Interview with our Top Facebook Fans
Interview with our Top Facebook Fans / John Drelick & Patrick Woo / Questions by 8Dio. December 2018.
We decided to pick two of our “Top Fans” on Facebook and offer them a chance to share some insights in to their lives, careers and experiences with 8Dio.
What is a Top Fan? A Top Fan is a badge Facebook now offers the most active and communicative in our community.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you? What do you do?:
My name is John Drelick and I am currently a Senior Sound Designer at High Moon Studios.
I am Patrick Woo. By day I am an effects artist working in the film industry. On the side, I compose, arrange and produce music. I’ve worked in my computer graphics related career for 20 years, and I have only started composing 7 years ago.
Tell us about your background in music:
I studied Percussion Performance and Music Education at the Hartt School in Hartford CT.
While I was there one of the most pivotal moments was when I was introduced to the music of John Cage. The idea that no source of timbre was a more legitimate source of musical expression that the other was profound.
Once I discovered Native Instrument’s Battery I created instruments whose origins were in the physical universe, but the realization was virtual. For example in the physical world we can’t switch from hard and soft mallets or interpolate from pyrex bowl to brake drum to cymbal mid roll but in the virtual world of in 1’s and 0’s we can. From there it was natural progression to become a sound designer as a profession.
Now that the majority of my professional time is committed to sound design, music has become a sanctuary of sorts where I can be as self indulgent as I like as the only person I need answer to is me - or my 5 year old son who offers insightful feedback.
My story is one of a composer and musician still finding my way, testing my footing in the industry. It is not one where I share from a position of success.
In my youth, I took up piano lessons which I did not complete. I enjoy pop, smooth jazz, R&B more than classical. Thus I went on to dabble in various keyboard instruments: the electronic organ, pop keyboard, synthesizers, etc. I also took some computer music production courses.
In my young adult years, I got the opportunity to play in a church band as a keyboardist. I picked up team dynamics in the band and discovered the joy of creating music in a group. I got to serve as the band director for a while, and helped out in writing, arranging and producing music tracks for church events, presentations and albums.
In the middle of my visual effects career 7 years ago, when I decided to kick-start a second career, I felt I needed to make something of my somewhat ‘scattered’ music skill-set and focus on one area. Since I love movies I decided to focus on soundtracks and instrumentals. Understanding visual story-telling the film language puts me in a good position to be sensitive and effective when it comes to supporting visual content with music...
What is your approach when it comes to composing? What is your creative process like?
I’m most interested in the “when the hands come down that is the sound” live approach to virtual instruments - which is counter to my day job’s typical sound design process on a DAW’s timeline. I usually create “environments” to improvise within. The drones and phrase samples from 8Dio instruments are great starting points.
When I receive a brief at the start of a project, I usually do a bit of research. I would urge my clients to provide reference films and videos. I can also break that fixed-in-a-rut situation by suggesting and supplying some references of my own, indicating the possible directions we can take the music.
In many of my story-telling narrative projects (like short films), I find myself not having the luxury of sitting in a room with the clients I collaborate with. In these cases, I will usually ask them to supply me a version of their content with “subtitled” text overlaid on their edit, where they would display their desired mood at each point. This is a great help to learn about the intent of the director. I totally agree with folks who build and use templates. These are huge time-savers. Try as I might, I find myself unable to create an “official” template. Thus, most of the time I start afresh from an empty project...
Tell us about your gear? What is your set up like?
My work rig that I keep at the back of my room for use whenever I need a break (or I’m waiting for a build, etc…) is a laptop that I use Lemur on a tablet to control Reaper functions, a 2 octave Alesis keyboard, an Alesis Control Pad for when I want to use sticks, a Roli Block controller that I like to hold as if it was a kalimba to play with my thumbs, and my trusty old M-Audio Trigger finger.
My home rig consists of a 4 octave Malletkat, a Behringer FCB1010 for controlling loops and VSTi’s on the Malletkat,a bunch of Yamaha DTX pads, M-Audio Axiom49, and all sorts percussion instruments / found objects etc…
I may be what most people would call a bedroom composer. I have a very simple set-up. Everything is “in-the-box”. I am running a 64-bit Windows 10 workstation (Intel Core i7 4GHz, 64GB RAM). I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 1 as my audio and MIDI interface. For my music input I use a Nektar 61-key controller. Finally, I monitor my audio content through a pair of Presonus Eris E5.
For software, I work primarily with Presonus Studio One. I used to rely heavily on Cakewalk Sonar for many years and also FL Studio for a few years before I finally settled down with Studio One.
How have sample libraries impacted your musical career?
Sample libraries have made it possible to not only have instruments at my immediate disposal that otherwise I would have never been able to play (Electric Cello blended with Guitar played from a Malletkat? Sure!) but the ability to create instruments that just can’t exist or would be extremely difficult to play in the physical world (ex. Bowed Pianos) has been so inspiring that I can’t imagine life without them.
In the 80s when I started out playing around creating tracks, everything was hardware. That took up a lot of space. At one time, I used to own 3 synthesizer keyboards (synthesizer workstations anyone?), and a couple of sound modules. I had to plug them all into a power source (power cables), route audio signals into a mixer (audio cables) then to a recorder or pc (USB/serial cables), hook up automation (MIDI, sync cables), etc.
Looking back now, all these took up too much space, too many cables, and too much time to set up.
I am really glad virtual instruments and sample libraries came around to simplify workflow and the barrier to be able to create (arguably) realistic sounding tracks that composers can all have access to.
Without DAWs, sequencing software and virtual instruments, I would go as far as to say that my music career and that of many artists and composers of this generation would be never have taken off...
How did you discover 8Dio?
I discovered 8Dio when Troels composed the music for a game I worked on (Fall of Cybertron). Not only did the music completely elevate the game but timbrally it sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard.
8Dio is a huge player in the virtual instruments space. The name shows up again and again in forum discussions whenever a question like “What’s your favourite sampled instrument?” is asked. That was when I came to know about the company and the excellent products available.
Is there any specific library you cannot live without?
At this point all the 8Dio libraries I own have become my 1st call instruments that you’d have to pry them from my cold dead mallets.
It must be the 1990 Studio Grand Piano. When I first heard it, it was like a dream come true. Since I started using it, I’ve never stopped being amazed by the level the detail, the body and the versatility I can gain from a single piano library. After I acquired it, I have used the 1990 Studio Grand Piano in most of my tracks that have pianos in the instrumentation. The microphones are just so versatile, I am guaranteed to find a sound to fit the occasion. To date, I have yet to “run out of sounds” with this library of a single instrument. It really is one of my go-to pianos.
Is there any underrated library you keep using everywhere?
Whenever I need to add some special bit off kilter sparkle, Wrenchenspiel is my go to.
At this point, I must say I really, really love the Wrenchenspiel! It is such an unexpected, exotic and totally effective instrument when it comes to scoring. Before I met the Wrenchenspiel, I was already obsessed with the use of the Glockenspiel and the role that it plays in shaping the high range in any musical piece.
When I saw Troels’s demo video of the Wrenchenspiel, I was blown away. 8Dio has transformed the instrument into a sound design monster (and more, in a good way). The instrument is so versatile and surprisingly expressive, given that it is constructed out of very tough, rigid and non-resonant parts...
Show us some of your work! What piece are you most proud of?
The most complete piece I have is a drum solo-ish thing where in addition to triggering samples of some of my drums I also triggered samples of SFX and dialogue from early Japanese Kaiju/Sci-Fi movies such as Godzilla and Gamera. I performed this all in one take with the only sound I “played along to” is the theme to Akira Ifukube’s theme from the film “Destroy All Monsters”.
Here’s an example of the 8Dio instruments I’ve been noodling with lately (I’m new to this style of improvisation so don’t laugh too much!).
I’ve been layering the Glass Marimba with the Copperphone, Wrenchenspiel, and Borosilicate Bells, with The New Basstard as accompaniment:
Now that I've conquered some technical issues at the home rig, I was able to quickly spit out something this morning that features one of my favorite 8Dio instruments, Copperphone.
This was a short piece that I did to a written brief to express the mood to a potential project. It has a certain charm to it :)
What would be your advice to those who are looking for a library, but with so many options can't choose what would be the best fit for them?
The video walkthroughs are very well done and give you a good idea of what each instrument is capable of but when you actually get your hands on it - there so much more to every 8Dio library I’ve ever purchased.
8Dio products come with comprehensive videos of the products being played “in real time”. And most of the time they sound fantastic!
A growing trend that many virtual instruments developers are starting to embrace and catching on to (many are playing catch-up), is to have products that sound natural right-away as you play it in. This is a huge step up in the game of sampled virtual instruments. How playable is it? Being able to play in an instrument part and have it already sound believable and almost ready to mix and master can be a massive time saver for any composer.
In the 8Dio world, I see a strong push in that direction at some point in their product development history. The moment they realise they could achieve this, they have never looked back. In fact, 8Dio has become so successful at playable sample libraries that we have come to expect this in almost all the current products they release.
In the end, I encourage anyone considering a new sample library product to look at demo videos and product walkthroughs to understand how the product is meant to be used, and whether that is compatible with how they personally work.