Jarkko Hietanen interview

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

My name is Jarkko Hietanen, I live in Tampere, Finland. In a nutshell I work towards something that has been a dream of mine for a long time, composing music for a living. It’s a long road, something I already knew. Being on this road in the first place is an adventure, just like life itself.

My interests in actually producing music myself sparked sometime in 1999 when using a friend’s computer and his new internet connection enabled me to come in contact with a piece of old software called Fast Tracker 2.08. Learning this little marvel opened my eyes to music. I had never had any sort of musical background nor had any music theory lessons under my belt. It was all self-study from there on out.

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

My background is mostly playing around with poor samples ripped from old module music tracks from the demoscene days and learning as I went. I started with electronic genres and tried all sorts of things. Trance, techno, ambient, experimental, electro, electronica, all the cool things back then. Today I like to bring that spice always a bit with me, but I think it’s mostly heard in my percussion work. I love to be a beatsmith and I guess that’s my forte. Although lately since everything has kind of gone backwards with me, learning acoustic and traditional music styles only after trying out the experimental ones, I have found myself going for the piano more and more. So who knows, some might like my work for my piano, some for the electronic elements. In the end I suspect it boils down to how you mix all these things and thus create your own sound.

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

My equipment is fairly simple. I have a custom built, slightly overclocked PC with an internal sound card hooked up to a mixer hooked up to a pair of studio monitors and a headphone amp with my Sennheiser HD600s. An 88 key hammer-action MIDI keyboard and a pad controller with some faders. I have plenty of displays and a 32″ TV for video playback.

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

Sample library wise I am quite well equipped, there are just too many list here but, well, there’s just a lot of instruments and odd atmospheres covered here. Cubase is my go-to sequencer and Kontakt my go-to sampler.

When do you find you are most creative?

Under pressure and when the project is genuinely interesting. I’ve noticed though that sometimes I don’t require much. I just sit down and it comes from somewhere. I don’t really know where it comes, but I’m glad it does.

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

I talk to the people behind the project, get a some sort of a picture of what we’re after and just open an empty template and start going through my library of sounds. I rarely have huge ready templates for things. I like to start out with a piano, sometimes I might use sampled strings, but usually it’s the piano. I pick a visually interesting scene and start to try out moods and melodies.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?

I would probably say pressure here, but that can’t be it alone. I think it’s just something inside me, that needs to get out. Then I just let it.

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

Umm, constantly. I can’t recall anything specific but so many things I do come by accident, hah!

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

Lessons learned, hmm, well this one is obvious; don’t let the deadlines catch you too early. It’s just horrible if you need to do compromises due to time constraints and you are left with a result that you don’t like listening to or always feel you could have done so much better. If this happens, then just put that project behind you and move on.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?

It might seem tough at times, but this is the dream. This is what you want to do in your life. Ask yourself, what kind of a life do you want? Then go and achieve that life. You deserve to be happy doing what you love.