Q&A with Straight Ahead Samples’ mastermind, Trey Pollard:
Trey, thanks very much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to answer a few questions – it's greatly appreciated, sir.
No problem at all; glad to be here."
Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself, and what your role in Straight Ahead Samples is?
I'm the owner and lead developer for Straight Ahead Samples. In addition to SAS, I'm an orchestral arranger for recording artists as well as a guitarist. I also teach jazz guitar at the university level."
The average consumer might not realize it, but the truth is that many music software companies nowadays are NOT comprised of large teams of people. For a long time, I had the mistaken notion that most software companies were housed in large, multi-cublicle office complexes with a dozen (or more) employees occupying said offices. Ha ha, I was plenty surprised when I learned that this isn't the case at all - only the really big guns like Native Instruments, AVID, PreSonus, Steinberg and others of their ilk, have such full personnel rosters.
Where does SA Samples fit in on the scale; is SA Samples a one man operation or is there a team of contributors involved?
The company is me, Trey Pollard, CEO and lead developer, and Ryan Corbitt, CFO. It's just the two of us. We have hired a couple freelancers here and there over the years to do a little scripting or things like that, but only rarely, and not lately. Ryan and I are friends from back in college, where we both studied jazz.
I've been noticing some postive buzz on a few of the internet forums over the past three or four years about Straight Ahead Samples. Just how long has it been since SA Samples started its journey on the digital highway?
We started the company back around 2012. At the time, Ryan and I had another company that made music for commercials and TV. We wanted to be able to write more jazz for media, but time and budget constraints meant we were limited to only sampled instruments because hiring real players (beyond ourselves) was impossible. Plus, the ridiculousness of trying to make any traditional drum sample library sound good or "swing" in a jazz context, was so frustrating that we ending up making our own.
Obviously, every new startup hopes to establish a solid revenue stream over time, but what were some of the other factors that motivated SA Samples' to enter this highly competitive market?
With our first library back in 2012, we found our niche. We've really just continued with that same intent since the first drum library. We try to fill gaps in the sample library market, and create tools that we want to use. Knowing that if we think it's cool, some others will likely want to use them as well."
As you know, I recently wrote a rather extensive review of your splendid ensemble sample library, "Atomic Big Band! The Horns". It's obvious that a lot of work went into it; may we know how long it took to put it all together?
It had been planned for a long time, years really. But from the first recordings til release was about 8 months. We released Atomic Big Band in latter 2022."
Are you concerned that other sampling entities will try to copykat "Smart Delay"; simply piggybacking on your innovations and hard work?
Am I concerned that other companies will copy our Smart Delay? No, not really. I think they probably will, and already are doing so to some degree. We're already seeing other companies flirt with recording players in real time, and extracting the samples from complete performances, as well as some of them doing their own more modest versions of "Lookahead" (which is really exactly the same as Smart Delay). And when other, bigger, companies do it, it will only validate our process even more. And most importantly, the pieces of music that I've created for the musicians to play, really captures all the articulations, note lengths, transitions, idiosyncratic characteristics, and etc., that are only achievable when a real musician is really digging into what they're playing! That's the key to it all, I think. I'm not saying some other company couldn't possibly figure out their own version of Smart Delay that might work differently. But, they'll never land on the same thing we have, so ours will always be unique.
It was a pleasure to meet you, Trey. Again, thanks very much for taking the time to have a Q&A sit down with me. We (myself and Reviewer's Revival readers) appreciate getting the "Who, What, Where, When & Why" skinny on Straight Ahead Samples, and the interesting info bytes you've shared. Before I let you go, are there any juicy details you can share about what we can expect to see from SA Samples in the not-too-distant future?
Thank you, Trey. I earnestly wish you and SA Samples the very best of continued success. As Mr. Spock would poignantly say, "Live long, and prosper".
<< Atomic Big Band! The Horns Review: CLICK HERE