The Top Ten list of our favorite interviews. It was hard for us to pick only ten since we love all your interviews. This list is based on what we thought were most motivating or inspirational for us. So without further ramblings here is the list of top ten interviews on TAS (excluding ones that are scheduled for tomorow). In no particular order.
10. Frank D’Angelo
Breaking into the game audio industry (and well, just about any audio job honestly) is extremely tough. There’s very limited positions out there, and lots of very talented people applying for them. It’s definitely been stressful for me sometimes with finding work after a contract ends, and I even have gone through terrible gaps of unemployment where I could not seem to find anything. I’m not trying to deter anyone from following their dreams of working with audio, but I think it’s important that people know what they are getting themselves into. You may luck out and be one of the very few people that falls into a job right away, but the majority of us have to pay our dues, and by that I mean, internships, contract and temporary jobs, freelancing, etc. The best advice I can give to people trying to pave a career in game audio and sound design is to be passionate and persistent, and never give up. No matter how much you get knocked down, you just have to get up and try even harder.
Networking is also extremely important, and you should do it as much as possible. Participate at audio and gaming forums/communities. Set time and money aside to attend the audio and gaming conventions. Follow game Sound Designers on Twitter and utilize other social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Knowing people already working in the game industry goes a very long way, and most Associate and mid level jobs are often just filled by word of mouth, definitely reinforcing the fact you need to know as many people as possible in this industry. All and all, don’t expect to waltz right into an audio job. Do everything you can to continue getting yourself closer to your goal, whatever it may be. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that can get you a bit more experience or good contacts, and don’t be afraid to go out and make your own opportunities for yourself as well! If work isn’t available now, go start your own work by starting your own project, or begin working as a freelancer picking up small jobs. It’s all going to make you better and get you closer to your goals. So be strong, love what you do, and never give up. If you can do that, good things will come to you. Read the full interview here.
9. Chanel Summers
The great artists are the ones that can convey a lot with very little. Learning how to edit one’s self is one of the key core concepts of great game audio design—and, frankly, design in general. Too often, unskilled artists try to put too much into their audio design. But I can tell you from experience that working within self-imposed limits forces artists to be more creative and more decisive. Artists must, of necessity, establish a strict aesthetic that values originality and a distinctive style. Establishing limits within which to work forms the initial step in this process.
Also, I am certain that over the next few short years, successful game creators will push into new musical and sonic territories and drive deeper emotional resonance into their creations by beginning to focus on audio aesthetics, just as they have done in recent years by adopting some of the principles of visual aesthetics. In order to achieve this, however, the audio leaders of tomorrow must develop a deep familiarity today with the foundations and principles of aesthetics. Just as film sound was pushed into a media language of its own, we will establish a common language for game audio aesthetics. And we need to keep growing that language. We must explore unorthodox paths. Employing proper aesthetic principles to drive the latest game audio specific tools, technologies, and techniques will enable game creators to push audio, and games themselves, forward in an emotionally impactful way. Read the full interview here.
8. Sascha Dikiciyan
Well I think with today’s world, the amount of plugins and computer power that’s at hand, it’s easy to forget the basics. I think while its cool that your track may sound like famous composer X , no one is interested in a copy cat composer. It maybe good training but the most important thing is to find your sound. You may have to make compromises in the beginning but people hire composers for a certain aspect they love of their sound. Be yourself, take risks. Read the full interview here.
7. Bear McCreary
Just do what you love. The rest will happen. Read the full interview here.
6. Bill Brown
If you’re not having fun with the material you’re creating, it’s most likely no one else will either. If you love it, there’s a good chance others will too. But don’t be attached to that part of it while you’re working, just have some fun! Remember you are exchanging a day of your life for creating that material – it is important. Read the full interview here.
5. Mark Petrie
When I graduated from music school I didn’t even have a computer. A lot of my classmates had fancy gear but never ended up making a living from music. The difference was that I worked every day to get a step closer to being a full time composer. If you already have the necessary gear, you’re 100 steps ahead of where I was at 10 years ago! It pretty much comes down to:
1.) try to write every day
2.) finish what you start
3.) constantly strive to write and produce something better than your last piece.
Work on improving your production / mixing as much as your compositional skills… it’s at least half the job these days. Read the full interview here.
4. Sean Beeson
Practise all the time, even if you are not in the middle of a gig. It’s always important to be one or two steps ahead. Read the full interview here.
3. Spitfire Audio
Develope a good taste in music and find a voice. If you’re trying to sound like someone else it’s likely that there’s someone else who does that better, quicker than you and did it some months ago. You are 180 degrees and 360 miles behind the minute you start even writing. If all you listen to are popular sound tracks then you are allowing someone else to dilute reduce down and decant for you their lifetime’s consumption of music. Buy full orchedstral scores of the greats and read them whilst listening to them. I recently read Holst’s Planets and got more inspiration from that in the first 16 bars than I had from going to the cinema for an entire year. Consume as much good music as you can, immerse yourself in it. Don’t obsess, find a composer, listen to his or her stuff and then find out what she or he listened and then get that and move on. Eventually these great works will inform every decision you make and if you’ve been listening to the good stuff you’ll naturally make good decisions.
If you play an instrument, that is a strength from which you can create your own voice. Even if you’re crap at it…. I think 21 grams by Gustavo Santollala is one of my favorite scores, he plays an electric guitar simply exposed, primitive, just 3 or 4 notes, but boy they’re definitely the right notes. Buy instruments you can’t play and use them for your scores. Switch the computer off and write a good tune. Spend all day doing that, not making a legato string line more believable….. it just doesn’t matter. You’re only as good as you’re tunes, and a good tune’ll sound good on anything. When you switch your computer on make sure there’s a mic attached to it and use it!
But most of all, look after yourself. It’s a long competitive grind and it’s pointless to kill yourself in the process. An Oscar winning composer once said to me »I always thought the composer of the future would thank the younger me for all the work and time I put in…. Well I AM that composer of the future and I don’t thank myself one bit!«. Take at least one day off, every week. If you don’t your music will be shitter, and you wont be as productive it’s a simple fact. If your producer doesn’t like it say you’re spending time with you’re family, I have not met a producer who has queried that ever. Eat a good balanced diet and never do any drugs of any sort in your work place, whether it be pot, alcohol, charlie or tobacco. Your workspace needs to be a healthy space, save it for after! Go for long walks. Your tunes don’t come in dark rooms in front of computer screens, they’ll come from a walk down parliament hill (or up it if you’ve taken my health advice). Or a tune may come from out of a independent record store in Soho.
Finally. For those who are at the start, in your early 20s. I want to say something that all the courses seem to be missing. It is not directors who hire you it’s producers. A composer is a head of department and producers don’t hire composers, they hire heads of department. If you haven’t been a head of department a lot of times before they probably don’t want to hire you, because they’re not sure if you’ll be able to deliver, and they wont have a producer friend of a friend who has worked with you and can vouch for you. They don’t give a shit if your the next Vangelis if you’re going to keep them waiting six months for a score they’re going to run out of money to keep their kids in private school and they don’t want this to happen. If you haven’t been a head of department before and you look like a child they definitely won’t hire you. Producers are often north of 45.
If you’re 25 no matter how well that goatee is coming on, you will look like a child to that producer, hey you may even be the same age as one of his or her kids. He or she will not hire you. Even if you’ve done 30 short and student films with the young protege director they’ve hired, they’re not going to hire you they are going to surround that young protege with the most seasoned HODs so he doesn’t make a total Horlicks of it. So, it’s highly likely that you are not going to get your first proper commission until you’re well into your 30s. This is a fact of life. So get as much experience of life as possible. Travel as much as possible. Immerse yourself in music. Produce pop acts, program dance music, write some concert music. Conduct arrange, orchestrate, copy. Make yourself and your mind as interesting as possible so you become interesting and your music becomes interesting. Help other people make their scores. Don’t copy what they do creatively, or try to nick their sounds but observe the way they act as an HOD as much as possible. All the boring admin, the people skills, being able to throw out weeks of work without having a nervous breakdown, how do they do that, ask them. How to fudge something in minutes when an indecisive director decides he suddenly hates what was formerly his favorite cue, all whilst there’s 60 sullen musos facing you behind a large sheet of glass. Then fling on a rucksack get on an EasyJet and go to Prague for the weekend and drink beer and listen to some Dvorak in the Rudophinium.
I speak so vociferously because I can assure you I didn’t in any shape or form follow any of the advice above. I’ve ended up in hospital and nearly died because of my ridiculous »work ethic«. And as a consequence I lived through my 20s in penury, mostly unhappy, always hungover, thinking the world had something against me, and slowly shaving years off my life. I don’t think I went to the park in 15 years! I certainly didn’t go in the sun for ten, so now I can’t go in it at all. Please don’t do what I did it’s not worth it!!!
Two final tips. PRO TOOLS!!!! They don’t teach it at schools…… which is nuts. It’s the ONLY universal music software, so you need to be advanced. Get really really good at it, then composers will want you to assist.
Finally, and this is for any composer, novice or seasoned (and in my case pickled). Read this article. Our industry is infested by them, and it’s good to be able to spot the signs so you know what you’re dealing with and how to avoid a really really nasty experience. Read the full interview here.
2. Tim Prebble
In the evolution of your lifes work, you will pass through transcendent moments. Be very careful to acknowledge them, because they are telling you important things about yourself and what you have to contribute that is unique. Read the full interview here.
1. Michael Peaslee
Ignore your teachers the second you’re out of the classroom. You came into it ignorant and open minded, so make sure you leave that way. You’re just there to learn a couple of fancy words, memorize a couple of shortcuts and explore with expensive gear and nice rooms. Don’t presume that a formal education will make you good at anything.
Just try everything, and do it the wrong way as often as possible. Trust your ears first, math and theory last. And most important, you’ve got to put in the hours. Don’t worry about a moment of genius, worry about the long haul and your body of work. Practice and experiment constantly. Assume you did it wrong and assume that you can do it better. Look for the flaws in your results, rather than gloating in the successes.
Listen to everything around you and memorize the sounds of the physical world. Always have a recorder and camera with you. Think about how and why things behave the way they do. And you better really like putting in long hours, because you’re going to be putting in some really fucking long hours if you want to make sound and music for a living. Read the full interview here.