bros. Pictures. Produced and composed the first Latin American musical: CANTUÑA, el Musical". Composed and/or produced in the last few years many of the top-ten selling pop albums in my home country of Ecuador. Right now, I'm working for different Latin record labels such as Lideres, Fonovisa, Universal, etc. as a producer in different artist's tracks and albums. Also, I'm working in partnership with two-time Latin Grammy Award winner, producer, Will Edwards (Nestor Torres, Ricky Martin) in our company, Billy Brian Entertainment, and as a partner and co-producer with six-time Grammy Award winner, composer and producer Victor Daniel (Celia Cruz, India, Bee Gees, etc.).
What made you decide to pursue contemporary writing and production as a career?
Two things: One, the ability to start with a small idea (that may have come to your mind while drinking a cup of coffee), and seeing that idea through to completion, which results in a worldwide recognition of your idea or recording.
The second reason was to have the potential to influence people not only with music, but also with ideas, concepts and words.
What is a normal day like in your line of work (assuming there is such a thing as a normal day)?
Exactly, there is not such a thing as a normal day. That's why I love my job. It's a daily task, always against the clock, always with a lot of things to finish. Sometimes I have to just sit down in front of the computer and come up with a loop or an arrangement. Then in the afternoon, I have to write other arrangement parts, and at night (always at night) I have to direct a vocal recording. Then the very next day, I take a plane to "who knows where" to record a different thing such as violins in Bogotá, or Trumpets in Los Angeles or acoustic guitars in Ecuador. Then I get back and I have to be in front of a console all day trying to get the sound that I dreamed for the project (no matter how long it takes!). The next day I go to the mastering studio, enjoy a cup of coffee and sit on the couch while the engineer does his/her job.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I always prefer to work with new artists. Why? Because the thing that I like the most in my job is to create a new idea or concept. When you work with a recognized artist you always have the manager's or record label's pressure to do things in the artist's style, and follow certain rules that limit the creational part of the project. So, the creation is the part that I love the most.
What are some of the personal rewards that have come with your job or career ?
The best reward is to work everyday doing what I love.
What do you think are the requisites for someone entering this field?
Hard work, long hours, great attention to detail, listen to a lot of music, then when you think you’re finished, listen to more music.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job and/or career?
Today, everybody wants to produce. You have to come up with new ideas everyday, and always be current with styles, tendencies, technology and charts. You have to have all of this in order to compete with the rest of the producers.
What are some of the skills that you are called upon to use daily in your work?
The ability to sequence and program quickly with various computer applications, knowledge of all the different technology innovations on the market and familiarity with a broad range of equipment, arranging skills and a good ear that is sensitive to pitch.
How did your education at Berklee prepare you for what you are doing today?
I had so many musical ideas before going to Berklee. But, Berklee (the faculty, my roommates and classmates) taught me how to bring them to fruition. My education enabled me to consider technological aspects of music from an artistic point of view. Believe it or not, adjusting to the cold winters, the food, the traditional harmony classes, etc. (the things that I didn’t enjoy at the time) enabled me to understand a lot of things about life in general. The personal benefits of my Berklee education have helped me a lot in my career.
What are the current trends in the field of contemporary writing and production that will most likely shape your future and the future of this industry?
The most important thing going on right now in the music production field is that everyone around the world is becoming more open to music from across the globe. The advent of improved communication throughout the world has enabled a guitarist in Cairo, Egypt to record something for an engineer in Miami, Florida, and a twelve (12) year old boy in Oslo, Norway can listen to traditional Peruvian music. Also, you see artists like Shakira, from Colombia, South America crossing over into a world-wide market, Alicia Keys performing a Tango at the Grammy Awards ceremony while dancing with Joaquin Cortes (Spanish dancer), Cirque du Soleil from Quebec, Canada putting together a Japanese show, Nestor Torres recording traditional Venezuelan music, Santana with Maná, Caetano Veloso singing pop, etc. This is a unique opportunity for us to open our minds and music to new rhythms and sounds from around the world, and be as creative as possible so that these ideas will be the future of our industry.