Born in Denver, raised on the island of Kauai, I was a child heavily influenced by media. I grew up in love with music and soaked up my family's musical tastes ranging from 80's punk, jazz/soul, shoegaze, 60's war-era music, symphonic/classical music, and metal. I grew up beat oriented, with an ear for hooks, and an adoration for bending chords.
As a kid, I loved to choreograph dances. I forced my class to learn a dance I made up for our elementary school graduation. Over the years I took ballet, country line, cheerleading and street/jazz dance classes.
All the while I tinkered on the piano, playing by ear, learned to play percussion in middle school band and eventually picked up a guitar as well. Over the years I tried my hand at making music for fun on my own and occasionally with some friends. Playing things ranging from rock to techno to pop.
I decided to make my artist name after a word I heard in psychology class. I fell in love with the sound and general idea of the word "cortex." The cerebral cortex is a large part of the brain that plays a major role in perception, cognition, thought, language and consciousness.
As far as film, the television was my teacher and babysitter. I was obsessed with any form of media that stunned and struck me emotionally. Since the age of 7 I began to imagine music videos. I first fell in love with the act of filming when I decided to make a video using Barbies to reenact the Salem Witch Trials for a class in middle school which was quickly followed up by a Barbie parody of Titanic.
As a naturally animated person I decided to try acting class in high school. I was offered the lead in the play but I turned it down after discovering that my ADHD brain couldn't successfully retain all the lines I was meant to learn. I was then given the next biggest role of stage managing. To my surprise I enjoyed the frantic environment of controlling the curtains, lighting, sound effects, props, and queuing actors.
I took Video Production classes throughout middle and high school and fell in love. I was surprised to find that this one activity captured all my focus as I found myself filming and editing for hours. I became a passionate delinquent; skipping classes to edit videos in the media room thanks to a teacher who saw my potential and turned a blind eye. I even made videos for other students if they were struggling. The top videos from our class were shown to the school and I was proud to have two of my works chosen. I decided to continue using the word I had grown fond of and proudly stamped "Cortex Productions" on my videos.
Skipping class took its toll. I was failing classes but the teachers refused to give up on me. I failed miserably in shop class. The math and numbers were like a foreign language to me so the teacher allowed me to make up credit if I participated in set design for the school's plays. So I stayed after school crafting props and wobbling on a shaky ladder painting 20 foot tall backdrops.
I began to work with film outside of school at Ho'ike Public Access Television in a program called Teen TV for a couple years. We mixed and ran live tapings of local news, filmed local events, and created a Teen TV segment including our own random videos that were aired locally. I achieved small island fame and was recognized for my comedy and effectively cheap special effects.
Colombia University was the goal in mind out of high school. I tested the waters by taking a film appreciation course at a community college. Although I was passionate about the subject, I couldn't function in the academic environment of paperwork and tests. Not to mention the astounding amount of money required. With fears that my creativity would be stifled with rules and that a potentially low GPA would hold me back in credibility, I decided to find other avenues of learning new filming and editing skills. I decided to go back to Ho'ike for another year to brush up on the latest cameras and editing software before moving back to Denver.
YouTube became my best friend. In ten years, I posted over 140 videos to my personal YouTube page including vlogs, unofficial music videos, skits, reviews, local events, shorts and how to's. Without ever intending to gain an audience, I accumulated 245 subscribers with my most popular video reaching 65k views.
I began getting frustrated as my inspiration and desire to make better videos grew. I didn't have any equipment and my editing software was subpar. I wanted to make music videos that would stop getting flagged as copywritten and desperately wanted to stop being the only person acting in my videos.
Then I met my future wife Nicole Disney; author, martial artist and Denver 911/EMS Dispatcher. One day it clicked that I should just try to focus on making a career out of my true passion of filming music videos. Nicole responded with supportive, encouraging words and a lot of equipment! She is my right hand with productions as she succeeds where I fail and vice versa. Her structure plus my creativity yin and yangs us into a strong team with the same powerful vision.
The word Cortex has grown in popularity since I first fell for it and I have since seen bands and businesses use the word. I knew it wouldn't survive the name battle so I decided to add on one more part. I decided to use my birth year 86 and it doubled as a term for being rid of something. I liked the play on words like we were creating mind blowing content and a reference to my own damaged cortex.
Cortex 86'd Productions was born. The goal simple: make a kickass video