Feature Client: Color Theory

Jon Ostrow on Mar 13, 2012


Color Theory is the moniker of Brian Hazard, an electronic recording artist based in Huntington Beach, CA. His music combines '80s synth pop, EDM, and classical piano.

1. How did you get started in the music industry?

I started recording original music with the intent of putting out a CD back in 1993. At that time, just having a CD meant you were a success! I had just graduated from college with a Bachelor's Degree in Piano Performance, and was teaching piano and accompanying choirs to pay the rent.

That first album was recorded and mixed in my tiny one-bedroom apartment, on an old 486 DX computer running Windows 3.1 and a DAT machine I rented for a weekend. My downstairs neighbors hated me for it, and used to bang on the ceiling with a broomstick to quiet me down.

I've released 8 full-length albums since then, plus a handful of EPs and rarities sets, culminating in The Complete Color Theory, my entire catalog of 218 tracks on a USB key.

2. What has been the proudest moment in your career?

My song If It's My Time to Go won both a Lennon Award and the Grand Prize in the Electronic category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. I used to enter song contests every now and again, but I always considered the Lennon contest "the big one," and was genuinely shocked to get that phone call. Beyond the promotional benefits, received over $8,500 in cash and gear, plus free CD manufacturing for my last album.

This isn't exactly a moment, but back in the Napster days my song Ponytail Girl was mistakenly labeled as a Depeche Mode track leaked from their new album. Not surprisingly, it got passed around a few zillion times. To this day, several European web sites sell alternate versions of the album with my song included as a so-called bonus track. My efforts to set the record straight didn't get very far, so I used the song as the basis for a tribute album to the band. And yet, even after all that, the song still appears in the SoundExchange PLAYS database as Depeche Mode. Grr!

3. What inspires you as a songwriter?

That's always a tough question for me, because I really don't know. Everything and nothing. I try not to overthink it. I keep a little text file of ideas, mostly just phrases and potential titles.

When I've got a production idea ready to develop, I spend a half hour or so writing random gibberish around one of those ideas until a direction becomes clear, then sit down at the piano and structure a melody around that.

Sometimes the gibberish really is just gibberish, so I choose something else, and other times it takes me so far away that the original idea is jettisoned.

4. How come you chose ASCAP?

From my limited poking around ASCAP and BMI's databases, it looked like American artists were with ASCAP, and British artists were with BMI. I figured BMI must be short for British Music International or something. Even though my musical heroes were all British, I signed up with ASCAP "just to be safe." So really, it was a completely ignorant and uneducated decision that probably doesn't matter much in the end.

5. What projects or events are coming up for you that the Songtrust readers should know about?

I'm nearly ready to release the first of three EPs, which will each feature five new songs plus remixes of those songs. The best 10-12 songs from the 15 on the three EPs will end up as an album. Maybe that will be my last CD, if the format still exists! However the album ultimately emerges, I'm not going to keep my fans waiting two years between releases anymore. You have to keep that connection alive.


For more information, visit ColorTheory.com

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