What We Do
Grammy and Emmy Award Winning Production, Arranging, and Mixing Engineering
Electronic Music Design
Synth and Computer Programming
Keyboard and Computer Rental Packages
Proprietary Music and Video Time Code Sync
and Playback System
World-Class Recording Studio in the Heart of NYC
One of the largest collections of unique and vintage gear in the world
MainBrain Show Control
MainBrain is your TOTAL solution for LIVE performance!
MainBrain Show Control is a unique, versatile, and one-of-a-kind system for putting on shows of any size and is only available thru Strange Cranium.
MainBrain provides the ability to trigger scenes in Ableton Live for synchronized control of music, video, scenic and lighting elements.
MainBrain is used in several major, live events, including:
THE BAND’S VISIT
SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK
LATE NIGHT with DAVID LETTERMAN
Founder and CEO
Billy Jay Stein
Billy has loved music and science since he was a little kid. He began his piano training at an early age as a private student of the world-renowned concert pianist, Edward Edson. After saving up money from his paper route, he bought his first synth at the age of 11, the Moog Source. In junior high school, he created a mini recording studio in his bedroom.
When he was a freshman studying Neuroscience and Music at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the Rock & Roll band, The Hatters. They built a huge following of college students and ultimately got a recording contract with Atlantic Records, releasing three albums. After graduation in 1991, they jumped on a bus and spent five years on the road, living in the mountains of Nederland, Colorado during breaks.
After The Hatters broke up in 1996, Stein moved to NYC, added more gear to his collection and started his company, STRANGE CRANIUM (a nod to his Neuroscience degree).
In 1996 while writing music for VH1, he met Michael Rosen, an accomplished television producer and songwriter. They had collaborated on several television series, and realized that by combining their expertise, experience, and insight, they could create a very user-friendly, world-class music catalogue. In 2006 they formed STRIKE AUDIO.
In 2008, Billy met synthesis master, Hiro Iida. In 2011, they began work on Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark with Bono and The Edge. They ran 8 MacBook desktop computers with an early version of MainStage and MainBrain, developed by Dave Linnenbank. Since Spider-Man, the STRANGE CRANIUM team has grown and is now responsible for programming and the electronic music design of over 100 shows.
Billy Jay Stein received the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album as the music producer and mixer of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Head Programmer and Studio Manager
Iida was born in Tokyo, Japan, and has been a part of the team at STRANGE CRANIUM since 2008.
He studied Music Synthesis at Berklee College of Music from 1985 to 1989, and was an instructor at the Berklee Music Synthesis Department from 1990 to 1997.
His credits include synthesist/composer for the following: Akiko Yano, Brecker Brothers, Richard Bona, Ithamara Koorax, Arto Lindsey, Red+Hot benefit, DreamWorks (soundtrack: WitchBlade), Slide Hampton, Lyle Mays, Ron Carter, Jan Hammer, Tom Coster, New York Voices, Mino Cinelu, SEGA, SONY PlayStation, Panasonic (DVD-Audio, Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank, SHISEIDO, FedEx, JVC Victor, Uniqlo, Apple Music.
He was also the director/composer: New York Fashion Week / Chado: Ralph Rucci, Fall/Winter 1999-Fall/Winter 2012, and the 2nd Studio music director at WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) from 2005 to 2008.
Hiro is a member of The Board of Advisors at The Bob Moog Foundation.
Business and Music Coordinator
Jason Howland − an honors graduate of Williams College (1993) − is a Grammy Award winning producer, Emmy Award winning arranger, and Tony nominated producer. He is the composer of Broadway’s 2005 Tony Award nominated Little Women – The Musical; Ikiru – The Musical, premiering in Tokyo October 2018; and Last Days of Summer, world premiere September 2018 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater.
Howland has been a musical director, arranger and conductor on Broadway for twenty years. He is the arranger and music supervisor for the smash hit Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Broadway, West End, US National Tour, Tokyo, Australian National Tour, UK National Tour) for which he won a Grammy Award. He has served as musical supervisor/ director/conductor and arranger for Broadway’s Bonnie and Clyde, Wonderland, Jekyll & Hyde, Les Miserables, The Civil War, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Boy George’s Taboo, in addition to guest-conducting the Broadway musical sensation Spider-Man.
Howland arranged and supervised the touring production of the hit film Flashdance, and supervised the US National Tour of the mega-band Queen’s hit musical We Will Rock You. Most recently Howland orchestrated and arranged the stage adaptation of the Japanese Anime sensation Death Note which had its world premiere in Tokyo in April of 2015, and orchestrated and supervised the world premiere of Mata Hari for Seoul-based EMK.
He has worked extensively world-wide as an arranger, orchestrator, programmer and music producer for touring productions and has worked as a composer, arranger, conductor, and producer on a number of recording projects. He is the proud father of Nina and Noah.
MainBrain Developer and Head Coder
Dave Linnenbank started piano lessons at the age of six. When he wanted to quit one day, his Dad bribed him with ice cream and got him to keep playing. And so it began.
After forays with trumpet, guitar, and singing, Dave landed at Berklee College of Music to study film scoring, but quickly found his footing with music technology and sound synthesis. Making tools for other artists became a particular joy, connecting a knowledge of modern technology with lessons of musicianship and tasteful performance. The results have been used by Gotye, James Taylor, and regular music producers and students of all stripes. Through his association with Billy and Hiro, Dave has built software to run the nightly performances of both touring and on-Broadway musicals.
When not at home with his family or playing in the church band, Dave works on other media system projects, writes user manuals, and sometimes teaches. He even released an album once. It was pretty good.
Head MainBrain, Ableton Live and Max Programmer
Berklee College Music Synthesis graduate, Chris has worn a variety of hats in his professional career, ranging from sales, marketing, and product development over a 10 year run with hardware and software giants Korg, Line 6, and Propellerhead. He then moved into music education and into building one of the world’s most successful physical and online courses in music production and performance with Ableton Live.
Working with some of the top Techno DJs, Chris has also produced tracks danced to by tens of thousands of party-goers across the globe. As one of the world’s top experts in Ableton Live, and being a member of the elite Ableton Certified Trainers team, Chris now focuses on building and programming custom MainBrain systems for shows of all sizes.
HIEN NGUYEN is a Brooklyn based sound designer, synth programmer, composer, and singer. She received a Bachelor of Music in Electronic Production & Design and Professional Music from the Berklee College of Music. Ethereal vocals meshing with lush textures and minimal beats – her eclectic sonic identity has been influenced by a wide variation of sounds, from electronica to soul and traditional Eastern styles. The Vietnamese-Hungarian artist started her singer career at the age of 15. She has released two pop albums, played the leading role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon and has performed in various cities across Europe, Asia and the United States. Hien’s career has included accolades such as Glamour’s “Woman of the Year” and the Viva Comet award
Associate Programmer and Head Copyist
Olmstead’s recent music supervising credits include the 2017 National Tour of Fame and the East Coast Regional Premiere of Mamma Mia. Music directing credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, White Christmas and Memphis at the John W. Engeman Theatre, Guys and Dolls and West Side Story at The Wick Theatre. On Broadway, he was conductor for On Your Feet and keyboardist on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Beautiful: The Carole King Story, as well as both the Spring and Summer versions of Radio City’s New York Spectacular.
He conducted the Cirque Holiday Spectacular 2016 and 2017 tours and was the copyist for The Public Theater’s Southern Comfort and On Your Feet First National Tour. Additionally, he was the keyboard programmer for the original Off-Broadway version of Fun Home, 2016 tour of Carefree: Dancin’ with Fred and Ginger and A Chorus Line at the Hollywood Bowl.
Most recently, James was assistant music director on the Off-Broadway production of A Letter to Harvey Milk and music director for the John W. Engeman Theatre’s production of Once. His personal projects include composing musicals, including Mambo Italiano and the award-winning NYMF 2013 production of Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist with lyricist, Omri Schein.
Cleo Reed is a student of black underground sound and intention. She reaches deeply into her own lineage and uses it as a reference in both music and multimedia art. She produces and designs soundscapes, compositional and popular music works, in addition to mixing, mastering, and editing her own music and visuals. Recently, Cleo sharpened her electrical engineering skills by building her own 10-inch studio monitors and programming a video art plug-in. To cradle these crafts, she looked to their histories, completing courses and personal research studies centered around Max/MSP, DSP, electroacoustics, and circuit bending.
At 19, Cleo named herself after Cleophus, her great grandmother and a fellow Aquarius. Cleo possesses a deep commitment to women and non-binary people within the communities she inhabits. Whether underground or academic, experimental or popular, Cleo expresses musicianship guided by her radiance, femininity, and cyclical traumas.
Murase was born in Japan, and has been part of the team at STRANGE CRANIUM since 2014. He studied Music Synthesis at Berklee College of Music from 1996 to 2000.
He has worked as a Live Sound engineer for over 15 years in New York City.
Inna Dudukina is a Berklee College of Music alumna; an arranger/orchestrator, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. In Berklee, she dual majored in Contemporary Writing & Production, and Performance; with a Minor in Recording and Production. In addition to her jazz and classical studies, Inna was heavily influenced by ethnic styles of music leading to experimentations in fusing those genres with, among other styles, modal jazz and electronica. A Russian native, Dudukina picked up the ancient Armenian double reed instrument duduk while researching the origins of her surname, and eventually became one of only a handful of female musicians ever playing that instrument. Subsequently, she became the first duduk player in the history of music theater in Tom Kitt’s “The Visitor”. As an arranger and performer, Dudukina has collaborated and shared the stage with illustrious jazz artists such as Gary Burton and Tigran Hamasyan, and acclaimed world music musicians such as Shreya Ghoshal, Zakir Hussain, Layth Sidiq, among others.
Max Gordon is a composer and musician based in New York City. He has worked on the music teams of The Band’s Visit, The Cher Show, and Tootsie, and done keyboard programming for Wicked and the Shed Theater at Hudson Yards. Recent composition credits: The Winter’s Tale (TFANA, NY Times Critic Pick), Charles Perry (Verve Records), and collaborations with hip hop choreographer Jennifer Jancuska. B.A. from Yale University.
Alex is a versatile musician working in New York City and at regional theaters across the country. Originally from Maryland, he studied Piano in Combination with Theater at Ithaca College, graduating magna cum laude. He served as assistant music director for the 2017 national tour of Pippin, where he also was a keyboardist and associate conductor. He has done keyboard programming for several shows at the Tony-award winning Signature Theater in Virginia, most recently for acclaimed productions of Grand Hotel and The Scottsboro Boys, as well as playing keyboard for Crazy for You and Billy Elliot.
In New York, he is a staff pianist for New York University’s Vocal Performance area and is active as a coach, audition pianist, and accompanist across all age levels. He served as music assistant and synth programming associate on Gettin’ the Band Back Together on Broadway, and was the keyboard programmer for BC/EFA’s Broadway Backwards 2019, which raised over $700k for BC/EFA and the LGBT Center.
Cheong, also known as CASEY HEYO, is a pianist, producer, and musical director. She graduated from Berklee College of Music with a major Contemporary Writing & Production. She then moved to LA where she grew her career as a performer, producer, and music curator.
She played keyboard on Mamma Mia the Musical at Lake Dillon Theatre Company and was a Music Director for a musical, Cast Goes to the Movies in Secaucus, NJ.
As much as she produces her own music, Cheong writes KPOP lyrics and plays on diﬀerent artists’ productions.
Head Recording Engineer
Adam is a pianist / music director / arranger based out of New York City. Originally from Houston, Adam has been living and working in China, Argentina, and throughout the United States since 2007. His arrangements can be heard on the recently released Off-Broadway album for A Strange Loop (Michael R. Jackson) which is currently at #2 on the iTunes soundtrack charts. His keyboard programming has been heard all over the world, including multiple productions of Wicked currently running in Australia. Adam is also a proud member of the Musicians’ Local 802.
Adam Wolfe is an NYC-based drummer/percussionist heard all over the country, on Broadway and beyond. A unique hybrid player, Adam is equally at home on classical/orchestral percussion, behind the drums, and electronics. Adam is sometimes described as a “gear head” and loves to geek out about the latest in drums, percussion, and how to integrate electronic drums and percussion into a fulfilling musical performance.
Recent appearances and credits include: Clueless the Musical, Jerry Springer the Opera, Bandstand, Beetlejuice the Musical, Kiss Me Kate, The Prom, Anastasia, and AVE Q.
Dana Haynes is a jack-of-all-trades musician, producer, composer, music programmer, conductor, music director, music copyist and arranger from Brooklyn, NY. He started his music career as a boy soprano at age 7 in the Battle Creek Boychoir, and though his voice has dropped since then, his love of music has not. His passion for technology, new music and theatrical works has taken him all the way to concert halls, cathedrals, indie rock venues and Broadway.
After receiving dual degrees in choral music education and computer science from the University of Michigan, Dana moved to New York City to pursue a freelance career in the arts. When not programming big budget musicals, he writes and performs and helps bring new works to life in myriad ways. An expert music copyist, he has an active side business providing sheet music services to musicians worldwide via QuickTranspositions.com. He has programmed for a variety of Broadway shows, including MOULIN ROUGE, BEETLEJUICE, KONG, BE MORE CHILL, as well as LEMPICKA at Williamstown Theater Festival.
Ethan is a Chicago based composer, electronic music designer, and producer. His love affair with music technology was a happy accident when an Apple support rep casually recommended pairing MainStage with a newly acquired MalletKAT for a pit gig he was playing in late 2007. Being an early adopter of the software, Ethan was perfectly positioned to be at the leading edge of modern electronic music design for the theatre. As a co-founder of KeyboardTEK, Ethan and his partners also strive to make professional grade programming available to the amateur market, simultaneously elevating production values and giving extended life to some of the most iconic original designs from Broadway and the West End.
Ethan produces his own music under the name The Quiet Regret.
Ko Tanaka is an NYC-based composer, conductor, music director, and storyteller. He has been writing and producing show music for theaters/show business for U.S., Canada, and Japan. He graduated from Berklee College of Music, studied a major in Contemporary Writing and Production.
As he grew up with many Japanese modern cultures such as Anime, Manga, and Pop-Music, he’s passionate about expressing stories. He started playing instruments at the age of 16 and started his professional music writing career at age of 19.
After a couple of years of being a composer for a Japanese video game company, he listened and was impressed by Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”. He eventually moved to the U.S. to study theatrical composing and lyric writing.
While working on several theater titles, he recently has been appointed composer for Off-Broadway Musical “Poupelle of Chimney Town” a new musical based on the bestselling Japanese picture book. The musical will open Off-Broadway in 2022.
With his knowledge of MIDI programming, he is also a digital-orchestration masterclass instructor of the international music software exhibition IMSTA FESTA.