In our first Artist Spotlight interview, we’re joined by Introspectral who is also the author of The Weird Sound Samples sound library which you can download for free from our website. Introspectral talked to us about his album The Weird Side Of The Mundane, his background as a sound designer, and he also gave us some insight about the forthcoming InterSpace sample pack which will be released on 99Sounds next Monday!
UPDATE: Download your free copy of InterSpace!
99Sounds: Hi Johan, thank you for releasing The Weird Side Samples and the forthcoming InterSpace libraries on 99Sounds. We know that The Weird Side Samples was based on different bits and pieces from your album The Weird Side Of The Mundane, but can you tell us how InterSpace came about? What was your main source of inspiration when working on this second sample library?
Introspectral: Hello! Thank you for releasing them. I am very excited about these (and future) releases! Well… It started out with me being all jolly about the response I got from“The Weird Side Samples” and in a way realizing that I might actually have to give the sound-designer in me a proper chance. I had this theme in my mind that I wanted to explore.
It was originally intended for an album, but I felt that it would be a pretty good fit for a sample pack. The theme was based around a Sci-Fi setting revolving around a ship drifting through silent space on a long forgotten quest. The idea was that this ship was so old, all organic life long gone, and all that remained was the ship’s AI, whom patiently and without purpose crossed the galaxies for no other reason then for the sheer joy of doing so.
The way I imagined this to be translated into a sort of sample-adventure was to explore the various parts of the ship, its scenery (planets and nebulas and all sorts of awesome spacey stuff) and the psychology of the AI, divided into various sub-folders based around different themes…
It was in this initial phases of planing (i.e vivid daydreaming) that I came to the conclusion that a project of this scale might not be practically possible at this stage in my life, since I have a lot of other things demanding my time (luckily, almost all of them are pretty sweet indeed).
So, I decided to just start making sounds with this sci-fi setting in mind, and see what I might find. And what I found after hours and hours of adventurous sound sculpting and aural archaeology was a bit darker, and a lot more alien than what I had anticipated. It turned out I had come across some form of ancient alien civilization that would not reveal itself to me directly, but communicated its existence a bit more cunningly through qualities in the texture of the sounds.
I basically made it my mission to try and unfold and crystallize as best I could, the parts of audio containing interesting artifacts which together pointed at a larger picture… which translates roughly to the fact that I recorded a s***load of audio and collected the bits I liked.
99Sounds: Can you tell us a bit more about your first steps in the world of sound design? How did you become interested in this and how did you start?
Introspectral: Well, I can’t really say much about my first steps. I have been making sounds and been fascinated by sound on a textural level for a very long time. But to keep it short, my album “The Weird Side of the Mundane” was in a way my “first” step, in that it is the result of the moment I realized I could actually make something cohesive and “useful” based entirely around my passion for bending and sculpting audio. Audio is not actually my “first” form of creative expression, although it is my main one these days, but I started out in the visual realm.
I have always drawn and painted and used this medium to deal with the emotional onslaught of my early years, and I do know I use sound design in much the same way today as I did drawing when I was a child. In a way it is the same thing, except that I paint with sound instead of colours. I don’t really remember why I became interested in sound design, or when… might have been a Tuesday and I expect that Shpongle might have had a part in it.
99Sounds: What are your favorite tools for sound design? Also, could you tell us a bit more about your sound design process? How do you approach creating your sounds?
Introspectral: This is the question I dreaded, but I’ll answer it as best as I can. My favorite tool, or maybe it is a technique, is audio editing. This is a really boring answer, but editing pieces of audio into new pieces of audio inside Ableton Live is basically what I do. It is far from all I do, but it is where I feel most at home, and it is where I feel that my creative work somehow begins.
This is a bit strange since I will spend hours upon hours twisting and turning and abusing synthesizers and other sound generating apparatus, recording the process in its entirety, and then I bounce the entire session down to a single WAVE file. I seldom go into editing and sample mining (which is, like the name suggests, the process of extracting useful and nice sonic gems out of a recording) at once, because I feel that I get better work done if I let them rest for a couple of weeks before I start cutting them up…
I have a rather hefty amount of these “sonic sessions” laying around on my sound drive, awaiting editing, and I dare say that some of them will never face the digital scissors. My approach to creating sounds is a total trust in my intuition and the knowledge of what I like… That said, I do find myself questioning these factors from time to time none the less. ;-)
But generally speaking, I just try to make sure that I like what I hear. If my wife approves, then I know I have done a good job.
I am planning on recording some smaller video sessions sometime rather soon, to share some bits and pieces of my workflow with whoever may be interested, since I realize that I have a somewhat different way of approaching sound and music… That being said, I very much enjoy the Access Virus TI and the MFOS Weird Sound Generator, both being rather proficient at what they do.
99Sounds: Who were your main musical influences and who is your favorite sound designer? Also, if you had to pick one movie with the best sound design, which one would it be?
Introspectral: I have a few influences that are seemingly unrelated to audio. My main ones are the nature and my son (1.5 years old), both for their ability to approach all of existence with a relaxed and carefree randomness with an unquestionable underlying streak of intent. Musical influences are tricky, since I’m not that much into music (from a consumption point of view) to be honest, but I have a feeling that everything I hear influences me in a way. I’ll name a few exceptional sound designers, though.
Dave Tipper and Simon Posford, both for their almost inhuman attention to detail, and apparent obsession over every frequency within the range of their music. I almost wish I had the patience to strive for their level of perfection.
Amon Tobin, because he seems to have a similar approach to sound as I have and he seems like a pleasant kind of person… A fun, and according to some, unlikely, fact is that I heard the work of Amon Tobin for the first time a few weeks after having finished “The Weird Side of the Mundane”… this was his 2011 album Isam and I was pretty amazed.
As for the best sound design in a movie… this is a tricky one, since I seem to confuse best sound design with awesome movie in my mind… but “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” is a movie that has nice sound-work and is a awesome movie. Also “Across the Universe” for the clever use of music.
99Sounds: The Weird Side Of The Mundane was such a cool album! Could we expect some new music from you in near future?
Introspectral: It was, wasn’t it, I’m glad you think so too! I would very much like to think so. I have released a track recently entitled WoodLand Spirits which is like a three part track telling the tale of the forests surrounding our home, but I have all intentions of releasing many many albums, all in good time. Make sure to drop by my Facebook page, or my main page, www.introspectral.com to keep up with all the various things I do.
99Sounds: Finally, do you have any cool mixing or sound design tips which you’d like to share with 99Sounds readers?
Introspectral: I expect I might, and I will have to convey them via the medium of video. But I can summon a few general ones that I find useful:
1) Mix at low volumes, tired ears don’t add a lot of useful insight.
2) Don’t underestimate the power of taste, if you like it, chances are others will to.
3) Be skeptical towards your intellect, chances are it is lying to you.
4) Although it is crucial to know your tools, not knowing them might be a lot more fun.
5) And finally, to quote my friendly friend Torley: Amplify your Awesome!
Introspectral’s new sample pack titled InterSpace is scheduled for release on Monday, September 22nd on 99Sounds. Stay tuned and check out The Weird Side Samples if you haven’t downloaded it yet!