Bongo John has been a recording engineer for most his life. Recording engineering is his mainstay & is the place where he feels most at home. Working professionally at Studio 313 in Morrisville, NC full-time for almost four years, additional experience was gained doing part-time work for various studios, including extensive session work as a drummer & percussionist. He makes every effort in appeasing the vision of any given artist - not only basing mixes on reference material, but also engaging the artist on a production level that maximizes creativity - to not only listen sonically, but also to hear out what an artist has to say on all levels throughout the recording & mixing process.
Bongo John has taken over 35 artists from ground-up to completion of EP and/or album projects in the past four years. Bongo John Studio was established in March of 1997.
He is the chief engineer of Raleigh Recording Studio and continues to operate his own recording studio. Bongo John is also a remote instructor and student mentor for Recording Connection Audio Institute. He has extensive experience with ProTools HD [TDM] & ProTools 11, Logic Pro X, and Sonar Platinum recording software platforms. To Bongo John, maximizing the creativity and minimizing the rigors of technology is key.
An eclectic and unorthodox approach to percussion, Bongo is often exploring unique configurations of percussion - from traditional afro-cuban instrumentation (i.e. bongos, congas, djembé, doumbek, shakers, foot tambourine, hand cymbal & sundry) to utilizing acoustic-electric MIDI drum sample triggering technology. Bongo's focus is to keep the groove organic as a time-keeper and to play to serve what a given song or instrumental calls for... He focuses on listening while playing drums in a melodic way.
What gives Bongo John's percussive drumming a distinct style is his desire to truly explore his own rhythmic concepts, to compliment other musicians in a jam, band, or through-composed scenario. "To connect with an audience is paramount - to have fluidity of one's own musical vocabulary, to communicate naturally - not an exercise or demonstrate technique, rather to facilitate what emanates from the heart and soul. That's the goal I am always striving for."
From his formative years of tinkering around on a Chickering console piano, to sampling noises to create polyrhythmic Avant-guarde/experimental soundscapes, Bongo enjoys tickling the ivories as well as finding unique avenues, such as exploring electronics to create organic, yet other-worldly noises. Even though synthesis is the mainstay of sonic textures that he explores with the keyboard, he spends hours improvising on the piano on a regular basis.
As of recently, the result is a full album of meditative piano works titled 'Regarding The Piano Forte.' Bongo John has also delved into synthesis in the past several years sampling with dedicated keyboards as well as implementing modern sampling software ['Battery' by Native Instruments & sampling via VST plug-ins].
For Bongo, technology should remain transparent by understanding the technology at hand so that creative ideas can be moreso realized & true to an artist's vision - intuition & creativity unhindered.
Drumming for 39 years and counting (no pun intended), Bongo John has been given favorable write-ups in Modern Drummer Magazine (March 2005 issue - "On The Move" column), as well as Drum! Magazine (May 2010 issue - "New Blood" column). Just recently, he released his drum book & video tutorial, both titled "The Bongo Method."
The Bongo Method is a truly open-ended approach in exploring coordination in rhythms, explained in layman's terms. Bongo is often fascinated by polyrhythmic coordination in rhythm [i.e. 4-way independence]. According to Bongo: "A drummer can create the illusion of several drummers playing at once which facilitates a deeper 'groove-in-the-pocket', can establish underlying counter rhythms, or 'themes', and also establish a melodic rhythm that allows for soloing with a set rhythm/ostinato. Developing discipline and control are prime reasons, as long as musicality is the main focus."
In other words, Bongo John suggests that studying poly-rhythms allows for more freedom of expression rather than repeating only that which is familiar to a drummer. To explore all possibilities in a given domain of rhythm is the goal of 'The Bongo Method', which aptly opens up possibilities for a drummer's character to come through in one's playing - to help realize one's rhythmic inner-voice.
Bongo John implements Miroslav Philharmonic, Sibelius, Reason, and a substantial library of authentic sounds and synthetic textures - from fully arranged classical works, to unique other-worldly loops/beats, which are built from ground-up. Bongo John continues to develop his catalogue of unique musical ideas for the purposes of scoring for experimental film work by local film makers. He draws from the works of Ravel, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Phillip Glass, George Winston, Frank Zappa, John Williams, Danny Elfman, to name a few.
Bongo John arranges compositions for bands/projects he is working with when requested. He finds inspiration from such classical works as Rachmaninoff's 'A Variation On A Theme Of Paganini', Ravel's 'Bolero', and Sibelius's 'Valse Triste'. In due course, Bongo states that the application of writing music & having a good understanding of the ideas behind music theory is his main focus, as well as finding a common ground to see any given idea through to fruition.
Bongo has created soundtracks for several films by Guerilla Pictures, Pool Room Productions, among others. He has also created a catalog of symphonic, orchestral, and experimental Avant-guarde pieces for several local artists 'in-studio'.
With almost 80 videos under his belt, Bongo has explored everything from drum, percussion, & piano solos, to music videos via green-screen technology. Bongo's video work has had thousands of views on youtube - over 24,000 views since 2008 (2,200 views have occurred from Jan 2015 to April 2015).
As a videographer in the studio or gearing up for on-location remote setup, he currently facilitates 3 HD cams and 16-channel inputs for on-location video/audio recording.
Vegas 12 is the current platform utilized as well as Final Cut Pro X. Clients for video work include: Jason Adamo, The Soul Psychedelique, Plutopia, The Lauren Nicole Band, The Bourbons, Option 22, Wave Lynx, Rubber Gypsy, Triplicity, Urban Soil, among many others. Bongo strives to improve the quality of his video work and has been collaborating with local film makers recently.