Composer Interview – Agus Gonzalez-Lancharro

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you come from and what do you do?

In 2005 I relocated to London from my hometown Barcelona to become a professional musician. During this years in the UK, Ive been working in my craft as a musician and studied a degree in performance (guitar) and a masters in film scoring and music for media. I recently launched a music house called ReallySlowMotion to do trailer music as well as some custom jobs.

When and how did you make the move to being a full time composer?

Well, during the past few years Ive been exponentially asked to do some scores and compositions and about a year ago I decided to make the complete move to composing and give up session gigs as a performer. The move was easy to take really. I enjoy composing a lot and you get to play your instrument when needed.

What does your studio currently consist of hardware/software wise?

At the moment my studio is pretty little but works for me because I have all I need. I run OSX in a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 and 16GB of RAM system. Although I sometimes use templates I still like browsing for samples, it triggers my creativity somehow rather than having everything loaded up and ready to go, so 16GB still works for me. In the next few months I will upgrade the whole work unit, but still undecided on the specs. As far as hardware is concerned I have a couple of MIDI keyboards (Korg SP200 and M-Audio Keystation 88es) and a Remote Zero SL MIDI controller, two external drives and half a dozen of guitars. A little MicroKey by Korg turns out really handy when travelling. I also want to experiment with tablets in the near future for touch control.

Software? A lot of it: Cinematic Strings 2.0, ProjectSAM, all the Spitfire stuff, lots of 8Dio, lots of Soundiron, Cinesamples… I´m lately trying to improve my mock-ups by investigating a bit further with reverbs and spatialization so B2 by 2C Audio and IRCAM Spat are now consuming a good chunk of my “geeky time”. I also use several plugins but my favourite is IRCAM´s Mastering Pack. I write home studio reviews for a publishing company that holds 3 different music magazines in Spain so I´m lucky that I´m regularly getting new stuff to mess around with.

Whats your favorite software right now and what software are you looking forward to most in the future?

If we are talking about libraries I would say that Spitfire deserves all my compliments at the present moment, I use them everywhere. B2 reverb surprised me big time too and I´m willing to achieve the magic “click” alongside with Spat, I´m sure results can be ultra-realistic, I just need to experiment a bit more. For the future I would love to lay my hands on a Bricasti unit and any sample library out there.

What do you hope to achieve with ReallySlowMotion?

I want to be able to establish the company in a way that trailer houses consider us a “high end” product and it would be cool to get some videogame work too. I feel so honored that in the roster of composers we have the talents of Vivien Chebbah, Ivan Torrent, Dirk Ehlert, Max Zhdanov among other very skilled people. Chris Haigh is also happy to work with us so, if he has time, he will do some work for us too. With all this big names we can´t do anything else but dream big, but it will take so much effort to make it happen and I´m up for the challenge.

What was your favorite project to have worked on so far?

There have been several but I´m right now I enjoy scoring for a horror movie that features several spanish celebrities. Really promising project.

Talk us through your alternate score for Lifted.

This score is really special for me. It was one of the first compositions for picture I did, in an attempt to enter Royal College of Music. I picked this picture because it has room for textures, harmony, mickey-mousing… The original score by Michael Giacchino was awarded by the Academy so I better had decent results. At the time, I was just getting started in this type of harmony and it took me months of lessons and advise from my mentor, the great Maurizio Malagnini, to complete it. Writing for it was an old-school process with pen and paper. Back then, I didn´t have the proper gear so my mentor gently allowed me to work with his tools at his studio in Kent when he was not working in his stuff. It took several sessions, blood, sweat and tears but I´m quite proud of the result.

What is your process for mastering a track?

I don’t follow the same process all the time, I just follow my ears and intuition and use different plugins with the same purpose in different projects, sometimes I don´t even use compression!! I don’t have a manual to follow on that.

What do you do in between projects when you don’t currently have something to work on?

Actually that´s how the whole ReallySlowMotion idea came up. I wanted to fill the gaps between scoring projects. Now, while waiting for 2013 when I´ll have 4 film scores to do, I´m preparing the launch of the first trailer music album of the company.

How do you use social media as a musician to get work/promote yourself?

Socializing has been a major turning point for my career. You just need to get your work out there to get noticed and to meet people who is either doing the same or is related somehow to the industry. That´s how I got my first important scoring gigs that led to more gigs and that´s the way I met the composers that are now part of my company. I´m on Facebook a lot and Twitter although I still need to learn how to make the most out of the latter.

What does your daily routine consist of?

I wake up after my 8 hours of sleep and check on emails while having breakfast. Sometimes this email process takes longer than it should but it has to be done carefully, is part of socializing and that´s important. Then, I pretty much don´t stop working until I go back to bed around 0:00. Lunch break, tea break duering the day and not much more…

What are your favorite musician/composer websites?

I like to find out the news and contents of websites such as this one, SCOREcast and The Audio Spotlight and also enjoy listening to other composers´ SoundCloud profiles and music websites of the sort, it can be really inspiring.

What useful tools do you use daily as a composer?

Ears and hands. It´s really useful to take your time and use your ears to know what other people is doing or have done. For me, is a very enjoyable and inspiring moment, it gets me willing to get back to work. And for that you need your hands of course, haha.

What’s your definition of success?

When you are doing something that you love doing and people appreciates and enjoys it. Your income can be greater or lesser but when your work reaches people means that you are doing good and you can consider yourself as a person that has succeed.

How do you stay fresh as a composer?

Having a long shower is usually my favourite when stuck and I just recently found out that taking a day off also works. Bad thing is that sometimes having a day off is a luxury, so you need to go back to option 1, the shower.

Where do you see the scoring (film/game/tv) industry in 5-10 years time?

I don´t think that the industry as we know it is going to change much really but I do think that technology will have a great impact on music trends because being an aspiring composer is much more affordable now than it used to be. Music wise, we can feel a difference between the scores of today and the one´s from the 90´s, that were also different to the ones of the 80´s and so on. This will happen for sure, the Earth keeps turning. My only request is that technology has to make the effort to bring back the concept of Themes in scores, we miss them.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you were originally starting off?

I would try and push myself a bit more in traditional writing. Sometimes I feel I rely to much on the gear and it would be easier to sit down and just write music. Anyway, if orchestras were easier/cheaper to hire by myself I´m sure I hardly would touch a sample library.

Your studio is on fire and you only have time to grab one thing – what do you take?

My external hard-drives where I store back up of projects and virtual gear.

Can you recommend any useful books on composition/mastering/business etc. that you’ve read and enjoyed?

On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring by Karlin and Wright has all the advice you need to understand how the industry works. Any old classical harmony book will be good too, I did lots of arrangements from Bach chorals when I started so in those books you can find great material to do your thing. The Study of Orchestration by Samuel Adler. I also learned a lot by reading through the scores of Indiana Jones and Star Wars by John Williams. Real scores are perfect to understand graphically the real thing.

Written by: Emmett Cooke

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.

  • mw

    good interview

Film and Game Composers

www.FilmandGameComposers.com offers a wide range of interviews, reviews, guides and tutorials for composers and musicians who are interested in writing music for film, TV and video games.

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