Chad Mossholder interview


Find Chad Mossholder @
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DC Universe Online, Planetside 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Matrix Online, Everquest II etc.

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

My name is Chad Mossholder. I’m a professional composer and sound designer. I also am a sound artist and I compose music for experimental films as well as work in audio / visual art installation spaces. I release my own electronic music under the name “Twine” on ghostly International as well as other labels. I have just completed a new solo album that will be coming out very soon.

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

I pride myself in originality. Originality in both music and sound design. When I attack a project I research it a lot. I don’t just make amazing music and audio, but I make amazing music and audio that adds subtext to the narrative. I want to convey more information than just what you see on screen about the story, characters, action of a project. To me, this is what art is. And video games can be art in many cases.

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

Pro-tools HD, Kyma, SoundDevices recorders, a variety of microphones, contact mics, Sherman filter bank, Waldorf pulse synthesizer.

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

Definitely Sound Toys suite, Izotope RX2 Suite, Waves bundles. Max/MSP.

When do you find you are most creative?

Tools are only as creative as you are. I find that using a plug-in in a way that it wasn’t intended to be used often yields the most interesting effects.

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

First I research the content. If I’m writing music for a particular character, I read up on the character’s background. The music / sound is always supporting the narrative and emotional action. But, it should not be redundant if it can be avoided. I like to “code” subtext information into my music and sound. Everything is intentional. I don’t just make a piece of action music for a combat scene, I make piece of action music that tells you something about the situation or the state of the character. After that, I go to my gear and begin creating what it is I need to create. Each assignment brings with it it’s own special problems. So, each sound or piece of music always starts different and my processes vary depending on what I need to create.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?

Listen to what has been done and don’t repeat it. Utilise elements of works that have been successful but make them your own.

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

One thing I love to do is to over-compress and limit very quiet recordings. So that a big wav of noise is generated. This could be a quiet ambient recording or anything. Then I use filters to pull out specific fundamental frequencies and use these as underscore in my music. If I’m scoring a park scene, I might record park ambience and then apply this process and layer it under the music. It may not even be audible but it can create a sort of psychogeographical effect on the overall piece.

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

Always make sure you understand exactly what the team wants. Communication is a slippery thing. You may think you understand what the creative director is asking for until you deliver the work and he says that it isn’t what he wanted at all. This has happened to me before. On one project the Creative Director asked for game-show music. Sounds easy enough. I listened to tons of game show themes and then produced what I thought was exactly what he wanted. He heard it and told me that it sounded too much like game-show music. He wanted something more maniacal! We finally figured out that what he wanted was demented carnival music and not game-show music at all. So, always ask a lot of questions, even if you think you know what they are after.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?

Put your best work first. Be confident. And don’t get discouraged. It’s a tough market, very competitive. But if you are talented, original and persistent you will break through!