Omer Avni is a highly experienced Los Angeles producer, engineer, mixer, and guitar player. His credits include Jason Derulo, Mary J Blige, Lost in Los Angeles, Dear Buckley, Sherif Serag, Reina Mora, and more. ThatsMyGig.com caught up with Omer to find out what it takes to make it as a producer and how to find gigs in music as a session player in one of the most expensive, crowded, and competitive cities in the world.
By: Derek Williams
TMG: ThatsMyGig.com is privileged to welcome one of LA’s fastest rising producers and session guitarists, Omer Avni. Omer, thank you so much for joining us today.
OMER: Thank you for having me, Derek
TMG: It’s our pleasure. So you continue to have a steady stream of work in one of the most competitive music markets, Los Angeles. Tell us about your early days in L.A. When you first arrived, how did you begin to find gigs in music?
OMER: Honestly, I was a wild guy when I came into town, and I had this mentality that you burn the bridges that you don’t need to cross. I was true to myself. I started as a touring musician. Then I got to playing locally, and as a songwriter. I did songwriting sessions. Then people paid me to produce and perform those songs. Little by little, every gig I got right, led to the next gig (Search all paying gigs on ThatsMyGig.com, here.) Then the work spoke for itself. I would say, that in the beginning of my path, I was not the person I am today. From you Derek, I have learned a lot. We have coffee and I learn a lot. I am still integrating to American society. Being open is the best way to secure a gig. Be open and honest.
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TMG: Absolutely. Within some of those growing experiences, what were some of the lessons you had to learn the hard way?
OMER: Oh my God. So many to choose from. Know what personality you need to achieve what goal. Know what role you are playing. When you are a producer, sometimes you need to be a quiet guy and sometimes you need to be a leading force. It really depends on chemistry and communication. Everything needs to be in good vibe and smooth, but not phony or fake.
TMG: What was the first big gig you landed and how did you land that gig?
OMER: Sometimes you don’t know when gigs are big and then they become big. The Jason Derulo thing, I never met the guy. I worked on the song and then I heard it on the radio. Somebody brought me a beat with some synth parts. I played guitar. Then they took it away and mixed it down. Then I heard it with a different mix and vocal. Sometimes you will work with the songwriters and then it will get to the artists. Or you will pick a part and then someone will use it in a way you didn’t intend to. You don’t know what a big gig is. Just make sure you know what you’re doing. If you lay down a guitar part or mix a song, make sure it’s your best work. That is the best way to secure a gig.
TMG: It sounds like with the Jason Derulo gig, for example, it didn’t start as a big gig as far as you knew, it became that. Is that correct?
OMER: Yes, it became constructive to my career. That part is a good guitar part and it worked. They told me he bought the beat.
TMG: As you’re working on something, it behooves you to put everything you have into it because it could be something really big. Everything could be very worthwhile.
OMER: Exactly. You don’t know which artist or song will make it. You have to appreciate everything and ask yourself if you gave everything you had when you do something. Call yourself out, and be non-responsive and objective in a way.
TMG: You are an accomplished guitarist, but also a producer. As a producer, how do you select your studio musicians for each project. What do you expect from your hired session players?
OMER: First of all, I work with my friends. I work with people who I have a good time with. A good example is Randy Cook. He’s an amazing session drummer. He’s a great guy and a great friend. We hang out outside of the studio. I also pick people who may consider me for other things. People who don’t appreciate what I do, or don’t like it or hear it, are people who I won’t get their best takes during a sessions. It’s chemistry and communication. There are people who play really humbly and you wouldn’t pick them for one studio session, but maybe another. I just worked with Bibi McGill for a week. She was Beyonce’s MD for 8 years. Before that she was with Pink. She brings such a different vibe to the music. She was hand picked by the artist and she was perfect for what we did. She was amazing. It was a real pleasure to work with her. Through working with her, I knew how to get the character guitars in the song. I played supporting guitars to accentuate her parts. Sometimes I make the wrong choices too. So how do I pick them? It’s about character. You need to be with the spirit of the record.
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