Panos Kolias interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I am a fulltime composer for film, tv, production and concert music. I was born in Greece where I studied music composition and worked as a professional musician since my 16th and moved to Germany in 91. The first instrument I learned to play was the accordion, moved to piano and keyboards later on and finally added guitars, bouzouki and some other instrument to the mix. I started writing music at the age of 16 and never stopped since then.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
Growing up in Greece I was listening to all kinds of music, (besides the several Greek genres), Balkan music, Middle Eastern music, Pop, Rock, Metal and Classical. So I end up liking so many styles of music that for a while I felt lost as of what would I want to do in music. I finally realized that the only thing I can do is: everything I love. So I love to combine as many elements I like, from as many styles, cultures or genres I feel like. I don’t think it is a niche or unique but this is what I love to do.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I use a MacPro 2X2,66Ghz quad core with 32GB Ram and 8 TB HDs. I have an acoustic guitars collection, an accordion, some ethnic plucked instruments, a few mics and mic preamps, and I record everything in my acoustically treated studio room, mixing mainly over a pair of BM6A.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
I use Logic Pro 9 (and occasionally Live) as a DAW. I use the PSP pug ins a lot and I love the Waves CLA compressors. I use Native Instruments Kontakt, Massive and Absynth, Camel Audio Alchemy, Trillian and Stylous. I have many sample libraries but my first to go to are the Eduardo Tarilonte libraries, Symphobia, LASS, Orchestra Brass, True Strike and Evolve.

When do you find you are most creative?
In the morning. Especially after a nice bicycle ride in the forest and a hot coffee. Very often I need 30 to 45 minutes playing around to get into the process of creating in the start of the day and I get more creative the more I work on a project. Of course a new experience, an emotional moment or a memory will spark creativity at any time. But every morning I wake up with music in my head, either music I know already or totally new music – to me – so this is my high time.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
It depends on the situation of course. When it is about films or tv then I get as much information I can, ask if the director has already some styles or even music in mind and try to understand what his vision is. Then start looking for thematic material, check my timings (how much music for what scene) and compose, orchestrate arrange and almost mix in one process. I do not use any templates but I do have saved my favourite sounds and channel strips so I can load them easily and fast. I also import sounds from other projects when I need something similar sounding.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Secrets: no. As I said above I love many styles of music. As a result I very often have on several projects at once involving several styles of music. So if I’m not a deadline sometimes I will switch projects (from an electro to a traditional ethnic cue) and work on something completely different. I also take breaks or go for a walk (mostly with the dog) or bike ride. I always rest and spent time with my family as much as I can. A nice talk will always inspire me. A good book and a great movie too. I listen to music, all kinds of music, and I am amazed and inspired.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I love delays, so I like to put them everywhere. Especially Logic’s tape delay is my all times favourite. The results are very often “interesting” I also like to randomly change a sound or even load a different synth plug in on a track when the track does not seem to work. I like to move things around for no particular reason (midi or audio) and see what happens

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
I remember I read a few years ago that a music career is not a 100 meter race, it’s a marathon. For me it’s not a marathon either. It’s you life. You are in for good or you’re out. There is no finish line you will cross one day, there is no rewards that will make you say, ”I can retire now, I reached the ultimate goal”. So it’s not a race, it’s not a marathon! It’s your life!

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Let go. Let go of your fears, your ego and your assumptions, let go of what you think others want from you. Ask and listen. Be kind and accountable. Do your work, love what you doing, nurture it, put it out there, except it to be a success and let go. It will find its way. Work hard, take breaks, go out, take care of your friends and family, connect, talk to people, be friendly and go back and work even harder again. Take breaths but never stop. And let go … you can’t hold back anything, you don’t own anything anyway. So let go and enjoy the ride.

About The Author

Zdravko Djordjevic

The Audio Spotlight is a hub that highlights composers, sound designers and other audio professionals from around the world, provides you with behind the scenes footage from game and film industry and keeps you up-to-date with the latest sample libraries and job opportunities.