Bryan Lake is the author of Project Pegasus, a stunning piece of sound design work featuring a diverse set of lush evolving pads, sequenced analog arpeggios and various cinematic instruments. Bryan is also known as Sound Author, his sound design alias and the artist name under which he releases free sound banks, NI Reaktor ensembles and other useful items. We talked to Bryan about his approach to sound design, what inspired him to create Project Pegasus and some other interesting behind the scenes stuff. Enjoy!
99Sounds: First off, thank you very much for releasing Project Pegasus as a free sound library on 99Sounds. It’s an impressive sound set. Can you tell us a bit more about the sound design process for this sound library? Which instruments did you use to create the sounds and how did you process them?
Thanks for the kind comments. I’m flattered to have my sounds published on your website. I’m very excited for this release.
I’ve been tinkering with audio for well over a decade. However, much of my time was squandered trying to become a “beat maker.” It was several years later that I became inspired by the minimal works of Brian Eno, especially his early ambient albums such as “Music For Airports” and “Texures”, which are almost entirely devoid of any rhythmic context.
I began to create my own samples specifically for ambient productions almost three years ago while I was first learning the basic principals of traditional subtractive synthesis. At the time, I believe I was using FL Studio’s native plugin 3xOsc, which is a popular choice amongst budding synthesists, given its simple, intuitive work surface.
At first, I was just detuning some basic waveforms slathered with effects, but eventually the process became more holistic. I became obsessed with infinite feedback loops, and began to play with mixers in all kinds of interesting ways, which occasionally got out of hand, but also created some nice sounds I could sample to audio and use later.
After a few months of layering several instances of 3xOsc, I became tired of working in segments. I needed a program with everything in one place. It was actually Bedroom Producers Blog where I first learned about Ichiro Toda’s Synth1.
Before long, I was creating my own patches and experimenting with all kinds of different techniques. I would often record several minutes of a custom patch and then loop a few seconds of audio, drop it into a sampler and layer those samples in a way that they would overlap each other at arbitrary times. I would then route those samplers into separate mixer channels and process them individually, spreading them apart in the stereo field before routing everything into a ‘submix’ channel for a final master.
Some things I kept, while others inevitably found their way to my recycle bin. But eventually, with an improved understanding of audio processing and various synthesis techniques, my process became more focused. A few of the sounds in Project Pegasus were made in commercial synths such as Native Instruments’ Reaktor and u-he Zebra 2, but the majority of sounds originated as patches I made for Synth1, which can be downloaded from the “Banks & Patches” section of KVR’s Synth1 product page.
99Sound: Project Pegasus is such a cool name for a sound library. How did you come up with that name? Also, were you inspired by anything in particular when creating these sounds?
I can’t remember exactly how the title came to be. However, I do remember thinking about the origami unicorn left on Rick Deckard’s doorstep at the end of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, my favorite film by the way. (Vangelis’ score is a huge source of inspiration for me.) But yeah, naming things can be a real pain. I can spend hours just trying to think up a name for something, which is quite frustrating sometimes.
99Sounds: What’s the hardest part of the sound design and sample editing process for you? In my case, it’s finding perfect loop points for longer samples. All of the sounds in Project Pegasus loop perfectly and I can’t even imagine how much time it took to get everything working so well.
For myself, I would say the hardest part of being a sound designer is staying inspired. I have a tendency to obsess over my own creations. I often forget to sit back and listen to other people’s stuff. Also, making a point to listen to new music helps open doors to things I wouldn’t ordinarily gravitate towards.
As for the sample editing process, you just have to find a program that best fits your needs. A lot of people use Audacity, which is a great free program, but I would be lost without Edison Audio Editor. Looping audio is a breeze in Edison. All you have to do is type ‘Ctrl+L’ and the audio looping tool pops up, featuring crossfade controls and a nifty little blur effect that smears audio like hot butter over dry toast. I just love it.
99Sounds: Can you tell us a bit more about your musical history? How and when did you decide to become a sound designer?
I’ve been playing around with VST software since the early 2000’s. My first DAW was Synapse Audio’s Orion, which is still on the market, actually. Since then, I’ve experimented with several different programs, and dozens of plugins.
After a few years of producing a myriad of utterly forgettable tracks, I took up an old childhood dream of learning how to play guitar. My original motivation was a remix album from Norwegian folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience called “Versus” (2001). I was impressed by how acoustic guitar recordings were used in an otherwise electronic medium. I never had any intention of becoming a rock star. I just wanted to create my own guitar riffs and chop them up in samplers.
Well, that was almost five years ago, and while I’m no Jimi Hendrix, I’ve used my own guitar recordings in several of my tracks. In fact, a good number of sounds in Project Pegasus were made from my own guitar recordings and processed in all kinds of weird ways. Ambient guitar is an area of intense interest for me.
99Sounds: You’ve also published a pretty neat tutorial on 99Sounds! Can we find more of your tutorials online?
Unfortunately, I have yet to amass a considerable amount of educational content — being that I am still very much a student — but I update my WordPress blog normally, and I have every intention of contributing educational material as I learn.
99Sounds: Any specific plans for the future? Where are you planning to take your sound design from this point?
While I’m very passionate about synthesis and the various applications in regard to sound design, I’m also very interested in becoming a developer, which is quite an uphill battle if you have very little knowledge of numeric theory and DSP for audio, which is unfortunately true in my case. So, I’ll get back to you on that.
I’ve also become focused on cinematic underscore and sound design for games. In fact, I am currently studying the basic principals of modal synthesis (physical modelling), which is commonly used to create sound effects for multimedia platforms. But for now, I’ve made a point to create patch libraries for both freeware and commercial VST instruments and effects.
After spending almost three years compiling huge atmospheric soundscapes and evolving pads, I find myself getting back into the rhythmic aspects of music production, designing complex arpeggios and highly sophisticated sequences in power synths such as Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere and U-He Zebra 2 — but there are a lot of amazing freeware plugins I’ve been meaning to create patches for also, namely Fuzzpilz’s Oatmeal and polyIblit.
So, yeah, my bucket list takes up a considerable amount of real estate :)
Bryan’s awesome sound library Project Pegasus is available as a free download right here on 99Sounds. Don’t miss this gem if you’re on a lookout for huge atmospheric pads, cinematic soundscapes and juicy analog arpeggios!