My Podcast Origin Story With Michael Wolpe – Episode 26

Michael Wolpe, aka Mike, is an award-winning freelance composer, music producer, sound designer and audio engineer. Born in Michigan, USA, He spent most of his career working in the music and filmmaking industries in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, CA.

While creating music scores and songs is his true passion in life, his background in the filmmaking industry has given him a unique understanding of how to compose music for film and visual media.

Mike is currently creating music under Cosmic DNA, a collaboration with his wife Aideen. His most recent film score credit is for the sky-diving horror movie Hex.

Connect with Mike



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0:05 Hi everyone, it’s Aideen here from Confidence in Singing. Today, my guest is Mike will be my husband. Hello. So today Mike is coming on because I wanted to ask him a little bit about his journey with his own career, his own music, but also to let you guys in on the background behind the podcast. Because Mike has been really helpful in getting the podcast up and running and helping me to produce it every time we put out an episode, which I’m very grateful for. But let me introduce Mike, from the point of view of his work as well. So Mike is an award winning freelance composer, music producer and sound designer. He was born here in Michigan, where we are right now. And he spent most of his career working in the music and filmmaking industries in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California. Mike has spent a lot of time working with bands. And he’s had his own band for many, many years. He’s put out a lot of singles, a lot of records, play a lot of gigs. And he’s also then been working in composing for advertising, and small, short movies. And most recently, Mike’s just had his first feature film length music score, release for the music for Hex, which is skydiving horror movie. Congratulations, Mike. Thanks. You can find Hex on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. So definitely look it up. So Mike, tell me a little bit about music for you. As a young person, was that something that you wanted to pursue? When you were quite young? Or?

1:49 Yeah, no, that was definitely it was it’s always been film-making and music has been the two worlds I go back and forth between ever since I was in fifth grade, I think. So I was playing. I picked up trumpet. That was the instrument that I picked, we all had to pick up an instrument in elementary school trumpet was mine. And then by the time I hit college, I quickly realized I wanted to learn bass guitar, be in bands do some touring. Now I do trumpet It was sort of it was great, but it was limited in terms of the kinds of music I could play and perform and do that. That sort of stuff with it. So that was the motivation.

2:28 Yeah. So I know that from what I know of you, you’ve done lots of different types of genres of music, which ones did you enjoy the time? And why do you think you’ve moved on from them.

2:40 Um, I’ve enjoyed all types. I definitely started off with, you know, with trumpet, you’re more jazz, classical focused, in terms of the stuff that they teach and perform. And I went to music and art school for high school. So that was around the time that I started getting more into rock pop and wanted to kind of start learning other instruments. And felt a bit limited with the trumpet. And I also wanted to start writing, wanted to do film-making. So I was I was kind of learning lots of different skills all at the same time. But kind of drifted towards Rock and Pop because I enjoyed touring with groups, driving around in a van and playing shows. While and then at the same time, I was learning to compose for commercials, documentaries, things like that. So I’ve kind of dipped my toe in lots of different projects and styles. And for the sake of my clients, I had to learn to be able to compose and create all sorts of music, and then also, because of those projects, started producing and working with other artists and acting more as a producer, and, you know, taking on those types of roles.

4:03 So, Mike, what helped you gain confidence with music?

4:08 Performing, getting on stage, I remember being terrified of the first show we ever did with a group. And that never quite goes away entirely. I mean, you get more and more comfortable with it. But performing live is definitely the most challenging fest. In fact, the thing that scared me the most was busking on the streets of Dublin when we were touring in Ireland. So you know, because there’s no amplification, there’s nothing it’s just you and your guitar or Cajon whatever you’re playing and your voice and you just have to project and that’s, that’s terrifying for some reason that was those artists but performing is definitely if you want to build confidence just getting up in front of people, I’m sure the same as just getting up and doing public speaking and debating and making any sort of For noise or music or creating or anything acting, I’m sure it all contributes to helping with confidence.

5:09 Yeah, that’s a really good tip for everybody who’s listening? And has music helped you become the person that you are in any way? Oh,

5:20 Absolutely. It’s probably most of what I am. In what way, just that’s what I’m, I’m the nerdy guy that’s always beating drum beats. And I don’t even know that I’m doing it when I’m driving or riding in a car hanging out, or it’s just I’m always listening to stuff. I hear songs in the background, while I’m having conversations with people. So it’s probably annoying for people trying to talk to me because I get distracted by always picking up on music going on all around. And but yeah, all my experiences, everything has been centered around either composing, performing, playing, writing, it’s all been music or film based.

5:59 So has it changed your personality? Like from that perspective, like who you are? In terms of your self?

6:11 Yeah, I would imagine. So I mean, yeah, I was, I definitely started off very, very shy. So that it kind of got me out of my shell, a little bit as a kid and into my teens. And in my 20s, it was a constant evolution. And that never really ends. I mean, even as an adult, you kind of go up and down with your confidence level, depending on how active you are. So I would imagine people that are keep themselves going and keep pushing through tough situations or challenges. That’s kind of been the key. And it’s not always successful. It’s been a lot of setbacks and disappointments. But, you know, there’s nothing you can really do other than just keep pushing through.

6:55 Yeah, keep doing what you love. Yeah, that’s key, I think, yeah, I think with music as well, when we put stuff out and we or we play gigs, not everybody’s going to like what we sing, or we play as well. And so we have to find the right audience.

7:07 Yeah, you can’t definitely can’t please everyone. So just, but you know, you also have to kind of take, take that with a grain of salt, because if you do it entirely for yourself, without ever listening to anyone else’s feedback or advice, it’s, it’s, I think you have to be open to at least some of that so that you can grow, you can’t really evolve and change as an artist as a person unless you take advice and pay attention to you know, how people respond and react. But ultimately, yeah, you have to sort of follow your own intuition, your gut, your heart, whatever, kind of has the strongest leadership skills, internally.

7:50 Yeah, definitely. But also, I know, because you studied at an arts type of school and you studied music more intensively than most kids would even in a normal school. Do you think your education has been a big part of helping you to get to where you are? And do you have a lot of ways that you continually educate yourself?

8:10 Yeah, and I’m not always successful. But yeah, I try to keep learning and trying new things. It’s very easy to get stuck in things that were comfortable and used to. And so you know, and I’ve gone through long periods where I haven’t really pushed myself hard enough to try something new, go somewhere, do something that’s, you know, a sort of healthy kind of challenge.

8:36 What I’d like to what I’m wondering about next is how music and filmmaking have kind of evolved for you. I mean, if any of you have watched some of our music videos, you’ll have seen Mike’s work. He makes amazing creative music videos. He does try to yeah, there that he edits everything he does all the graphics, he does all that the camera work. He thinks about the angles, he thinks about the storyline. And I just stand there and look, try not good. He makes me look good. Tell us a little bit about where how music and the visual sight, kind of how do they interact? What do you try to do to make the music step? Like what enhances the music when you put the visuals to it? Or vice versa?

9:23 Um, well, you know, I think it’s not entirely true. You’ve been you’ve contributed a lot with the creative process, you haven’t just stood there. It’s been it’s been,

9:34 I always have an opinion.

9:36 And that’s good. I think we’ve been limited because of the timing lately, you know, last few years has been, you know, the shadow of COVID. So we’ve been limited in terms of what we could accomplish in isolated locations in one room sometimes. One video was, you know, I just decided what could we do with nothing but a camera and a candle? Well, Could we shoot and so we did an entire video that way, you just have to think of things, but you also have to be open, especially if you’re working on a, on a, on a crew with a bunch of people or friends, you have to be open to, I think the collaborative, collaborative process. And that’s, you know, at least that’s where kind of the fun, sort of happy accidents really happen and are allowed to kind of have some life and, you know, that’s, that’s just as fun as sort of doing something on your own or with one other person. So, but in any, just make the most of whatever situation, whatever resources you have. So in terms of the videos, I always try to just think of something that would be fun to do within. You know, that’s within our, our, because we haven’t had huge budgets or anything, we’ve been very

10:48 Limited. And we’ve been using the mobile phone,

10:52 Or just shot with a phone camera. And so I try to do something interesting with it. And, but also not get too precious to the point where I never get anything done. I know I have the potential to spend way too much time on stuff that that doesn’t need it. So that’s It’s always, it’s always learning. It’s always learning every project is a new lesson and a new process to kind of

11:22 Navigate. And I think what you said earlier, Mike was really interesting in that it’s about that forward motion. You know, when you keep at it, then you build your confidence, and you can kind of have a little bit more momentum. But then I know for myself, it’s when I get a shock or something dramatic happens, that slows me down or makes me reevaluate, then I’m like, Oh, my goodness, and what am I doing? Is this the right path? Is that something you’ve experienced? Yeah,

11:50 Absolutely. But that can be a good thing. You know, the challenges can make you, like you said, reevaluate, and just take a critical look at whether something you’re doing is what you really should be doing should be or want to be doing, how you’re doing it, how it’s reaching people, how you know, all of those factors, and it’s sometimes the challenges and what appear to be setbacks can really be an opportunity to kind of clarify and learn or, or evolve, whatever it is that you’re that you’re creating, or doing or expressing,

12:21 Yeah, because it is scary, that nothingness zone, where you’re in between what you used to do and what you think you might want to do. So if anyone’s in that zone, right now, take heart. Starting again, isn’t wrong. Mike and I have had many, many times where we’ve done things twice. We met once in Ireland, and didn’t get together until we met 10 years later in LA. And we walked up and the wedding song got played twice. Our Wedding, wedding dance got played twice. We had two weddings, we’ve done everything for fall starts and that fall starts are like kind of most of the way there. But we needed an extra go out.

13:08 We were okay with that. Yeah,

13:11 What are the things that I wanted Mike and I to chat about with you guys who are listening is about the podcast. And for me, I had this bright idea to do the podcast because I eventually want to write a book about, you know, confidence and things like that. And I just said to Mike, okay, I’m going to start a podcast, and in the next three, three weeks or something, so I just we just like started, because I’m a fast start or person. And Mike did so much for the podcast, he created the logo. And it was an animated piece, a logo with a bit of music added. And he helped me with all of the video content. So all of those initial episodes were put up on YouTube as well with the guests and the image there as well. And I want to thank you for that, Mike. You’re welcome. So if you haven’t seen all of the episodes, you can go back and see Mike’s handiwork.

14:13 Great. Yeah, loved all the all the interviews are really well done.

14:17 It was an interesting journey, because I was really talking to people about confidence about music specifically. And it was a joy. I really enjoyed doing all of that. And I really met amazing people from all over the world, which led me to run the voice and song so much, which was just speakers talking about how important music and singing can be for our health, for confidence, and how much joy it can bring. One of the reasons we’re talking today is because I’m at a turning point with the podcasts and I want to simplify it a little bit in the future. And the reason I wanted to change the name was to widen the scope of the conversations that I was having. And I can still include music and still include singing. But I wanted to speak to people about the heartfelt communication side of what I already was doing with singers, which was by connecting my, my clients to the message that they have inside. And I think for me, most of what I try to my messages is that each person’s voice, it matters. And your voice has value, you have value, and no one else can replace you, and no one else gets to be you. So from that perspective, I felt that just keeping it around singing was limiting a part of what I wanted to say, because it isn’t just for singers, it’s for everybody. Everybody needs to know that they really matter. And no one can take our place. You know, no one can take Mike’s place or my place. And we might wonder how valuable this conversation is, or how valuable the stuff that I do in my work is, but I am touching some people. And even if it’s one or two people that actually notice or get some value from it. That’s still worthwhile. So we all have something to offer. Yeah, absolutely. I’m looking forward to starting fresh again with The Resonate with Aideen Podcast. And I hope that you’ll join us for some of those episodes. And if you have any comments or you want to suggest a topic, just let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye

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