There's something special about music. Music can express things that don't quite make sense when put into words. Music can reach beyond cultural and language barriers. Music can trigger vivid memories and powerful emotions. Music can carry messages that, whether positive or negative, can make a powerful impact on the listener.
Making music has always come easily for me. As a child I took piano lessons and began playing in church around the age of 11. By the time I was a young teenager, I had learned to play guitar and drums as well, and hoped to be in a band someday. I used to sit in my bedroom with my cheap electric guitar and tiny amplifier, jamming along to groups like Skillet, Red, and Leeland.
My entire outlook on music shifted in a major way when I started listening to hip-hop in my mid-teens. Growing up in small-town Ohio, I had no real cultural connection to hip-hop. Growing up in a strong Christian home, I knew that the lyrical themes of mainstream rap were not compatible with my faith. However, everything changed when I discovered Christian rap.
My first impression was that it was kind of cool...nothing life-changing, but fun to listen to for something different. But as I continued to absorb the raw, unapologetically Christ-centered messages of artists such as Lecrae, The Cross Movement, and Flame, I couldn't help but be amazed. I heard truth, truth that I thought I already knew, presented in a way that made me feel like I was hearing it for the very first time. Soon, I was hooked on the style as well. I became the small-town white kid who was trying to get all of his friends to listen to rap.
It wasn't very long before I was trying to make hip-hop beats. I started by creating sample-based drum patterns in Audacity, then got a cheap keyboard and began experimenting with recording. Towards the end of high school, I started learning how to create tracks in a demo version of FL Studio. At this point, I started to believe that there could be a future for me in music. I wasn't confident in myself as an artist - I actually refused to sing in front of anybody - but as a producer, I felt that with a bit more practice and training, I could create some amazing stuff.
I graduated high school in May 2012, and spent the following fall at the Recording Workshop (RECW) in Chillicothe, Ohio. While there, I learned and practiced the skills of recording, mixing and mastering, producing, songwriting, and working with Pro Tools software. After I completed the CORE program at RECW, I returned home to Hartville and began working in an upholstery shop, using many of my evenings to keep practicing and creating music.
My first break in the music business came about through Andy Mineo's "Heroes for Sale" remix contest in late 2013. I tried to push the limits of the CHH genre, taking his song "You Will" and building an electric-guitar laced rock track for it. Though I felt that I had done as well as I could, I didn't expect to be a finalist in the competition. To my own amazement, I was chosen as one of the winners, and my remix appeared on Andy's remix EP. Though the buzz from the contest soon died down, I came away from it with a new sense of confidence and determination.
My entry in the remix contest was also the start my connection to the music scene in Toronto, Canada. Simple conversations soon developed into close ties with people such as Karen Jewels (of Upright Music Republic), Dru Bex (an independent artist at the time), and Shopé (of Role Model Records). I began producing and mixing as a side job, and also began to experiment with writing and recording a few songs of my own. I still wasn't confident in myself as an artist, but people close to me kept encouraging me and pushing me to not hold back any part of my gifts. I still often doubted whether or not I could ever make a living off of music...whether I was truly good enough. God taught me a lot about trust during those several years.
I learned to find peace in this simple truth: even if my dreams and goals crumble into nothing, I will still have Jesus. That will always be more than anything I could ever earn or accomplish for myself.
Today I am a full-time musician. I've released an EP, an album, and several singles. I've produced and engineered for some truly amazing people who inspire me greatly. I'm married to my best friend. And I truly believe that this is just the beginning. - Quinten J. Coblentz