Mateo Pascual interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
My name is Mateo Pascual and I compose music mainly for video games and trailers. I’m very fortunate to make a living from it so I can mostly dedicate the whole day (and night sometimes) to write music. I did my first soundtrack for a video game called Cyber Police back in 1996 and later from 1998 to 2011 I worked as composer and audio director at a video games company called Pyro Studios, this was a great experience and I worked there in very interesting projects such the Commandos series.

I started working as freelance in 2011, and in addition to video games I wanted to give a try in the trailer music industry, a genre of music I have always enjoyed a lot. So I contacted Immediate Music, one of the most famous trailer music companies, and I’m very glad to be composing music for them since then. I have also recently collaborated in Really Slow Motion first album “Cosmogeny” and I’m very excited about the promising future of this company.

At this moment, in spite of writing for trailer music production companies I’m working in three video games, a short-film, a custom trailer and a music demo for an upcoming sample library.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
Well, I don’t really know, I’m just concentrating on writing music as best as I can. I’m always challenging myself to get better mixes, better sound, better use of my template, and trying to make the most of any production I’m working on, within my possibilities. I tend to be very critical with my own work and try to learn how to do it better next time. Another important thing to me is to be very responsible with your clients, my experience, so far, is that if you make them happy, they will be happy to work with you again in the future.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
Sure, I work on PC. I have finally managed to work with just one computer with 64gb of RAM and a fast 6-core i7. In the past, I have had a setup of up to 5 computers when lack of RAM was a real issue. Fortunately, I don’t need that kind of setup anymore. About hardware, I’m using right now a couple of RME sound cards, a SPL Mixdream summing box, a Solid State Logic bus compressor and Alpha-link AD/AD unit, a Crane Song Avocet monitor controller, a Moog Voyager and a pair of Adam S3X H. Oh, and my keyboard midi controller is an Oberheim MC3000.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
Cubase, and tons of sample libraries! I’m constantly buying new libraries and following closely every new announcement. In my template you can usually find Project Sam, Spitfire, East West, Cinematic Strings 2, Vienna Dimension Strings & Special Edition, a lot of 8DIO stuff, Eduardo Tarilonte libraries… and well, many more, I try to keep my template as fresh as possible.

Also using synths such Zebra 2, Alchemy, Massive, Dune, Lush-101… And regarding audio processing I’ve got a UAD Octo card with lot of their plugins, Waves & Slate Digital among others. For reverb I’m using QL Spaces mainly.

When do you find you are most creative?
It depends on the day but usually when I can expend a couple or three hours working in a track without interruption, and this mostly happens early in the morning, in the evening or at night. To me the mid part of the day just flies too fast and there are always phone calls, emails, and all that kind of things that keep you busy and far from the ideal creative situation.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
When I create music for games I love to get as much graphic content from the game as I can. That’s not always possible and you have to work just over a script, but I feel very creative if I can stand over a few concept art or screenshots from the game. With the help of some inspiring artwork I can immerse myself in the atmosphere and can create the music for that situation easily. I love to work that way. Sometimes I have been able to compose the music over an entire sequence of gameplay, this is the most ideal scenario as you have much more visual information, and it would be similar to composing for a film, just taking into account that a game soundtrack will have to be treated more dynamically as there are random choices given by the player.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Not really anything that I’m aware of. I think creativity just happens, so it’s about working on it all the time. Usually, you have to compose music whether you feel creative or not, however if it’s going to be a great track or not is something hard to predict before starting the process. A great way to be creative is to let yourself a lot of room for improvisation and don’t be afraid of making something “wrong”. Sometimes a very different or unexpected approach can point your track into something really interesting. I also try to keep listening to a lot of music and watching films, I think that helps. And last but not least a complete day off to the creative process seems to work well for me, but that’s something I can’t do often. Other than that I don’t really know of any other secret.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I’m working more and more with stems lately for the final mix. Making the last touches directly on the audio tracks gives you a lot of control and flexibility, and this has been working well for me in my latest tracks. The bad part about working this way is that it takes a lot of time, but it is worth it if I can get a better sound.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
Sure, don’t send a “finished” track to the director, supervisor, producer… too quick! If the schedule allows for it, let the new track breath and get back to it later with fresh ears. In my experience there is a good chance that I will want to fix, add or change something in the track after a few hours or a day without listening to it.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Don’t lose hope, there is always a process for everything and sometimes you need to be prepared for a long wait, a rejection, a gig lost… all these things can give you some frustration but be sure that if you love what you do and you are willing to stand for it you will get your piece of the cake.