By Nathan Phan
“I loved my experience in the Marine Corps, and it’s a big part of why I have so much pride behind everything I do outside of it. … Thanks to that, I feel that I find more purpose behind creating with different groups, people, and themes.”
To commemorate Veterans Day, we’re spotlighting Damon Pollard, aka Damonomad Music, for this edition of Pass the Mic. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Damon served in the United States Marine Corps before pursuing a full-time career in audio engineering and sound production. We asked him about his experience in the Marine Corps, his creative process, and his passion for music.
How did you get your start in audio engineering and production?
I suppose it started in high school, way before I knew what audio engineering was. I figured out how to create my own drums for playing guitar with and recording jams onto my computer in some “interesting” ways (that I later found out were quite far from how production tools are actually used, haha). But this yearning to learn production eventually led me through the Marine Corps, where I would eventually get out to attend Musicians Institute (Hollywood, CA). There I learned Independent Artist Production and Audio Engineering, along with an emphasis on Post Production. These experiences all showed me some of the magical ways of staying creatively organized through means of technical production.
Tell us about your process when you work on a project’s sound and music.
When I begin to work on a project, I typically like to understand the intention behind the idea or vision, so I can derive a more general perspective to build context from. This helps to know where I’m attempting to take the audience. To be honest— when it comes to music, I think of it as planning a voyage through our dreams and realities:
Step 1: Where are we traveling to?
Step 2: What are the elements like?
Step 3: How fast do we need to go?
Once this is established, I’ll draft several takes or iterations that I will then go back over with a fresh mind. I do all this in order to refine the ideas and how they fit into the story or song. The goal here is to freely express my own interpretations and readdress them to see what is or isn’t working with the initial intent. From there, I usually clean things up with edits and mixing as needed.
What are some important elements that you think make great sound design?
To me, great sound design comes from unique sources used in familiar ways, manipulated to drive emotion. And considering we can find different sounds any-and-everywhere, I believe having some audacity to explore outside of the box is what can really transform an entire piece. Think of silence as a sound also! It can be used to achieve really cool balances of subtle nuances and impactful notes. But just as well, I’d say that it’s important to maintain the integrity of the initial perspective being shared… because “Marching to the beat of your own drum” here, can definitely hinder the ultimate objective (haha).
Does your time in the U.S. Marine Corps influence you as a creator? If so, why?
It absolutely does. I loved my experience in the Marine Corps and it’s a big part of why I have so much pride behind everything I do outside of it. It showed me the different shades of life that can exist and how to walk with each of them. Thanks to that, I feel that I find more purpose behind creating with different groups, people, and themes.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about audio engineering and production?
Audio Engineering will legitimately change your life haha! It’s revealed so many ways of how our minds interpret frequencies as sound waves. Becoming aware of its effects feels like lifting a veil of our existence within the world around us— I could talk about this for days!
Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t an audio engineer, I would be…
… I’D BE A MARINE!!— but “once a Marine, always a Marine,” so I’ll digress (ha!).
If I wasn’t an audio engineer, I would be a professional golfer and/or skateboarder.