GLEN PERKINS is a man that is always making music. Be it his own or behind the scenes producing, music flows through his veins. We sat down with Glen to catch up on what he’s been doing.
What has Glen Perkins been up since our last interview in 2014?
I’ve been doing a lot more acting the past 4 years. I’ve starred in several obscure “true crime” shows like Ice Cold Killers, Fame Kills, Monsters & Mysteries In America, FBI Takedowns as well as a commercial, a few student films and a sitcom called Milwaukee Basic. Most recently, I went back to my roots in the theater as the lead protagonist in a play called “Stand” which was produced up in D.C. Musically, I’ve been producing for local artists in Hampton Roads. We just finished production on an album for local artist and longtime friend Terret called “The Green Man”. Creatively speaking, I’m very proud of this album.
When we last spoke you had taken an interest in scoring film, have you scored any or has that interest waned?
Still waiting for the right opportunity to get into scoring. I’ve made plenty of contacts in the film business around here so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, place and availability!
You interned with the legendary Teddy Riley, what was the most important thing you learned from him?
Two things stick out. First thing is ‘benchmarking’. Keep current with what is out in the marketplace because that is your competition. I remember him mentioning that there is always a “beat of the year” … a certain tempo that is popular for that year. Recently, I’ve noticed a trend of popular music getting faster and faster each year. A few years ago it was around 125-127 (bpm: beats per minute), then 130. Now I’m starting to see a surge of drum n’ bass (150+) influenced patterns gaining steam in the pop marketplace. So, always listen to what’s out there and make sure your production is on the same level. The second, but most important thing, I learned from Teddy is work ethic. That man used to arrive at the studio at 5pm and get to work and we’d be finished around 7 that following morning. Plus he never drank or did any drugs. It was pure focus that he poured into his music and would have one song going in Studio A and another in B. Future Records (Teddy Riley’s former VA Beach studio) was a mecca for pop and R&B back in the 90s and I was blessed to be able to be there as a teenager to observe and learn.
With your track “Don’t Sleep”, you’ve got some pretty sexy guitar work going on, who are your guitar heroes?
Steve Vai. End of story. It’s subjective but to me, Vai is the greatest player that ever was, is and always will be (I can just feel my friend Allen Baltzer seething as he reads this and it’s great).
How did “Don’t Sleep” come to life?
I actually did the basic track on Christmas Day 2013! The night before I had just spent the entire night sampling guitar riffs and the next day, I set out to use some of them and that’s when I created what became “Don’t Sleep”. I didn’t touch it until the next year when I started recording what I called mumbo jumbos (nonsense verbalization with melody) over it. Nothing happened but I kept coming back to it over and over until I decided to turn an old hashtag I used to use when promoting the record I did for Chris Richardson “Collecting” on Twitter #dontsleep. I just thought it was a really cool ‘slogan’ so I decided to turn it into a song. I worked on it every now and again. It was the record I was working on the night I found out my dad had cancer in 2015 (and thus it came to have a double meaning for me… “don’t sleep (die) on me” and subsequently it was the record that I finished writing a year later on Feb 4th 2016, the day before he died. So, I don’t know what it is about that record, but I knew that I wanted to make a video for it and put it out there.
How was the video process of “Don’t Sleep”?
I happened across a local director on Facebook named Jake Brinn who had done a video that I saw which had a style that I thought would be perfect for the etheric feel of “Don’t Sleep”. So I hit him up and asked to meet with him and cinematographer Christy Stevens. We met at a local Starbucks and just started hashing out ideas for it. They had a style in mind already from listening to the song and knew of a wonderful dancer they wanted to hire, named Bryanna Vesely. We had several shoots in various locations around Norfolk and a theater at Old Dominion University. I thought they did such fantastic job with the video and was so stoked when I saw it the first time. All three of them are so very talented. Jake and Christy subsequently did a film together called ‘Carmelita’ in which they gave me a role. I enjoy working with them.
What is your least favorite thing about the creation of making music?
The self doubt sucks. But as an artist, when you gain enough experience, you learn to anticipate the self-deprecation as an inevitable part of the creative process and simply work through it with the knowledge that continued focus on any single objective will always result in success.
In a previous interview, you describe the essence of Glen Perkins these five (5) words, Creative, Patient, Persistent, Cool, Swaaagggggg. Would you still describe the essence of you Glen Perkins in those words or something else?
No, I wouldn’t. The “swag” descriptor was more tongue-in-cheek than anything and was meant to showcase a sense of humor, nothing more. I caught some hell on it from friends who’ve known me the longest b/c they know me better than that. Humility is far more important than “swagger”.
Producing wise, what are you working on that excites you the most?
I am embarking on a project to remake some of my favorite songs from the “hair metal” era. The first will be a cover of “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake. ’m stoked for that and looking forward to helping others who loved that era of music just as much as I did “relive” some of their favorites which they may have forgotten about.
Continuing with producing, what are you the most proud of?
I try to make it so that whatever record I am currently working on is my favorite. That’s my mindset and goal… to make whatever song I am working on at the time my favorite song. So, currently I am proud of “Don’t Sleep” and “Stand Up” (both of which are up on at SOUNDCLOUD) . Oddly enough, as I write this, I find that I am MOST proud of records that I haven’t even finished yet.
What has been music’s greatest loss and win in the last 10 years?
Greatest loss goes to the rap genre (not hip hop… it’s completely different nowadays) but the win goes to those producers in that genre as well as those in the dance genre…the meaningful lyrical content has fallen way off (and y’all KNOW what I’m talking about, don’t even front like it hasn’t) but the beats have gotten hotter. The flows I hear are cool too but there’s just no “substance” in the new wave of rap music. Of course, I am not talking about true hip hop but the “mumble” genre… don’t get me wrong, it’s HOT… and it’s FUN to listen to and I get why it’s so popular, but honestly, any genre that celebrates artists that write lyrics like “I just fucked yo bitch” (the same lyric I’ve heard in NUMEROUS songs by different artists) is just doing a disservice to the culture at large. Straight up. (and y’all can get mad if you want, you know I’m right)
Which do you like better: performing as a musician or performing as an actor? depends on the day… I’m more comfortable as a musician though.
Your father, Glen Perkins, was a singer songwriter for Warner Chappell Music in the 1980’s and your brother Stu Perkins performs as well. Do you think having music in your genes a help or a hindrance? Was it natural for you to fall into music or was it something you tried and realized you were good at it?
Music has been my savior but also my albatross. Sometimes I wonder where I would be in life, had I not had a musician father who taught me my first chords at 5 years old. Since then there has been a constant yearning, an insatiable desire to achieve success and to have years and years of practice and sacrifice, finally validated by the musical community at-large. Until that happens, there is constant yearning and an underlying hunger. There’s a quote from ‘Dead Poets Society’ that sticks with me: “Show me a heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I’ll show you a happy man”. This is true. Although the music in my soul has brought me my greatest happiness and sense of accomplishment throughout my life (other than my daughter, of course), it has also provided my greatest torment. After learning to meditate I found consistent happiness but it didn’t come easy.
How has social networking and platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify changed the way you create?
It has not changed the way I create, but rather the way I publish. I was making records with the same consistency before Soundcloud came around. But nowadays when I make a song that I’m proud of, I now have an efficient way to let my friends listen to it.
How important is having a social network and music presence in this day and age?
Depends on how important your fan base is to you. An artist should maintain a social network and online presence in honor of those who enjoy that artist’s music. Artists should make it easy for their fans to find and enjoy their music… do it for them!
What one artist (alive or dead) would love to work with and why?
Banks, b/c she’s the dopest ever. I just discovered her a couple weeks ago after youtubing covers of Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’. I heard her cover and it was so different but truly unique and it made me interested to hear more. Her music is so dang dope.
What is 2018 going to be like for Glen Perkins?
I’m going to be working very hard saving/investing a lot of money this year. With that money I am planning on creating opportunities for up and coming artists in the 757 to record their music on my dime and build up a catalog of songs which we will market and/or place for them.
Do you have advice for young people who want to go into the music industry?
1st: get better than everyone else (ie practice more than the next)
2nd: go to where the action is
3rd: Collaborate with others who share your dream.
4th: publish content constantly and consistently… build your catalog. Check out Ed Sheeran’s water hose analogy.