Aspiring Musician? Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Originally written for eccentricobserver.com.

Contrary to what you might have heard, music doesn’t pay the bills.

Well, only certain kinds of music anyway. Piracy and a general lack of interest in physical purchases might have slowed the otherwise continuous cash flow for today’s shimmering pop stars, but the almost-universal unawareness of the more avant-garde side of music keeps even the most talented musicians showing up at their day jobs.

For 31-year-old Collin Young, an Etobicoke-based producer and musician, the notion of making a living doing what you love seems to have been something of a misconception.

“I was under the impression that it was possible to get a job,” said Young. “To be on some sort of payroll or something.”

Young records all of his clientele at Burlington’s B-Town Sound, where he’s recorded more than 20 bands within the past few years. He said he was offered an internship following his audio engineering studies at the popular Metalworks Institute in Mississauga.

Collin sits in front of his home mixing interface in Etobicoke.

“They had a Kijiji post saying they were looking for interns, so I responded to it, ended up interning there, and learned that internships don’t always lead to jobs,” he said. “I decided to go to school for it to see if money could be made … turns out money can’t really be made.”

“I try, though,” said Young, laughing.

Young is also one of two guitarists in the Mississauga-based metal quartet Hammerhands: A noisy, abrasive and energetic outfit whose monumental 2013 album Glaciers was produced by Young himself.

“It’s slow and dismal,” said Young. “I was in a previous band called the Love and Terror Cult, a punk-hardcore band that sort of dissolved. We kind of went into this with the whole idea that we used to play fast, and we thought we’d play slow to make it different from what we just did.”

Young said he tends to describe Hammerhands’ music with tags like “doom metal” or “post metal”, but acknowledges that genre specifics are all but futile to the casual music fan.

“If I’m talking to my mom, it’s just more of the noise that I keep making. It’s atmospheric, and the songs are stupidly long.”

He adds,”To do something unique, you’ve kind of got to start off with a weird idea.”

So where does Young see music taking him in the coming years?

“I really like the pace and nature of the way the band works,” he said. “Everyone else has a fully formed and functioning life outside of it, so we’re not going to be playing stadiums or anything. I’ll assume that it’s going to continue that way. I’d just like to keep making music and putting out albums.”

Collin works on mixes from home.

With regards to his work with audio engineering, Young said he hopes to expand his presence in the industry.

“I’d like it to grow,” he said. “It’s one of many things I do, but it’s the thing I prefer doing.”

Though the industry might continue to turn a blind eye to the experimental and ambitious side of the musical spectrum, Young said he and his cohorts intend to press on.

“We’re definitely not at the top of that mountain, but I’m going to keep at it,” Young said. “It’s what I do.”

To listen to some of Collin’s recordings, visit his showcase page. To check out his work with Hammerhands, go to their Bandcamp page.