Hello. My name is Tod Oace. I’m an engineer by day and a musician by night. My artist name is Ionic. I come from a musical family and I deeply enjoy music. I love listening to it and I love creating it. It often raises the hairs on my arms. I don’t know why that happens, but it is one of the best feelings I know.
During the past several years I’ve ramped up my electronic music skills focusing especially on the mix to produce warm detailed sound without harshness. I started incorporating acoustic sounds along the way and in 2017 I was able to purchase a beautiful Saraz handpan which is the featured instrument in my latest release, Wishing Well. I have much more mostly finished content waiting to be gradually released including a beat oriented electronic album I’ll be releasing in early spring of 2019, a deep ambient album later in the year, and an album with my brother Cory.
I’ve realized that I am a composer and not at all a performer. My mind is constantly evaluating and editing, and this interferes with performance. I’m unable to perform any of my compositions. And thankfully there is wonderful computer hardware and software to iteratively develop on. Here is my process…
First I need a block of time. Several hours works best, and I’m thankful I’m able to spend most of my evenings this way. When starting a new song I usually have some vague idea of one of the instrument sounds I want to use such as the handpan, or a bass line, a drum beat or something else. And then the rest of the song is a complete mystery and surprise at this point. If it’s an electronic instrument then I look around in the sound library for a bit while playing on my midi keyboard until I notice that I’ve been playing with one particular sound for a bit. Then I hit record and play for a while. This usually sounds kind of crappy but with some really interesting and good bits mixed in. Then I get an idea of another instrument that’s needed and add that while playing the first track. Then maybe I do a little bit of arranging, chopping out sections that didn’t work, or maybe I just keep adding instruments and maybe some effects like reverb along the way. The song starts to emerge pretty quickly, but in a very rough form. This is usually how the first recording session ends up. And usually when I decide to stop I immediately get more great ideas which continue to play in my head, and sometimes I can even remember them for the next session.
In the next recording session I’m generally starting to arrange the song, fix note pitches or timings, pay more attention to mixing (especially with high and low pass filters) and add more effects and maybe even more instruments. I also sometimes delete elements if things are getting too busy. I’ll play the song over and over and over and over while making edits. My initial recordings usually have lots of mistakes, but I have just enough skill and good notes for me to know what I meant to play. Fixing the notes can be tedious but it gets me the result I’m after.
Usually after the third session the song is good enough for me to feel comfortable to start playing to my wife. Sometimes the name of the song magically appears in my head at the end of a session. This has only started happening in the past few months. But if not, my wife can come up with a title I really like, but not in a way I’ve ever heard of before. Her naming process is to listen to the music and watch visualizations that appear in her head and pick a word or few that matches what she saw. Often times this happens early on in the song.
After several sessions I usually start all over with a new tune and then return for more polishing. I like to collect a list of technical problems while I’m working on my day job. Somehow I’m able to focus on engineering work while another part of my brain is listening and evaluating music. If I heard a problem (i.e. bad note, harsh sound, new section not starting at the right time) I glance at the time and add a brief note to my list of problems. Later in a music session I’ll resolve a whole bunch of problems for a bunch of tracks.
So that’s how I create my music. It’s very satisfying, and I hope you enjoy the results. Happy listening!