Jacques Mathias Oliveira
Composer, Arranger, Producer & Guitar Player
Welcome to my little place on the internet
Please take off your coat, grab a cup of tea/coffee, and enjoy your stay. I hope this place may help you find some inspiration and enjoyment.
the world in several film and tv projects.
A friend of mine was kind enough to film the strings recording of my track "Spirits of Andes," which you can listen to at the left.
Strings Recording of "The Ancient Spirits of Andes" -- Budapest/Hungary.
I started my music career playing guitar. Both electrical and acoustic. I inherited my taste for plucked instruments from my
dear father, José Manoel Rocha de Oliveira. He taught me the first chords of the guitar.
In Brazil in 1992, when I won the Henrique Pinto Guitar Contest
at 17 years old, it was nearly impossible having a music career
based only on playing. We were not rich, so I was already working since 14 years old, playing at "balls" across the country. Consequently, I moved on to my second area of interest, music production.
I couldn't foresee that 30 years later I would come back to playing guitar while starting a video project.
As an arranger, I've worked with several, several artists.
From playing all the instruments on a song to writing strings arrangements, I've had way too much fun!
I really like the strings arrangements I've been lucky enough to write for Tulipa Ruiz's album called "Tudo Tanto".
It's from 2012! Time flies!
If you would like to listen to more arrangements, check out my portfolio.
As a producer, I've worked with singers and bands. In fact, I still do from time to time.
However, creating and producing content for FXpansion's drum software BFD3 and Geist, has been incredibly fun! Here is a list:
I was born in 1975 in São Lourenço, a cozy, touristic destination in Brazil.
At 11 years, I started learning guitar from my father, Jose Manoel.
At 12, I put a band together with some friends. Playing rock music was fun, but I became more interested in composition when musical theory, harmony, and counterpoint studies became an object of fascination, maybe due to classical LPs mentioning that Beethoven and Mozart took these subjects seriously!
At 14, I began taking classical guitar lessons with Victor Lobo de Almeida, one of those intellectually blessed people whose aptitudes seem to flourish from nothing.
From 14 to 17, I was lucky enough to play in a local cover band.
Who wouldn't want to play guitar in a professional cover band in 1989, at 14 years? That was fun.
It was an excellent opportunity to develop good musical instincts since we had to learn the tunes by ear - something not taken as seriously as it should be these days.
At 17, I won a Brazilian Classical Guitar contest organized by Henrique Pinto, a renowned Brazilian guitar teacher. At this point, I realized I wouldn't take the academic route. Something propelled me on a lonely and unpredictable journey. Whether we like it or not, in 1992, a Classical guitar career relied upon winning contests (competitions don't make sense to me) or investing in a lengthy scholarly career, which seemed even more unsuitable; I wanted something unexplored, and I was ready to investigate. It's worth mentioning that while I also loved playing Satriani, Steve Vai, and Van Halen, it didn't feel like I would have a carer as a rock player either.
At 18/19, I already had composed several pieces for guitar; many didn't survive since they were not that good, and I ended up throwing them in the trash. Only three Pequenas Peças and a Fantasia Popular for Classical Guitar survived that era. At this point, I left my parents' home, supporting myself by giving lessons.
At 20, maybe a little earlier, one student of mine, Marco Eliseo, helped me figure out my path. He used to play in a Hotel localized close to São Lourenço. In one of those gigs, he asked me to take care of his keyboard, a Roland JV 1000, which has a sequencer. I didn't know there was such a thing called a sequencer. I was not a keyboard player, but that sequencer would help me perform my ideas. As an '80s/'90s guitar player, I must reveal I didn't like keyboards, except for the low notes since they could support my over-extended solos. But man, that sequencer puzzled me. Bear with me! It was 1995, and I was a mixture of a rocker and an Andres Segovia wannabe, utterly strange to technology. You shouldn't count some MSX lessons and Atari/Odyssey 2 playing.
Marco had just started a small studio whose main gear was: three shining Alesis ADATs, a Yamaha 02V, an Alesis Monitor One (which I still use!), an Alesis 3630 compressor, and a selection of instruments and microphones. Could it be more '90s? After listening to my first attempts at Roland's sequencer, he asked me if I would be interested in arranging for some local artists. Then, you say yes, stop practicing your instrument, and the technology black hole sucks you until you're half alive. You, dear reader, have probably been there, too.
In late 1995, I had the money for a 486 PC with Windows 3.1, a Cakewalk, an external Midi interface (I must check its name in my private museum), and an Alesis QuadraSynth Plus Piano. Of course, after spending all the cash I've got from two albums. I couldn't afford two meals a day since I was really broke. That was fun anyway.
At 22, after working on many albums with Marco, I needed a pause to check my priorities. I couldn't play guitar satisfactorily anymore; I hadn't been practicing - something to do with learning Cakewalk, programming, and mixing. That felt strange, and I needed to figure out my next steps.
While reviewing my life, I began playing bass at a local soul band, which taught me how to sequence a live show. It was an excellent opportunity to research black music and study horns arrangements/programming.
Up until this point, I had never used a sampler! It was 1997. Roland had already released the S-550 and S-770, but no way I could have the money for them. After some savings, I could afford an EMU ESI-32 with 32MB (!) of ram without a SCSI CD reader. I was still producing local band tracks, so I could finally sample some drums and save them into unreliable diskettes! Well, I was no longer using Alesis QuadraSynth Plus piano acoustic drum samples, which felt fine.
At 25, after almost three years of wandering around, studying MIDI programming and mixing, I admitted I should own my little business. My first home studio. I didn't really have a place, only my programming rig, two guitars, and no microphones. I felt it was time to become the 'producer,' in other words: planning and mixing the albums I had been arranging for. In my '20s naivety, I thought I would make more money and therefore have more control over my time, thus, playing more guitar. Yeah, poor me. It resulted on the contrary. More work, less time.
This period lasted roughly nine years and was highly prolific.
As expected, my little business studio got me in touch with many artists. It allowed me to write several strings and brass arrangements (recorded with musicians) besides hiring some of the best musicians in Brazil. Playing with seasoned, more experienced musicians is probably the best lesson you might ever have, especially if you've been doing your homework. That will teach you things that no other school can't.
At 26, I knew Brazil wasn't a suitable place for me for many reasons; it definitely occurred to me that moving from Brazil to England or USA could be a better fit for my career. However, I was tied up after renting a new place and getting a bank loan to buy the necessary essential gear to build my little business. I could throw everything away, but that didn't feel like the right path. As a consequence, the internet became my portal to new possibilities.
It was 2001, and I had been peeking around the internet since 1996. If you're in your '20s, you have no idea what the internet used to be in the '90s. It was, well, to put it politely, devoid of content. Back in 2001, the first forum I found was Northernsounds. A little later, I landed at the VI Control forum, a fantastic place to complement what I had been researching: orchestration, sample libraries programming, etc. We could see several sample library developers posting over there (still in 2022), which helped pinpoint new chances. From there, I created demo tracks for several sample library developers, which allowed me to gain more experience by sharpening my mock-up skills.
If you have read so far, you'll remember that I had been sampling some drums with my beloved EMU ESI-32 (unfortunately don't own it anymore). Then, in 2003, at 28 years, the UK-based company FXpansion released BFD1, the Premium Acoustic Drum Module, which particularly grabbed my attention. After listening to the BFD demos, I felt I could help them get better demonstrations. One store had the BFD1 in São Paulo, so I bought it in 6 payments and kept the box! I then created a tune called 'On Fire' and either posted it on the KVR forum or sent it directly using MSN Messenger (I can't remember!). Ten minutes later, Steve Duda contacted me, saying they would like to use that track for BFD advertising. For FXpansion, I developed three BFD3 MIDI packs and two Geist expansion packs, besides the BFD2 and BFD3 MIDI grooves library, which you can find named JM. I'm glad to say I still use BFD3 to this day, and I hope they'll come up with BFD4.
Around the same period, I got acquainted with Paul Ross Thomson, the founder of the Spitfire sample libraries, who helped me become a PRS for Music member in London. Years later, we would work together on some great material, particularly on an album published by Cavendish Music, Family Movie.
From 28 to 34, I've worked with other artists, producing, mixing, arranging, and playing guitar. At the same time, I was improving my orchestral MIDI performances. I still created demo audio tracks for sample library developers such as Spitfire, Chris Hein, Yuval Shrem (Broadway Big Band), Fxpansion, Flying Hand Percussion, Vienna Symphonic Library, Sonivox, and others I can't remember.
At around 32/38, I started getting commissions from Cavendish Music and, subsequently, from EMI Production music. Numerous tracks were created for diverse albums and recorded with a full orchestra at Tom-Tom Studio in Budapest, Hungary. In 2015, I got an award for one of these tracks, Goodbye Dad (Cavendish Music), from The Production Music Awards. The same year, an album I had written brass arrangements for owned a Latin Grammy Award, the Dancê, from Tulipa Ruiz.
Around 39 years, some crucial shifts occurred. Of course, some overlapping happened; I was still working on commissions from EMI production Music, Cavendish Music, and occasionally arranging. This period would last eight years (until now) and become the root of my recently released YouTube channel (in 2022).
In 2015, at 40, I started collaborating with Fabrice Smadja, founder of the French company AOC. We created music for commercials while pitching for other film projects and, in 2022, still do it periodically. The 'first seed' to my YouTube channel project mentioned above came from a trilogy of albums I've worked on with Fabrice. The job involved performing several emblematic and remarkable film themes using sample libraries. Most of them, without an orchestral score, thus by ear. I can't remember doing anything more complex and tricky my whole life.
Let's say you have the entire orchestral score of John Williams Jaw's theme. If you start playing the parts, you'll quickly notice that to achieve sound cohesiveness, you'll need a bunch of mixing. Positioning all the woodwinds behind the strings and brass behind the woodwinds while matching the 'vibe' is exceptionally challenging. Many old scores were recorded in a full orchestral take, resulting in a glued and pleasant sound mass. Now, imagine you don't have the orchestral score and are supposed to play them by ear. Good luck! You're probably getting the 'I can't remember doing anything more complex and tricky my whole life.' It's tough. If interested, you can hear some of the tracks in the MIDI performance section, including one video walkthrough.
In 2019, I was approached by ROLI, which was about to release the LUMI keyboard and an educational iPad app. They hired me as a consultant, and there I was, creating classical backing tracks for LUMI's iPad app. It was the second 'seed' for my YouTube channel. I spent three years on this project (more to come in the future), and it has been amazing to test on real-world jobs some technical ideas I had for MIDI performance projects. Again, if interested, you can hear some of these tracks on the tab.
If you're still reading, I welcome you to my website and hope you'll find the YouTube videos engaging while learning a few things! I'll be playing guitar and sharing info I've been able to accumulate over the decades. See you there.
Take care of yourself,
Jacques Mathias Oliveira