Sound Designer Spotlight: Bogdan Kamuz (zaSLON)
Last autumn zaSLON quickly amped up his game and won 5 productions and challenges in just a few months. We at Audiodraft couldn’t miss his sudden jump to success (though we know there really aren’t any shortcuts to success, but long miles behind every pro!) so we wanted to hear from zaSLON himself about his learning curve and ambitions.
First, could you tell us something about your background. Where are you from? How did you start creating music?
I am from a small town named Krasnohorivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. At the moment I live in Kharkiv. In my childhood I grew into music – I studied piano and a bit of violin. At thirteen years old, I got a computer and realised that it could be used for music production, too. From that moment on my immersion in the infinite world of synthesis, electronic sounds and unimaginable music began.
What’s your work environment like? Is it a home studio? Furthermore, what kind of software and hardware are you using for music production, and do you play any instruments?
Due to the fact that I have moved often in the recent times, my studio is a laptop, headphones, a portable recorder and a MIDI keyboard. This is my mobile mini studio. I use Ableton Live as a basic software, it has everything to create music for me. With the recorder I am recording different instruments, sounds, noises. Because I have no musical instruments I love to visit friends and acquaintances who have some, and record my improvisations for further processing and future use. I can play guitar and piano as well as jew’s-harp (guimbarde), and a bit of harmonica.
What is your favorite music genre? (We know this is a tricky one!)
I think that my favorite music genre is “Intelligent Atmospheric Drum and Bass”. But I also like such styles as trip-hop, funk, indie, jungle, orchestral and classical music. I also want to highlight the genre of chiptune music, because I grew up with game consoles and music from the games of the nineties!
Who are your key influencers? Can you name any producers, bands or musicians who have inspired you the most?
I was influenced by a lot of artists and genres. The first impression of amazing music that comes to mind is Darude’s “Sandstorm”, which I listened to on cassette in my school years. Later, Paul Oakenfold, DJ Quicksilver, and other melodic trance of that time. As a teenager, I got carried away with The Prodigy and Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Gorillaz and Junkie XL, trying to imitate them. Today, I like works of Amon Tobin, Hans Zimmer, Portishead, Thom Yorke and still The Prodigy. From Russian-speaking singers my favorites are Сплин (Splean), Дельфин (Dolphin) and Noize MC.
What’s your process in writing and composing a new song? How do you start something from scratch?
Good composition is born spontaneously, sometimes in the course of improvisation, sometimes as an inspiration. I almost always start a new project with melody and chords to create the mood of the composition. It is very important! And then I build up layers of sounds to create the atmosphere and surroundings. Sometimes the melody and atmosphere appear in my head. I always try to record what I hear immediately and as accurately as possible. I can simply sing it or strum it on an instrument.
Do you have any key methods, or clever tips for finishing a song?
I am using a layering method. In any composition it is very important to give special attention to the location of sounds and instruments in space, whether it be classical or dubstep. For example, if you use virtual instruments (that sound dry and unnatural) it is possible, by playing the instrument track through the monitors, record it with a microphone located in different parts of the room, and put the recording on the finished composition, to create an atmosphere and liveliness. Also, you can for example create drums, record them, pitch-up or pitch-down the recording (all done by ear), and put processed drums under the original recording by cutting unnecessary frequencies, and without using any other manipulations. When I am mixing and mastering songs, I listen to them at a low volume. It helps me to better define what sounds or instruments are lost, and which protrude from the mix.
How do you keep your skills up to date, what do you do to keep growing and developing further as a creative?
I think that experimenting is the best way to grow creatively. I am often experimenting with sound synthesis, live sound, and methods of processing them. This way I am discovering new opportunities all the time. All of what I have achieved in the music is a merit of these experiments. But of course, to perform experiments, you must have a basic knowledge and modern methods of sound processing. In today’s world it’s not so difficult to get necessary information through the internet.
I can see that after attending quite a few challenges and productions, last autumn you have had 5 wins in a row. Congratulations! Is there any particular reason for you suddenly having more success? For example, have you made any adjustments to your production methods? Where do you think this sudden improvement comes from?
This sudden improvement is due to the aim set by me – to achieve success and recognition in the field of music production. I started to make music persistently and actually quit all other things. Friends have always said that they want to hear my music in films, and I thought, why not! Now I’m going for it. I studied a lot of information about audio processing, because today it’s not enough to create beautiful melodies, you must also present your music well, and know how to capture the listener’s attention.
Do you have a dream or ultimate goal you’d like to achieve?
At the moment, my dream is to write a soundtrack for an interesting movie. Record an album and tour with performances. The global goal for me is that I would like to open a musical laboratory where talented people who are interested in sound and its impact on the environment and humans could gather to learn and discuss about its usage for various purposes.
Would you like to say something to the AudioDraft community?
I want to thank the community of Audiodraft! You give a boost to young musicians through personal promotion! The contest selection system helps to monitor yourself, giving an incentive to improve your skills. Each member of the community helps and supports each other, everyone is and feels as a part of a wonderful community and gives their own contribution to its development! This is amazing! You are wonderful! Thanks!