Paul Leonard-Morgan interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I’m a composer and artist. I write music for anything that moves, but mostly soundtracks and bands.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I combine classical orchestras with modern sounds, such as electronica, vintage synths and modern beats, to combine a pretty different sound!

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
Without giving too much away, my list of go-to equipment is: 4 macs slaved together using VE Pro, running over 70 different libraries and my own samples. Digital Performer is my Sequencer, which goes out to another mac running Pro Tools to capture stems. My Rhodes and Arturia stuff feature on just about everything I do, as do the multitude of distortion pedals! I’ve got a pretty large rack of vintage synthesizers. I have a Yamaha Concert grand piano – I love the top end on it.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
I use the Lexicon reverbs and Waves delays/compressors on just about everything. Spectrasonics and ProjectSam stuff rock, as do Arturia plug-ins. Psp Vintage Warmer on the final summing, and some Neve channels. Digital Performer is my go-to DAW – but Pro Tools always comes into it somewhere, usually for final track laying and stems. But I’ve got terabytes of my own samples – people rely too much on pre-made sounds, and everything ends up sounding generic.

When do you find you are most creative?
Early in the morning and late at night.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
Depends on the project, but if there are any visuals to look at, that’ll always help start to focus my brain a bit. Then I’ll sit down at the piano and start toying around with ideas, then flesh them out roughly with orchestra samples, beats, add a few crazy plugins, just to get going. After a while, I’m on a roll and in the zone.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
I wish there was a formula to get in the zone – I’d make a fortune by bottling it!

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
My latest one was using this amazing software called PaulStretch on the Dredd soundtrack. Slowed everything down by about 6000%. Was mental, and utterly beautiful. I always like to use distortion plugins and pedals where possible, even subtly, just to add a warmth to sound.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
I think the most important thing to remember is you’re always part of a team, whether you’re working with bands or soundtracks, or whatever. There’s always a creative team around you, and you can be almost guaranteed that when you’re ecstatic about something, people will want to make changes. Don’t take it personally. Instead, embrace the input from other people. 9 times out of 10, it’ll make your tracks better.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Always write something that you’re proud of and enjoy yourself. Don’t try and second guess what people want. If you’re not happy with a track, it’s doubtful other people will be. Concentrate on writing stuff that you love and people will hook into your passion. If it ever feels like a job, you’re in the wrong industry. You’ve got to love it!