Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I like to consider myself somewhat of a jack of all trades – I make my living in this business by having a lot of irons in the fire. I’m a composer first and foremost. I write for film and television, video games, advertising, and production music libraries. I also work as an assistant audio editor, junior recording engineer and in house demo composer for Soundiron, which many of you know is a developer of high quality virtual instruments.
What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I am a multi-instrumentalist, and trained in both classical and jazz theory. This allows me to be versatile with my compositional styles and genres. I really enjoy adding new twists to traditional score styles, and I often draw from both disciplines to create hybrid cues, with “quirky orchestral” and “dramedy” being my niche.
Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I’m a Mac guy – always have been, always will be – so all of my creative work is done on a Mac. I have a 24” iMac with maxed out RAM, and 4TB of external hard drive space for my libraries. I use a PC for all of my audio editing work, because I learned Sound Forge Pro and developed my own little tricks and shortcuts when it was only available for Windows.
What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
Being that I work for Soundiron, I have their entire collection in my arsenal. I use East West a lot too – I rely heavily on Hollywood Strings, Stormdrum 2 and Symphonic Orchestra. Logic 9 is my DAW of choice, though I will use Pro Tools for certain projects. I used to have a very complex MIDI controller (CME VX8), but it gave me a lot of trouble with larger projects in Logic. I’ve found that sometimes simpler is better, so I use my trusty M-Audio Oxygen 49.
When do you find you are most creative?
When I least expect it.
What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
Sometimes I have a melody or motif in my head, and I build off of that. Other times I will just sit at the keys and improvise until something clicks. Some of my best compositions started as piano improv sessions.
Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Of course! But if I told you, I would have to kill you.
Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
Speed fades and rapid automated pitch shifts. Gross over usage and layering FX can lead to something interesting and beautiful as well. Play around with different plugins until you find something that works for you. Using Flex in Logic (or Warp in Pro Tools) is also a great tool to create interesting sounds.
Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
This is geared specifically toward composers who are just starting out or just breaking into the industry. When you get a contract, read it, read it once more, and then READ IT AGAIN. Seriously. Know what you are getting yourself into before you sign anything. If you don’t understand something, ask a lawyer or friend/ relative who is familiar with legal terminology. There are people in this industry looking to take advantage of naïveté, and make a lot of money doing so. I know it sounds obvious, but NEVER sign away a portion of your writers share for money up front. If you do, you are allowing someone to take partial credit for music they didn’t write, and then subsequently collect performance royalties that you would be entitled to. I know from experience.
Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Unless you were born into a social circle of Hollywood big wigs, success and recognition won’t happen overnight. Persist, persist, persist. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged, and don’t give up. As with every profession, there’s a lag period to success. A doctor doesn’t come out of med school and immediately have a thriving practice with 200 patients. It’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears if you plan on making a living in audio. Foster relationships with people in the industry every chance you get. Put yourself out there, and keep yourself on the radar. There will always be more than one path to your goal, so explore them all and find what works for you. The workload may not always be consistent, but if you put forth the effort, it will pay off eventually. There will always be films, shows, games and advertisements in need of music or audio talent.