The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why?
Stephen Schmidt: My father, William Schmidt, was my greatest influence. I come from a family of five boys. Being No. 4, I relished my time with him and paid close attention to his guidance. He was an engineer with a firm based out of New York City and taught me many of the values I hold today, including hard work, persistence, belief in the good of man (woman) and to enjoy your life. Unfortunately, he passed early in my life, but his values still guide me today.
The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received?
Schmidt: I learned from a number of people and through my own experience that complacency is unacceptable, and the only regret one can have is from not trying to improve every day.
The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument?
Schmidt: The violin in third grade. I remember the first concert we played in assembly, lined up with 10 other children, playing an out-of-tune, squeaky version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” I can remember thinking how wonderful it sounded and how proud I was to play for the school. That memory stays with me today.
The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoying playing?
Schmidt: Unfortunately, I did not keep up with lessons or continue to practice a musical instrument, so I am not really a musician. But once in a while, I fool around (privately) with the piano, of course.
The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn.
Schmidt: I am a big fan of ‘70s era foreign sports cars. I have owned a number of Fiats and Triumphs and continue to tinker with a Fiat today… much to my wife’s chagrin.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work?
Schmidt: I have so many favorite activities, it’s hard to narrow it down to one. Some are just being with my wife and children and being Vice President, Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division part of their lives. I also enjoy reading about the latest technology and trying to understand the development process of new gadgets, and for mental relaxation, I enjoy tending to my lawn and garden.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Schmidt: That is a hard question, as I have been to so many and seen so many great performers, but one of the most memorable, because of his death about a year after seeing them/him, was Little Feat with Lowell George, 1978 Fox Theater in Atlanta.
The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why?
Schmidt: Seriously, such a tough question — again, not easy to have just one answer — but maybe because it is so current in the entertainment news, I would love to see Freddie Mercury and the Queen of my youth playing music from the 1973–1974 era.
The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future?
Schmidt: Actually going to see David Sanborn with special guest and Casio artist Steve Weingart in Miami.
The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood and what do you remember about it the most?
Schmidt: I do not have one, but two: Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain,” and that was memorable because, even today, it brings back the fond days of an early romance, and Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” which was in a loose way a guide to life and my search to make something of myself.
The Retailer: What songs are on your smartphone/iPod, etc. right now?
Schmidt: I have a wide variety of music on my iPad and iPod because I share them with my wife, but I would say that the majority of the songs are a good deal of southern and classic rock, jazz and pop
The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show?
Schmidt: A few years ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday during NAMM and spent the time with a very dear friend in the music business. I can’t disclose the details, but suffice it to say, we had a great time, which involved a great group of NAMM members and attendees. It was like spending a milestone event with family.
The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be and what would you ask them?
Schmidt: 1. My grandfather, William Schmidt. What was it like in the world growing up in the late 1800s and seeing the evolution of the machine age? 2. George Washington. I would ask him if politics have changed from his time; and 3. Steve Jobs. What was his next idea so I could invest in it before it becomes a hit?
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer.
Schmidt: Since I work with so many MI retailers, it is only fair to recollect my first childhood memory of my Garden City, N.Y., MI store (closed many years) and the awe at seeing all the shiny instruments hanging on the wall, and going around the store and shyly picking up the drumsticks and hitting the drums, going to the piano and running my finger across the keys. Just something that was a thrill to a young child.
The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry?
Schmidt: Simply… the music and the people that create, produce and distribute it.
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why?
Schmidt: My wife, Antonina, because she supports me in every facet of my life and lets me be who I am.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road?
Schmidt: I believe the internet or its evolution will continue to change the world and, in turn, MI.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing and why?
Schmidt: I would be doing something that made me feel that I was contributing to the enrichment of people’s lives in some small way.
The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there.
Schmidt: I currently live in Lawrenceville, N.J., and love it because it is such a serene, peaceful area with working farms, open space and suburbia mixed together for when I want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. And it’s equally spaced between NYC and Philadelphia so that when I want to experience the rush of city life, I can.
The Retailer: What is your most prized possession(s) and why?
Schmidt: I really do not have a prized possession, but in fact, regard everything I possess with gratefulness.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why?
Schmidt: I have read too many books in my life, on varied subjects, to name a favorite book. But I do make a point to read regularly (now electronically), because I feel it stimulates my mind and keeps me engaged.