10 June 2014

Q&A With Composer Julian Wass

Q&A With Composer  Julian Wass

Like so many artists before him, composer Julian Wass first discovered music through The Beatles.

Soon after, music became the soundtrack of his life, from the grunge of 90's alternative albums to the epic scores of his favorite Nintendo games.

After studying composition and computer music at Stanford, Julian has emerged as a promising young film composer and musician. This summer he will release three original motion picture soundtracks and is a member and producer of Los Angeles based band Fol Chen.


Tell us about your studio. What hardware/software/instruments do you use?

"I'm drawn to odd instruments; anything that feels off-the-beaten path is very special to me, like it's lost and needs a good home. The instruments that I love to use include a parlour guitar from the 1920's with a weird hula girl/palm tree stenciled onto it, various thumb pianos and idiophones, my white lacquered piano and of course, my synthesizer collection

I work with outside musicians whenever it's needed or possible, but I love layering and working with my little instrument crew here to create new sounds. I'm really interested in the intersection of electronic and acoustic, and that is at the core of my one man ensemble.

I do all my work in ProTools, from recording, editing and mixing to midi programming. I'm very fast and comfortable in ProTools, and even a slight uptick in speed can make a huge difference for me on a project. I always used to say that I was going to take some time and learn Logic, but I still haven't found the time!

In terms of software instruments, I don't use a whole lot, but I'm absolutely in love with the products from Soniccouture. The way in which they go about locating and meticulously sampling unique instruments, or sampling a common instrument using extended techniques is something I feel a strong connection to. Most sample programs sound really good, but I sometimes fee like the connection to the actual instrument has been severed along the way, but with the Soniccouture stuff, I still feel a spiritual connection to the instrument, and I think it's because they take such care in what they sample and how they do it."

29 April 2014

Q&A With Composer David Ricard

Q&A With Composer David Ricard

Emmy-nominated composer David Ricard has a knack for scoring cartoons, with credits including The Pink Panther & Pals, Maya & Miguel, The Ant & the Aardvark and more.

His latest project is a new Tom & Jerry series, which premiered April 9th on Cartoon Network.

When he's not writing music for cartoons and comedies, David is a big band composer, arranger and leader.


How did you get into composing for cartoons?

"I had been scoring commercials in New York City when I started to notice that the spots where my music was chosen were mostly comedies and cartoons. At that time, commercial composers were sort of divided between rock/electronic/remix writers and serious orchestral and jazz guys. It didn’t seem like anyone was dying to be the funny guy so I set out to develop a style and become well-versed in all the musical idioms that go into comedies and cartoons.

When I did my first series, Maya & Miguel, I hadn’t worked on a cartoon before and I had to learn a lot on-the-fly. I was determined to be more prepared for my next gig. I started studying cartoon scores, paying close attention to how comedies were scored and, over time, developed my own approach. I’d say to score comedies/cartoons you need to be well-versed in tons of styles of music but it’s really your approach that makes your scores unique."

You're now scoring a new Tom & Jerry series. What can you share about the production process for scoring a show like this?

"The turnaround time fluctuated a bit on this series which, I’ve found, is normal in animation. For most of the episodes I had a week to deliver the music for a 10-minute short. The challenge is creating a dense wall-to-wall score with the full Scott Bradley treatment in such a short amount time.

I have a template set up that covers a lot of ground while also isn’t so huge that I’m constantly paging around looking for instruments. I have a few time saving techniques but for the most part, there aren’t a lot of corners to cut.

Scott Bradley was a genius! He was equally brilliant at writing classical orchestrations as he was with jazz and show music. Creating realistic, natural-sounding scores like his with samples takes a tremendous amount of time, finesse and patience."

07 April 2014

Q&A With Composer Silas Hite

Q&A With Composer Silas Hite

Music and art are a seamless connection for composer Silas Hite. When encountering writer's block, he picks up a pen and draws. When the ink stops flowing, he trades it for an instrument.

This unbridled creativity has led to an Emmy nomination, award winning scores, and work as a producer and songwriter.

Silas began his career at Mutato Muzika alongside his uncle, Mark Mothersbaugh, a top composer who is famously known for co-founding Devo. Building on his experiences there, Silas has since written scores for some of the most recognizable video games and television shows of the past ten years.

He currently composes from his Los Angeles studio and continues to create illustrations and drawings for art galleries and magazines.


Tell us about your studio. What hardware and software do you use?

"I run Logic on a Mac. I've got most of the sample libraries and a slew of 3rd-party plug-ins, but I record as many real instruments and players on recordings as I can. I just prefer that sound. Budgets these days don't always allow for a lot of players, but I play a lot of instruments myself, so that helps. I will usually play the guitars, bass, drums, piano, percussion, accordion, mandolin, etc myself and hire players if I need strings, winds or brass.

As for hardware, most of the time I am recording with my vintage Neumann U-47 that I run through Neve pres. I use Earthworks SR-25s for recording drum overheads and the kick. My philosophy is to keep the recording chain simple but every link on that chain must be high-quality."

02 April 2014

International Music+Sound Awards: Extension to Entry Window

International Music+Sound Awards: Extension to Entry Window

The entry window for The International Music+Sound Awards 2014 has been extended to Monday 14th April 2014 due to overwhelming demand.

Launched in 2011 to recognise and celebrate the role of music and sound in Film, Television, Advertising and Gaming, The Music+Sound Awards shine a light on those who create, source and commission it.

The Awards not only provides a stamp of approval from leading industry professionals across the disciplines it rewards, but also provides those that supply and those that buy music and sound design a place and occasion to mingle and celebrate together.

There are now two extra weeks to enter.  For full competition details please visit masawards.com/international.

25 March 2014

Q&A With Composer Darius Holbert

Q&A With Composer Darius Holbert

The University of North Texas is known for turning out top musical talents like Roy Orbison, Don Henley and Norah Jones. Darius Holbert might just be one to add to that list of greats someday. 

After studying composition at UNT's renowned music school, Darius built a career producing and touring with artists like Everlast, Wu-Tang Clan, Dave Brubeck, Britney Spears and others. 

Now working solely as a composer, Darius splits time between Los Angeles, New York City and Texas. He's composed music for a number of award-winning films at Sundance, Tribeca, LA Film Fest, and won "Best Original Score" at NYC's Moondance Festival. 

Darius' work has also been featured on hit TV shows like American Horror Story, Lost, The Client List, Grey's Anatomy, American Idol and the Hulu series Quick Draw.


You've toured and worked with a lot of influential artists. What skills translated to your career as a composer?

"I think everything informs everything. I've had a fairly unusual career path from early classical training, to jazz work as a teen, to touring in rock and country bands all around the south, to artist development, producing Hiphop, getting commissioned to write operas and chamber works for modern dance companies - everything adds to the arsenal. In the current climate, composers need to be infinitely varied in their skill sets, so I'm lucky in how varied my path has been to date."

12 March 2014

Q&A With Composer Benson Taylor

Q&A With Composer Benson Taylor

When do you know you've arrived as a composer?

For Benson Taylor, it was probably the moment he recorded 12 snare drums in a stairwell for the NFL's Super Bowl broadcast.

It's often that kind of "out of the box" mindset that sets apart composers in today's competitive field. Benson's drive to develop a signature sound has paid off, leading to work scoring international advertising campaigns for Sony Playstation, British Telecom, Walmart, Ford and others.

Although Benson has made his mark as the resident composer for the Super Bowl from 2009 to present, his score to "Fear of Water" recently won Best Original Music at the Monaco International Film Festival.


Tell us about your studio. What hardware and software do you use?

"My studio is based above a bank in Yorkshire, England and is pretty humble to be honest. I run Logic & Pro Tools, and a 28 channel Euphonix control surface with too many plugins, most of which I don't even use because I'm just a sucker for all those marketing emails with the 'extended holiday discounts'.

For me, you can't beat just sitting at the piano to come up with melodies and structure, so I try and stay away from the computer until it's absolutely necessary. In terms of software, I probably use the same as everyone else for orchestral works, Sibelius/Finale, East West, Project Sam, NI's Komplete, Spitfire Audio etc, but I like to record live where I can, as do we all.

For electronic works, anything goes soft/hardware wise, as I can quickly get wrapped up in tweaking and creating sounds until the early morning. The last Super Bowl broadcast I worked on back in February had a track in the opener where I'd recorded 12 snare drums in the stairwell of my studio, then layered them up on top of each other with a ton of processing. I remember hearing them come in as the show started and just sat there laughing to myself at how ridiculous the process was, but I think it was worth it."

You've had the opportunity to compose for many top television shows. What has been the secret to your success?

"Thank you. Yeah, I've had a pretty decent run so far. I managed my expectations of my writing from a very early age. I think it's crucial to sound fresh, unique, detailed, and make your final production stand out whatever genre you're working on. Sounds like a massive cliché, but just jump on SoundCloud, everything sounds the same.

I don't really have a 'secret' as such, but I always knew exactly what I wanted and still do. So when I first started out, instead of working in a crowded market place here at home, I took my music to a more crowded place and what I considered to be the source, Los Angeles, hoping that producers, supervisors, and directors would like my British accent, and they did. I built a strong team around me, like my agent and others, and it kinda went from there. It's important to have the right people working hard for you too. Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft on his own, right? I'm rolling out the clichés today."

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