Stevie Wonder. Ariana Grande. Lady Gaga. Will Ferrell. These are just some of the celebrities that Alan Certeza aka Nekojita has worked with. Certeza was born and raised on Guam, but currently resides in Los Angeles and is working here on New Zealand soil as camera man for your next favourite Netflix show. As member […]
Stevie Wonder. Ariana Grande. Lady Gaga. Will Ferrell. These are just some of the celebrities that AlanCerteza aka Nekojita has worked with. Certeza was born and raised on Guam, but currently resides in Los Angeles and is working here on New Zealand soil as camera man for your next favourite Netflix show. As member of the International Cinematographers Guild, he works as a freelance camera assistant and is climbing the ladder in the Hollywood scene.
Certeza hit the ground running as a freelance camera assistant. He earlier finished an episode of “Chef’s Table.” And he has worked on music videos for Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Ariana Grande, Future, and Lady Gaga. Not your average Joe and most definitely exciting projects to work on.
A short introduction about Alan's professional life will give context and helps to tell his musical journey. As most stories of aspiring musicians start, Alan got grasped by music when he was at a very young age, whilst seeing his uncle play in a trio band at their grandparents. The performance was held in a room called the "Jam Room" which should tell you enough about the mindset around music in the family.
After this many failed journeys began according to Alan, I think as modular synthesists we can all relate to the struggle of playing an instruments. Alan says "The first instrument I could remember besides those hard plastic toys was a consumer Casio Keyboard my mother bought. I think I remember it was somewhere around $150USD.At that time I tried to learn, she bought me books on books but like most 8yr old boy with no discipline and short attention span, I quickly kicked that to the curb."
At the age of 10, Alan tried to learn the guitar. He self resects and blames his young age for constantly whining about his fingers hurting and being bored that his instructor refused to teach him any of the "Me First and the Gimme Gimme" songs That he had loaded on his Walkman. So the journey and inspiration faded rather fast for this young boy.
Fast forward to Alan's teen years, at this point he was skateboarding which lead him deeper into the punk scene. Idealizing Fat Mike (He wasn't that fat) from NOFX, Alan thought that he was meant to be a bass player.
For a couple years his friends and the man himself would cover bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, NOFX, Joy Division and other alike.
But between Skateboarding, Mosh Pits, late nights at the PC Gaming room (CounterStrike 1.6) and girlfriends, there was no time for their garage band to go beyond the front steps our home so that was the end of Uncle Dave and the Pirates.
Since then, his palette for music expanded more into electronic music. In 2017, his interest for a music instrument sparked once again. He was on the top of a mountain on the outskirts of the Sequia National Park at House Music gathering. There were maybe about 200 people attending and about 20 DJs over the course of two days.
Alan was on the dance floor and then a DJ got in front of the crowd and started to play. Whilst dancing and having a great time, there was a glitch in the music and Alan & co. all stopped dancing to realise this DJ was playing live with this weird box with all these wires coming out of it.
This was the moment Alan was hooked, and Nekojita was born.
There after and not being able to afford any external gear, I bought myself a set of Pioneer DJ decks and tried the DJ thing. That was short lived when I finally was able to luckly afford my start into eurorack. The journey to having that cool box with wires I saw on the top of mountain began.
Alan says: "Like all my past failed attempts to creating anything with a musical instrument, I relied on others but finally it was such joy to know that I can create without needing anyone but myself. Well besides all the help all those dedicated souls on Modwiggler."
Like many others, he was mesmerized with all those dreamy ambient modular videos on YouTube. And he just loved how some would compliment their music with their background or with lighting. He was thinking: “I want to try that one day”.
After playing modular in the dark in his apartment, he got a call to come to New Zealand for our second season of a show that started in Scotland in 2020. He knew that this was his opportunity to explore and express all emotions that is attached from being away from home and in a completely foreign place.
Alan tells us: "I was so excited to play and express myself in a place I only dreamt of being in my younger years living in Guam. Hope I can make some cool music with some epic views to inspire me.”
So for a month leading to the travel, he has spent endless hours on ModularGrid arranging my Intellijel 7u 104HP for travel. Many sleepless nights wondering what will bring him contentment.
Quoting Alan: "It wasn’t until 3 days before I left LA, I got so frustrated with the stress of what to bring and what not to bring, I ended up just outfitting a 7u 60HP BlackHole Case with the modules that were in most of my iterations of my so called “Travel case” and accepted the challenge with a small-ish case."
Learning from his modular travel adventure he admits: "It has been a challenge for me to work with a smaller case, limited modulation sources and one giant sequencer (MN Rene v2). I recall the morning I was going to leave LA, I thought to myself “Ballsy not to have a single attenuator, oh well let’s see how bad I regrets this decision”, out the door and off to the tarmac to New Zealand."
Asking himself if he regrets it? He replies: "Most definitely and extremely challenging. But with the limitation brought so much more thoughtful solutions.With the help of Synthesizer NZ, they were able to get me a few modules I needed to complete my always evolving needs. I can’t thank them enough for helping me get the right tools for my small case."
We, at Synthesizer New Zealand, have supplied Alan on his Journey from the Auckland MIQs to Queenstown with the following modules;