Composer Interview – Dmitry Lifshitz (aka Soundroll)

What would you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses?

Weakness – communicating with people (generally, and in English specially)

Strength – I can work fast with good results.

Who would you consider to be your musical influences?

Punk, rock, 80′s pop and dark, metal, electro and drum and bass – this is MY music!

What equipment do you use?

I have PC with Quad Core 6600 processor 2GB of RAM Windows XP, Nuendo software for recording, editing and mixing, Fireface 800 RME.

Instruments: Fender Jaguar, Fender Deluxe guitar amp, 2 acoustic guitars , balalaika, violin, acoustic drum kit, oud, Nord Lead-2, soviet Russian analog synth Electronica EM-5, Roland JV-2080 module.

Rack: 2 TL Audio 5051 valve processor, dbx mini preamp.

Mics: Rode NT-1, Sure SM-57, Fostex MC10 stereo pair, Rode NTG-2 shotgun (for field recordings, generally, but sometimes I use it in the studio too).

Recording: Nuendo soft, Akai GX260D reel tape 1.5”, Fostex FR2LE (field recordings)

Yamaha MG12/4 mixer.

What’s your main DAW, and how do you find it?

Nuendo. I started with Cubase 5 a long time ago and when I became professional sound engineer working in post production and video, I take Nuendo.

What VSTs do you use, and what are your favourite ones?

I’m trying not to use VSTs but I like to use Halion sampler of Steinberg a lot.

Why don’t you like using VSTs? Is it because they aren’t as versatile as real instruments or do you prefer the live sound better?

Yes, I prefer the live sound and human touch even in electronic music, when playing with filters and modulators, envelopes.

Do you play any instruments? If so, what do you play and for how long? How have they influenced the type of music you make today?

Originally, I play violin, but also guitars and keyboards. I am not pro player. If I have some musical idea, I try to play it live and then edit it with Nuendo.

What’s your favourite instrument that you own, and that you would like to own and why?

Nord Lead-2 is my favorite. I like synthesizers and the sounds you can get with them. I would like to have all analog synthesizers :)

What’s your favourite piece of software and why?

Nuendo. Because in my opinion it sounds good and you can change everything there (key commands, interface), ProTools, for example, has features that Nuendo has not, but Nuendo is simple to edit and mix.

dmitry-lifshitz-composer

What’s your favourite piece of hardware and why?

TLAudio 5051 – processor, I used to record and mixdown via these 2 pieces. Exellent preamps, compressor and EQ, you can also link them for stereo mixdown.

How important do you think it is for a composer to have his own style and why?

I think every composer has his own style, even he makes music in several styles. As a composer and musician you must love what you do much more than to think what listeners love.

That’s true – do you ever write music that’s not for yourself, but just purely for the listeners? Not music for films etc. but literally just a track for the enjoyment of others?

Of course, you know, I need money sometimes :)

Are you a multi-genre composer? Or do you like to specialize in one particular area?

I like to work in several styles, but I know that there are styles that I wouldn’t work, like jazz for example, cause I don’t like jazz and I’m not good in this style of music. But I know that in rock, punk, pop, some electronic styles I am very good and I love it.

Is jazz something you’d like to work on, or do you think you’ll just leave it be, and do what you do best?

I think I just will leave it, but it depends on how I feel today, maybe tomorrow I’ll change my mind. Everything is changing and I’m changing too

What appeals to you about creating your style of music?

Energy and rhythm, it’s difficult to me to make ambient music, for example, because I can fall asleep before I finish.

What types of media have you composed for and which is your favourite?

I composed for films, commercials, advertising, internet , and songs for singers, but working on films is my favorite job, then I more creative and free.

How exactly would you say you can be more creative and free in films? Do you feel film has more of a blank canvas than other types of media?

Yes, sure. In commercials you limited with time and visuals and tempo. In films you are more flowing, free.

What is your process for composing, especially if you are composing for a particular film/game?

It’s different every project, mostly, first it’s in my head, I see the film and start playing music in my head and to choose, and then I make a few demos in MIDI.

Do you pick out themes, structures, instruments etc. first, or just play around and see what you like?

In most cases, I build few bars, some theme and chose instruments, and then I think about how to continue the composition, sometimes I can change all the instruments and tempo.

Have you had any large clients, and if so, who were they?

In my country, Israel, I worked with biggest satellite company (seen below) , and in England I made music for Hilton.

If you did have large clients, how and where did you get the job?

Internet and people that know me.

What form of marketing/promotion do you use, if any, and which was the most popular?

I don’t use any form of promotion or marketing. I try to work only when I like the project and I know that it will worth the money I will get for this job. A few years ago I was promoting myself by calling people and sitting in internet, and I had really a lot of work, but I found myself doing it for little money and working on bad projects and working with ugly people that want too much for misery sum of money.

I prefer less work and pressure, but I choosing when and with who to work.

Dmitry LifshitzWhat project have you enjoyed working on the most?

It was some short movie, that I really liked, and I made music for free. It was student film.

Have you ever had a client who was hard to deal with, and if so, what did they do and how did you deal with it?

Oh, there was too much clients hard to deal with. For me, hard client is the client that don’t know what he wants. You finish working on music, he says “It’s great, thank you very much”. After two-three days he comes back and says: “My colleagues don’t like it, let’s change few things”, I say ” ok”. We changed few things, ok. After week he comes back again: “Let’s change the music, I heard in radio this song and I think that’s what I want”, and he thought that I must change all this for free. Fuck off clients like this.

Do you have any tips for people starting up in the music industry, on how to market themselves, get jobs, and get started off in general?

I don’ know what tips will help, I can say how I started. It was about communicating with people from the industry (directors, producers, video editors), I was working a lot as recordist on production sets, working as backliner, working for free in the beginning. It takes time until people will know you.

But first of all, I think, you must to be honest and objective to yourself about what you’re doing, you must to know that what you’re doing is good or bad, and not to think that loop I made yesterday is so great – I’m a genius, but actually, it’s crap. You know what I mean, It happens to everybody, I think. To me it happened in the beginning.

What were your duties as a backliner? Did you enjoy it?

As a backliner I was carrying all the amplifiers and monitors – I didn’t enjoy really that job.

Do you ever get writers block, and if so how do you deal with it?

No

Do you find that when you’ve finished a song, your sick of hearing it?

If the song is shit, then yes, it was happening and it is happening sometimes.

How long do you typically spend on one track?

Depends on track, from 4 hours to 2-3 days or even few years. I have music that over 6 years on hard drive, and I don’t know how to finish it.

Ah ha – you don’t know how to finish it – so you do get writers block in a way?

Yes, when I am in this situation, I just leave this project / idea and may be come back tomorrow or few years later.

When creating a track, do you know how long it will be before starting it, or do you tend to just “see how it goes” and let the track make itself?

Yes, sometime I know what exactly I am going to do, and sometime I just let it go.

Is there anything you wish you could do musically, but can’t now?

I want to compose something for orchestra and to record it live.

Do you have much orchestral music composed already? What about writing for orchestra do you enjoy?

I have some material for orchestra, but it’s in the shelf, I just don’t want to do this with vst’s or modules, cause I want the live sound, the real orchestra sound. When I write orchestral music, I feel that I do something special, cause I work on this much much more time than another style, and I feel satisfied after finish scoring.

How would you define success?

When you feel satisfied with all aspects of your life.

What ultimately are your goals?

To be independent, to work for my pleasure and to make money with it.

If you could change on thing in the music industry, what would it be and why?

I don’t know, maybe nothing?

What are your other interests outside of music?

Photography and paintings

If you were stuck on a desert island with 3 tracks, what would they be?

It’s a hard question, 3 tracks is not enough – why not 3 albums?

Let’s say:

What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

Start smoking – how do I stop now?

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.

  • http://www.yookamusic.com Pierre Roger

    Dmitry posted a few music on our site. He’s simply brilliant! One of our favorite composers…

    P. Roger

  • http://tennhills-productions.com Dave

    I found your site while looking for intro music for a low budget feature film that I am creating for this summer. I also do a bit of composing but I like your style and we may look you up for something that goes with the film “beginning song”.

    thanks,
    DAVE
    TennHills Productions

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