Composer Interview – Chris Haigh


How did you get into composition? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It may sound very cliché, but after seeing the film and then hearing the Soundtrack to Gladiator by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. I was so inspired by all the different textures, the beautiful main melody and the intense battle music. I must have listened to that soundtrack a million times. I must admit composing wasn’t something I wanted to do as a living, originally I was a started drumming in several bands and wanted to make a living from touring, recording and generally being a rock star. Haha how you realise life doesn’t work out how you expected.

Can you give us a brief overview of what your home studio consists of?

My setup is pretty simple, I use a PC (would love to integrate to mac) but for the time being my PC works great. I’m running Windows 7 64bit I have 12 Gigabytes of Ram and about 6 terabytes of hard disk space (for all my libraries). I have a pair of Adam A7 studio monitors and Beyerdynamic DT911 headphones. I use an M-AUDIO Pro fire 610 soundcard and a CME 80 midi keyboard. I have several Guitars, electric and acoustic as well as Drum Pads and a set of Roland TD-9 V-drums. For any vocal recordings I use the SE Electronics Z5600A II Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone.

Do you prefer to work with music libraries, or write custom music for projects?

I love working in both scenarios, obviously I feel it’s more rewarding to know what you are composing for. With composing trailer library tracks there is a strong possibility that they may never see the light of day. But writing for Libraries can be very expressive and experimental and also very rewarding.

Would you ever consider starting your own music library?

This part of the business as well as any part of the music business, is highly competitive and I feel there are so many new trailer libraries popping up, some very exciting and I believe will be major labels in the future but there are also so many that I think will struggle to get noticed in the this part of music. So baring that in mind unless I feel I can offer something slightly different or feel very strongly about shaping a label the way I want it then I may do, but I imagine it will be a way in the future.

Who have been your favourite music libraries to deal with?

Pretty much every library that I have worked with have been great. Gothic Storm I believe will be a big contender in the next few years seeing 6 major placements in just over a year of starting up. Dan Graham is an amazing composer and knows this business very well and I have no doubt if he is in the driving seat it will be a success.

Immediate Music are the biggest company I have worked with and Yoav is an amazing guy, but because of the size of Immediate, it can be difficult to get involved with them.

What’s your favourite software at the moment?

My most used software at the moment is VIR 2 Electi6ity, mainly because I’ve been composing Epic Hybrid tracks using a lot of guitars tracks. Also Hollywood Strings are a must have and Storm Drum 2 is always loaded into my instruments set.

What software are you most looking forward to in the future, if any?

EWQL Hollywood Brass. I’m looking forward to hearing the demos and samples for this library. I use SAM brass at the moment but if Hollywood Strings are anything to go by Hollywood Brass will be amazing.

Talk us through “Epic Courage”.  How did you start it, what did you use on it, how did you complete it – effects, mixing etc.

With Epic Courage, I wanted to add lots of elements, Big Lush strings, Epic Percussion, Powerful Choirs, Driving Guitars and Drums. I had the great privilege of having the strings and Choir recorded live by players from the Liverpool Philharmonic which I feel adds a real depth in emotion to the track. It would take quite a while to go through all the ins and outs of the mixing and post production process of the track but one thing is that I didn’t spend too much time on mixing it as the track will be re-mixed and mastered later on, my job is just to get them sounding great for the initial preview.

How do you try to stay fresh as a composer?

I try to listen to as much Film/Trailer music as I can to work out what is the latest fads that producers and music supervisors are looking for. I also try to keep up with the latest music tech gear and goings on, to keep my music sounding as high quality as possible.

What has been your biggest project to date?

I’ve just finished 7 Epic Euphoric Rock tracks that have been recorded by the Liverpool Philharmonic string and Choir. These have had to be composed and scored in a short amount of time and are to be turned into 2 alt versions, which are to sound completely different from the originals. These tracks are some of the biggest Produced tracks to date and I’m extremely proud of them. (Epic Courage being one of these tracks)

Do you market yourself as a composer – advertise, use social media, network?

I used to market myself a lot, (and still do as much as I have time) through social networking sites (facebook, myspace, youtube) etc I also used to make myself very visible on Student filmmaking forums and music forums etc. I don’t really get as much time as I would like to market myself anymore, but I make sure my website is always upto date with my latest news, music and projects.

christ haigh

You’ve had your music used in a number of very high profile film trailers. How did this come about?

I composed tracks for a specific trailer library. Those tracks go into their catalogue and then get sent to Trailer Houses which if they fit the specifics of what the music supervisor is looking for, for the trailer. Then that track ends up in the trailer.

What is the one tool you couldn’t do without as a composer? Hardware/software/mental

My PC is something that I couldn’t do without. I think these days for most composers their PC/Mac is an integral tool. To be able to hear what the music in your head can sound like played by a full orchestra, without spending thousands on a live players is amazing although I think there is no substitute for live orchestra. Also I would say my piano as I sometimes like to compose themes and ideas on my piano first.

What’s your plans for the future?

Simply to keep writing music I love and paying the bills.

Do you do anything to supplement your income as a composer?

I earn my living from composing now but it hasn’t always been that way, I’ve worked in a few different jobs that helped pay for my first VST’s and to start my studio setup.

How did you make the transition to being a full time composer?

At some point you just have to take the risk and believe that everything will work out. I believe if you work hard enough and you are dedicated there is no reason why you wouldn’t make a living from what you love to do.

Who are your favourite composers at the moment and why?

At the moment I think Brian Tyler is really hitting the mark, I cant even contemplate how he writes the amount of material that he does and keeps it fresh. I do listen to a lot of Trailer Music too. These are some of my favourite composers, Yoav Goren, Chris Field, Michael Nielsen Paul Dinletir, Kevin Rix, Kaven Cohen, Dan Graham and I think Methodic Doubt are creating some really cool Hybrid tracks.

What is your favourite score of all time?

For a chilled lighthearted/Romantic feel it has to be “Meet Joe Black” by Thomas Newman, for an action score “Bankok Dangerous” by Brian Tyler for an Epic score “The Last Samurai” by Hans Zimmer and for an Horror score “Sleepy Hollow” by Danny Elfman

What advice would you give to a composer starting off?

A career in music is very competitive, like all creative and talent based industries. I think the main thing is to work as hard as you can and if music is something that you want to do as a career never give up trying and eventually you will get there.

Written by: admin

Emmett Cooke is an Irish composer for film, tv and video games. His music has been used around the world by high profile companies including Sony Playstation, Ralph Lauren, ABC, CBS, NBC, Lockheed Martin and many more.

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