“I’ve never entered a contest before. I’ve usually been working too much to pull my head out to do any promotion.” David Rees, 46, is a longtime San Diego musician who lives and works in Vista. His composition “Mac and Cheese” made the finals in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition in the children’s music category.
“Mac and Cheese” was originally written for an iPad game. That’s what Rees does: he composes and produces music for iPad and iPhone apps for children. Or, as he puts it, “Theme songs for games and stuff. I don’t play in a children’s music band.” The whole thing came about, he says, because the client that created the game (the Truly Great Noodle) asked for more music. “I made an album titled I Believe in Pasta. Bob Tedde from Rockola sang a song on the album. Ty Cox played drums. Pat Morgan sang a couple songs.” Both Cox and Morgan are former bandmates from BigFins, a now-defunct San Diego band in which Rees played guitar and sax.
“I made an animated video for ‘Mac and Cheese,’ which is on YouTube. The video actually depicts a cartoon pig that plays in clubs,” he says. “The venue I patterned it after is Winstons [in Ocean Beach]. The song is kind of Randy Newman-meets-Tom Waits, and as luck would have it, Tom Waits is one of the judges.” The panel includes Ozzy Osbourne, Dr. Demento, McCoy Tyner, Tori Amos, Black Francis, and more. The public can also vote at songwritingcompetition.com. Winners will be announced in April.
The International Songwriting Competition is an annual event open to amateurs and pro-level musicians. Their stated mission? To provide an opportunity for songwriters to be heard in an international arena. 2011 songwriting hopefuls include two other San Diego locals: Michael Tiernan and Tim Foley.
Along with tunes for kids’ games and educational apps, Reese also creates the music that runs in the background on themed slot machines: “Tarzan, games like that.” Does writing music intended for such replay dictate peculiar restrictions? “I’m aware of the size of the speakers being used for playback,” he says. “And, there are rules dictated by the amount of memory being used.”
Aside from a cut of the prize money, what would a “Mac and Cheese” win mean for Reese? “I would end up meeting people and getting more work. And I Believe in Pasta would get played more on kids’ radio.” Otherwise, he’s content to play classic rock on the weekends in his new band FreeMartin and to produce content for young ears by day. “My parents hated my choice to go into music. If it wasn’t for computers, I’d be starving in a bar.”