Derek Schweizer hails from Westfield, IN and has been working out of our Indianapolis store for nearly 3 years which boasts the oft-lauded Ash Rock program along with an incredibly friendly and attentive staff.
What Artist/Moment Inspired You To Pursue Music?
I’ve been drawn to music since childhood. I was exposed mostly to 80’s rock from my dad’s collection, some of my favorites being Meat Loaf and Bon Jovi. Even before starting grade school, I would walk around the house singing their songs. I was especially drawn to the piano central to Meat Loaf’s music, and the synth parts in Bon Jovi’s hits, as well as the powerful drums in rock. It was when I attended my first concert, KISS with Ted Nugent opening, that I really caught rock fever and decided that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to create and play music just about any way I could.
Tell us about your musical background.
Shortly after being introduced to the keyboard, I began taking piano lessons. In sixth grade, students were given the opportunity to join the school band, and I chose the euphonium. Around the same time I wanted to start with bass guitar and drum set. It was here I realized that this was the instrument I really wanted to pursue. I stayed in the school band throughout high school (though I had switched from the euphonium to the tuba), and I continued working on my piano skills, but I knew that I wanted to play drums in a rock band. I would practice drums playing along to Journey, Rush, AC/DC, and many other rock bands. Eventually I found my first band playing drums in high school. We didn’t get far but it gave me a taste of performing original music live, and we also recorded a small EP. While attending college, I helped found a new band with people I met. We practiced regularly, wrote and recorded a handful of original tunes, and performed live fairly often for a stretch of about a year. I was also introduced to the inner workings of a recording studio which intrigued me greatly. I then decided to attend Azmyth Recording School of Technology, a 20-week program focused on recording and producing live bands, setting up sessions, signal flow, miking technique, mixing, and mastering. I was fascinated by how computers were able to record and reproduce audio, and I carried this interest in binary and the fundamentals of sound into my dive into analog synthesis.
What would you say is unique about you musically?
I engage with a wide range of instruments, spanning from piano to guitars, drums, and modular Eurorack format synthesizers. But I enjoy fiddling with any type of instrument I can get my hands on. Most recently, I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the possibilities of modular synthesizers and creating sounds that haven’t been heard before. One aspect that draws me to modular synths is the inability to save a sound or to recall a preset. Each time you approach an instrument like this, you have no choice but to create something new from scratch. I think it gives me a better appreciation and inspiration to what music is and what we can do with it.
How are you involved in your local music scene?
Locally I have run sound at various venues, most notably the Hoosier Dome in Fountain Square. My former band, The Taste, in which I played bass, played around town for a few months in places like The Melody Inn and Black Circle Brewery. I have a small home recording studio and have worked with several local musicians to help record and mix their original songs. Recently I have been running sound fairly regularly at the People’s Church in Indianapolis.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
As long as I can continue to create music and perform live music for people, I will feel content. Some of my aspirations have been to sit in on recording sessions, mostly as a drummer, to help a musician make a great record. My time recording in the Ball State studios was very enjoyable and rewarding, especially since I had usually never heard the songs I was going to tracking until the day of. That sense of being in the moment and trying to create something organically is something I continually pursue in my musical career. Since starting my journey into modular synths I’ve become more keen on techno, trance, and electronic music in general. Someday I hope to be able to perform larger events and even festivals with this form of music creation. Much like creating a drum part on the spot, this instrument is very much in the moment and instinctual. I think this makes live performances the best format in which to enjoy this music, because for both the audience and the performer, we’re all experiencing something that is completely new and impossible to recreate.
Tell us about your latest projects.
In the last couple years I’ve played drums in a band called Slug Love. We are based out of Fort Wayne and play original indie rock tunes. In 2018 we released our debut album titled Underside. Our second album should be released soon, accompanying the single Nope, which has a music video on Vimeo. I’ve also been working on a solo project called Future Threat. With this project I perform my modular synth rig. These live sets are improvisational in nature but mostly center around techno and ambient electronic music.