“Music is a Lifelong Endeavor”

Passenger Profile: Erik Haddad

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success erik haddad
Listen to 'Smoke And Mirrors' by Erik Haddad:

Erik is just starting out on his young career and has already achieved some important successes. A guitarist turned teacher turned composer, he knows the feeling of working hard to achieve goals. Here's the story in his own words:

What first attracted you to music?

I suppose that, as a kid, I was probably attracted to the energy and attitude of Rock music. My decision to learn to play guitar was mostly inspired by hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time, which can be a pretty magical experience for most people. So I started off in the general Rock and Classic Rock bubble, and over time found my interests starting to branch out as my ears developed and my curiosity grew.

Being mostly attracted to guitar in the beginning, I started listening to instrumental based guitar music that went to the "next level" so to speak. From there, it was inevitable that I entered the Jazz realm because I just had an instinctive need to hear new sounds. I also learned to not pin myself down to guitar music only, and to start concerning myself more with the notes that were being played than with the instruments they were being played on. These days, I'm all over the map really. One day I'll be listening to John Coltrane, the next day to Radiohead, then Chopin, then Peter Gabriel... you get the idea! I think ultimately I listen to whatever stirs something within me.

Did you come from a musical family?

I believe that a lot of people in my family have musical ability, but for the most part none of them really developed it. I started taking private guitar lessons when I was in high school, interestingly enough, at the same place I'm teaching at now! So I learned all of my basics and learned my Rock songs, and as I started getting into the heavier Jazz stuff, I went on to study with some great Jazz musicians in the Chicago area. It gave me the opportunity not only to learn about music, but to be around musicians who are masters of their craft. There's a great sense of awe and inspiration to see somebody at a level you are aspiring to reach. I believe, though, that music is really a lifelong endeavor, and that you always have to be reaching for the next level, whatever it may be.

When did you realize that music could be a real career for you?

Well for one thing, I started seeing musicians all around me who were doing it; people with families and mortgages and bills to pay. Once I got my teaching job, it really became evident to me that between teaching, playing gigs, and composing, that a career in music was not out of reach. And now, as my original music is going places, I can see even more opportunities for me in the world. Some people seem to think, "Well you are either a famous musician, or you're not a musician at all," and that's just totally wrong! Think of how often we take for granted the music that we hear in commercials, TV shows, films, and everywhere else. Somebody is making a great career out of that!

You play guitar and also give guitar lessons. What is it like trying to teach someone else to play what you already know?

You really have to be patient. It becomes obvious that while one student may pick up on something very quickly, it may take another student a lot longer to learn the same thing. Of course, the determination and the amount of time they put into practicing is a huge factor to consider. You can take a group of students in any subject, and the fact is that there's only going to be a very small handful who have the true passion to excel. It doesn't matter if it's music, math, or chemistry. Sometimes you can just see that spark of inspiration in a student and it's a very cool thing because you think back to the time when you were at the same stage as they are. So in that way, it's also humbling.

What made you focus on composing and recording your original material?

I originally got my digital 8-track to use for recording demos that I could use to get gigs. Once I got the hang of it technically, I just started fooling around and laying down various musical ideas that started growing into full instrumental compositions. A really huge factor was getting a keyboard synthesizer set up, because once you have all those instrument sounds at your fingertips, the possibilities become endless. In fact, lots of my compositions don't even have any guitar in them, because I'm so interested in the sounds of other instruments! As my catalogue of material began to grow, I realized I had to actually do something with it, which led me to TAXI.

What was the first "professional" success you had in the business?

Around the age of 20 or so, I began doing freelance gigs and developing a great professional reputation with my Jazz duo called The Tommy Two-Tones, which includes myself on guitar and Frank DeCarlo on alto saxophone. We play straight ahead Jazz, Latin Jazz, and Blues, and we realized early on that we have a great musical chemistry. So we landed some steady gigs, which is always a sign that you're doing something right, and we currently play out several times a month. As far as composing, my first professional success came last year when I signed my first contract with a production music library as a result of a TAXI forward.

How has being a versatile composer helped you succeed?

In my experience, being able to create tracks in a variety of styles means that I'm not pigeonholed. I'm not stuck saying, "Well I only do tracks in this style, so I can only pursue a small handful of opportunities." By having a vocabulary in multiple genres, my opportunities at TAXI are greatly expanded. I can look at the TAXI listings and always find a big handful of opportunities to consider.

How has TAXI helped you with your career?

TAXI has helped me on many levels. Since I've joined TAXI, I've signed three contracts with three different music libraries as a result of forwards. It hasn't come easy, though. The TAXI process really forces me to take a good look at what I'm doing, and to take the critiques I get and use them to improve. I'm not going to lie... there are times when I get frustrated with TAXI, but the fact of the matter is that rejection is a big part of this business. If you can't take rejection, you're going to have a very hard time in this line of work! It's a really valuable process, and, as I've learned so far, it can pay off greatly. Also, when I see all the opportunities that TAXI provides, it's really good motivation for me to get to the piano and start writing!

What are your goals for the rest of 2007?

I'm going to continue cranking out the music, and I definitely see more deals in the future! I've come to see that if you put your energy into something that you're really passionate about, things will happen. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, and hard work, but the rewards are always worth it.

A regular hard-working musician with some pretty lofty goals. And he's likely to succeed some more because he always keeps at it. And hasn't that been TAXI's message for the past 15 years! Isn't it about time YOU climbed aboard?

See How TAXI Works

"I must recommend it to anyone I think is serious about songwriting."
— Dwight Nichols,
TAXI Member

"I am in awe of the sheer volume of amazing ideas to help musicians that you not only come up with, but make into real opportunities."
— Mara.,
TAXI Member

"Thanks for your constant support of my work — I'm running out of compliments for you guys!"
— James Day,
TAXI Member

"The calibre of everything about TAXI and the Road Rallies contiues to climb. I hope it never stops!"
— Roy Flower,
TAXI Member

"My band "Jake" just got three songs placed in a film called "Lady In The Box." Thanks so much for forwarding us!"
— Jessie Lee Montague,
TAXI Member

"My writing and production skills have improved 200%! Although some credit belongs to me for such hard work, a lot belongs to you!"
— Chris Musulin,
TAXI Member