Bio: Tommy Coster

1927666_52793297245_1831_nThomas Joseph Coster, Jr. (born June 10, 1966), known as Tommy Coster or Tommy Coster Jr, is an American record producer, keyboardist, entertainment entrepreneur and composer. He is the founder and current CEO of FAUP Entertainment, 327 Entertainment, Retsoc Tech, and Kitty King Music Publishing. He has produced and composed music for Interscope Records, JVC, Universal Music Group, Aftermath, Shady Records, G-Unit, For Life Music, Def Jam, AVEX, Warner Brothers, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, MGM, Draftfcb, BBDO, NBC, American Broadcasting Company, CBS and Disney. He has composed songs with such artists as Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Carlos Santana. In 2000 he co-wrote the single “The Real Slim Shady” with Dr. Dre and Eminem penning one of the most successful rap songs of all time, selling over 20M units. “The Real Slim Shady” was the 11th best selling single of 2000 in the United Kingdom. It won multiple awards, including MTV Video Music Awards for Best Video and Best Male Video, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Tommy began his career as a composer in 1977 when he co-wrote the song “Zulu” with Carlos Santana for the album Moonflower. He went on to earn a Gold Record by the age of 12 for this collaboration with Santana. From this point in 1978 until he graduated high school Tommy was composing and performing locally in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1986 Tommy moved to Boston MA where he began to study jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. He attended Berklee for two years eventually leaving Boston in 1988 returning to California to pursue his musical career in Los Angeles. Just before his move to Los Angeles, Tommy was contacted by Charlie Banacos, a famous private piano instructor. Charlie informed Tommy that his turn had come up on the waiting list and wanted to know if Tommy was going to start studying with him. Tommy decided to move back to Boston in late 1988 to continue his studies with Charlie.

554424_4494534516783_61033920_nIn 1989 while still in Boston Tommy began working on a contemporary jazz record with his father for Headfirst Records. Tommy wrote the majority of the music and co-produced this project with his father. The record included Dennis Chambers, Frank Gambale, Randy Jackson, Ernie Watts, Steve Smith, and Larry Grenadier. Despite a limited marketing budget from Headfirst the album was a top 10 contemporary jazz album for the year. Several more contemporary jazz and jazz fusion collaborations followed between Tommy and his father for Headfirst and JVC Japan, including the albums, “From Me To You”, “Let’s Set The Record Straight”. Forbidden Zone” and “From The Street”. With the record entitled “Let’s Set The Record Straight”, Tom Sr. was going in a more jazz fusion direction, at this point Tommy had become the producer of this album and the two to follow. In late 1991 Tommy moved back to Northern California to prepare for his move to Los Angeles in January 1992. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Tommy was invited by Mindi Abair to play keyboardist in her band. Tommy played locally with Mindi and worked at a local music store by the name of Goodman Music in Universal City. In 1995 Tommy was asked to join John Tesh’s band as an orchestral keyboardist in the group. Among the many shows Tommy performed with John and his band, they recorded a live album featuring the Colorado Symphony, entitle “Live at Red Rocks”.

1265075_10151856112107246_741190240_oIn 1997 Tommy was asked to score his first feature film with Master P, entitled, “I Got The Hookup”. Tommy moved his studio to Santa Monica which became his headquarters for FAUP Entertainment, Inc. in 1999. During that same year, a dear friend of Tommy’s, by the name of Dennis Chambers, had connected him with Larry Chatman who was Dr. Dre’s production manager and assistant. At this time Tommy started working with Dr. Dre on various projects, one of which being “The Marshall Mathers LP”. After opening his private studio in 1999, Tommy was asked to compose music for three Gatorade spots in 2000 featuring Michael Jordan. During Tommy’s collaborative years with Dr. Dre from 1999 to 2004, he performed on Saturday Night Live, MTV, and several records including, “The Marshall Mathers LP”, “Get Rich Or Die Tryin”, “Devil’s Night”, “War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)”, “The Documentary”, “Chronic 2001”. This collaborative period between Tommy and Dr. Dre yielded in excess of 70M units sold collectively world wide. Tommy had come up with the musical concept for the single, “The Real Slim Shady” and had also co-written “Heat” with Dr. Dre for 50 Cent’s debut album. In October 2011, NME placed “The Real Slim Shady” at number 80 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”. The song was recently featured in 21 Jump Street during the opening of the film. From 2005 to the present Tommy has scored several films and written and produced hundreds of tracks for various productions internationally including productions in Japan for, For Life Records, AVEX and Def Jam Japan in 2003 and 2004.

Early Life

919499_10152022619702246_700819578_oThomas Joseph Coster Jr (Tommy Coster) was born in Burlingame California on June 10, 1966. He was the first child of Tom and Donna Coster. Coster was named after his father, Thomas Joseph Coster Sr. Tom and Donna Coster married in 1964 and are still married to date. Coster has one sister, Kimarie Reese who also lives in Northern California where his parents still reside.

In 1972 Coster and his family moved from San Bruno to Los Altos Hills after Tom Coster Sr. was hired by Bay Area guitarist Carlos Santana. Coster attended Bullis Elementary School for 2nd and 3rd grade and later transferred to St. Nicolas School in the beginning of his 4th grade year. Coster attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View California and graduated in 1984.

Music career

1966–71: The South City Years

coster2From infancy until Coster went to Berklee College of Music at 19, he was hugely immersed and exposed to music of all genres. His parents and uncles, on his fathers side, listened to all types of music from Miles Davis to Weather Report to Bill Evans to Chuck Berry. It was this constant exposure to music and musical instruments that lead to Coster learning to play Fender Rhodes, MiniMoog, Hammond B3, Clavinet and Drums. These instruments were literally set up in the dining room of their home where Tom Sr. practiced, wrote, and taught music daily. During the years Coster’s father was in Santana, he had the opportunity to meet and play with many artists like, Eric Clapton, Sheila E, Ronnie Montrose, and Prince. This artistic alliance that he had been born into not only helped to form his musicality, but also lead to his first major co-write and recording date at age 11 with Carlos Santana. “Zulu”, a track Coster and Carlos Santana had co-written, that was including on the 1978 Santana release “Moonflower“. “Zulu” was also included as the B side to the single release “She’s Not There“.

coster11971–78: The Santana Years

From age 6 through 12 Coster attended many recording sessions with his father and Santana where he was learning the recording and mixing process as well as the performing and writing side. It was during these rehearsals and recording sessions that Coster met and jammed with various musicians that were in the professional music scene at the time. Coster would sometimes sit in with the Santana band on the song “Soul Sacrifice” jamming in front of as many as 60,000 fans on venues like Day on the Green at the San Francisco Cow Palace.

1979–85: School and Local Bands

In 1978 Coster’s father left Santana to embark on his solo career. Coster’s father had wanted to do a jazz fusion record for many years and it was time for him to leave Santana and focus on his solo career. It was at that time that Coster met Steve Smith who was the drummer for Bay Area rock band Journey. Smith had been recruited by Coster Sr. to play drums in his band and on his upcoming recordings. Smith had gone to Berklee College of Music and was also a lover of jazz and jazz fusion. Coster’s father recorded two records for Fantasy Records in Berkeley California and this is when Coster recorded professionally for the second time at age 15 on his fathers solo record. He played Fender Rhodes piano on a track called “Ivory Expedition”. Walter Afanasieff, a long time friend and second keyboardist in Coster Sr.’s band, was also featured on this project, contributing an original composition entitled “Caught in the Act”. Coster formed a few different fusion bands during the next few years as well as playing in a couple of top 40 bands that performed locally. From ages 15 thru 19 Coster worked at a local deli in Los Altos and later a music store in Palo Alto. I wasn’t until he was 19 that he took the advice of Steve Smith and Tim Landers to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

1986–88: Berklee College of Music

In 1986 Coster left Los Altos Hill California, on his way by plane, for Boston, MA to attend his first semester at Berklee. He studied Jazz Composition for two years and carried a 4.0 GPA all four semesters. After studying for those two years at Berklee, Coster decided to move back home to his parents house so he could plan his relocation down to Los Angeles and the music scene there. Shortly before his move to Los Angeles, Coster received a call from a world renowned private instructor by the name of Charlie Banacos. Coster had put his name on a waiting list 18 months prior and Charlie was calling to let him know a slot had opened up if he wanted to start taking lessons. Two months later Coster packed up his Toyota 4Runner with his gear and clothes and heading back to Boston to study with Charlie.

1989–91: Studying with Charlie and Recording

Coster began his studies with Charlie Banacos in 1989 and at the same time he was recording new material with his father for JVC Victor Japan. In 1989 Coster co-wrote two-thirds of his fathers 3rd solo record entitled, “Did Jah Miss Me”, this was also Coster’s first co-production credit to date. Coster not only had the opportunity to work closely with his father, but an all-star roster of musicians as well. Long time family friend Randy Jackson from American Idol played bass, along with Dennis Chambers, Frank Gambale, Ernie Watts, Larry Grenadier and Steve Smith. This project marked a significant milestone in Coster’s career as this is when his first publishing company was formed with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) called Strawberry Blonde Music. This is also the first project he had done with Dennis Chambers who later became a close a personal friend, eventually connected him with Dr. Dre.

In 1990, while still in Boston, Coster collaborated again with his father to record and co-produce another contemporary jazz album, Coster Sr’s fourth solo record. This line up of musicians included Will Kennedy on drums and Marc Russo on saxophone, both from the Yellowjackets group, Kai Eckhardt-Karpeh on bass, long time friend Armando Peraza on percussion, Corrado Rustici on guitar, and Jimi Tunnell on vocals from Steps Ahead. Coster wrote less on this project and focused more on the producing and co-writes with Tunnel as this was the first time he had co-authored songs that incorporated vocals.

1992–95: Move to Los Angeles “The Early Years”

In January 1992 about 4 months after returning from Boston for a second time, Coster found himself couch surfing at a friends place. Mindi Abair, a friend from Berklee College of Music, had asked Coster to play keyboards in her band and helped him get settled in Los Angeles. Coster found a job at Goodman Music in Universal City and started playing gigs around Los Angeles with Mindi. In 1994 Coster was hired by John Tesh to play orchestral keyboards in the John Tesh Band and quit his day job at Goodman Music. Coster toured with Tesh and also played on a live recording entitled, “Live at Red Rocks” with the Colorado Symphony. During his early years in Los Angeles, Coster also produced 3 more jazz fusion records for his father. These records were straight up fusion records displaying Coster Sr’s aggressive and deep compositional skills. These were some of the most prestigious projects Coster produced for his father. Musicians included, Michael Brecker, Mark Isham, Sheila E, Dennis Chambers, Frank Gambale, Scott Henderson, Steve Cardenas, Alphonso Johnson, Jeff Andrews, Tim Landers, Bob Berg, Bob Malach, Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow. Coster also had the pleasure of working with Eric Valentine, Third Eye Blind producer. At the time Eric was coming up as a genius engineer / producer in the Northern California area. Eric engineered and mixed the Tom Coster album “From The Street”.

1996–98: First Film and Commercial Work

In 1996 Coster began to freelance for leading Michigan music house Brad Music. Coster had attended Berklee with a drummer by the name of Brad Fairman. Fairman had only attended one semester at Berklee and left to start his own company writing music for commercials. Coster commuted back and forth between Los Angeles and Michigan to work with Fairman and learn the art of scoring and writing to picture. Coster worked on several projects with Fairman and was able to build a composer reel using the work he has done at Brad Music. In 1997 a director by the name of Michael Martin from northern California, contacted Coster regarding a film he was directing for Master P. Martin asked Coster if he would be interested in scoring his film which was being produced by Miramax. Coster agreed and asked his friend Brad Fairman if he would like to work on the score with him as well. Fairman agreed to relocate to Santa Monica for approximately one month were they scored Master P‘s movie entitled “I Got The Hook Up“. Later, in 1998 Coster scored two movies for Michael Martin and Snoop Dogg, “The Eastsidaz” and “Da Game of Life“.

1999–2008: Dr. Dre • Eminem and FAUP

21576_312910297245_516970_nIn 1999 Coster opened his own personal production studio in Santa Monica California along with his production company, FAUP Entertainment, Inc. It was at this time that Coster saw a VH1special on Dr. Dre called “Behind The Music with Dr. Dre. Coster admired Dre’s musicality, vision and passion for his craft and asked Dennis Chambers if he knew anyone that had a connection to Dre. Dennis happened to know Dre’s production manager Larry Chatman as Larry was a huge jazz fusion fan. Later that year Coster met with Chatman and Dre in the studio and Coster began working with Dre on various projects and productions almost immediately. Coster was called to the studio weekly to collaborate on various projects including, Hit Man, Warren G, Ice Cube, Eminem, D12, Truth Hurts, Bilal, NWA, 50 Cent and The Game among others.

One of the bigger projects that Coster contributed to was Eminem’s second record, “The Marshall Mathers LP“. Coster had recorded on several of the tracks already and was called to the studio to help co-author a song that had yet to be written. Coster ended up penning the music for “The Real Slim Shady“, which was Eminem‘s biggest hit to date and by far the biggest cross over rap song in the history of rap. “The Marshall Mathers LP” sold 1.7M units the first week it was release and has sold over 10M in the US market and well over 20M world wide.

Soon after the release of “The Marshall Mathers LP” in 2000, Coster wrote and produced music for 3 Gatorade commercials featuring Michael Jordan with Foote Cone & Belding. A series of movie trailers with The Cimarron Group and Toybox Entertainment followed, along with several movie scores. Coster has worked on, Miami Vice, Serving Sara, The New Guy, Barbershop, Dumber Than Dirt, Chasing Papi, Freaky Friday, Little Black Book, The Honeymooners, Roll Bounce, A Path Beyond Thought, Living The Life, Welcome To Death Row, The Luau, Klunkerz, I Think I Love My Wife, and X-Files / I want to Believe.

In 2003 Coster also starting working in Japan with For Life Music, AVEX and Def Jam Japan. Artists composed for and produced included, Ai, Dabo, Deli, and Double. Coster also did a remake of Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s “Merry Christmas Mr. Larwence” featuring Ai.

2009–present: The Indie Movement and Strategic Alignment

In 2009 Coster starting to take a more hands on approach to his productions getting involved from the early stages of various projects. Signing young artists internationally and developing their brands and assets.

In 2011 Coster was invited by Priscilla Pesci, CEO and founder of Elumines, to join her creative team as the, management and creative solution, for compositional IP. Elumines is a media company.

Also in 2011, Coster collaborated on a handful of films contributing as a songwriter penning co-writes with Sir Tim Rice and Alan Menken on South Africa’s first animation movie called “Jock of The Bushveld”.

In 2012 Coster teamed up with Kingston Technologies to raise their brand awareness in the content creation industry. Coster shot a promotional video with Kingston at one of his favorite private Interscope studios demonstrating and talking about his work flow and how important reliable technology is to his productivity.

In June 2013, Coster arranged his first big band Christmas project for Universal Music Publishing Group, entitled “Jingle All The Way”. This project was to be a library CD featuring traditional Christmas songs arranged in the genre of big band jazz. Universal Music Publishing Group elected to release this project on iTunes to the general public. This is the first project, in the history of their library company, that will be available on iTunes as well.

In 2014 Coster joined a tech startup [Dials] as their head of sound design, co-founded by CEO Thomas Scriven, Scriven is also one of Coster’s publishing partners.

Other ventures

Kollider / Atlantic Records

In the fall of 2013 Coster accepted a position with Kollider Records as an A&R Manager. Kollider is marketed and distributed through Atlantic Records.

Elumines

ēluminəs is a media and content management system. Coster is involved with the organization’s IP Management.

Endorsements