We had the good fortune of connecting with Maurizio OTTO De Togni and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maurizio, how does your business help the community?
I have been teaching, mentoring, and consulting since 2005 after an already ongoing successful career in the music industry started in the late 80s. All I could have learnt myself, since the very first computer when I was a kid (11 yo), to the latest work, and in between, all the records, commercials, TV shows, computers, and all the “pain” to solve all the problems (they come with the par) … I have the chance and opportunity every day with my job to help hundreds of people every year! Honored and blessed to offer my expertise to Students at university (UCLA) and college (MI Hollywood) as well as A-List clientele (Paramount Music, Maroon 5, Mike Posner …) with my classes and sessions, these days mostly online (or hybrid formats). The responsibility I am given, and I must carry on is big and heavy. You know all these people come to you with the same goal: LEARN! From the ground up, or fill the gaps, to become Independent, to understand and communicate with their teams, to speak the same language (DAW: Logic Pro or Pro Tools …) to find ways to make better and more innovative records, to Master their technologies, to cut the “middle man” to express their creativity w/o going to explain to producers or sound engineers what they want (and risk to lose the “momentum” and Inspiration) to save some their money and DIY, to feel they “belong” in that very same community. … Everyone comes with a different story and lots of expectations, with their dreams to fulfill and with their hopes … to make it in the music industry, to enjoy the ride, and to do better and bigger! These days it’s not too hard (not even too expensive) to build a decent home studio; still, you’ll have to learn how to use it at its best! Even the “elite” clientele with higher budget to spend … still come to me, to be able to “fully” understand the process and do most of the creative work by themselves and later going to the studios and pass it to the producer or engineer …. Or come to me to just get their problems fixed … YouTube, google don’t have always have all the answers especially when it comes to “difficult and personal and unique ”situations”, or you may have to spend hrs. and days to figure it out! At the end my job and business have a tremendous impact on my community (whether in LA or California or USA) and thanks to the “online” (and all the zooms) all over the world! I like that! Like the pressure! Like to help! As my mom always Says “I was born ready … with a plan … a natural, born teacher) and moms know! Hahah
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Beside all I said already here above, it’s the passion that I put in what I do (in everything I mean)), the way I execute (from the small to the big things) the level of attention to details, the fact I will get it done and I am reliable and trustworthy with big ethics and honestly! I don’t BS around … I can be fun (and even teach very “boring” and “geek” stuff while I am also breaking jokes … I mean what I say and say what I mean! I am very demanding (with my students in particular) but also very understanding and sympathetic … I never give up, when the game gets hard, I play harder … I love and I am not afraid to work at my best …. I really LOVE what I do even when sometimes I feel exhausted or frustrated… I love helping and making people feeling better and being part of their success. I like to meet goals and start all over again! I am always the most excited in the room! I am never tired until I crash :-). I know when to rest and take a break; I have, they say, Great spirit and right attitude (got it from my father).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Lucky me, I happen to live in LA in a place where lots of people come also for vacation. And as you may know or imagine, LA is very large! When friends come to visit, I usually tend to this: if it’s one person: We go with my motorcycle, and I tour the city that way. If it’s a group of people or family, we just go obviously with my SUV. I tend not to do the usual tourist things some people expect to do in LA. From Santa Monica where I live, I tend to take my guests to the beaches of course (Malibu, El matador, or Paradise Cove). Above all, one of my favorite places (not very popular and not very “Californian” is Lake Shrine, situated in Pacific Palisades (it’s a sort or temple to meditate and/or pray any religion and get piece of mind). As far as restaurants there are too many to count (we already visited around 1000 in 13 years); We love Mexican food (tacos tu madre in Westwood and sonoritàs prime tacos in Sawtelle), Italian food (Angelini osteria in Melrose, da pasquale in Beverly Hills, da Michele pizzeria in Hollywood, and Lapuglia in Santa Monica). For the cool occasions, Barton G West Hollywood); One of my favorites is still the rotating bar in downtown LA Bonaventura Hotel (if it’s still open) to admire the skylines from all the skyscrapers … and a classic for any authentic Angelinos, I’d take my guests to InNOuT for burgers and fries!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The person who I am today, has been shaped, influenced, and supported by “many”. I’d start with my family! My mom and father above always believed in me since I was little and at 11 yo I went to them asking for a music keyboard because my older friends wanted to start a band in my little hometown Magenta (15 miles from Milan, Italy). Kudos to my parents, they could tell what I was asking was not the usual pre-teen “capriccio”. Long story short, I proved them I really was committed and fully into it: I enrolled into the local marching band (Banda Civica Magenta) who was offering free classes (if I had enrolled for clarinet). Eventually I also built my “dream keyboard” (Emulator II 1984) representation on paper model, so I could see it in my head and believe it or not to “play it” without having to hear any sound obviously. With my weekly allowance, I started following a piano learning series on cassettes (equivalent these days to tutorials on YouTube. or similar). At the end of the 40 weeks (it was around Christmas’s time) I used to go to my hometown’s mall and asking the guy who was paid to demonstrate music keyboards to allow me to play them (and practice). Then I had my father coming to the store, I played for him that piece I worked so hard to prepare (Oxigene by J.M. Jarre) and my father was impressed and from there the rest is History: we got a little keyboard (sprinter 61B GEM), started taking legit piano and organ lessons, playing with friends and eventually we got a loan for my first serious synthesizer and computer (Yamaha DX7 and Atari 1040 ST) around 1989 (this is also the date I consider I started my professional career and making money going for live gigs. I also would like to thank other people: my friend Andrea who invited me to play keys with his band when I was 14 yo because of their keyboardist was sick that time … that happens to be my 1st Live concert … “Funny” side of the story, t ended up becoming their official Keyboardist and they let go the “other” (I am sorry :-). There is also my middle school music teacher I’d like to thank. After he played my class work, he thought I had some potential … he gave me a chance to play his apple II computer for few weeks while he was out of town, and I felt in love with the idea of pairing music and technology (very rudimentary those days) …. And later on, I have to thank my father again when before going to pick what major for high school / college and I wanted to keep going with Music (but not the classical one) he kind of suggested me to consider Computer Science studies vs. music conservatory so I could combine both my passions (music and technology) … and I recall he said “Computer is the future” (that was mid/late 80s). I also have also to thank Vittorio, a singer and artist who I collaborated with who saw in me the ability to teach him how to use Logic Pro and he hired me for that … my 1st official private lessons back in 2003, and who could have had said then, that was going to be the 1st of my almost 1000 classes I have been teaching and 10K+ people). Furthermore, I’d like to table Philip Erhart (former VP marketing/business Apple Product, who I met in Paris for my TTT logic classes, and he made me believe I Could go bigger than who I was in Italy and my expertise could be appreciated all over the world even in the USA!
Finally, I’d like to thank, every band I played. with and singer and producer I had the honor to collaborate and co-produce with, any composer I could team up with … every project I either participated or created myself, every commercial or TV show I had the opportunity to score, every client, students, artist/songwriter as well as studio or engineer … It all contributed to shape me and make me a better professional as well as a better person, more compassionate and willing to help and give back to the community. AND I must thank my wife who is also my partner in Business since we met two decades ago; she has always been on my side to support and help even when I came out with the crazy idea to start another NÉW life in the USA back in 2008! Thanks to my daughter who must support a very nerdy and “academic” father (haha). And let me even “thanks” all those people who made me feel bad and hurt me and made me think I Could not make it sometimes, that I was just dreaming and always thinking too big … that I had an accent (I still do, and they love it). Thank you All! and yes, still living the (American) dream!
Other: OttO @ UCLA: https://www.uclaextension.edu/instructors/maurizio-otto-de-togni OttO @ MI (Hollywood): https://www.mi.edu/faculty/maurizio-de-togni/