We had the good fortune of connecting with John March and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, how do you think about risk?
I love this question. It’s something I talk about, teach about and think about quite a bit. Our world is challenging on many levels and risk is often seen as a potentially negative component because it asks that we bravely explore and investigate the unknown but I believe that calculated risk, and having an emotional and intuitive connection to outcome, can mitigate a lot of aspects of risk aversion.
As a person who has spent his life pursuing creativity and craftsmanship, risk is an important component, with regards to what I do, because risk allows for magic and the unexpected moment to arise. My heroes have always been a combination of powerful and inspirational musicians who have high level skills as improvisors, and social and environmental activists who devote their lives to substantive change in the world. Improvisational musicians spend their lives devoted to exploring the moment. To finding out what works and what doesn’t by practicing thousands upon thousands of options so that when they arrive at the moment to explore the piece of music in front of an audience, to improvise within a given structure and explore, they have a lot of possible trajectories and directions available to them because they have already explored potential pathways and can take chances that lead to beautiful outcomes.
Life is really transient. Bravery and a willingness to take chances and risk often has much greater rewards than waiting for an outcome based on a conservative mental/emotional perspective that safety is better than challenge, that certainty is better than uncertainty. I have chosen to live a life where risk opens the heart and creates possibility by facing my hesitations and still moving forward, and the way I think about it is like a door opening onto an unknown landscape and the possibilities for a rich life that passage generates. In terms of my career and risk I have found that taking risks has led me to amazing places, collaborations and opportunities that I would not trade for anything, regardless of the challenges that they presented.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started my career as a guitarist and also as a recording engineer, and quickly moved into advanced programming and digital audio workstations and now film making. The path has led me to own my production company here in Longmont focused on helping artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofits to get their stories out into the world.
I am extremely proud that I was one of the first freelance Synclavier programmers in the world and that I got to work with Michael Jackson. I would say that I am someone who is restless when they’re not learning something new, (which is probably to my advantage as an artist and craftsman because I am constantly pursuing new avenues of exploration and learning). My “career path” has been this wonderful winding road that has taken me to a lot of unique places, opportunities and collaborations.
There are several projects, or rather segments of my career that I am also proud of; I am extremely proud to have worked on the sound design team for the film “Gettysburg” and our Golden Globe nomination for that. I loved working on the recording project The Zen Blues Quartet, https://zenguitarguy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
That is a really great question at this moment in time. For the last year, during the pandemic, I have pretty much been in my studio seven days a week. Prior to that I was a serious foodie, (still am… LOL), and Boulder and Denver offer a really wide variety of opportunities for entertainment and food. In Boulder there’s a wonderful small jazz and blues venue called Caffe Sole that I enjoy a lot. There are a couple of sushi bars here in Longmont that I also like a lot. Red Rocks has to be my favorite venue in Colorado to go see live music, there’s nothing comparable that I know of. I also love the Mission Ballroom in Denver. One of my favorite things to do is visit a hot spring resort for a weekend with my wife and just soak in the waters. I think that’s the amazing thing about Colorado, that there is an incredible combination of big city life in Denver, unique culture and arts in Boulder, and tremendous opportunities to explore nature throughout the state.
During your life and career were there people who acted as mentors or teachers or sponsors that you wanted to acknowledge and give a Shoutout to? People who inspired or influenced your perspectives and that you want to express gratitude for?
When I was starting out as a musician and an audio engineer I had the great good fortune to be mentored by extremely talented and skilled people. My first mentor was a gentleman named Hans Tobeason who was a producer and technologist who took me under his wing as a Synclavier programmer at The Record Plant studios in NYC. I was in my early 20’s and just starting out in the New York recording scene. (Hans went on to become a successful writer and producer for television.) I was taught recording engineering by the late Kooster Mcalister, who was well known in the Colorado community and helped start the Telluride bluegrass festival. I was also trained for many years by a gentleman named Bruce Nazarian, who was the original guitar player in Brownsville Station and an extremely gifted technologist and audio engineer. We were friends for my entire adult life until he passed away. That level of mentorship and support is hard to find these days and I am grateful that I had generous and supportive people, who saw some sort of raw potential in me and who helped to shape and define my skills and perspectives to go out into the world and succeed.
All Photos by Rocio De Prado, RoDpradogallery.com