Tom Cusack interview

Find Tom @
Official website
Soundcloud

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
I’ve got a few fingers in a few pies, but all of which are in the music industry. I’m a full-time music composer, and the founder of freemusicforvideos.com. I set up a creative commons music library to offer fledging film makers free music. On the freelance side of things I write music mainly for film, and occasionally other interesting projects like eBooks, games, etc.

What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
What an interesting question! A question that I’m not entirely sure the answer to. I worked as a web designer for about 8 years prior to starting up as a composer, so my technical side to the internet really helps me market myself.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
The staples in my templates are LASS, Cinematic Strings and CineBrass to name three. On the live side of things, I record guitar and bass, and when I’m in a really creative mood I’ll go a bit mad and experiment with my microphone and bang things together and process them! Come up with some really great stuff that way.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
As I said above, LASS, Cinematic Strings and CineBrass. My DAW is Logic Pro, and I use a whole arsenal of software to write my music.

When do you find you are most creative?
I live really near Richmond and Hampton Court Palace. Whenever I’m feeling a little bit low on creative juices and stroll around there really gets my brain buzzing again!

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
I spend a good long while thinking about the melody. I think that melody is king and it really is worth spending a long while working it out. Of course it all depends on deadlines, but assuming I’ve got the time I’ll work on cracking the right melody for the scene, then work on harmony, then think of rhythms and orchestrating the whole thing together.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Not any particular secrets. I just work hard, and let the music come to me. I think writing music is all about experience, the more you write for a genre the better you’ll get at it.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
Triplet harp melody, with a cross-rhythmic vibraphone playing straight quavers. Really mysterious!

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
I’ve lost repeat business in the early days because I was too hasty, and didn’t set a high enough bar for myself. When you’re in education you can sometimes get a bit slack and say “Ah that’ll do!”. In the professional world you can’t afford to send half-finished work. It will keep getting sent back to you until it’s done. Substandard work will not be tolerated, and that was a lesson I learnt very quickly!

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Things will be easy, and at other times things will be hard. Sometimes a director will say “I hate it!”. You can’t get personal and let emotion get in the way. The hardest part of the job is getting knocked down and picking yourself up. There’s no one other than you who can do that.