Ever since he was a boy growing up in South Carolina, Whit Collar—also known as Villain Lighting—has been making music. He remembers the early days when his parents would sit him at a piano and he would entertain himself for hours, and joining his first bands in elementary school. Now his passion is reaching a new level.
After studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Whit spent 10 years in Brooklyn, New York, before finally settling in Echo Park, a creative hotbed in Los Angeles. His aspirations now? To simply make more good music and continue to hone his craft.
He’s inspired by an eclectic group of artists from around the globe, including Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada and other Warp Records artists. Switching genres, the early work of American singer-songwriter Randy Newman and pop producers like Sweden’s Max Martin are also influences.
Empowering the listener
Whit decided to enter the Music In Motion contest when he saw that multi-talented American songwriter/producer/vocalist Jason Evigan was one of the judges.
Whit’s thoughtful approach to his work shines through in his winning song Bullitt, named after the 1968 dramatic thriller starring the ever-cool Steve McQueen.
“I pictured Bullitt’s verses as like the George Orwell novel 1984, but through the lens of American author William S. Burroughs,” says Whit. “But I like it when people read into it themselves. I think of it as a soft collaboration with the person who’s listening to it and putting their own thoughts into it. I don’t like to be too specific or have it all figured out.”
Jason chose Bullitt as the winning track out of hundreds of entries, earning Whit coveted studio time alongside the talented producer.
“It was great just watching Jason operate at the level he does,” Whit says about the experience. “He’s obviously a top-shelf guy who does really amazing work, so just watching him do his thing and be in the same room was great. Seeing the way he operates and his speed was educational in and of itself. He’s such a nice guy, and it makes a big difference when you’re working with someone who’s so down-to-earth and friendly.”
As part of his win, Whit received a complete studio setup: Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Quartet, Eleven MK II, and Classic Compressors Bundle. Having the right toolset is an important aspect of his craft and his journey as a musician.
“I’ve been using Pro Tools for a while in different variations,” he says. “It’s just intuitive to me. When you go to reach for something, it’s where you expect it to be. I’ve used every single digital audio workstation (DAW), but Pro Tools is hands down the most intuitive. It’s like when you’re in your house and you reach into a cupboard where the glasses are, and then you’re at someone else’s house and you’re like ‘which drawer are the spoons in?’ Everything’s the same but it’s all confusing and jumbled up—it’s not where you would have put it.”
Pro Tools has been a big part of Whit’s success to date. “Pro Tools is everything in a way because it’s the platform you’re working on,” he explains. “It’s reliable, it lets me work a lot faster, and with deadlines that’s really important.”
Tips and tricks
Whit’s top tip for other Pro Tools users is the time-saving ability to drag and drop clips straight from other DAWs into Pro Tools: “Dragging and dropping into Pro Tools is great, but a lot of people don’t know that you can drag clips from Ableton Live and drop them straight into Pro Tools, which is amazing.”
He also makes full use of plugins, which expand his creative palette even further. “I love the Avid Channel Strip, and I also like some of the plugins from Soundtoys and FabFilter.”
For other aspiring music pros Whit offers two pieces of advice: “Don’t only listen to contemporary music. And be yourself.”
On his experience with the Music In Motion contest, Whit says, “The whole experience was just great on every level—on an educational level, on a just pure fun level, and a meeting new people level—making connections with Jason and his team.”
Read how other winners rocked Avid’s Music in Motion Contest on avidblogs.com/musicinmotion.
To kick start your music career, visit the Avid website to discover how Pro Tools can help get your music heard, download Pro Tools | First for free, and start composing, recording, editing and mixing using the same tools as the pros.