In this remarkable episode of the Trailer Music Composer’s Podcast, Rich has an incredibly in-depth discussion with a trailer music legend: Cody Still.
Cody holds nothing back. He shares the story of his personal path (which includes some of the biggest companies in trailer music), his writing approach, mixing and mastering secrets and his mindset.
Want to know how Cody creates such massive, epic sounds? He shares his plugin choices and techniques.
This episode is an absolute masterclass for everyone interested in trailer music from beginners to seasoned pros. Do not miss this one!
Hey guys welcome to session number 21 of the trailer music composers podcast, let’s dive in.
One with one microphone, whose favourite childhood movie was Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Welcome to the trailer music composer’s podcast.
Hey guys, welcome to another session of the trailer music composer’s podcast. And boy is this an amazing session I have for you today. Well I have got a very, very special guest on. His name is Cody Still, so those of you in the trailer music game, the trailer music nerds out there, which is probably all of you given the title of the podcast, you will know his name for two reasons. First and foremost for his incredible hybrid orchestral trailer music which does the thing that I’m always striving to teach which is providing depth and breadth of sound, what that means is you’ve got something right in your face, you’ve got something really far in the distance, you’ve got something all the way left, all the way round, all the way up, all the way down, it covers all of the bases, its like nuclear explosion in the background. Someone hits you in the face with a violin, mile high horns going off, huge angelic choirs, massive Moog synthesizers, all fitted into this little stereo file, so beautifully.
Now this guy Cody, is an absolutely amazingly talented composer, he manages to not only develop the cues in an incredible way so that they feel natural and they grow in a really organic way, but they also are so well mixed and mastered which he does himself. So yes I doff my hat to you sir. Mixing is one thing, mastering is a completely other thing. Doing them both as well as writing like that, it’s just incredible. I’m so in awe of your skills Cody.
And the other thing you guys might know him for is his Facebook Group that he set up called the trailer music composers support group which is a fantastic resource for any of you looking to get into trailer music. So composers, publishers, producers, they’re all there bantering and giving each other value all the time, it’s really, really cool. And I just want to say I really, really enjoyed this podcast, he is such a nice guy, really humble, also really open about his work which I love, I love when people share their ‘secrets’. And he does not go back at all. This is pretty much a master class. You know almost like I want to chop it up and say hey this is a course from Cody because it’s so good and I’m thinking oh I should be writing this down, I feel like I’m in the presence of somebody really great, but obviously I’ve recorded it so I don’t need to write it down. But that didn’t stop me from holding a pen.
Rich: Anyway I’ve gone on far too much let’s hear the master himself. I’d like to start things off, officially with a silly question to loosen us into the vibe of the interview. Because obviously you know it’s always a bit awkward doing interviews and things like that, so my question to you, so this adapted from a previous question I like to ask people which would be normally if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be? You don’t have to answer that just yet because the question is actually now specifically for this, is if you were an instrument what instrument would you be and why?
Cody: Ok. That’s a very good question.
Rich: Thank you.
Cody: Well my mind naturally goes to, I will go off my first instinct on this one, and I guess also maybe it has something to do with the fact that I grew up playing this instrument, I’m going for the trumpet. That was really my first taste of music, being a musician, playing the trumpet through middle school and high school and college and doing all the marching band thing. But you know trumpet, it can be a very, very soft and delicate instrument, very emotional, but it can also be extremely bold and in your face and harsh. So it has a wide range and I think it’s a good thing to be able to, to have a wide range and just as a person, being able to be an outgoing person, but at the same time be ok during social isolation. I have no problem spending time here by myself but being able to still be around people. But I don’t know, I just think the trumpet is a really interesting instrument, and it has a wide range of emotions that it’s able to express as an instrument. As opposed to some instruments where they’re maybe a little bit more static so to speak.
Rich: So what you’re saying is you’re a guy who is in touch with his emotions?
Cody: There you go. You know my wife will probably tell you absolutely not.
Rich: She’s going to say you’re like a Korg.
Rich: Amazing love that. Also I think what I love about questions like that is that actually if you just roll with it you’ll be surprised what kind of comes out.
Cody: Yeah. it’s kind of good you didn’t send me these questions in advance because I could have rehearsed it.
Rich: That’s it yeah. Well I’m a cello because I’m very useful and everyone loves me. That’s great. That wasn’t my answer, but you know what I don’t know. I’ll save my answer.
Cody: I’m really kind of tempted to know what yours would have been.
Rich: I would say a violin.
Rich: A similar thing to you, it’s the first instrument I learned, I never learned it to any standard past Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star really until university where I quickly tried to improve. But a similar answer to yours. But the first thing that popped into my head was you know when it’s in the right space a violin is lovely to be around, it’s got this lovely energy, it really pierces through. But when it’s not handled well, it sounds horrible. So maybe that’s speaking about my mood swings I don’t know.
Cody: There you go.
Rich: Yeah, there we go yeah. No, I just love the violin, just because it’s so versatile. And I think that’s the same thing with a trumpet you know, it’s more versatile than I think it gets credit for. Because everyone just assumes it’s got this sort of list of articulations, the way you can play it, you know if you see a good fiddler then it’s like a completely different instrument.
Cody: Yeah, totally.
Rich: I think the idea of having lots of different hats like violin is always a nice thing I think. So yeah there we go, I’m sure if I ask this question again I’m going to answer differently because it depends on the mood I’m in right. So here we go. So Cody tell everyone about yourself, a little bit about yourself, what you are now and how you got there?
Cody: Ok. So my name is Cody of course, I’m 33 years old and I started as I mentioned a few minutes ago I started with the trumpet as my first part of my music education. Which I won’t go into all the details but just kind of really covering over that. I guess I started playing trumpet when I was in sixth grade, which I guess was like 10 or 11 years old. So before that I wasn’t really into music. 10 or 11 years old got involved in the trumpet, played like middle school band, high school bands. And it became a really big important part of my life.
And so from there I took my learnings of the trumpet and I self taught the guitar. And I’ve never been really good at the guitar, but it really helps having a background with music and being able to read music, and understanding notes and rhythms and stuff like that when I was teaching the guitar to myself. And so in high school I was kind of like back and forth you know my whole life was either guitar or trumpet you know. School band versus being like in a rock band and what not.
And then in college I actually went on to study music. But I didn’t just study music, I did a double major kind of programme at the university I went to. So I did a major in business, and a major in music. Looking at a lot of the composers in our field I don’t see too many of them that have liked both of something else. And honestly the reason I did that may not sound as like, everyone tells me that it’s smart that I did that right, because it’s like ok, being a composer is as much being a businessman as it is being a composer. Just as much as like how a composer these days has to also be a producer as much as being a composer and so on and so forth. But honestly I did it because I did not expect to have a career in music, maybe that’s the pessimist in me, but I didn’t know that I would be able to have a career in music at the time as an 18 year old kid getting out of high school so I studied business as a tried and true safe path that I knew I could build a career around eventually. But I also did music. I didn’t want to do a major, minor, I wanted to do a major in music as well because I did have a passion for music. I guess I did hold out hope that it could slide into some kind of career in the future as well. But with that said I didn’t suffer composition specifically, my music degree was essentially general music, i didn’t take all the theories and the music literature and the music history classes and jazz and all that kind of stuff as well as performance based classes. Some kind of composition and orchestration classes but I didn’t go into the deep composition classes like true composition majors would because I filled that time with business classes to do the other major.
But I still got a good, well rounded education and when I graduated I graduated in 2009, which in the United States was during the great recession and so I wasn’t able to find a job, I looked and looked and looked, couldn’t find a job. I live in Texas right, not in LA, not in New York, not in these places where they’re entertainment focused or like artistic or Hollywood centered or anything like that. I live in Texas where its big business oil, its medicine in Houston, well obviously oil in Houston as well. So I figured I would go into like some kind of oil type field. But I couldn’t find a job like that, and at the time I didn’t really expect to turn a career in music, so I worked in an Apple store for like four and a half years. Which was…
Rich: Apple genius?
Cody: My job title was an expert.
Rich: Oh nice.
Cody: I started as a worker in the a position, then I was an expert for like four years, my pay grade was genius, but we didn’t have the flashy job title of being a genius but I did it for a while, but it was actually perfect for me because I got free Logic training, the internal Logic training that no one else got outside of Apple, I got access to all sorts of online training programmes, so really I credit my time at Apple as really helping me to really learn and understand mixing, production and logic. Because that’s really where I got my training, while I was there. So it may not have been the highest paying job in the world, but it gave me a lot more than what I was being paid at the time and it really helped me turn a new leaf on my life eventually.
After I left Apple, I actually left Apple at the start of 2014 which is the year I started my time working with production libraries for trailers. So I left at the very beginning of 2014 and I started working for an oil company. I finally got that oil job I was trying to get. But it was funny because as soon as I got it I was already looking for my way out you know.
So I started working there it was great and I was making much better money than I was at Apple. I could better support my wife and what not. But about two or three months after working there, having a Monday through Friday schedule finally instead of retail hours, and being able to work eight hours just during the weekdays, have my weekends back and evenings back, I was able to really focus much more on consistent regular timeline my music.
So two or three months after I started working with the oil company I started working with my first publishing company which was C21 Effects was actually the very first one, which was being supervised by Chris Bragg at the time. Now he’s the owner of Ghost Rider, you know Ghost Rider. And shortly after that I started with a brand new publishing company called Sub Pup Music, which now people know them as Colossal. Which is part of SPN Music Group which SPN is Sub Pup Music, which we don’t talk about that but that’s kind of the hidden meaning of that.
Rich: They own like three or four libraries don’t they?
Cody: Yeah. And probably like two or three times that amount now.
Rich: Oh really ok.
Cody: Yeah there’s a bunch, because they have different libraries for different purposes, like they have one library that’s specifically like just in partnership with PMG, so everything they write is being co published by PMG or co published or sub published, they have different labels that perform different purposes, they have one just for customs and one focused mostly in RV production. So yeah, working for Colossal, Sub Pup Music at the time.
And then not so long after that Really Slow Motion came along and then RU Machine, so I was kind of dipping my toes in a bunch of different waters at the time and just to say what rides, and also I think early on you have to start working for a bunch of different publishing companies. It’s not really too often that someone starts with one and just sticks with one is devoted to that one, because you’ve usually got to figure out what works best for you.
So I was working full time at this oil company, this was about an hour drive, so eight hour work day, plus a couple of hours drive. So a 10 hour day Monday to Friday, so then I was spending like my evenings and weekends composing. So it was a lot to do, but I was driven and dedicated and really wanted to make it work. So I did that for about two and half years. And then in June of 2016 I actually walked into my job one day, worked half a day, the oil industry was on a downtrend at that point, so a lot of people were losing their jobs, a lot of companies were going out of business, a lot of locations for the company I worked for were closing down. So I worked half a day that day, then they called me into the office and said sorry we’re going to have to let you go. Here’s a severance pay cheque, and we’re sorry you don’t deserve this and everything. But I was really trying to hold back, I was like really wanted to just jump up and cheer because for about six months or so before that I was really wanting to quit, and it was a big jump, it was a big leap to have to do and I don’t know if I would have been able to reach the decision on my own, been brave enough to say ok, I’m going to walk away from this job, I’m going to walk away from the medical insurance that’s provided for me by this job, I’m going to just got for it full time as a composer, I felt I could do it.
By that time my incomes were pretty much equal, composing wise compared to my day job, not considering the fact that the day job also provided the insurance that’s an extra expense. But still incomes were comparable, so I felt like I could do it, but it’s still a huge thing to have to made that decision. So the decision was made for me and I was laid off that day and it made it easy because I got to collect the severance pay and everything, and it wasn’t me having to make the decision, it was God’s choice for me, whatever you want to call it, to make it a full time commitment.
So I went full time and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been doing it now for almost four years, worked for probably about, it’s been over a dozen publishers I’ve worked for now, 12, 13, and so I’ve had a lot of great experience within this industry, I love the trailer industry, I’ve done a little bit of composing within the TV side of things but I always go back to trailers just because it’s the style of music I enjoy writing, I love the fast paced high adrenaline kind of world that we live in for trailer music, it’s just really what I enjoy. And everyone has got what they are passionate about, they enjoy what they are interested in.
Me, I was listening to trailer music about 10 years ago, public release albums for fun, you know I didn’t really listen to any popular music albums, I was listening to trailer music for years before I was even doing it part time. So it wasn’t just something I just stumbled into at that extent. Like I had my sights set on the other world for a number of years before I was actually doing it. So I do very much enjoy it and love it. And today these days I’m working, you know I’m writing for publishing companies, I guess most people see me doing most of my work with RU Machine, I do a bunch of customs with them as well as being part of their commercial releases. Many of which also get public releases as well. And then lately I’ve been working with Elephant Music which you know all too well. And from time to time still do things like Colossal Trailer Music as well as cavalry, I did some really slow motion not too long ago, so still here and there working for a variety of libraries, but for the most part focusing on two or three that I spend the bulk of my time with.
Rich: Having not heard your story I just absolutely love how when you’re explaining it, obviously when you’re living those things like working at Apple Store, you’re being laid off, when you’re living those things you don’t really connect the dots, but you just telling it in that narrative it just like everything makes sense. You get this job at Apple all of a sudden you’re getting this amazing training in Logic so that you can further your composing. And then as you say you’ve got your sights on this, well I want to write music and actually I have to say the fact that you had comparable incomes working in this oil industry job and composting after what, two years?
Cody: Yeah two, two and a half years.
Rich: That’s amazing. I mean that in itself is a huge achievement, you know don’t let me tell you how many years it took me to get anything sort of comparable with that with my writing. So that’s massive after two years, two three years, you had a decent, a sustainable living maybe from…
Cody: Right. To sustain that life, I was able to support my mortgage, I had to take on my own medical insurance which I pay like, its $1200 a month for medical insurance.
Rich: That’s huge.
Cody: That’s more than my mortgage. I live in Houston where I live in a suburb right outside of Houston where cost of living is nothing like people would know in LA or California in general or I don’t know, like in London it’s pretty high, New York its astronomical. And that cost of living I’m thankful is quite low, so that makes it sustainable, if I lived somewhere else it may not be sustainable. But yeah, I will clarify too that after the two, two and a half years I went full time, the income was pretty much, actually it was entirely sync licence income, because I actually hadn’t even, when I went full time as a composer I hadn’t even got my first BMI page.
Rich: Well I suppose that makes sense actually doesn’t it with library stuff.
Cody: Yeah. So I got my first one with like a couple of months after I went full time, so it took me two and a half years or whatever since my first published music came back round to BMI pay out. And it wasn’t much of course my first one. So I was able to become full time just off the synchronisation licence end of it, and then over time the royalty side has been able to catch up and be an extra. It’s a form of security because the sync licence money you never know when you’re getting another pay cheque sometimes it could be even if you get a big one you may not see that money for a year or more.
Rich: Yes well all of my income is from syncs, so you know I’m just blessed that I get quite a lot of syncs I think that’s the thing.
Cody: We do like a ridiculous amount of music too so I’ve heard all the stories I know all too well that you crank em out and it blows my mind the amount of output you’re able to achieve.
Rich: Well I do not mix or master, well I suppose I mix, I mix to an extent, but yes I do pride myself on my speed of working, but I think that’s just because I try to do that so that I don’t let the inner critic start to rip my music apart. So I’m like ok get this one out the door, out the door.
Cody: That’s probably the way to do it. Because it’s really easy, especially for someone who is like in the creative world in general, we rip our own stuff to shreds. So this really easy to get into this trap of just overthinking it to the point where you cripple yourself and you can’t really get past it and you stare at a blank screen for a week you know. I think a lot of composers and creatives have been there. I have too. So I think it’s great if you can just force, maybe not force that’s not the right word, but you stay consistent and regular and disciplined to get a regular output of music so you’re not backtracking yourself on something.
Rich: Yes. I think that was the thing, I learned a lesson from my previous years when I was part time. So I worked as a part time music teacher as my bread and butter and I had like one or two days a week that was just for music so I had this like really kind of rushed feeling on those days to put as much music out as possible or at least good music and I find myself spending the entire day basically just listening to the same song over and over. You know when you’re just trying, I’ll listen to it again just to see if it needs anything and you listen to it and you just go. I’ll just check again to see if it needs anything. And then when you do….
Cody: A never ending process.
Rich: Yes. Exactly. And soon as I became aware of that I realised that I was easing 50% of my day basically just doing nothing, maybe tweaking one or two leading notes on the melody, maybe tweaking a synth but that’s all I was doing, so I’d like to say I learned that lesson and actually having children is pretty good because I want to be with my kids ad spend time with them so, me and my wife sort of split our days so I do sort of a couple hours a say writing and then we take it in turn with the kids, which is awesome.
Cody: Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Rich: I’m really glad we kind of naturally flowed into this because it brings me to my next question, which is like walk us through your creative process?
Cody: Ok. So I guess it depends on the kind of project I’ll be working on, but a lot of my tracks I work on are kind of like the bread and butter trailer music tracks these days which you know kind of the hybrid orchestral kind of pieces where you have this big epic orchestral section but its supported with a lot of modernised components like synthesizers, various signature sound kind of components, the big larger than life kind of drums. And so the process for creating tracks like that can be a little bit overwhelming, because there’s so much to do before you begin. For me I find that I gravitate largely towards creating sound design first, I want to have something that’s really unique and sets it apart from other tracks, that when an editor hears it they’ll be like ok that’s something I can grab onto, and vision for this project I’m working on. So I really do try to come up with like a signature component first or even just come up with some cool synth kind of sounds whether it be just interesting sounding pulse or some kind of moving synth drone or edgier kind of one shot kind of synth element. So once I come up with something that kind of repeats to some extent, or you start it as a one shot and then maybe apply a filter and have it modulate throughout the whole piece then I can kind of build the piece around that incorporating additional elements like drums that layer with it, what kind of rhythm is it going to follow, what kind of core progressions are going to sit behind it. And I kind of build it from there. But really kind of very much of what I do is starting with that signature sound, initial sound to capture attention and then go from there.
So much trailer music can be like really repetitive and a lot of tracks from one to next can sound very much the same, so that one reason why I go towards that line of composing to make sure that I start off with something unique from there and can build it up, maybe in the more traditional sense but it still has that unique element that holds it in place as being something maybe special hopefully.
Rich: I love the idea of that process that’s, you’re essentially sketching aren’t you. You’re sketching using a signature sound or basic element that is going to sort of tie the whole cue together. Because I often sort of, I don’t know whether you know, but I’ve got some courses where I teach people how to do trailer music and one of the things I often try to get them to do first is actually like sketch out the entire cue. Again either starting with hits or rises or like you say signature sounds or a pulse or something that kind of gets the shape of the track there. Because then as you say from there, once you’ve got maybe the basic structure and a feeling of development through like you say either modulation or I don’t know dynamics or rhythm, you can then, you’re essentially when orchestrating the idea.
Cody: Right, layering all the pieces with it and orchestrating it.
Rich: Exactly yes. How many strings can I get playing this same ostinato? So my question to you is so once you’ve got your signature sound started, you’ve sculpted the track, you’ve started to fill out the parts, what is your approach when writing the string parts, I’m talking about the back end specifically because you’re I don’t know, no pun intended about your behind here, but your back ends sound huge, I mean they sound enormous, and they’ve got a wonderful breadth or sound as well. You’ve got really like, a lot of synth stuff that feels really close in your face and then you’ve got these sort of huge booms at the back and everything just feels really well placed in the sonic dimensions. I mean how are you working that out?
Cody: Ok. So it can be a little bit tricky, but when it comes to like working with the string parts I try to keep all the strings the same reverb settings, I do like to use a lot of the UAD plug-ins, and reverse the audio. The API vision strips, one plug in that I use pretty much on every orchestral section at least, like on my strings on my brass.
Rich: Is that a directional mixer?
Cody: It is, it’s a channel strip so it has like a gate, it has a compressor, it has an EQ, like a high pass filter, low pass filter, you can add gain and what not to separate the sound a little bit more. There’s a lot you can do with this, so you can really push the input gain up and pull the output gain down to kind of give it that extra little bite. You know if you want to give it that little push, or you can just use the API EQ which has a lovely sound if you really push some of the higher frequencies on it. It just makes one little DB push will make it cut through when it wouldn’t cut before. So a beautiful plug in. and then kind of going along with that there’s the API 500 series EQ set which has the 550 and 560 EQs. I use those a lot as well if I just want specifically EQ and nothing else. No compressor or anything like that. Those as well will add a warmth, they will add character to it and they will give a nice bite if you boost in the right frequency. Kind of that mid to upper frequencies to cut through the mix better. So I use that a lot.
Reverb, a lot of automating reverb when it comes to like the end of sections so if you come to a point where the track is going to break have the reverb automate upwards so that it has a longer decay at that point so it really rings out. But automated back down when everything comes back down so it’s not just a bunch of reverb mush.
So those little tricks to create a sense of depth because when you have that big impact and everything is ringing out afterwards it gives you that sense of this is huge. Really you just brought that depth of sound and that reverb, for the moment you really notice it. And then you suck it back away once everything else comes back in. a lot of cutting of instruments, if its not playing anything low cut the low, even if it is something low, cut the low because you want to make room for the drums, you have to get them to cut through the low synths, really especially the drums for trailer music you need that power a track and if you have these super beefy low strings and synths and everything down in there it’s going to really eat into that. So it might sound a lot bigger and better by cutting up the lower bigger parts of the sections that don’t necessarily need to have it. It may sound contradictory to get too much going on in that low area, it’s going to go to mush really quickly.
And then I do, I use the Valhalla reverb mostly these days, which is actually a great reverb plug in. I use that to get a lot of the depth that I get because I play around at depth setting on different instrument sections, and synth sections or percussion or whatever and I will have different depths in different decay times depending on what different sections are playing so it’s not just everything going through one room, which on the one hand I like to have everything going through the same space so it sounds uniform, sounds convincing as like a live performance, but we’re doing trailer music, trailer music performance. A live orchestra is never going to sound like to the same energy level and power as like trailer music does. We’re not going for realism necessarily we’re going for over the top.
So utilising different reverb settings in that sense to have differentiating like levels of depth for different sections will allow you to kind of get things separated out to some extent if everything is one space, like if you had 100 players sitting in the middle of one stage or it’s not going to really summarise it. The whole point of a stage is that the players can all be spread out and take up the whole stage. Well I use kind of depth and panning in that sense, and spread everything out so that it’s not just condensed in one little spot where everything is playing together, but it sounds more like everything is spread out much more and gives it that depth. In my mastering I really love just one plug in, I’m horrible with names of things so…
Rich: You’re doing pretty well so far.
Cody: But the UAD Channel Limited Curve Bender, EQ is great that’s a mid side, you can achieve this with any kind of a mid side EQ, but the Curve Bender is good one and essentially you can use it to boost the frequencies of the higher frequencies, but only on the sides and by boosting the highs on the sides, not the boosting the highs in the mids that will allow it to create that sense of extreme width and make it feel much larger and bigger. Just by turning that plug in you will hear the difference with those highs on the sides. And you conversely you will do things like boost the lows perhaps, not just the mids and maybe even reduce or eliminate a lot of the lows on the sides. Because you really want to confine the below mids, especially the lows for like straight up the centre 9of your spectrum and then the highs will be like where it creates that massive sense of depth. And together it forms a huge amount of power.
For brass the same kind of thing as the strings, I like to put a lot of well not a lot I usually don’t put very much compression on either the strings or the brass, I really like to keep those rather organic in that sense, but using EQ to boost certain frequencies to really make them cut through and sound more powerful, especially like in the mids, upper mids, being kind of strategic about where to place it. And I can’t really tell you always put it right here at this point because it depends on the track right. A great plug in is a Fat Filter Pro L, or Pro Q, the EQ filter. Because you can actually have a brads buzz and a string buzz together, insert that EQ on the string buzz, another instance of that EQ that Pro Filter EQ 3 on the brass, play them both at the same time and one of those EQ instances will tell you where those two instruments are conflicting. It will indicate a little red, it will highlight red where the frequencies are overlapping. And that they will tell you ok maybe I should lose the strings here a little bit but cut the brass a little bit there, so they’re not fighting against each other but working more cohesively together. Because mixing is really about how do I make it all work together as opposed to how do I make these strings stand out more. Well you can’t just slap a bunch of effects on the string because they’re just going to maybe overpower everything else, it’s not about that so much as it is taking everything gel together. And sign EQ is a very strategic way of doing that.
And the I usually reserve my piece of compression more for the drums right, well definitely heavily go in on the compressors for that, to give it a lot of bite and attack and power, trying to focus on using as minimal amounts of low instruments in the drums as possible, focus on one or two that are like your bread and butter low and then everything else needs to be like more of your mids and highs to fill out the sound. You know you want your drums to be more of a boom, the thump, the, what’s the….
Rich: The smack, the crack.
Cody: The crack or the sizzle. So if you kind of break it down in that sense you want most of your focus on altering it be the upper end of all that. You probably get beefy drums but don’t play your whole bunch. And then cut the low out of everything else. If it has low in there too cut it, just cut it all, cut everything below 100 or 200, if its a mid drum or a high drum just cut all that low so you can make room for that low drum early.
I don’t know if I’m just going off on a tangent. I mean I could talk about this stuff for hours.
Rich: I think what you’ve just supplied the list is a master class.
Cody: There you go, but there’s a lot to be said about just good writing too, the best written tracks I find usually don’t require nearly as much work on the back end of trying to pack it with mixing. So if you have a good background in orchestration and know how to use the instruments the way they’re supposed to be used, if you know which ranges cello works best with, which ranges the violin works best with, which ranges the trumpet works best with and the french horn and so forth, a well written track will kind of mix itself to a point and then you can just use the plug ins to kind of sweeten it, or in the case of trailer music take it over the edge. Push it beyond what’s natural but still sounds good.
Rich: Some amazing tips in there, I just want to pick up on that last one you talked about where like a well written track like is easier to mix. The thing that I kind of want to disagree with you, like I want to agree completely because I do agree, because actually when you’re orchestrating it well you’re layering the frequency to the point where there’s nothing conflicting. So you’re essentially just allowing the mix to sit and do what it needs to do because everything is producing the goods. With trailer music it’s not like we’re just sat in front of an orchestra, because you will have all of your strings and brass and percussion doing their jobs beautifully and then you throw on a massive riser which is immediately conflicting with those guys.
Cody: You can’t have a riser player sitting up on stage. Obviously that’s not realistic.
Rich: You’ve got just like a second orchestra all just doing risers in the room, and then you’ve got all of these other instruments that all of a sudden make that sort of classical orchestra, like a completely different ball game. And that’s what I was really interested in in what you were saying about using the reverbs and then place things in different spaces. I always love the trailer music for the fact that it feels like you’re not just listening to a band in a room, you’re not just listening to an orchestra in a hall, it feels like you’re listening to an orchestra on a moon or in a massive battlefield. There’s like huge drums in the distance, there’s like a choir over up on that cliff top there, there’s some guy with a violin stood right in front of you, like scratching it to death. And there’s all these different sounds in these different settings. And that’s what your mixers do so well. They put all these what would essentially kind of conflicting sounds, they put them into this lovely world. You know giants jumping around in the background, angels singing in the skies, planes crashing booming, and that’s what you get from your tracks. Well that’s what I get anyway. I think that’s why tracks are so placeable, especially with a big film. Because they have that sense of scale and gravitas, which is also, hearing you explain that process is just like well of course that makes sense now. Yeah that’s great man. I want to ask you, so as a trailer composer what creative barriers do you think we face, like on a day to day basis?
Cody: Right yeah, that’s a big one. Because trailer music is, I think a lot of people either don’t know trailer music very well or those who have kind of different tones too, I think a lot of people have this predisposed idea that trailer music just all sounds the same. And to some extent they are actually kind of right. You know a lot of the core progressions from tone track to the next to the next, you know they might follow the same chord progressions, you know you have that one chord then you go like the lower sixth chord, it’s just like all of it is very much, there are certain troops I guess that are consistent in the trailer world from one piece of music to the next. So one struggle that I have, and I think all trailer composers do at some point is how do I make my next track stand out from the last one I did when the language of trailers is very much focused around that expected kind of chord progression.
And in a lot of ways the weird chord progressions, the more unique ones are the ones that don’t place, you know the ones that you see in the next Marvel trailer or the next DC trailer or whatever. They’re going to use those same chord progressions that you’ve heard dozens and hundreds of times. So what works, works. But at the same time you don’t want to have to just use the same musical language a thousand times, you want to be creative and be able to express your creativity and come up with something new and different. So the comment that I started with in this interview, was how you use sound to make tracks do that, and that’s one thing that I do to help make up for the fact that the musical language may not be anything radical compared to the rest of the music going out to the trailer music world. But I try to make the sound design, make it stand out to some extent. So I try to make the track stand out by focusing on elements that will make it unique and make it stand out. And then if the track does follow kind of a more expected musical language from a perspective and then you know the track still is unique and still memorable without being too radical and too different that it doesn’t work for trailers. So it’s kind of a word slippery slope that you have to fight, you have to find something that’s comfortable, or not comfortable, but that fits the scope of trailers and that one thing that Mark Petre always talks about is having the authenticity of trailers, right having the authentic trailer sound, and I think having a certain language kind of automatically sets you up for that authenticity, because if you go too extreme with chord progressions it’s going to be too weird that you, know you get a lot of John Williams kind of stuff in trailers, you know unless you’ve got like a Star Wars trailer or whatever, or something really fancy driven, they want something that’s simplistic, but not simplistic. So it’s simplistic from a musical perspective, it’s not going to have any more than three or four chords, but it’s going to be complex in many of the other ways the track is composed, whether that be from instrumentation, or the sound design or some kind of reproduction technique using some kind of cool parallel compression to create some cool interesting effects, or something. There’s a lot of things you can do to make up for the fact that the harmonic language isn’t going to be anything that’s breaking barriers. If you know what I mean.
Rich: So I love that you brought this up, because I get the feeling that this is the creative barrier that almost every trailer composer has. Especially working with like you say the hybrid orchestral, the blockbuster trailer sound., I mean I’m kind of blessed in that my niche is thrillers and horrors so although I have dabbled in the bigger blockbuster stuff I don’t even often have to worry about chord progressions any more.
Cody: It’s true, a lot of the thriller stuff is kind of on one note all the way through.
Rich: Oh yes. I’m thinking how am I going to make A sound good this time. So yeah, but that is also for me one of the saving graces of trailer music because I actually think it’s the huge limitations and the really obvious formulas that make it exciting. And I think that’s when you really have to bring out the creativity. Because rather than just thinking to yourself I don’t like, when I used to do song writing, I’d be thinking I’ve got to come up with the really original chord progression and I’ve got to come up with a really cool original riff, and I’ve got to come up with, and everything had to be origin. But with trailer music you know, we’re going to eb suing the same drummer, we’re probably going to be using the same chord progression, we’re probably all using the same ostinatos in our strings as well. So what can we play around with? And it’s that thing you know, you say sculpting sound is one of the things that I think excites me most about trailer music. Taking a sound of a violin, recording it and then smashing it to death and then seeing what you get.
Cody: Yeah. Make it sound nothing like a violin, you’ll be like what that’s actually kind of cool, and that’s something that is unique, it’s you now, but you started with the violin sample, so absolutely, yeah I’m a huge fan of that.
There’s actually, one of my early placements wasn’t really a full trailer placement, it was when I was first getting started and Captain America Civil War had just released their first trailer and I did this track where I made these transitional elements using a french horn, it was just like a french horn crescendo. But I layered like some kind of weird distortion in and compression. I can’t remember what I did to it, but I made it sound like this word transform thing, but it started as a french horn kind of sound. Anyway I sat there and I watched the trailer and there’s the point after the first act in the trailer where its going on the second, and then I what my sound come in, it’s like hey that was my little french horn sample, but no one in the world would know that was a french horn. And that was actually the only thing I had in that trailer right. Three second little transitional little element, but that was an example where I made something, I thought it sounded pretty cool but it was an instrument, french horn everyone knows a french horn, you would never know it was a french horn to start with, so there’s a lot of things you can do to adjust your samples and messing around with some modulation type plug ins to come up with some weird and unique or cool or catchy, or something that hooks you. And you know.
Rich: I couldn’t agree more and actually it’s quite funny because I got two TV spots for Captain America Civil War and similar things, like it was a single bwaam I got placed at the beginning and it was like winning. Again it was like some ethnic flute that I just detuned and shoved through compression and distortion so it sounded all angled and all weird and it had that, it set the tone for the trailer.
Cody: Yeah it just works. And it was something that was just you, it was unique, it wasn’t just like a braam sample library patch preset that the editors have already heard 30 times from all the other music that’s been submitted, it’s something different and new, so they felt compelled to use it. In your case with that braaam flute. Never heard of a braam flute before.
Rich: Mate you’d be surprised what you can make braams out of you know. Ok. Now this one is, I really like this last question before we come to the quick fire round. Think because I’m often thinking back to myself, and actually this is why I’m doing these podcasts. I sound like an egotist when I say that, I’m not often thinking about myself, I’m often thinking about like the me that was starting out, the me that was starting out would have loved a podcast like this where I could get guys like you talking about your process. Amazing. And the me that was starting out would have loved trailer courses. Because when I started out there were none. So my question to you is what advice I’m going to say to people, but actually what I mean is what advice would you have for yourself or for anyone who is aspiring to become a trailer composer, what advice would you give to your former self?
Cody: What advice.
Rich: Stay the path.
Cody: Stay the path. Come to the dark side. Well I wish someone had given me this advice long before I was doing this, I feel like I wired a little bit late in life to get started, you know I was like 26 or something, not old or anything but any means but I know a lot of guys who are working trailers when they’re like 18. I really wish that I had started much younger, and just went for it much younger and early on in my life so I could have where I’m, at now maybe I could have been right 10 years ago, and where I’m at now I could be way beyond that at this point in my career if I had started much younger. So my advice would be don’t wait, get started, get doing this as early as you can even if you are still in college. Actually a good friend of mine Jordan Reece, he’s a composer of trailers working in, well I went to school with him but he’s from Wales, he lives in Wales, he was making trailer music and getting trailer licenses while he was still in college and doing both at the same time. And I admitted him for that. And when I first met him online I was like how old are you, and I was like you’ve got to be kidding like well like 25, 26, he was liked no I’m 18. What, your just like for trailer and just starting a school and just starting at university and it just kind of blew my mind I really wish I’d started young and if I was to give anyone advice start young, figure it our early on so you don’t have to figure it out later on and then your career will thank you. Because as we talked about earlier it can take many years to kind of get a consistent revenue stream, going as a composer. You don’t want to be like out of college and then you’re figuring out how to do this, making money doing this how do I start to build a career out of this by that point its not too late, but it’s going to make it much harder for you to be able to do that without having to get another job to help sustain you first. So I guess that’s one piece of advice I would give myself. I’m trying to think of something else, there’s something else I would say.
Rich: Can I add something to that piece of advice?
Rich: It’s like an extension of that I guess, I think those of us who are on the creative path have had a little voice at the back of our mind for a very, very long time saying I want to write music. And what you’re saying is basically don’t ignore that guy, you know you’ve got to pay attention to that, that little voice, whether you want to call it your higher soul you know your purpose whatever it is, that’s the thing you need to listen to.
Cody: Yeah you basically summed up what I was trying to say but you made it sound so elegant. So yeah that’s perfect – yeah listen to that voice, and if you feel that call, do it, just start doing it, don’t keep telling yourself I have to wait until I have this sample library to be able to go for it, or I have this kind of education to be able to go for it. I mean honestly some of the composers out there have no music education at all. Look at Han Zimmer I mean he has like no music university level training yet he’s probably the most recognisable film composer out there beside John Owens or something. But so you don’t need to wait for things to happen, just start writing, start composing, you know use your, compose from the heart, do what you like to do, don’t try and compose a certain style because that’s the in thing. I mean you will reach a point where you have to do that, but when you’re first starting out you know to focus on what you enjoy, what you’re best at because that’s going to be you do better than anything else that you would be able to do, I feel.
The thing that I’m passionate about is the thing that the I’m best at and still be able to do the things, still be able to develop a better skill for other sides as I’ve been forced to do as a trailer composer, I’ve had to trailers pop songs and hip hop songs and all sorts of kind of obscure things. I’ve had to do remakes of like operatic kind of pieces and do my best to isolate the vocals from like the original Pavarati recordings and stuff, in fact I’ve done some obscure things, but the thing I’m always going to be best at is what drew me in to like wanting to listen to trailer music in the first place which is, not that anyone wants to listen to trailer music I’m an oddball maybe there, but I was really drawn to that big epic huge larger than life sound that we were getting like, you know 10 years ago when Thomas Burgess was one of the like only publicly available trailer composer, it’s like music that you could just go on I-Tunes and buy. I was buying up all his stuff and I was listening to it day in, day out you know. It was like a fire in my belly, I want to be like him, I want to do like him. And I’m going to do my best to get to that level, and even if I don’t get to that level, if I could get at least to this level maybe IT would still be good enough. But there’s nothing stopping you from starting as soon as soon as you realise you have that passion for it.
Rich: I could not have put it any better than that. Well said sir. I liked the emphasis on enjoyment as well.
Rich: Because if you don’t have the enjoyment you will quickly lose the drive, so you must do the stuff that you enjoy.
Cody: Yes, its, there are people who enjoy accounting and engineering and enjoy being doctors and nurses and those are the jobs that are perfect for them and that’s how they go to work and the time is gone and they get to go home and it didn’t even feel like they were gone all day. If music is that passion for you, you need to cultivate that, you need to go for it early on and don’t shy away from it, because regret is, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have to really experience like regret, but so it’s told, regret if you look back on your life and realize I wish I’d done that, I wish I’d gone for it and didn’t you’re going to regret it then wondering what would happen if I just tried, if I just gave it my best. Don’t let fear stop you, you know it all come down to fear in that sense. So much of the creative obstacle is fear. And if you shove that fear arise if you just let your love and passion for the music and the art come through then fear has no palace.
Rich: Yes. End the podcast now. That’s beautiful. Again I love the fact you talk about fear, so much, I think it’s such a shame that in the music industry there isn’t enough talk about mindset. Especially when you have guys like us whose work is at a desk on your own. You know you need to stay on top of yourself, you’ve got to make sure you’re looking after yourself, focusing on what you enjoy and not listening to those fearful voices that are either coming in there or from around you. You know.
Cody: Yeah. Iceman the trailer world can be very difficult to cope with in that regard because fear comes from like the fear of rejection and the caption in trailers is fierce, if you go for like the next, Avatar is going to come out some point, if you go for an Avatar trailer you better be willing to bet that there is going to be hundreds of other composers that are pitching for it, trailer houses who are creating trailers to compete with their trailers to compete with other cuts and other cuts and there can be dozens of cuts created with dozens if not hundreds of different options of music available. And you know really only one person is going to get the main music or if they split it up, like there’s a first half and second half main music, you know only a handful of people are going to be able to send it in, they got like a teaser trailer for Avatar or whatever. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the 200 composers who busted their buts trying to create something amazing for it, it doesn’t take away from the fact they perhaps did create something truly amazing for it. So the rejection isn’t something that you have to let affect you.
But in a sense you learn from it, and you allow that to help you to grow and apply what you learn from that project to the next project. Because you have to get used to the fact that you’re going to lose most of the time, even if you perform perfectly, you know you can learn from it, even if you do the perfect track that everyone listens to it is brought to tears right. That doesn’t mean you’re going to land the trailer still. The perfect track still may not land 50% of the time in the actual trailer pitch. And what actually lands may be something you watch the trailer and you like that was an odd choice its not bad but there’s something different, creative minds involved in the process creating a trailer. The people in the trailer house, not the kind of people in the music publishing side of things, but the trailer house editors, the music supervisors, the producers and everyone involved in the actual movie studio themselves. And then if it goes up high enough of course it will involve directors and things like that as well. There’s a lot of places where a trailer can get chopped down and that rejection can immediately hit you. Well actually it won’t really hit you because you will never find out you didn’t get it until the film comes out.
So it’s a weird industry in that regard and rejection is something you deal with the majority of the time. But you have to stick to it, you have to continue writing and whatever you don’t land in that trailer that music could still be energetic enough that it could go into an album and get released under an album with that overture and be used in a different trailer. Which has happened to probably most of the trailer composers numerous times I imagine. It’s happened to me a few times. So rejection is not always a bad thing because it can lead to greater opportunity later on. So I’m like a motivational speaker.
Rich: Hey I’m loving it, it’s great.
Cody: Inner motivational speaker.
Rich: Yeah that’s great you should start summing up and pacing around the room.
Cody: It’s all the antibiotics I’ve been on, all the antibiotics to treat this laryngitis induced staph infection I guess.
Rich: Oh really, I’m sorry you should go start drinking as well you know really fire up, get some beers and antibiotics, that words right.
Cody: I think I’ll stick to the antibiotics right now.
Rich: Actually it’s funny you say that because actually I found the rejection of customs very hard to deal with in my first time I started. Because actually when I first got into trailer music quickly got onto one of the final cuts for two huge Hollywood films, it was the first Star Trek remake, not the second Star Trek remake what’s it called?
Cody: Into Darkness.
Rich: Into Darkness no is that the third one? The second one.
Cody: Into Darkness was the second one.
Rich: Into Darkness yeah. And Man of steel. So I’d barely been in trailers at all like maybe a few months, I suddenly got into these cuts, I thought my gosh my life is going to turn around, I was still at the time teaching, I was teaching at the time, I was like I’ve made it and then the trailer came out and I’[m like hold on, wait this isn’t my music. And then it dawned on me that I didn’t get the trailer and that really hit me hard the first time.
Cody: Yeah. Composers don’t realise how steep that slope is, to be able to land a trailer how many obstacles there are, and you think you’re told a lot of positive information and go yeah editors loved it, supervisors loved it, the producers they loved it, we even heard the director loved it, but then the trailer comes out and it’s not yours and you kind of like what gives everyone liked it, why didn’t they use it.
Rich: Yeah, because the film director had a sudden change of heart. So yeah there are so many reasons why it didn’t make it but that was a real like blow to the gut and actually I don’t really do customs any more, because I prefer to, again customs are quite demanding.
Cody: They are.
Rich: Especially because I’m in the London time zone it’s kind of like we’re sort of winding down to our evenings. LA wakes up and goes to work for us. And so you go ok I’ve got to work in the evening too. And then they’ll be like we need this for tomorrow and then you’ll work during the day and so yeah. It can be quite grueling. So yeah, my preferred way of working is production music essentially. And Perhaps there will be whispers of a retailer but then I demo something that then gets sent in an early cut, but this is not an official custom, it’s like…
Cody: It’s something that’s just unreleased. That would be on an album.
Rich: Yes exactly. And that’s why I keep my fragile ego safe. You know. That’s. Anyway I think what we’re going to do now I’m aware of the time, let’s go onto the quick fire round.
Cody: Alright let’s do it.
Rich: Are you ready for this?
Cody: I hope I’m ready for this. I’m a little intimidated now, this quick fire round.
Rich: Mate they’re all super easy questions. Ok, firstly what’s your door?
Cody: Logic Pro 10.
Rich: Cashback, Yeah go team Logic. What is your…
Cody: Since I was working at Apple.
Rich: Amazing. So what’s your go to the piano library?
Cody: I like the one called Emotional Piano. Which is, I forget who made that one all the time, was it Sound Iron?
Rich: It’s not released any more if it ‘s Emotional Piano is it?
Cody: Well it used to be Tone Home years ago.
Rich: Tone Home yeah.
Cody: But Sound Iron picked up, yeah you can get it today on sound Iron.
Rich: There we go.
Cody: I use that one and then I actually like a lot of the Native Instruments one too. Like the Gentleman and the Giant and Maverick. So I use some for the Native Instruments one as well, but I usually tend to gravitate first towards the Emotional Piano.
Rich: Nice. Go to the string library?
Cody: Just kind of bread and butter strings I’ll use Cinematic Studio strings. For longs and maybe for shorts, but usually I will gravitate to also adding a layer of LA Scoring Strings, I sort of have the last light version, but last light has all this spiccato and staccato articulations, so I really love, even though they’re not exactly new they’ve been around for many, many years i still consider them to be like one of the best, if not the best articulation libraries in the market for the long articulation like your legatos and stuff I will use the Cinematic Studio Strings. Maybe a layer of Cinematic Studio Solo strings sitting on top of Cinematic Studio Strings to give it like that first chair feel, just kind of give it a little bit of extra lift.
Rich: That extra emotion.
Rich: Go to brass library?
Cody: I don’t have one, I always use a mixture of Hollywood Brass, I find the french horn is still really good for cutting through.
Rich: I was going to say that cut through.
Cody: There are meatier sounding french horns available, like I also use the Metropolis Mark One Brass, which the low brass on it is amazing, its awesome, and then the french horn and trumpet to sound really good as well, but the low brass and trumpet are like to die for. So I really love the low brass, they have a natural cimbassi and they have bass trombones and tubers yes. So all that layer together like a really meaty low brass sound. And then the metropolis, french horn layered with perhaps the Hollywood Brass french horn works really, really well. And I do have Berlin Brass as well, I do like the trumpet in Berlin Brass, that’s my favourite trumpet. So I don’t have one library fits all, favourite brass combination, Metropolis Art, Hollywood Brass, trumpet, Berlin Brass,
low brass Metropolis Art.
Rich: In style with your music. It’s a hybrid library you’re creating.
Cody: Exactly yes.
Rich: Ok, well I’m sure your answer for this next one is going to be similar then, go to percussion? And when I’m saying percussion I’m not talking about big trailer one hits, I’m talking about your go to drums basically
Cody: Yeah. So for that as appreciated as it may sound damage is really good, even though it’s again a little bit older. It’s a great library for, not the looks part of it and not the impacts to have like the trail off, the tail part of it, those are, the more you hear it, you’ve probably heard it a billion times, but like just the core drum parts of that library really, really, really good. The Metropolis Art percussion, you’ve got some really meaty low drums which works great, the Albion Drums can be really good for that same purpose the low meaty kind of drums. And then I also like to layer organic kind of percussion type of instruments with more organic sounding drums too, so I like to layer a lot of like hit kind of sounds that aren’t necessarily kind of drums….
Rich: Lunch bag.
Cody: Yeah, yeah. So like EVA Instinct is really kind of like a sound library and they’ve got some really good sounding hits in there that i like to use for a drum layer, even like Project Alpha, Project Bravo, have some good hits that work as a drum layer. And then more recently a newer one is that could be Pulsetter, Pulsetter Sounds. They have a part called detonator range which has some really awesome punch hits that work really well as a snap and a punch on your drums as a layer.
Rich: There’s a saying on there that’s essentially like their huge one shots, I can’t remember which one, but there’s one that’s like yes, this is the money.
Cody: This is it.
Rich: Ok, go to synth?
Cody: If I had to pick one I would pick Omnisphere, it’s incredibly versatile, it has a large sample base kind of library within it that can also be mangled within the synthesizer engine as well as being able to synthesis using all, using the orb you can do some weird wacky stuff and you can do some crazy stuff with that synthesis even though I had it years and years and years. Every time I sit down with it I can come up with something that I haven’t heard before. So I find that makes it really special. So Omnisphere without a doubt, a bunch of really good synths are like Diva and Zebra, the, what the other one called, Serum, it’s a really amazing wave table synth. Even like a lot of the Native Instruments ones are really quite good. Buy Omnisphere, if I had to pick like a desert island it would be Ominsphere.
Rich: I nod in agreement by the way.
Cody: Ok. What would yours be?
Rich: In agreement yeah. In fact actually, sorry nod, yeah in fact your percussion list was the same as mine as was your brass list.
Rich: Top three effects plugins, I feel like you’ve already said this in your wonderful…
Cody: Mixing or like creative effects or both?
Rich: Well seeing as you’ve already kind of given us your msicing effects earlier on let’s go for creative effects, actually given that your first point of contact is often your signature sound I can imagine the creative effects are pretty important there.
Cody: For sure. First off if you don’t have Sound Toys just go buy the bundle right now, you won’t regret it, or if you don’t want to buy it right now wait till they do a sale, they usually do like a 50% sale off and you can get it for $299 or something.
Rich: Two hundred and ninety nine?
Rich: Two dollars ninety nine cents yeah.
Cody: I mean like $299, I think the regular price is like $500 or something. If you don’t have it either buy it when it’s £299 or even buy it when it’s $500 it’s well worth it, I use a heck of pretty much all of them. The Decapitators are great, if you have any kind of distortion plug in, Pan Am is awesome for that back and forth panning kind of modulation infection, Tremulator is super cool for creating stuttery effects, and if you layer them all together you can come up with some really cool and unique sounds that are really weird. Little Alter Boy for price vending, adjusting and layering it with the original sound, adding some distortion to it. Just awesome stuff. So Sound Toys I don’t know if I could…
Cody: Just one.
Rich: The Sound Toys plugin yeah.
Cody: Sound Toys yeah.
Rich: The little play from Sound Toys yeah. Phenomenal reverb too.
Cody: It is I remember when it first came out and just mind blown, it sounded amazing.
Rich: It’s so good because it doesn’t have any colour, it doesn’t colour it to like a specific sound, this is just like reverb yes.
Cody: Let’s see there’s Eventide, they have a reverb called Mingle Verb which isn’t really like the normal reverb, it’s like a reverb, it’s like super kind of sci fi focused, it can get some really weird kind of interesting results in middle tails, so I choose Mingle Verb when required. So I guess I would count that as one, a really great plug in, it kind of piggy back off a black hole in a way, like you’re familiar with black hole, black hole is more of like you’re, it’s more traditional for reverb but still not traditional seeing as it’s like super long spacey tales, but main load verbing is some really cool, neat kind of wired effects. Offer the company that make Serum I use that’s called LFO tool, it adds like an extra LFO based material to signals go through it, so you can add like choppy effects, you can make it modulation and pitch adjust and do things in real time like in step sequence kind of manner, that’s it.
Cody: Which is a really cool plug in. there’s another one called Glitch. I think Glitch 2 is the latest version. I’m trying to think of who made that one. Like Glitch is, I use it probably more than I do the Xverb one, but both of them are kind of can be used in a similar fashion, kind of a step sequence or kind of modulation, processing effect plugin has built in delay and modulation and stimulating kind of thing, gate kind of plug in effects. So it’s kind of like an all in one, but you can process it all over again like a step sequence kind of sequence. A sequenced strain of bats so you can have that not just hate that plays straight on forever, but it only affects the first and the third beat of the measure however you programme it.
One that I use a lot, I use the Waves IM Pusher which is something I use in conjunction with or instead of sometimes Fat Filter Saturn. The Saturn is a really good come saturation plugin, which you can really use to give synths the edge, like and then the Iron Pusher can be used in a similar fashion, even though it is not a multi band patriator. It’s kind of like what you would expect Ozone to do to your master buss, kind of refocused for individualised instruments. To slam and mash and give it a cool gritty sound.
Rich: Awesome. I can’t get enough of those plugins. One of my favourite ones is PSP Vintage Warmer. I can’t get enough of that plug in, you just put that on any bass and it’s just like yes.
Cody: Yes that’s the one.
Rich: Yes that’s it. I’m not even touching anything. I’m just putting it on. Ok and what’s your number one piece of advice to write better trailer music?
Cody: Ok. Number one piece of advice is to listen to trailer music. I know so many composers who write to me, or even friends who are local, how do I get into trailer music? I want to do trailer music. And they’re not familiar with any of the trailer music publishing companies, they haven’t heard any, if I mention a bunch of publishing names like Elephant if I give them a list of like 20 names they wouldn’t have heard of any of them. And they’re not kind of up to date with what’s out there from trailer music, they don’t know what trailer music sounds like. Quite simply put. To be able to write it you’ve got to know what it sounds like. To be authentic trailer music you have to know what authentic trailer music is. The best advice is to listen to trailer music, study it,. Watch every trailer that you can that comes out, keep up with the rounds because trailer music doesn’t just stay the same all the time, new trailers will come out and the style of music and the way music is used in the tilers will fluctuate over time. So keep up with those trends, keep up with the publishing companies that are relaxing music, study their music, study the composers and just listen to it and see what comes out. And the more that you can get that sound ingrained into your head just simply ;listing, ear training, in college you study ear training, the hope is that you will initially be able to develop- not perfect pitch, but really good relative pitch. You can’t just unlock it like that, you just wake up one morning and you’ve got a really good relative pitch, it takes years of study and it becomes a habit, it becomes ingrained in you. So studying trailer music is really what’s going to help you to figure out and learn what your music sounds like. So that when it comes time for you to write it you know what to expect. And you can kind of pull the format and the understanding of sound and you will know right then what writing is trailer music or what I’m writing is not tile music because you know what trailer music is by that point.
Rich: Yeah, do your research.
Cody: Yeah, exactly do your research.
Rich: Right. You’ve given so much value to this , it’s been awesome, I feel like I learned some stuff. I definitely have learned some stuff. When you were off on your creative process I was like shall I get my pencil. I did get my pen. No mate you’ve given so much value it’s been, and also not just to hear your story about how you got there but also in so much detail in your creative process. I find it really exciting, because it’s…
Cody: I’m glad it makes me happy.
Rich: So now if anyone wants to get in touch with you or find out listen to your music, where shall we send them?
Cody: Ok, my website is codystill,com. Just my first and last name. My email address, you can always email me is email@example.com. I’m on Facebook so just search for me on Facebook, I have a personal profile, so send me a friend request. I may not approve of it right away. I’m kind of slow at that sometimes. I have quite a lot in my queue, and I’m kind of lazy about it, but send me a request and I will definitely accept you. I also have a professional Facebook page codystill-composer. If you search for me it probably will come up. I’m on Twitter @stillcody, I’m also on Instagram I think my handle on that is @codytstillmusic I believe.
Rich: You’re everywhere.
Cody: Yeah I try to stay on all of those.
Rich: You have a pretty fantastic Facebook group I believe.
Cody: Yes, I also have a Facebook group, my wife and I are admitted for the group. It’s called the trailer music composer support group. Definitely send us a request to join, all I ask is you answer the two questions during the invite process or during the request process, so I will ask you what your role is in trailer music, say composer or if your an editor say editor and so on. And then read the rules and that’s it you can get in the group. We have like 40,000 people, many, many publishers are part of the group, publisher owners, supervisors, publishing groups, editors at the trailer houses as well as a lot of composers in the group as well. So definitely join there’s a lot of stuff that’s really great in the group that will help you as well.
Rich : Yeah, I second that because the amount of value you can get from the comments and support in that group is phenomenal. And also it’s so active, like I literally don’t check it for a day and I’m like there’s literally hundreds of things. It’s amazing.
Cody: Yeah, the group we don’t allow self promotion, that’s one of the reasons I think the group has been so successful, because there’s so many groups that’s it, just one post after the next to check out my latest track. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing your tracks and wanting to get feedback or wanting to promote yourself but the groups we really wanted to focus on creating a network for other composers to connect with you. Usually what happens if you have a bunch of posts where they check out my track there’s pretty much no interaction, this is just a post that everyone kind of ignores. It’s sad that it’s that way but it is that way unfortunately. So the group really wants to be a place for composers to connect with other composers because think about it i spend most of my time in this room here, right, even outside social isolation, social distancing, composers are very isolated in general it’s just the nature of out role, so the group is a great place for you to be able to connect with other composers, build a network create friends and sort of have that relationship with other people that do what you do, especially for those who maybe don’t live around other composers, especially trailer composers. Like I’m in Texas in Houston, pretty much here there’s not any other composers in the state of Texas doing trailers. There’s a couple I know that Texas is a huge state. I can’t drive and see them. So yeah it’s a great place to connect and just build a network and hang around some peers in the industry.
Rich: Yeah, and obviously get top quality banter.
Cody: And get some advice.
Rich: Yeah, sorry advice not banter. Yeah so I just want to say thank you Cody for taking the time to answer all my questions for the listeners and I’m sure everyone is going to absolutely love the show. It’s certainly my favourite episode so far so thanks very much. I really appreciate it.
Cody: Absolutely, thank you for having me and it’s been fun especially since I haven’t seen life outside these four walls in a little while, it’s good to have another friendly face here and talk about something I love which is trailer music and music in general and be able to share a little bit of my story and what we noted have the deepest respect for you and your work and what you do and so it’s great to finally be able to meet you face to face and be able to connect and have a discussion and i hope we can touch base every now and again too.
Rich: Mate definitely.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. That was an immense interview, mainly fun and just absolutely filled with value and stuff that I plan to implement myself. As ever if you want to get into trailer music, head on over to the trailer music school, and also go and join up with Cody’s Facebook group, the trailer music composers support group. Tons of value there as well, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to this. I really appreciate it. You guys are awesome.