Last year I applied for a podcast producer job. I didn't get it, probably because I'd never done it before (which is fine). I could have let the door close on that idea but instead it made me determined to do it anyway.
After pitching Making A Soundtrack to fellow composer (and now firm pal) Dan Watts, we started to plan the first series. At this point neither of us had much of an idea of what we were doing, but the kernel of the idea propelled us forwards.
Fast forward 19 episodes and we have just closed series 1. We've had amazing guests from the TV drama industry, and - more importantly - learned how to produce a podcast BY DOING IT. We are now in a position where we're planning series 2 knowing what works and what doesn't.
By the way, I've learned such a lot from series 1: how to plan a podcast, book guests, interview people; how to avoid speaking over each other, how to edit dialogue, how to collaborate well; and - I suppose - how to be brave in a new environment.
If there is any advice here, it's that if you have a creative idea and think you can do it, then do it. Don't wait for others to give their permission; settle on an idea, plan well and get it done. In my humble opinion it's the best way to get better at any creative craft.
That's all, I just wanted to share my small milestone of producing my first podcast series. If you've heard it and enjoyed it I'm glad. If you haven't and want to check it out go to www.makingasoundtrack.com and have a look around, or just look it up on your podcast app.
Hi everyone, Gareth here.
My recent strategy has been to have adventures in sound. I've written albums; written and recorded poems for kids; I'm co-producing and co-hosting a podcast with Dan Watts; I'm developing a pre-school+ property with Richard Smith.
Today I'd like to tell you about my wonderful experience with poetry in 2019. In January Moose Allain responded to a claim that there's no poetry on Twitter. What if I could find poets on social media who would be willing to have their poems set to music and sound design?
I replied to the tweet and contacted Moose to figure out what to do. Moose was, as you can imagine, very supportive. Pretty much all of the poets I contacted said yes straight away.
By the way, I have discovered that the poetry community - very much alive and well on social media by the way - is open and warm and love their craft as much as I love mine. I am so grateful to them for their permission and participation.
The poets on this little sound adventure were Ian McMillan, Timi Amusan, Brian Bilston, Mukahang Limbu and Marie-Louise Eyres. I was humbled to have a chance to take their precious work and make it into recorded sound. I would also like to thank Kate Clanchy for encouraging her amazing students Timi and Mukahang to take part. You are all wonderful people.
What followed was the series #HashtagPoems, an audio series of five poems previously published on social media, and recorded for the same platform. You can listen to them here. I hope you enjoy them, and that it perhaps encourages you to explore these poets more. And as always: if you like them, share them.
If I can be so bold as to offer a truth: you don't need permission to be creative. Creativity is about finding your own voice, not waiting for the validation of others. So create with abandon, whether it is commissioned or just for you. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy all the amazing poetry you see popping up in your social media feeds today.
It's around this time of year that it's natural to reflect on the months gone by, and especially if you run a small business. My year has been, well, unexpected. I started out by doing a couple of voice over jobs, launched Real World Sounds and recorded eight broadcast-ready sound packs, proceeded to make six music library albums, launched an audio brand for kids, did some more voice over and soundtrack work, created a sound environment with foley and voice over for a Ted Talk art installation and more.
It has been very fulfilling. For many creative people it helps to concentrate on one area and develop their skills and networks. For me the wide variety of work this year has been so rewarding, that I know it's the way forward. It's so easy to put yourself into a category: composer, painter, sculptor etc. If 2018 has taught me one thing it's this: it's not for you to put yourself into a category, others will do that for you. My voice over clients don't care that I'm a composer. It doesn't matter to my composing clients what else I can do. I'm known to them for that thing.
My new year's resolution is to keep developing creatively. There are things I have planned that will feed into this, and for everything else my mind is wide open.
Have a very happy New Year and a creative 2019.
Well, a curse and a blessing really. I realised the other day that my mood is directly tied to the amount of creativity I'm consuming. I previously thought it was tied to stress levels, general contentment etc. It wasn't until I was flicking through Twitter (oh, the irony) and seeing new things being released or created that I noticed my mood physically changing.
I saw some new animation transitions for the next Android OS (see, the curse of the creative brain). I saw the band Lo Moon tweeting and made me think of their debut album I discovered this week. I saw Paddington 2 has been released, really looking forward to seeing that. The Last Jedi deleted scenes? I'll put the kettle on! Oh, and the look and feel of that Blue Zoo animated short 'Via'...it all came out of the brain of concept artist Izzy Burton. How cool is that?
I then saw that Will Belcher of Aardman is nominated for an animation award for Shaun the Sheep. I saw that composer and sound designer Matt Bowdler invited female composers to make an album using his soundsets and sample libraries to celebrate International Women's Day and raise money for Women's Aid.
On top of that I'm busy creating. Two library albums are at the mixing stage and I'm gearing up to release my first Real World Sounds sound pack next week.
So if you need to add a spring to your step today, look around at all the new things being created. You won't have to look very far.
I've started writing this at 10am in a local coffee shop. On a week day. Ooh, you might think, isn't he lucky to be swanning around drinking coffee while the rest of us are working?
The reality is very, very different. I've worked in a few different industries in my adult working life, some office-based, one classroom-based, all - apart from the current one as a media composer - have been dictated by the hours given to me.
Nowadays I'm driven by a different parameter:
How can I be the most creative I can be?
Here are a few (not all) of the things I've learned along the four+ years I've been composing music professionally.
1. It's not about the 9 to 5.
This was a difficult one for me after so many years of routine. Getting up at a certain time and being in a certain place used to = productivity. It took me a while to realise that sitting at the computer and waiting for the ideas to form wasn't the best way to use my time. If I was given a deadline two weeks away there had to be a better way than that. I quickly realised that time away is a brilliant way of generating ideas. Next time you're stuck, just go for a walk. I promise you by the time you get back to your desk you'll have the beginning of something.
2. Think about the tools you need, not about the tools you have.
Once I found my new way of working, I naturally started veering towards routine again, this time in the tools I was using. Now, for something like a TV series it's important for me to use the same instruments and musical motifs for each episode and character, but it shouldn't necessarily be the case for everything I do. So I've started to approach anything new with the attitude that I don't have any tools. How can I realise this? What do I need to get it done? A much better starting point.
3. Personalise your space.
Another factor that didn't hit me until it happened (why would it?) is to consider my environment. Since turning pro I've worked from home, and for a few years this meant in a rented property where I couldn't hang anything on the walls, I couldn't decorate etc, so while I had a space for work it wasn't a particularly inspiring space. Now I have album art and other personal things surrounding me. It makes a difference.
4. Work at your craft.
Finally, and possibly the most important, is to work at your craft. For me that one piece of advice at the start of 'keep composing, even if you don't have a deadline', may be the best single piece of advice I've received regarding creativity. You can network 'til you're blue in the face, but if you don't retain the passion for what you do by losing yourself in it and trying to get better at it, what's the point?
So, as I sit here sipping my coffee, I know that I'll get the job done, by going back to the studio refreshed and feeling creative. Who knows, maybe I'll knock off early.
Posts by Gareth Davies.