Trubachik has composed music for candidates, including President Obama

Estacada High School graduate Paul Trubachik has spent the last six years composing music used in political advertising, including those for President Barack Obama. But the 32-year-old is about to open up the next chapter of his music career, with a release show for his debut solo album scheduled for Friday, March 1, in Portland.

Trubachik fondly recalls when longtime teacher Steve Christiansen revitalized the band program in the Estacada School District. Back then, Trubachik was in the fifth grade and picked up the saxophone. He later moved on to the high school, where he played in the band.

“I spent as much of my free time in the band room as I could,” he said.

His efforts weren’t limited to the school band, though. Trubachik’s first rock band, Speak Silence, used to get together with other local groups to rent out the Springwater Grange to do shows.

That passion continued past his 1998 graduation from high school. Trubachik kept singing in bands while attending Clackamas and Mt. Hood community college. He finished his studies at Portland State University, where he majored in music and graduated in 2006.

Trubachik’s foray into politics came almost accidentally. He was working as a waiter after finishing college, and received a phone call from a friend, fellow EHS graduate David Soll.

Soll was working in Washington, D.C., doing political advertisements and asked if Trubachik would be interested in helping out. He agreed, and flew out to the nation’s capital to start his new job.

“Within two months, I had written 200 tracks,” Trubachik said. “It was crazy.”

The firm Trubachik worked for, the Dixon Davis Media Group, was doing campaigns for Democrats all over the United States. As such, Trubachik’s music ended up in ads for candidates in Maryland, Kansas, Missouri and elsewhere.

“I’m the only composer this particular firm uses,” he said. “It was long hours. They were all 16-hour days in the political season, seven days a week.”

All told, Trubachik composed tracks for 14 political races at the federal and state level. That included candidates for Congress, the U.S. Senate and various gubernatorial offices.

The shelf life for political commercials is relatively short, as tracking polls are used to gauge their effectiveness in swaying voters. Once a commercial has run its course, it becomes time to roll out the next one.

“There are only a handful of people in the country that do this kind of work,” Trubachik said. “I have to turn everything around real quick. It’s a very specialized way of composing.”

For most of his work, Trubachik uses a computer and a guitar “or whatever string instrument I can get my hands on.”

“The copy of the ad dictates the kind of feel I’m going for,” he said. It’s never really like action movie trailer music. It’s typically more nuanced.”

Before too long, the 2008 presidential election cycle rolled around. Trubachik composed music for then-candidate and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. He even got to work on the campaign for one of Oregon’s two U.S. Senate seats, in which former Oregon House of Representatives Speaker Jeff Merkley defeated Republican incumbent Gordon Smith.

“It was cool to do something for the home team,” Trubachik said.

Trubachik also made music for candidates in 2010, and recently wrapped up his work for the 2012 cycle. By then, he was working for some of the same candidates he worked for in prior elections, including Obama.

“The presidential years are the more interesting ones, for sure,” Trubachik said.

Now that the election is over, Trubachik has been able to complete his solo record. He’s been collaborating long distance via internet technology with a drummer in Arizona.

“I’ve been working on this record for a couple of years, at least,” he said. “But every time a film score or political season comes up, I have to backburner it. I’m eager to get this one out of the gates.”

Trubachik will unveil his album Friday, March 1, with a show at the White Eagle, 836 N. Russell St., Portland. He is scheduled to hit the stage around 9:30 p.m.

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