Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess & a Life of Synthesis – DIYfreqs

Full disclosure: I am a MASSIVE Dream Theater fan. But that story will come later.

About 10 years before I made this video, I became acquainted with Jordan Rudess. Back in NYC, and a few years out of film school, I had been shopping around an original screenplay I had written about the downfall of the middle class in America and the story centered on a young girl who was a piano prodigy. I thought Jordan would be the perfect composer for the film’s score and could also consult and assist with the story of the girl (as Jordan was also a child prodigy).

So I sent an email to his website hoping he might see it. A few days later, literally as I was typing up the last words of the first draft of the script, my cell phone rang (no, not a smartphone, this was 2006). On the end was Mr. Jordan Rudess. I couldn’t believe it. He was interested. Long story short, Jordan and I met several times at his home studio and also at Dream Theater’s studio in Manhattan at the time (Avatar maybe?) and discussed the script. Jordan even made some theme improvisations.

Although I hustled for several years and even approached several actors to attach to the script, including Jeff Bridges (who I once worked with and borrowed his Ipod for a few hours to give him feedback on some songs he was writing… but that’s a story for another time), I could not get a producer or investor attached. It was a devastating time for me career-wise as I was trying to get away from being a grip on other peoples films and TV shows and start making my own. But the NYC independent film scene was a different monster back then. It was before Youtube and idea of being an independent creator had really broken out. I digress…

As disappointed as I was, Jordan was always very optimistic and open and we stayed in touch. I made several attempts to produce video content for Dream Theater, but I didn’t have the experience or body of work to show what I was capable of yet.

Fast forward to 2015. In February of 2015, Jordan invited me to see Dream Theater play in Munich during their self-titled tour and we reconnected after several years. Backstage, I proposed to include him in our new DIYfreqs series to talk to him about his musical background, particularly his interest in synthesis, app building, and progressive instruments like the Roli Seaboard. As fate would have it, Jordan was coming back to Germany for the Musikmesse in Frankfurt, an annual music convention held in April. I caught a ride with my buddy Bernie, who was working his companies stand at the convention, and spent a whole day following Jordan around Frankfurt.

This episode was also special because it was the first episode where we used the artist’s actual music (we avoided this before by having shows with dreamy, atmospheric music that we wrote). It was like finally getting to make a movie that Jordan Rudess scored. A small goal was complete. This film would eventually open up other doors to make more films with Jordan and, eventually, with Dream Theater. More on that later…

FreqsFact: The first time I met Jordan Rudess was backstage at the taping of the Score DVD at Radio City Music Hall in NYC (April 1st 2006, exactly nine years prior to me filming Jordan in Frankfurt). My wife and I had already bought tickets, but he offered us VIP access to meet up after the show. At the box office, the clerk didn’t have our names on the list. That was a bummer.  I couldn’t reach Jordan on his cell phone (yep, no iMessaging back then yet). So during the intermission, I ran backstage and somehow managed to make it all the way to the dressing rooms before someone asked who the hell I was. A really nice guy, one of the production assistants I believe, got the confirmation from Jordan and we were added to the list. Phew! As I returned to the hall, I emerged stage right and I could already hear the Octavarium Orchestra playing the Overture to Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. So my wife and I got to meet Jordan and his wife backstage after the concert and that marked a milestone in my Dream Theater journey. Too bad I could never get that movie made…any sympathetic investors out there want to take a chance on a daring indie film that Jordan will compose the soundtrack for?

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Randy M. Salo

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What do you think, Freqs?