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Found in Translation

Local recording artists and label owner Trey Pollard shares his musical journey with Trinity students
Students in Kimberly Ryan’s Music Fundamentals class enjoyed a full-class-period virtual visit from Trey Pollard, local musician and co-owner and in-house arranger of Spacebomb Records.

Pollard recounted his musical upbringing, attending a high school for the arts and eventually studying jazz guitar at VCU. “Being a guitar and piano player as a child gave me a foundation,” he said. “I wasn't allowed to quit music lessons as a kid.”

With fellow musician and friend Matthew E. White, Pollard founded Spacebomb Studios in Richmond’s Fan District, and the label has produced a number of notable acts over the years, including Natalie Prass. 

Brian Rollins, head of Trinity’s performing arts department, who teaches a class in studio music production, asked Pollard about the process of arranging and recording music. Playing one of his more popular arrangements, Natalie Prass’ “It is You,” Pollard displayed the virtual sheet music and explained the notation on each page. 

Despite not setting out to be an arranger, Pollard has found a niche, comparing his role to that of a translator. “A lot of time artists speak the language of music in a broad sense, but may not know notation,” he said. “They might say, ‘I want it to feel more blue,’ so I’m translating that feedback and relaying it to the musicians, taking an idea that someone has in their mind and helping a handful of players make it real. It’s really fulfilling, because you can hear it right back.”

Students in the class asked what advice he would give to younger artists. “Everyone I know who has been successful [in music] has never waited for someone else,” he said. “Put out as much music as you can and be 100% true to yourself. Some people try to chase what they think is popular. The people who have done well have made the music they want to make and eventually the industry will catch up with you.”

Pollard also emphasized the importance of building a professional network by playing and performing with as many people as possible. “You meet so many people on tour,” he said. “Almost everything I've done in my career I can trace back to a meeting or a friend.”
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