Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
First of all, thanks a lot for the opportunity to be part of „The Audio Spotlight“. I really appreciate!
My name is Alex Pfeffer, I am a self employed composer, arranger and sound designer from Hamburg, Germany. Basically I am writing music for all kinds of media, but currently the main areas are video games, license/trailer music and arranging orchestra for pop and classic productions. Furthermore I am interested in archery, science and games.
What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I simply care for the individual project and treat my clients as kings while being reliable and passionate about what I do!
Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
Currently I am on Mac Pro 8core 3GHz with 16GB of RAM, MOTU 828, Adam A5, Cubase 6.5, a bunch of guitars, some ethnic instruments (which I desperately try to play) and tons of sample libraries and plugins.
What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
Everything from 8Dio, Spectrasonics, lots of Native Instruments (especially Kontakt). Among others my favorite plugins are Waves.
When do you find you are most creative?
In the morning, after a decent run along the Alster (river in Hamburg city) and an awesome self brewed coffee (when I am back at my desk :))! However, it really depends. The best ideas mostly come when I actually don‘t have to think about writing music :)
What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
First I really try to understand what the client is after. Then I try to get inspired of already existing screenshots, movies or scripts from the project. When I start writing I tend to finish the full track first, no matter if it‘s just four bars of a string ostinato, followed by eight bars of a single horn melody. To me the most important thing is to have a basic fundament available before getting into all the details. You could easily compare it to building a house. To me it doesn‘t make sense to put in the roof windows, while the outer walls of the basement are still not done yet.
Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
It is actually not a secret, but I think I could fill a whole book on creativity. :) Basically our brain is nothing more than a „muscle“. If you don‘t train and feed it, you might lack creativity or may suffer from a writers block. I found out that I stay most creative when doing all kinds of different things during the week, rather than just one routine. For example, my certain death on creativity would be to simply fall on the couch every evening, watching TV while not caring for anything else anymore. I mean, relaxing is good, but instead of having the „couch potatoe“ attitude, I tend to read a science article or play a game instead, having an interesting discussion with my wife (no, not the plate flying kind of discussions :)), sketching a little picture or last but not least … and this might be the weirdest thing, trying to do something what you think no one has ever done before. An example would be to softly jump three times into the air while saying: Woobadeebadoo. I know that a lot of people would laugh right now, shaking their head or think what an idiot I might be … however, by feeding your brain with something unusual on a frequent basis, you get some serious creativity going! You could have a more boring example by simply putting your trash bin (the real one) to the opposite site under your table. This can get pretty interesting!
Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
Actually not, but this is exactly what resulted in having audio creating techniques for every individual track. Being able to fully understand each library, plugin and process. See it as spicing your meal. Most of us would not always put two spoons of salt to all kinds of various meals. We usually would taste it first, then spice, then taste it again and spice again (or not). I try to fully understand and learn a plugin, a process or a library so I am aware on what spice I would need in whatever moment! By knowing what I do or need for every individual situation, I create interesting stuff all the time …
Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
In terms of technical experience I tend to have my eyes and ears open on every project, even if it was just the tiniest casual game. When you analyze what you did how and why, even the smallest project turns out to be a goldmine of experience!
However, the most important thing to me generally is to bury your ego and never start arguing with your client!
Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Never give up, use your brain, focus, love what you do, don‘t be lazy and make use of dynamics once in a while ;)