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. Bongo has been a recording engineer for most his life - recording engineering is his mainstay. 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 30 artists from ground-up to completion of EP and/or album projects in the past five 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. He has extensive experience with ProTools HD [TDM] & ProTools 11, Logic Pro X, and Sonar recording software platforms. 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 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 soundscapes, Bongo enjoys tickling the ivories and using electronics to create organic 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 for many years sampling with dedicated keyboards, including the Ensoniq Performance Sampler, as well 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 38 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 & accompanying 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]. There are many reasons why: 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.
In other words, studying poly-rhythms allows for more freedom of expression, rather than repeating only that which is familiar... To explore all possibilities in a given domain of rhythm is the goal of 'The Bongo Method', when explored, aptly allows for a drummer's character to come through in one's playing - to help realize one's rhythmic inner-voice.
Utilizing Miroslav Philharmonic, Sibelius, Reason, and a substantial library of VST-based sounds/textures, from fully arranged classical works, to unique other-worldly loops/beats which are built from ground-up to reflect the musical idea at hand. Some influences are the works of Ravel, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Phillip Glass, George Winston, Frank Zappa, Danny Elfman, to name a few.
Bongo John arranges compositions for his own bands when requested, perpetually fascinated by modern composers. Nonetheless, he enjoys such classical works as Rachmaninoff's 'A Variation On A Theme Of Paginini.' Application of writing music & an understanding of music theory is essential in conveying musical ideas among musicians - to be on the same page both figuratively & literally.
Bongo has created soundtracks for several films by Guerilla Pictures (see below) as well as string arrangements for several artists 'in-studio'.
With almost 80 videos under his belt, Bongo has explored everything from drum, percussion, & piano solos, to music videos with green screen technology. Bongo's video work has had thousands of views on youtube. 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 audio recording.
Final Cut Pro X is the current platform utilized as well as Vegas 12. Clients for video work include the reggae band Plutopia, The Soul Psychedelique, Jason Adamo, The Lauren Nicole Band, The Bourbons, Option 22, Wave Lynx, Rubber Gypsy, Triplicity, & Urban Soil. Bongo has also been collaborating with local film makers as of recent.
Local artists Bongo John has worked with/recorded/performed with include: