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Artist Info

Base of Operations:
Los Angeles, CA

M-Audio Gear :
Axiom 25

Official Website:

Springing onto the scene with a little help from the TV show The O.C., Commuter's debut album Brightly Shining, Dimly Lit is pop music—slick, layered, and elegantly produced. Armed with a guitar, a laptop, beats and a vision, Jay Skinner and Dan Zacharias comprise Commuter and on their full-length debut Brightly Shining, Dimly Lit they deliver ten tracks of indie-pop goodness that will have you humming along for days.

The album features a unique and dreamy cover of the classic Willie Nelson tune “Always on My Mind” that sonically recalls the work of Brian Eno. Guest vocalists include Sam Nelson (son of Ricky Nelson), Colin Gilmore (son of Flatlander, Jimmy Dale Gilmore), Mark Morales (Astra Heights) and Roxanne Morganstern (formerly of Electric Skychurch).

Commuter’s elegant pop music has been featured on television shows such as The O.C.

Jay Skinner on M-Audio hardware: “My studio is very simple and at my house. I have an Mbox2 connected to a Mac Pro, which is the heart of my studio. I use the Oxygen 8 v2 MIDI controller, Ableton Live and a lot of virtual instruments. I use the Oxygen 8 on everything, which triggers all my software on everything I produce. I also use the eKeys 37 MIDI controller when I am on the road. The Oxygen 8 is used not only for the keyboard triggering but for automating knob changes on software synthesizers. Everything ends up in Pro Tools, no matter what program a sound is created in.

“I use this really old Oxygen8 MIDI controller in my studio and I take it on tour. It is almost dead but it won't die. I have beaten that thing to a pulp and drug it around everywhere. I use it on all my albums and commercial/film work. Most recently you can hear it on the new Lexus TV campaign as well as the scores to the feature films Zathura and Urban Assault.

Skinner on M-Audio software: “M-Audio’s production software makes making music a more pleasant experience, faster and more convenient. It allows for me to play live in a way that was not possible in past.”

On tour with M-Audio: “I always have my portable studio with me. It consists of my MacBook Pro, Digidesign Mbox2, M-Audio eKeys MIDI controller and a few microphones. I use this setup all of the time, whenever I have a moment to sit down I open Pro Tools and start working. Between working on my Appogee and Commuter projects, commercial/film scores, and producing other artists there is always something to work on. I find that songs that are written on the road always need to come back into the home studio and get the real studio love they deserve to really make them shine.”

Why M-Audio? “M-Audio has changed the way I work. It has helped me work faster, more efficiently and more effectively. I waste less time and to me that is very important. M-Audio makes great products that allow today’s home studio owners to make professional home records that sound like they were made in expensive, overpriced studios. What more could you ask for? M-Audio really saved me when it came to live performances. It allowed me to play songs live that really couldn't normally be performed. In general I like a really minimal setup, and M-Audio makes very simple and compact products that work for me.”

His songwriting process: “Songwriting for me, like any artist, varies from day to day. I generally see each song like a short film. A life event inspires me and then I take that inspiration and in my minds eye I play a movie out in my head of how I see it. It was something I have always done and it feels right. I usually start to write music on just an acoustic guitar—that is definitely the case if it’s a vocal song. If it's an instrumental I might start fiddling around with plug-ins and gathering rhythmic sounds to start with a beat and then start tinkering with softsynths/guitars/etc. These moments of inspiration happen very quickly and you must know your gear really well to pull out of it the sounds you need, fast. Once that creative explosion occurs, I sift through the material and flesh out and tweak the best ideas for each song. Today’s accessibility to technology allows me to get as creative as I want with no boundaries and no fear. That’s a great feeling!”