Thank you for doing another interview with us Nikola Jeremic. It has been almost two years since your first interview at TAS. How have things changed for you in two years?
No problem, and thank you for inviting me again. Wow, two years… It’s as if it all happened yesterday. Things have changed for the better in so many ways I don’t even know where to start. Two years ago I was just a basic graduate student trying to get into film and game scoring business, and now I am up to my neck in it! I was awarded 4 times by The Audio Engineering Society (AES) for my “Student recording competition” entries in sound for visual media, landed a lot of nice gigs and endorsements. Currently I am endorsing PreSonus, and I am involved into a lot of beta testing for a couple of audio developers. I also got my feet wet when it comes to sampling for Kontakt while I worked for a short period of time with the amazing guys from Sonokinetic. I was the sample editor on “Mallets” and Qanun” instruments (Thank you Marie-Anne for introducing us). And most importantly, I managed to score two feature films, and lots of short animated ones, also got into trailer music world when I joined EON Sounds Productions (my track “Gods Of War” is featured on “Undaunted” debut release). Now I am about to graduate my specialist engineering studies, and we’ll see what will happen next. All in all, it has been busy and amazing two years since the last interview.
Can you share with us on how you landed these projects, specifically Tesla, Mamula and Wrath of the Dead? What was the brief like?
Tesla is still in development stage, but they hired me in advance, because the producers are fans of my work, and we worked together on a couple of projects, so it wasn’t to hard for me to get the gig. Getting to score Mamula (AKA Nymph) was THE BEST business meeting I ever had, period. I met Milan Todorovic (director) and Marko Jocic (producer) quite accidentally on a bus station in downtown Belgrade, and they approached me saying that they are working on a movie about the killer mermaid an they need some music for promotional materials and they are also looking for someone to score it as well, so straight out of the blue they ask me if I would be interested. Of course I was interested DUH! :D On the very same day we also arranged for me to score the trailer for “Wrath Of The Dead”, and I will be scoring the movie as well. The brief for promo music for “Tesla” was to create something a bit in “Sherlock Holmes”-y type of setting, but the brief for “Mamula”(Nymph) was to do whatever the hell I want. And I most certainly did. Brief for “Wrath Of The Dead” was just to put a BWAAAAAAAH here and there with some weird guitar stuff (It was that time of year when BWAAAH was popular ;)).
Can you tell us more on how you approached the score for the movieMamula (Killer Mermaid)?
I was very lucky to have a director and producer who are big soundtrack fans and they knew what they wanted from the start, but they allowed me 100% freedom in creativity and experimentation, which made this film a fun project to score. Not to mention that the script by this crazy Irish guy called Barry Keating was very inspiring for me. We agreed that we wanted to have a medium sized orchestra layered with a lot of sound designed instruments and SFX. I can say that the film was temp tracked with Jerry Goldsmith’s “Alien” and John Williams’ “Jaws” scores, but in the end it sounded like something completely different. The most important thing for me was to create unique virtual instruments to represent the sound of the movie. Synth drones from sea shore field recordings and grand piano from U-Boat sonar sounds, and a lot of other stuff. Another important thing was to have a theme, which is heavily featured during the entire film (the three “devil notes”) and of course have the Mermaid’s song, which was more of a multi vocal atmosphere than an actual song, but that worked out pretty good. You can describe it as a hybrid atmospheric score. I REALLY enjoyed scoring this film.
Mamula (Nymph) trailer:
Considering both Mamula and Wrath of the dead are horror genres how did your workflow changed for both projects?
It hasn’t changed at all. The same guy directs both films, and the film crew is basically rather similar, so my workflow stayed the same, because we are now so used to working together in such a way. If you are thinking about the actual musical style of the two films, then yes, it has changed. “Mamula” is an orchestral atmospheric stuff, and “Wrath Of The Dead” will be something of “Walking Dead” on steroids with a lot of distortion and sound designed mayhem.
Wrath Of The Dead Trailer:
I have seen you used a lot of different tools in your project. Did you make any of your own in order to score a movie?
Yes I did, and quite a lot to be honest, and I am still developing and designing my own personal sample library of weird instruments, atmospheres, drones and SFX in general. I believe that it is crucial for an upcoming composer to at least try to sound a bit different and have a distinctive sound from others in the industry. Otherwise, the consumers will be flooded and bored with the same or similar content that’s being presented to them. At least tweak the damn “one-shot glory” preset to your own needs if you want to use it so much.
Many upcoming composers don`t seem to know how to advertise themselves correctly. Do you have any tips on how to promote yourself by maybe sharing your experience on how you got your first gig?
Networking, networking, networking. Get out there; visit conventions like AES and GDC. Get in touch with young film directors and indie game developers; they are always looking for music for their projects. Don’t be too cocky, stay humble, and approachable, but don’t let them sway you into working for free. ALWAYS charge for what you are doing, even if it’s only 50$, always get some money out of it, because it will make you look more professional, and always ask to sign the contract (read it carefully first), otherwise you will look like someone who is so desperate to get into the business even if it’s working for free. I don’t even need to tell you how much it kills and undermines the profession if you act desperate.
How has your gear changed in two years? Do you have more or less hardware/software from when you started?
It hasn’t changed substantially to be honest. Even though I am a gear-head, my mentor and dear friend Mandy Parnell has taught me that less is more, so I tend to follow that philosophy. :) I still use my old PreSonusFireStudio Project with Studio One DAW for the bulk of work. For editing my recorded samples and mix preparations of my scores I use Pro Tools 10. I changed my monitoring from Adam A3X to Genelec 8040B, and I got a couple of new electric guitars (all Stratocasters) and an electricPrecision Bass. Everything else stayed the same pretty much when it comes to sample libraries, with addition of my own personal stuff that I sample for Kontakt and Iris. When it comes to plugins, I have downsized my collection to the bare necessities for my style and workflow. My main mixing bundle is Fabfilter stuff (Kudos to Jason Graves for introducing me to ProQ and ProC), for my group busses processing I am all for Slate Digital VBC and VTM. Reverbs are ValhallaDSP and Lexicon PCM Native with addition of Bricasti M7 impulses by Samplicity (Kudos to my “uncle” Peter Roos). For more exotic processing and sound design I am all about Soundtoys stuff, Nomad Factory MAGMA and iZotope Trash 2. For my guitars I use Peavey Revalver 4 and Positive Grid BIAS Amp Modeler(depending on the style and pickups of my Stratocasters), and I also use them for sound designing of my own instruments. Now I think I am going to get some affordable synth module for basses like Moog Minitaur or Dave Smith Tetra 4 in the future.
Who or what inspires you the most in music and sound design business?
When it comes to whom, I can only say Bear McCreary (my No.1 inspiration for the last two years), Trent Reznor, Trevor Morris and Rick Viers (Blastwave FX).What inspires me are different situations and moods that I get into, sometimes also weird objects that are emitting crazy sounds and loud noises, and also just plain visual look of the project that I am working on, especially when it comes to animation stuff.
If there was a zombie apocalypse right now and you could only choose three of your favorite audio tools to defend yourself, what would those tools be? (Hardware or software)
My bass guitar for sure! That thing could split a Zombie skull wide open, also my ZakkWylde Cry Baby Wah pedal, which is heavy as s**t, and it can break your bones. Last thing would be my sampling toolbox with various hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc…
What can we expect from you in the future? Can you tell us more on your upcoming project?
You can expect some cool new film scores, maybe a commercial sample library here and there, I am looking for a way to get into game music now, so probably that will happen in the near future, but what I can tell you for sure is to expect a nice sci fi horror film score. That’s all I can say about it for now. Fingers crossed that more great stuff happens in the next two years! ;)