We had the good fortune of connecting with Arif Hodzic and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arif, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I grew up the son of immigrants that came to the USA from former Yugoslavia. My father is an architect/builder and a go-getter. When he came to this country he worked for an architecture firm in Washington, D.C. and quickly proved his worth. He was asked to become a partner but he had other dreams. About six years after arriving here and becoming a US citizen he opened his own architecture firm and never looked back. I grew up with that idea of being your own boss and always knew that I would do something for myself in that way. Although, my father wanted me to take over the business, music and performing was my calling. I moved out to Los Angeles right after high school and did a 12 month program at Musician’s Institute studying guitar. I then went to CSULB and graduated 4 years later with a BA in Radio/TV/Film and a Minor in music. Early on I thought I should get a job and work for someone so I took a job in licensing at Capitol Records. After 3 years, I realized if I wanted to do something in the entertainment business I needed to jump in with both feet and go for it. So I left the job and started hustling in music. From that moment I started my own business. I started a band called Olio as the singer/guitarist playing all kinds of gigs anywhere and everywhere performing original songs. Started a record label and have released several full length albums, eps and singles. We’ve toured the USA several times booking shows ourselves and turning a profit on each run through shows and merchandise. I increased my opportunities by being a session guitar player, recording and performing live with other artists. I also gave guitar lessons. After a few years I used my skills and talent and started composing music for film and tv. My recording chops improved and I started producing other singer/songwriters. With all the time spent in the studio recording my voice I decided to jump into voice overs. Over the past 4 years my voiceover client list has grown to a nice consistent income stream along with all the music work I do.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I constantly hear music in my head and I love creating music to express my thoughts and feelings. I started writing/creating music at an early age but it really took off for me in my 20’s. I enjoy using my band Olio as a vehicle to express this creative side of me through songwriting. I’ve parlayed this skill into writing for tv/film projects. It’s a different skillset, composing music, but one I equally enjoy. Being able to look at video, collaborating with the director or creatives, assessing what’s happening and how I can add music to support what’s happening on screen. I’ve also been producing other singer/songwriters. It’s a real joy to be able to help bring out an artist’s creativity and help them explore deeper within themselves. In doing so, I’m utilizing everything I’ve learned over the years. My classical piano training, exploring many genres through my guitar playing/songwriting, recording sessions, producing, mixing and live performances. I’m currently producing Alexa Hodzic, who is also my daughter. Working with her is so fun and rewarding on every level. I’m in awe of her talent and creativity and the fact that we get to create music together is the best!
I’m most proud of developing a music idea and producing it to completion. It’s so amazing that an idea that can start so small can turn into something that affects others in such a profound way. Music does that and I love living in that space. My biggest challenge is to not get in the way of the process. I remind myself to not overthink things and let it flow. My instinct guides the process. I know internally when it’s working or not. When I’m listening back to something I’m working on and I get chills, I know I’m onto something really good.
I’m really proud of the body of work I’ve done and continue doing with my band Olio. It’s changing and growing as we mature. Collaborating with my bandmates, Kelley Hill and Barry Chenault, is really fulfilling. They make what I do so much better!
In the last 4 years I’ve added Voice Actor to my skillset. I figured since I have a studio and have been recording myself singing for all these years I might as well give voice overs a shot. I’m sure glad I did. I’m having a great time using so many things I’ve learned about music, production and performance and translated it to voice work. I have a few regular clients now and am having a blast. I’m the voice of the scary stories channel, Dr NoSleep, on spotify, Apple podcasts and YouTube. I’m also one of the narrators that will put you to sleep on SoothingPod – sleep stories for grownups. You can find them on YouTube or download their iPhone app for Free.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love in Los Angeles, CA and my best friend probably surfs like me. The first thing we’d do is check the wave conditions for the week and plan accordingly. If it was wintertime we’d hit El Porto (north Manhattan Beach) or in the summer, Huntington Beach Cliffs or Pier and definitely Trestles (near San Clemente). Typically in Southern California the surf is best in the early morning. This means we’d hit spots for breakfast after our surf session. Bill’s Pancake House on Highland Ave in Manhattan Beach is a great spot for breakfast. When we’re in Huntington Beach we’d go to Longboard Restaurant and Pub on Main Street. When we’re down south we might hit Sugar Shack on El Camino Real in San Clemente. To be honest we would probably hit all 3 spots in the week. Another fun thing to do would be to take a boat over to Catalina Island. It’s only 26 miles from the coast of California and a quick boat ride from either San Pedro or Long Beach. The city of Avalon is a great little town on Catalina and it feels like you’re so far away from Los Angeles when you’re there. There are still a few mom and pop shops and restaurants there making a nice getaway for even just a day trip. Another cool hang is checking LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and immersing ourselves in art. I went to see a digital immersive Van Gogh exhibit recently that was really great. “Lose yourself in 500,000 cubic feet of monumental projections animating Vincent van Gogh’s oeuvre. Wander through entrancing, moving images that highlight brushstrokes, detail, and color – truly illuminating the mind of the genius.” Can’t say enough great things about it. At night we would go see live music. Spots like The Troubadour, The Mint and newly opened Venice West are great spots to see/hear live music. We might even have to make a stop at the World Famous Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset in West Hollywood. We may even run into some rock stars from the past still hanging out there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents dreamt big, moved to the USA with no guarantees and created a wonderful life for their family. They have always believed in me and encouraged me every step of the way in my music journey. So many wonderful friends from my childhood and beyond have unconditionally supported me. When I met Beth, who would eventually become my wife, I was searching for the right lead singer for the band I was in at the time. After hearing me sing at a party, she was puzzled as to why I didn’t fill the role. After serious encouragement from Beth I stopped searching and did it myself. She deserves a big shoutout for always believing in me and pushing me to stretch and grow in all aspects of my music career. Our 2 kids, Alexa and Miko, are a force in their own right and their passion for what they’re doing is so strong. They grew up in a house filled with my dreams and music career in their lives and have continued to support me every step of the way (even when dads aren’t supposed to be cool). I’m grateful for my family of believers and doers. We’re basically one big support group for each other and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
Other: https://www.oliomusic.com I also host a weekly livestream on YouTube every Tuesday night at 7pm PST. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTHpvuhuFGE Been streaming since March 5, 2019. The show is called Inside The OMG (Olio Music Group). Sometimes the band is on and we play live, chat about what’s happening, share tour stories. Other times I have special guests on sharing their stories. Past guests include Johnny Vatos (Oingo Boingo), John Avila (Oingo Boingo), DJ Severe (Dodger Stadium DJ), Mike Kowalski (Beach Boys drummer 30 years), Jon and Owen aka The Passing Zone (comedy juggling duo), The John McCloy Band, Rick Dill (Vintage Trouble), Damon Tedesco (audio mixing engineer Fox soundstage) and many more.
Beth Aranda-Hodzic Branko Hodzic Bob Steshetz Lyd & Mo Photography