My name is Seth McDonald. I am currently a recording engineer at Purple Door Studios in downtown Seattle. I also interned and eventually, worked extensively for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2013. All that stuff is good and well, and might even sound glamorous to some. For me though, that does not define who I am or my relationship with music.
More importantly to me, I am an aspiring renaissance man who wants to know so much more about music and how music works. From engineering to musicianship, I want to know as much as possible in the audio world before I die. To understand my relationship with music however, I believe it is important you understand my story: A story of perseverance. You see, it is every experience I’ve had up until present time that defines my relationship with music.
Growing up, my parents (my mother and my really cool, rockin’ step dad) never really asked me if I wanted to learn anything. More or less, they let me do what I want. Therefore, I spent a lot of my youth sitting around watching TV or playing video games by myself, doing nothing. The one main constant in my life however was music. I never actually played an instrument growing up but I was always subjected to a song being played around the house or on the radio in the car. Everything from contemporary music to classic rock and soul was played.
On top of all that, my step dad was heavily involved in the Seattle 90’s grunge rock scene. He frequently had band practices downstairs in the garage. So often times from about 6 – 10 pm while I was upstairs, crashing cymbals and heavy guitars would be heard throughout the house.
I still remember the first song I ever heard: Beck’s “Loser”; “Soy un perdido, I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” could be heard being sung by 3 year old me from the backseat of my mother’s rundown used car in Vancouver, B.C. To this day, Beck’s music still resonates with me every time I hear it. This is actually the first memory I have as a kid come to think of it.
I’ll be the first to admit though that I didn’t have the best up bringing. My mother had me when she was 18. I’ve never known my real dad. I’ve moved around a lot. We didn’t have money growing up. I was never presented with opportunities such as music lessons or summer camps. My mother has bailed on me multiple times in my life due in large part to her alcoholism. I lived in 5 different households in high school. That is the abbreviated, short winded version of my story too. Safe to say, I did not experience the typical childhood.
After high school, there was still many bumps in the road that I had to get over. When I was 19 years old I got an autoimmune disease called “Alopecia”. I lost all my hair and was bald for a year and a half. The doctors said there was no cure and I might never get it back. I wore a hat every single day for those 18 months. Some of it was self-inflicted however; I dropped out of college after my freshmen year at Central Washington University. I had no idea what I was doing with my life or what I wanted to do. I was doing all the wrong things morally. I was extremely stressed out and I was lost. It wasn’t until summer of 2011 I quit bullshitting around and realized all I wanted to do in life was music. Music was the one thing that genuinely made me happy at all times. It was around that time, when I started doing what felt right in life (which was music), that my hair started coming back oddly enough. I’ve always had to persevere through adversity. Even at age 22 & 23 when my life was seemingly going great to many, I was homeless sleeping on friend’s floors for the last 4 months of 2013.
Today, at 23, my relationship with music is stronger than ever. I dedicated my life to music and haven’t looked back. There were a lot of things I missed out on musically growing up. Now, it is my life mission to gain as good of an understanding of music and how it works, as I possibly can before I leave this Earth.
Through it all, the one constant blessing in my life has always been music. My relationship with music has kept me sane. Music is my lifeblood. No one genre defines me. It is the underlying themes of music such as struggle, ambition, pain, and perseverance that are the driving root for my love of music. To me, music is the most effective way to tell a story or to convey a feeling to anyone of any language. Music is universal; music is the key to the soul.