Red Ochsenbein interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
Well, my name is Red Ochsenbein. I live in lovely Switzerland and I am a Composer for Media and Games. I played the guitar for several years and studied Orchestration for Film and TV. In the past I was mainly working for TV commercials and I am currently writing some library music.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
I guess I am pretty good at merging rock, metal and orchestral elements. However, I found myself being quite versatile during the last few years. My ability to learn fast, adapt to new situations and styles and especially to stay calm even if everyone else goes nuts helps a lot getting to the best result possible.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I own 2 iMacs. One is equiped with an Apogee Duet interface and runs my main DAW. The other iMac is running my orchestral template within Vienna Ensemble Pro. I’m listening through a pair of ADAM A7x – which I really love – and a pair of Yamaha HS50 with the Yamaha HS10W Subwoofer.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
There’s quite a lot. I used to work with Logic for years but recently I started using Presonus Studio One. For the summing from stems I really love Harrisons Mixbus’s sound. Above I already mentioned Vienna Ensemble Pro keeping my orchestral tempate together. On the virtual instruments side I use several libraries like LASS, 8dio Adagio, Spitfire Percussion, CineBrass, VSL Dimension Brass, Hollywoodwinds and some VSL Woodwinds and a lot more.

When do you find you are most creative?
There is no particular time. It has something to do with freedom of mind. If I have my mind clear to let it float and concentrate I seem to be most creative. So, the mornings work quite good. But sometimes it hits me in the evening or at night. I never really know.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
First I dig as deep as I can into the topic of the project. I try to learn as much as possible. This strongly depends on the information available. I don’t think about any music at this stage. The next step would be a spotting session or detailed briefing. When working for commercials the briefing is about everything I usually get. Then I write some abstract mood description about what the music should do, when and why. From there I can write music starting with the most important part. This might be the main theme, the climax, the beat or anything else.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Hm, I don’t think so. Everything is pretty much straight forward. Education and hard work go a long way. Never stop learning.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
In the past I used to create a lot based on randomness. I have a whole bunch of tools to generate random melodies, random snippets, stutters and glitching effects. This way I created a lot of base ideas picked from a stream of nonsense and developed it to something useful. This way I found melodies, harmonies or rhythms I would never have thought of.
But as I am talkin about those techniques I actually realize I did not use those since quite a long time… I should change that eventually.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
One thing I learned is to bring in some live musicians if the budget allows it in any way. Even if it’s only for small parts. The track always wins something when you collaborate with a professional musician.

Another thing: Deadlines are important. You should always meet those deadline, that’s pretty obvious. Also you should always work with a deadline. If there are is no deadline: ask for one! Everybody in the project has to be commited to meet this deadline. Almost every project I worked at without having strict deadlines ended in a big mess and everybody was waiting for each other in one way or the other. Some of those projects actually just died a silent death.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Find something you really love doing. If you found it, stick to it no matter how crazy it might seem. Just do whatever makes you happy… Every second lost is lost forever, you never get it back.