Improv Interview: Ronald JenkeesMikey 38 comments
As promised a little while ago, we sealed an interview with 'The Improv Guy', AKA Ronald Jenkees. Ronald has been busy cutting his new CD but was kind enough to make time to answer your questions. Many kudos!
A big thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Ronald. We put the most interesting and thoughtful ones forward, and threw in a few less serious ones for good measure. Ronald also informs me that he has completed work on his CD, so if you like what you have seen on , then be sure to check it out. Anyhoo...on with the interview!
Do you come from a professional musical background?
Not at all but everyone in my family is big into listening to music. But then again, who isn't?
How long have you been tinkling the ivories?
Between the ages of 4-6 years old, I begged for a little one-octave keyboard in a toys-r-us catalogue. I got it for Christmas and I played the heck out of that thing. I kept getting modest upgrades for a few birthdays and Christmas up until high-school. But in college it was up to me to make the upgrades. :) After college, I could finally afford a decent upgrade.
What software and setup do you have?
Software: I do all of my arranging in FL Studio. Software issues and inspired playing don't mix very well but with FL Studio I have had little "downtime" trying to figure something out or dealing with tech issues. Plus it's cheap and you get lifetime free upgrades. I also use various (mostly free) soundfont instruments and VST instruments.
Hardware: Korg Triton LE. I think this keyboard is geared for techno (not what I want) but it's got enough sounds on there to be of great use. I don't use the arranging/sampling features on there at all. I usually just use it for midi and recording wav files into FL Studio.
Describe the first moment when you realised you had become an internet phenomena.
Internet Phenomena is a strong phrase. But I remember the day I realized I had a few folks watching my videos. I came in late from out of town one weekend and checked my Gmail. Based on all the new YouTube comments/subscriptions, I knew something was up. I was pumped - I had been featured on Digg's video page and I love Digg so that was a big deal to me. After that, Bill Simmons (ESPN) asked me to write his podcast theme. That was another really cool break.
Who are your musical influences or heroes?
This is a tough question. It's hard to say but I love Led Zeppelin. I really like some of the old Parliament-Funkadelic CD's. Both of those groups are pioneers in their own right. So much original stuff there, especially with Zeppelin.
What feels better - a synth keyboard or a real piano?
Probably a synth, but that's because I play that more lately. However, sometimes it feels better to sit at a piano with no distractions because you're forced to play. And that's it. You just play - no Window's box, no email, no right-clicks.. Just you and the piano. It can be more challenging, but it's fun.
Do you play any other instruments? What are they?
Not really. A tiny bit of harmonica and that's it.
Can I download some of your music?
I finally put up my digital download store where you can get a few 192kb DRM-Free MP3's, or buy the whole album for $10 in a zip file. You can also preview the music before you buy it. My Digital Download Store: www.ronaldjenkees.com/music-store
I read you have a CD on the way. What can we expect on it? When can we get it?!
Yes, it's on it's way! The physical CD's are going to look really cool! I went with the digi-pack format so it'll look a little more spiffy than your average jewel case. It cost a bit more to get them made, but I wanted the packaging to be unique.
Did the positive feedback from Youtube have a part in your decision to make a CD? Or was it something you already planned to do?
The YouTube feedback played a HUGE role - probably 99%. I always wanted to do this, but with people asking for it it made it a lot easier to take the risk and spend the money to get some CD's pressed. Tons of thanks to those that take the time to say nice things in comments - I read them all and they still mean a lot. They helped me get my butt in gear and get a completed product up for sale. Thanks a million for the encouragement. I mean it.
What's the coolest thing that's happened to you as a result of your new found fame?
Lots of folks tell me that my music inspires them play more music. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my goofy looks. When people see me, I can imagine them saying "if he can have fun with it, so can I". That is the coolest thing ever because I know what it feels like to need some inspiration and never thought I would be that for people.
Is making a living as a musician something you have considered?
Oh yeah! But my primary goal is to have fun with it first. Then, if something comes out of it, great. If not, nothing is lost. Music is hard work sometimes, but in my opinion, it should come with a decent amount of fun.
If you could jam with anyone, alive or deceased, who would you choose?
Probably The Doors or Led Zeppelin. Their keyboardists are amazing and know how to compliment a song perfectly without taking over.
What advice would you give anyone starting out in the music business?
As an independent musician, I don't have the experience of being "in the business". However, I would suggest to read all you can about it (the business side of things) and make sure that's something you are prepared to work hard at. There are lots of risks and a ton to learn. Be sure about it, then give it a shot!
Did you end up buying the Yamaha Motif XS8?
Eventually I'll get that or something very similar. Sometimes the anticipation of buying it provides me with short bursts of musical inspiration, so no hurry.
Will you join my band?
Thanks a lot for asking, whoever you are! Being in a band would be a ton of fun someday, but right now, that's not what I want. I envy the folks on stage that get to put on a live concert, but for now, I'm really happy doing what I'm doing. That's not to say it's still not tempting.
Update: Ronald's album reviewed