Category Archives: Alumni

Where are they now. . . find out how Berklee grads make their way in the music world.



by Robert Gillies ’11

Robert Gillies

I recently had the realization that I’m a little nuts. Where many others choose security and stability in their lives and professions, I choose discomfort, and though discomfort comes in many forms, I live with a most subtle kind: that of being an introvert in a profession that is an extrovert’s dream. Whereas extroverts gain energy from spending time with people, introverts are often drained and exhausted by social experiences, and I somehow decided, in my infinite wisdom, that being a solo singer-songwriter and touring artist would be the best fit for me.

One of the hardest critiques I ever received early on in my career was from an audience member who, after the show, said that though the songs and the performance were top-notch, there was something missing in the delivery, in the emotion. In short, they didn’t get out of the show what you could argue is the most important thing – an emotional connection. My desire to turn inward and my inability to connect with that many people on the level that was needed ultimately lampooned what could have been an incredible show.

As we grow in years we often gain insights into who we are and how we operate, and I’ve always been intensely fascinated by social interactions and why I often don’t understand or fit into them. I discovered over time that I fit quite neatly into an uncomfortable category of people who, logically speaking, really shouldn’t pursue a life on stage: I’m an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale and intense social anxiety is my friend.

Songwriting is a very personal form of artistic expression and performing those songs on stage, engaging with an audience both on & off of that very public platform, and maintaining the social life that must needs accompany the profession is intensely exhausting. Many are the day I wish I could just stay at home, drinking my tea, reading my books, and let the world go on without me.

But I realized that not only could I overcome those limitations, I had to. I’m tempted to think that we’re all faced with existential challenges in our lives, challenges that call for us to look within ourselves and re-evaluate who we are, how we operate, and how we can move forward. Those challenges will continue to hound us until we find the courage to confront them head on, but once we do we will discover that life beyond is greater than we could have imagined.

As I faced my fears head-on, those harsh critiques and off-balance shows became learning experiences. I became braver on stage, I took more risks, I opened myself up to new experiences. I embraced my fear of improvisation and played slews of shows without set lists to test my ability to emotionally read an audience. It was, and still is, a very messy experience, but I’ve been very careful to maintain the performer’s veneer; I don’t want an audience to experience a bad show for the sake of my own personal growth.

In the end I’ve accepted that this will be a life-long battle, but I see no reason to believe that there is ever a ceiling on our personal development but the ones we impose on ourselves.

Robert Gillies graduated in 2011 and is now living and working in Oakland, CA, as a touring singer-songwriter and composer. He is reachable at and can be found on Twitter and Instagram under @robertgillies. Please visit for more details.


Two-Five-One: Tim Hare


Name: Tim Hare, Creatively known as FranchisedYouth
Major(s): Contemporary Writing and Production (CWP)
Hometown: Panorama City, CA
Current City: Glendale, CA

How does your degree play a role in your current career path?

I recently switched jobs so that my CWP degree would be the focus of my career. I was making a lot more money working behind the scenes in the touring world, but I wanted to compose and score music. That was the reason I went to Berklee in the first place, to learn the skills to compose and arrange music. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but utilizing all the things I learned as a CWP major to work in creating music for media was vastly important to me and what I wanted to make out of my career.

What is something you’d wish you’d known “then” (before starting Berklee, during Berklee, or your first year out of Berklee)?

How important being able to create professional mixes on your own is. I focused much more heavily on scoring techniques and my song writing. I didn’t focus on mixing as much and the ability to create a “Professional” sounding mix would give me a lot more jobs than using clever musical ideas. I was recently looking at an online Berklee Class for mixing and thought “Didn’t I already pay for four years of this?” I wish CWP focused twice as much attention on helping students develop mixes.

Can you touch on the importance of your networking, skill and talent?

Networking is everything to me. I have skill and talent like anyone that comes out of Berklee, but all of my gigs have come from networking. Taking people out for coffee, picking their brain, getting feedback, and seeing who my contacts know that can help is how I spend half of my week. I try to be equally as helpful because you never know when you might help someone kick start their own career. Networking with your peers also allows you to continue to learn and grow your skill set.

How do you connect with other people? How much does social media play a role in your career as an employee and artist?

I use Social Media as a launch point for my work and brand. Soundcloud/Facebook/Youtube are free and essential tools to creating a hub where you can quickly showcase who you are as a talent. Outside of that connecting with people face to face or via phone are exponentially more important than Social Media. In 10 minutes of physical discussion you can learn and gain more than 100 emails or messages. Once you establish any contact through a social network, get that person in front of you or on the phone so they can get to know you better and see your face.

What should a new alum focus on as they enter the job market?

In my opinion it would be organization and productivity. Set daily and weekly goals for yourself. I try to send out at least three networking emails a week and finish one composition for my Soundcloud. Find ways to gain traction in your field even when you’re not working on a specific project for monetary reasons. There are hundreds of aspiring composers here in LA so I have to find new markets to attract if I am to make a career out of this. As a new alum you are already four years behind me in terms of networking and productivity so get started right away!


Originally from Southern California, I moved to Boston when I was 15 and started playing Bass soon after settling there. By 19 I was playing in the local Boston scene with the bands, Baby Strange, Aloud, and The Painted Lights which included a few tours of the UK. I graduated from Berklee in 2011 and got a job in 2012 working for Warner Music Group doing VIP Concierge tours with Wiz Khalifa, Smashing Pumpkins, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Mac Miller. I moved back to LA in 2013 and soon began working in production and day to day management for Mick Jones of the heritage rock band Foreigner. I traveled all over the world before settling back in LA in 2015 and began working as a composer and employee for music library Sonic Librarian.

Tim Hare can be found in the social spheres via FranchisedYouth’s  Facebook and Soundcloud

Two Five One is a series of blog posts by alumni. They write about two places (where they’re living & their hometown) answer five questions about their post-graduate experience, and it’s a one-off post. For more information about blogging for Berklee as an alumni, email

Playing on the High Seas: Part 3

Making The Most of Your Cruise Ship Contract

by Elena Bonomo ’14

Read Part 1 & Part 2

Elena BonomoMany people shy away from working as a musician on cruise ships because their previous expectations and experiences as a musician on land are different than those of which are expected of them on a ship. The notion of being away from home for months at a time, the thought of playing music that has been provided for you by a company, and the fact that you will be playing consistently every day can be intimidating and even mundane to some people. But there are ways to take these experiences and turn them into something that will be beneficial and rewarding for your musical career in the long term.

What I enjoyed the most about working on cruise ships was the fact that I had the opportunity to play a variety of styles of music every day. From jazz standards, to ballroom dance music, to Broadway-style show tunes, to pop classics, there are opportunities to play a variety of styles in just one night! For all us musicians who are hoping to make a career out of performing, it is extremely important to be as versatile as possible in your playing. The more styles of music you can play, the more job opportunities there are that you can take advantage of. Continue reading

Two-Five-One: Eric Kalver


Name: Eric Kalver
Major(s): Contemporary Writing & Production and Drum Set Performance
Hometown: Cranston, RI
Current City: Los Angeles, CAEric Kalver

Why did you move to the city you’re living in now?

Two months before graduating, I was on spring break visiting Los Angeles with my dad. I had no set plans for what I would do after graduating but an old friend, while meeting up at In-N-Out Burger, convinced me that I should move to LA as soon as possible. As a pop arranger, drummer, and movie buff, I knew that he was right, plus, I was done dealing with snow. I visited LA one more time to make sure this was the right move and then drove 3000 miles with all my belongings from Rhode Island to Los Angeles. My best friend joined me and flew back once we arrived. We were so excited that our 5 day plan ended up turning into a 3.5 day plan. For those who are planning on driving, TAKE YOUR TIME! I had to rush because I had a job waiting, but I wish I had left earlier to explore more of the country.  Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learned Pursuing a Creative Career

by Alexandre Cote ’14131112-600x399-creative_career_choices

On July 8th, 2014 I packed up the majority of my life, shoved it into a car, and began the cross-country trip to Los Angeles. I had no job lined up or opportunity awaiting me. My Dad and I spent a week driving through the US, stopping at Niagara Falls, Pikes Peak, the Grand Canyon, and a couple others along the way. If you’re moving somewhere, I highly recommend making it into a sightseeing adventure.

Five months later, I have a job; I’ve worked on some extremely cool projects, and met an amazing group of people who have been welcoming and supportive. Starting a new life and career is challenging anywhere, so here are some things I’ve learned that made it easier.

Continue reading