Arnold Nesis interview

Arnold-Nesis Find Arnold @
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Brief list of credits:

Dragonfly RED series ep.1, Nuclear Union, Noctemis, Small World 2

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?

I am an Israeli composer, mostly for video games and films. Over the years I have worked with companies from all over the world, including “1C”, “Best Way” and “Grinding Gear Games” on projects that include “Path of Exile”, “Nuclear Union” and many others.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from the rest of the audio professionals?

My interest was always focused on thematic music. Truth be told, when I decided to study film scoring is wasn’t because I wanted to become a composer for films but because I liked the idea of a composition in which the story is the main focus and the music is driven by it. Originally I wanted to take that knowledge and apply it to concept rock albums. I believe that music exists to make the story richer and support it or give it another feeling/interpretation while making the experience wider. I always give as an example trying to capture in music the feeling of someone who just witnessed his loved one being raped and murdered… It’s a very complex and unpleasant feeling and the music should reflect that – something extreme that would not want to hear, just you would not like to experience it. Aesthetics shouldn’t drive the music, the story should. Music should tell what words alone simply can not.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?

I think that the most inspiring and important hardware I have in my studio is, no doubt, the cat. Seriously though, usually, when people come in they first notice the huge guitar cabinets (Peavey) and a lot of hanging guitars. I am a huge Ibanez fan, so almost all of my guitars are Ibanez. Apart from that, you know, pretty much the usual. There is a computer, an electric piano, some midi controllers and a lot of racks, buttons, switches and lights around it which makes the cat really crazy sometimes. If I were to mention one specific piece of hardware I enjoy a lot, it is the Sansamp PSA-1. It is an amazing pre-amp that I use for all kinds of stuff. It was relatively cheap and I was amazed by how much I can do with it and what I can get out of it. It came as a great surprise to me and I recommend it a lot. I am a PC and Cubase type of guy, never really understood that whole apple madness. I do have a lot of VSTs and sample libraries. This is my main “instrument” nowadays and I try to keep it as updated as possible.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)

There are so many… EWQL, Omnisphere and iZotope are some worth mentioning but there are really so many.

When do you find you are most creative?

When I miss someone and I feel that I am all alone. Might sound as a cliché but in order to “be creative” I think the main thing you need to have is this uncontrollable feeling that you must share something… scream something… but you can’t. No one will understand and no one will hear you. You need to feel mute and to have music as the only way to scream your lungs out. You must get to the point in which you simply don’t care how it sounds to others because this is something for you, it’s not for them to hear but for you to get the feelings out in the only way you know. Amazing music can be done in a “regular” state, but there is some sincerity when composing this way, and I believe that most of the great (but really great) musical pieces throughout history have a personal story behind them. You can’t force it, but (sad but true) this is when you are the most creative. At night… alone… crying .

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?

I watch the film or play the game to get the general feeling. Then I watch it again and ask myself at any given moment why do I need music, where do I need it and what the music should do. I try to get the essence of what the music needs to add to the experience. The answer can be “just a sticky fun melody the player will keep humming when the game is over”, which is not inspiring, but in some casual games that’s the real honest answer, and it can be “to give the viewer a hint that this is not an easy, on going scene as it seems, but there is something deep and dark behind it”. If you got that right, the rest is just technique.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?

Make sure you get more life experiences than music you need to create. If you are a good musician your life will end up influencing your music. Your “creativity” is an individual sum of your interpretations to events you have been through. Love, hate, be mad, be at the bottom, be at the top, lose, win. Make mistakes and always, keep in mind that you are the best. Not because you are, but because you have decided to become who you are. What people want to hear is you and your interpretation, and not you trying to be someone else and trying to sound like someone else. The rest are just technicalities.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?

A while back I have produced and composed an album named “Fooled by the Hush” by Capricia. One of the pieces there is “24” describing 24 hours in a man’s life. It is a 24 minute piece, and every minute of music is an hour in his day, and it is divided to morning, noon, twilight, night and dawn. I have worked on it for over 5 years and it was important for me to work on the different parts at the corresponding time, so morning was composed during the morning and night was composed at night. Not just any night, but a night I was going through something dramatic in my life. It was also important for me to keep the piece “open” through the years, and some parts, mostly the solos, were reserved to be improvised when recording in the studio. It was important for me to keep the music changing throughout the time of the composition, to fit what we were going through. When the band recorded, I asked the performers to think about some important event in their life, and I did the same when recording the guitar parts. It was a long time ago, and I was much younger, so the production aspects of the project are not amazing, but musically speaking, I think it is a wonderful experience and the most sincere thing I have ever done.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?

Make sure either you work with people who give you the creative freedom needed for the project, or that they know exactly how they want the music to be like, and what role it needs to fill in the project. If they don’t know and they are not experienced enough to let you handle it (from what I saw, the more experienced the person is, the more he is willing to “let go” and let you do your work) you will end up doing 20 sketches and still not getting it right, because no one knows what “right” is.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?

Work. Always work. Uploading your music to youtube and sending an email once in a while won’t magically get you to where you want to go. No one will “discover” you. You need to keep pushing and be the best musician you can be.