Hey readers happy 2015! For those musicians and singers out there just starting out; I have a New Year’s gift for you. George Ruehle, of Mudman Records, is announcing the launch of his new website Muddy Tracks.
Muddy Tracks will be for anyone who needs backing tracks. When I was auditioning for The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan; George was the one who created the backing track for my audition song, Honey Bun from South Pacific. I was accepted into the school and it was because he customized the track to fit my range and style of singing, that made it easier for me to focus on performing the character. When I was performing in New York, George kept in touch, always cheering me on. He’s a fantastic musician, composer, producer, avid bike rider, Formula 1 Racing fan, and a dear friend. Also as some of you already know, he and I are working on a musical together. He’s a man of many talents and his studio is helping other performers reach their own dreams.
Tell us a bit about Mudman Records and Muddy Tracks, George. What makes you different from other studios?
For as long as technology has been around there are still a lot of tracks out there that just don’t sound realistic. I take the time to really recreate a track and make it sound like someone is really playing that instrument using high quality software. So if you can’t afford to hire an orchestra, then we use virtual instruments. The old term, which is still used, is called sequencing. Which is basically letting the computer put everything together as you play it on a keyboard and it sounds authentic.
Now the tracks you make are not only for singers but instrumentalists and actors as well. Why is it important for them to have a demo or accompaniment CD?
Even in the Houston, Texas market there are a lot of great singers and musicians. If someone wants to go out and entertain, say for a job in a coffee shop, you know they’re not the only ones applying for the job. It’s really good for them to have a high quality professional CD that they can hand to the owner or manager along with their profile pack and say, “here, take a listen to what I’m doing.”
Broadway, southern gospel, just about any style. A lot of piano tracks which are good for rehearsals. I do a lot of business with high school or college students that are preparing for auditions either for college or a show. A lot of times they just need a piano track. So we can do that or we can do the full blown orchestra or band version by replicating those arrangements. One of my clients did a new Christmas CD this year; he’s a saxophone player, jazz mostly. We did a CD for him last year and he came back and did another one this year. It is a cool project because it is a combination of jazz standards combined with traditional and very popular Christmas tunes.
George also recently released his own Christmas album, showing off his piano man skills!
Now I’m told you’re the Apple man. You love Apple products for Mudman Records?
I do a lot with their products, yes.
We’re very supportive of Apple and I use a lot of Mac software and Mac computers in my studio. Well, we do! This is what is great today! The technology about with tablets and smartphones has been pretty amazing and Apple has done a really good job in providing and exploring and expanding that area for musicians. There are music companies that manufacture their instruments and have gone the route of also manufacturing apps that can be used for recording or instrumentation.
When I play a gig, I use a lightweight keyboard controller and the virtual sounds from apps on an iPad. I’ve got a great concert piano, strings, or anything like that; it’s a nice, easy set up I can take with me anywhere. People like using the iPad in the studio for lyrics and during their recording sessions, as another example. They can have everything available to them! We do a lot of software based recording in the studio and the Mac products, as far as computers go, just work well with that type of technology.
What is your history with music?
I started out learning the organ. My dad was a musician back in Chicago. Back in the day, he was a big band leader and singer in the 40’s; a crooner on the radio every weekend and played in a lot of the big ballrooms in Chicago and he had many records. So I was brought up and raised to love music. He started me on organ lessons when I was seven years old and so I fell in love with that. I have to say my parents were very supportive of me growing up and going into music. I loved playing in church and became a church organist when I was eleven years old.
Over the years I studied with several excellent organ instructors. I spent many years through high school studying with Rollie Hudson. He was a concert artist for Yamaha. I honed much of my foundational skills with him, as well as learning theater and pop organ styles of playing. He taught me a lot about arranging and technique. I also studied with a great musician outside of college. A gentleman by the name of Les Strand; one of the best jazz organists in the country at that time. He played with Duke Ellington and a variety of people, it was pretty amazing! So I spent many years with him learning my jazz skills.
What is your dream?
I always had a dream of getting involved in film scoring and I still have that desire and it’s a matter of finding some people that are interested; probably in the independent area. I’m not going to be the next John Williams, but I love composing and so that’s a scenario I’d still like to pursue. The other thing is, I enjoy working with young people. There’s so much great talent out there and I’d love to have them come and let me produce their demo or albums for them.
Music is such a personal thing for people. You don’t go into the music business to get rich. There’s always that possibility, but you know…those of us in the industry and those of us who have tried to make it, have to realize that it’s a small percentage of people who get the big recording contracts and the super stardom out there. I love seeing young people pursue their dreams. I think it’s really well worth it, even if they don’t make it. Many of them won’t, and not because they aren’t good, but because it’s just the nature of the industry, it’s competitive. But it’s such a good experience to go for what you really love and music tends to be one of those things that people have a passion for.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before?
There are a lot of things you can do in the music industry now. Sometimes I find myself asking, “what do I really want to focus on?” I think in many industries if you can find the right niche, the right area, and really work and hone your craft; that is more likely to make you a success. You have to be good at it. So I think there are things I would have worked harder at. You know…pursue more; maybe it was more writing, maybe it was more arranging. That I know now and have learned about. The industry has changed so much though, in the past ten years, especially in the recording industry. Today it’s easier in some ways to learn a lot of things, but it’s also more competitive because it has become so much easier for people to get involved as the technology changes.
Who are some of your favorite composers?
George Gershwin, Mozart, Bach, Cole Porter, Howard Shore for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, John Williams as my favorite film score composer, Michael Giacchino who did The Incredibles and started with the Alias series.
Thank you George for taking the time for an interview and sharing your wisdom of the music world.
Thank you Kelly, I appreciate it.
John Williams better watch his back, ’cause here comes George Ruehle with Muddy Tracks! For more info on George, his personal work, and work with artists, please visit:
His main site: Mudman Records
His upcoming tracks site: Muddy Tracks
LIKE his Facebook page: Mudman Records Facebook
Message him on his website or Facebook for rates and incredible deals! He’s also a big text fan and can be reached at 713-591-9620 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.