Sound Designer Spotlight: Christophe Espern
Can you tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you end up creating music?
I live in Brittany in France. I studied audiovisual production, film, design and advertising. At the same time I started to learn music on a computer by myself. I started writing songs and playing guitar, and soon I started a pop rock band in which I was the singer and songwriter. Little by little I’ve learned and started composing music for student film projects and short films. I began to realize what kind of sounds work in motion pictures.
What kind of environment you work in? Do you have a home studio? What software and gear you mainly use while producing?
I work at my home where I have a home studio. Cubase and Kontakt are my best friends. I also use Reason and Logic. I always try to learn new production techniques and discover new sounds with plugins and libraries of samples. (In my opinion Native instruments and Output are the best in service at the moment)
What instruments do you play?
I play keyboard, guitar and bass, and I sometimes sing. I’ve studied the rules of broadcasting and filmmaking, but I am self-taught in music. I am a handyman, a cook who plays with the rules he has not studied. This is perhaps what makes my unique style. My best instruments are my computers.
What is your favorite music genre?
I love all kinds of music when it’s good. I like mixing genres like electro-orchestral for example. I like to be surprised by the orchestration, original arrangements and sounds.
How do you start a new project? What’s your process in composing a song from scratch?
It depends if it is a commissioned project or a personal piece. In general, I compose like a painter. I start with a sample, a piano melody or a rhythm I like. I put all my ideas on the sonic “canvas” before I start adding any effects on it to. I let it rest for a while before working on it more. Next I’ll add and tweak details, form the arrangement and try to make everything consistent in the project. Often the initial idea disappears from the mix because new ideas took over. What I like the most is to be original and surprising. This is sometimes not present in the work I do for the customers as they do not always take enough risks and prefer to remain in the “standard” music.
My favorite music I create is melancholic and cinematic.
Who are your key influencers? Can you name any producers, bands or musicians who have inspired you the most?
I started playing with drum machines and monophonic synths in 80s, listening to new wave and punk: The Chameleons, New Order, Xymox, Japan, David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto. I also liked the pop of Tears for fears. Later I discovered Radiohead and Muse. I like the melancholic and powerful music Thom Yorke made. I also like Moby, Craig Armstrong and the genius Danny Elfman. I’m also probably influenced by the music of the popular TV series which I am addicted to (Dexter, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking bad and co).
Has Audiodraft been helpful to your music career? How has your success motivated you in your music career? Would you like to say something to the Audiodraft community?
I like Audiodraft because I’m sure that my music will be listened; and I can work on concrete projects, trying to create new music styles. There is no equivalent in France where it is difficult to live with music for broadcasting. Your music is licensed with a publisher and you wait for something to happen with it. It is a lottery. Composers are lost in the shuffle and are not enough emphasized, highlighted. Competing with other composers forces you to renew and improve. I would like to live only through music but for now my main job is still doing photography. Collaborating with Audiodraft became addictive, and I do not have time to finish the novel I have started, not even my current album, but it’s exciting to be a part of a creative and ambitious community.