MJ Lavine: Sam Ash Music Family

How long have you worked for Sam Ash Music?

2 awesome years!

What artist/moment inspired you to pursue music?

I knew at a young age that music was something that I always wanted to do. I used to constantly hum Beethoven’s 9th and I regularly performed in many different rock bands and orchestras while growing up. Because of my eclectic style as a musician I’ve always lived with my feet in two different worlds-Classical and Rock.

I went to see “Treasure Planet” with my dad when I was in junior high and fell in love with the score written by James Newton Howard. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to score animations.

I also always loved rock music and there are a lot of different inspirations there for me as well. The most prominent probably being Deryck Whibley from Sum 41. Being in a successful rock band writing original music has also always been a dream of mine.

People used to tell me to focus on one or the other but, I never could put one down. So, being completely insane, I have decided to do both and always aspire to write something worth listening to.

Tell us about your musical background.

I’ve been playing guitar for as long as I can remember. The first instrument I took lessons on was violin at the age of 7. Through the years I’ve picked up many different instruments (piano, bass, ukulele, clarinet, trumpet, tenor sax, etc…) although I have always had a special bond with string instruments.

In high school I performed regularly in many different rock bands on guitar, electric violin, bass, keyboard, vocals, etc… I also participated in a few different youth and professional level orchestras.

For my undergrad, I studied Music Theory and Composition at Elmhurst College in Chicago, Illinois. While there I also specialized on classical guitar.

For my master’s program, I studied Composition and Performance at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, California. There I also specialized on playing various styles of guitar.

After graduating with my MFA from CalArts, I went on to teach guitar lessons there, I also began doing freelance music work (either composing or performing live or in studio), and I began working at Sam Ash.

What is unique about you musically?

I’m not really sure how to answer this question. Everyone is different, when I write or perform I just try to put my own voice into the music.

How are you involved with your local music scene?

CalArts School of Music – Soundstream at The Troubadour

I love the local music scene in LA! It has been a blast being apart of shows either by performing or just attending. With my band, as well as other projects that I am apart of, I have had the privilege of performing at The Mint, The Viper Room, The Troubadour, and ArtShare LA. I have also played a few smaller venues and house shows doing acoustic sets.

One of the strangest shows I ever did was outdoors at a park with my friend’s band. We were told there was going to be power, when we arrived their source of power was a car battery. It was one of the most interesting shows, with one of the most interesting audiences I have ever played!

What are your personal goals as a musician?

The goal has always been to write something worth listening to. I would love to be an original music artist who is regularly touring and playing shows all over the world. I would also love to continue writing animation scores for large or small projects.

Tell us about your latest projects.

I participate in a lot of different projects at any given time -anything from classical animation scores to playing in heavy metal music videos. I also play bass for my friend’s folk punk band called Love Underwater.

My primary focus is my solo project, MJ LaVine where I play punk rock/alternative/pop-punk stuff. We just released an EP called Headphone Hair back in May and now I’m looking forward to putting together a full studio album. It’s all a good time!

Listen to MJ Lavine’s “Headphone Hair” on Spotify and learn more about her at the links below!


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