Twenty-two-year-old State College rock musician Brandon Hess only recently graduated from The Academy for Media Production in Gettysburg in April, but his ambition belies his years.
A self-described Thin Lizzy fan, Hess is working on his first EP, “5 Minutes of Fame,” with the help of crowdsourcing, and he recently launched his own recording studio, Hess Recording. In addition to being a musician, Hess also handles production, engineering and songwriting assistance for his clientele.
Q: Why is the album named “5 Minutes Of Fame”?
A: The title is influenced by the disposal of people that record companies use to make money. They’re just selling you a fresh new person and image that is performing the labels’ already formulated songs. At the end of the day, labels are just selling us a formulated mold of a person. The “artist” is just a middleman for making labels money.
Q: That’s an awesome album cover. Did you do the artwork?
A: No I didn’t, my twin brother, Alex, actually did it. He’s an excellent graphic designer and photographer who is currently developing a clothing line entitled Uprising.
Q: Why have you started a kickstarter for your EP?
A: Writing and recording an album is only the first step. It is not cheap replicating CD’s and properly promoting an album independently. I mean, you could write a masterpiece but if no one ever hears it, what good does all of the hard work serve then? Kickstarter is a great way for people to “invest” in you.
Q: How has this EP came about, has it been a complete solo effort or did you have help?
A: I began writing for this album roughly seven months ago. I’ve written, recorded and played all of these songs. However, I have had a few talented local musicians play on the EP that have definitely added uniqueness to the songs.
Q: How long have you been on the local scene, and what’s your impression of it?
A: I’ve been on the local scene since I was 17. What I have learned when it comes to live music in State College is you’d better be a DJ, top-40 cover band or a bar band that performs classics like “Sweet Caroline” If not, more than likely people will not be open-minded to your music.
Q: Do you support original music?
A: I support local music to the fullest, however it does disappoint me to see talented musicians playing only covers. I appreciate original music much more. But it’s still enjoyable entertainment to see any music performed live.
Q: Do you feel you need a mastery over all instruments to effectively be run a recording studio?
A: I don’t know about mastery, but recording is definitely not something you learn overnight. It takes a lot of reading and experience. Most importantly sharpening your ears.
Q: Have you ever gotten advice from others who own studios about the industry? Have you talked to them about how it’s changed so quickly?
A: Yes, when I was in school, my instructors really helped me get a grasp on the changing times with the industry as well as knowing what to expect competitively. Personally, I think the industry is at a great place right now because the digital age of recording has allowed for people to build a home studio affordably.
Q: Your website says your passion recording rock bands with real instruments, does this mean you will only work with those types of acts?
A: No, absolutely not. I just have deeper roots with rock music.
Q: If you could use one band’s music catalogue (or specific song) to describe your life, whose would it be and why?
A: I would have to say Thin Lizzy because they have so many different sounding songs. (Frontman and bassist) Phil Lynott was such a pure and honest songwriter/lyricist. He wrote from his heart. Just like in life, you have your ups and downs. Life is never just a constant sound.