Cleveland Bledsoe Jr. interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
My name is Cleveland Bledsoe Jr and I grew up in the Monterey Bay of California. I started playing bass and guitar around the age of 10. I played music as a hobby in all sorts of different bands, but it wasn’t until high school that I really started to get serious about making and recording music. I went to school at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts and got a degree in Sound Engineering. I have been working as a composer and sound editor for film, TV, and video games since then (Among many other things!)

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I have tons of rock and metal influences, so a lot of my music stems from the simplicity of capturing those heavy and sentimental moments. I’ve met so many talented people in the past few years it’s hard to set yourself apart, the important thing is that I just do whatever feels right to me and learn along the way. If you’re constantly trying to be someone else, then you’ll never stand out.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
2008 Mac Pro 2.8Ghz 8-Core w/12GB of RAM, Logic Pro 9, Pro Tools 9, Oxygen 61 MIDI keyboard, Mbox 2, Blue Sky 2.1 Monitors, 22” Acer and Asus Monitors and tons of harddrives (Back ups are important!) I have a Schecter Stiletto Elite 4 String Bass and an Ibanez 6-String S470 electric guitar that I use regularly for most of my rock stuff. I have a pretty modest set-up, I’ve learned over the years to work with what you have.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
I use primarily Waves for plugins. API, SSL, H-Series, V-Series, I love Kramer MPX and the many other Waves Plugins for design and processing. As far as VI’s I primarily use EWQL (Strings Plat Plus, SD2, RA, Choirs) and Komplete 7 which is great for most of my synth and pads that I need right out of the box. I actually use Space Designer for most of my reverbs with some custom IR’s. As far as plugin’s and virtual instruments go… You never have enough. There’s always something more and something new and exciting to buy!

When do you find you are most creative?

Really it depends. I like to work on a steady schedule so I work during the day when I’m relaxed and I got some Southern California sun coming in. I used to think I wrote some good stuff at night, but I think it’s all an illusion. I don’t believe in that hyped up on coffee and energy drinks at 4am stuff. I get a lot of work done from 9a-5p but that doesn’t mean I don’t get inspired in odd places.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
I do so many different things in terms of creating audio content that I think it’s about being adaptable and recognizing direction on a project basis. We all have good days and bad days and learning how to wrap that up into a neat little package is challenging whether you’re doing music, sound effects, or anything else audio.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Take breaks, sleep, exercise, organize your time into blocks, and don’t overwork yourself. I find myself so much more relaxed and focused when I’m taking care of my body. Most creative people don’t do this, and I know… it can be hard! But I don’t drink a single cup of coffee, or energy drink or ANYTHING. I find my creativity to be more steady and flowing when I take care of myself this way. It’s not about the software, or some weird voodoo ritual before I sit down at my computer – it’s just simple health.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I find that I generally “tweak” first. I like using sounds out of the box, but when I have something in mind, I try to get as close to it as possible, even if that means using a preset synth, and EQ’ing the heck out of it, throwing on my favorite distortion, delay, reverb, and just seeing where it takes me. This can go for music or for design. The idea is to know when to stop tweaking. If I don’t get what I’m looking for in a few twists and turns, it’s probably not the right sound. I try to balance my creative techniques with the simplicity of just knowing where a specific sound needs to be.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
Every project should be a learning experience, whether it is good or bad. I had a client who had nothing bad to say about a piece I wrote and I was blown away. I was so concerned they wouldn’t like it but they just loved it. I’ve also done projects that were the complete opposite, I thought I had something amazing but it simply wasn’t cutting it for the project. In the end, you need to do what is best for the product, the client, and form relationships with people that are healthy that bring out the best creative in you. You’ll run into so many different situations in your career, you simply have to be prepared for them all and not get overwhelmed.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Stay healthy, keep an open mind and keep learning!