Sound In Picture: Posted on Dec 28, 2020:
At The Edge of The World
Paul: I’m primarily a film composer out of Memphis TN, but I enjoy releasing/producing solo music when I get the chance. I mostly score independent films, but have worked on a handful of varying projects over the years. I got into composing music for films through a friend director/actor Nathan Ross Murphy about 10 years ago. He was studying film and I was starting to get into home recording and spent a lot of time writing music to videos I really liked for fun – so us starting to work together really made sense and came at a good time. I’ve worked with him ever since and have had the privilege of working with other really amazing directors and friends along the way as well. But at the end of the day I’m really just a fan of music, film, and art.
What has been your biggest challenge in developing the skill to write music for moving images?
Paul: Some of the biggest challenges are not so much having ideas but finding the right voice/sound/tone for the film, using restraint when needed, really trusting yourself and the director, and learning how to ask for what you need in the process. I’m sure there are others, but those are a few big ones I can think of.
How do deadlines affect your work?
Paul: Obviously depending on the deadline I’ll figure out a plan or organize my time a certain way, but they also help me figure out how deep I can get into the process and how far I can explore an idea. Most of the time when I get a finished cut of the film it’s a pretty fast process to narrow things down and finalize the ideas – sometimes just days. I think over the years I’ve become much more confident in my ability to make decisions and move on as long as it feels right and the director approves. I’m humbled by the whole process of filmmaking.
How do you draw your ideas and what is your creative process like?
Paul: I spend a lot of time simply reacting emotionally to the script and film itself. I try to immerse myself in the story by creating a sonic landscape that I feel would exist inside that world or getting inside the character’s headspace. We’ll determine what instrumentation is right for the film and sometimes I’ll do some demos before it’s shot or wait until I have picture. I generally work my way through scene to scene in order of the story. A lot of it is a gut reaction while I work and search for a tone that supports the scene. As obvious or silly as it sounds, I spend a lot of time experimenting with what actual notes are needed and when – it’s amazing what dropping a note down half a step or changing the key can do for a scene.
What do you think is the most important element for an audio-visual collaboration to work out?
Paul: A mutual respect and trust with your collaborators. There are a lot of talented people out there that make quality work – but to me the people you work with make all the difference when collaborating on any project.
Stream Artist Interview: Paul Vinsonhaler
POSTED ON MAY 4, 2020
An interview with electronic musician and film composer, Paul Vinsonhaler.
Paul Vinsonhaler is a film/media composer and producer living in Memphis TN. He has worked on films & various media projects. His work includes the original score for the award winning short films Space Licorice and Muddy Water. Paul’s work focuses on sound design, dynamics, sonic experimentation, while blending the lines between classical minimalism & modern music.
Hi Paul. Where in the world are you right now? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hey! I’m currently living in Memphis Tennessee. On the music side of things I spend most of my time as a freelance film/media composer. I started dabbling with home recording and all that about 10 years ago and through a friend studying film, I began working on a few film projects doing music and some sound design. The first short film I officially ended up scoring was in 2014 called Space Licorice. I’ve been working on films ever sense. I’ve dabbled in other things like writing music for commercials and advertisements. I scored my first full length feature film last year called Cold Feet. When I’m not writing for film I enjoy producing my own music.
So, you released a new EP. Tell us about that and where people can check it out.
Yes, I’m super excited about this new EP. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to write and release a few EPs. I came up with some concepts/ideas/themes for each and started working my way through a few. This EP is called Force Majeure. For this particular release I wanted to have electric guitar be the centerpiece with a couple hardware synths, and some acoustic sounding drums – I wanted more of a full “band” sound while keeping it instrumental. Also, I’ve been wanting to incorporate more guitar into my work when I can, and I finally developed some heavier guitar sounds I was pleased with. The recording process was super fast and I intentionally wanted to use some restraint and not overthink anything at all and just go with my gut. Basically what came to me on the fly was what got recorded. I took that approach for each song. I’m really happy how it turned out. You can find the Force Majeure on Bandcamp, YouTube, & Spotify.
How has your creative routine changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yeah, it’s been pretty strange with this whole thing, but it’s given me a little more time to catch up on a few things like organize my studio a bit more, spend more time learning a few pieces of gear, put some unreleased stuff out there, and producing some of my own music. Overall, I’m just trying to be more productive with some of the extra time I do have now.
Are you performing remotely at all?
I’ve done a couple shows with Memphis Concrete. One at the festival last year and another at Hi Tone (Memphis, TN) in December. I would love to perform more and possibly do a few live streams from my home studio.
We heard you used our plugin, Stream, on your new EP release. How did you use the plugin? What instruments or samples did you process using Stream?
Yeah! I thought it was the perfect tool to really create some interesting textures. I wanted this EP to have an ambient feel to it. I used it primarily on my electric guitars. It really helped me add a few layers of ambient soundscapes that I thought could help bring some depth to each track.
For every track I did some if not all of the following using Stream to sample guitars: creating a granular percussive element for builds and quieter moments, sampling guitar parts from later in the track and using those as swells or precursors, creating pads and ambience, and panning/swirling effects while using an e-Bow. You can hear it on the first song “Where The Wind Blows” in the intro part and on “Mystery In The Sky” around the 1:27 mark, as a couple quick examples.
What’s your favorite Stream feature and why?
I really enjoy messing with the voices control after capturing a sample. You can get some interesting loops, rhythms, and granular textures which can help inspire some new ideas for whatever I’m doing. I like that I have the freedom to blend as much of the original signal in as I want as well – you can get crazy when you turn the mix/wet all the way up.
Would you consider using Stream in a film music context?
Yes. I definitely would and I feel like Stream is great for what I do because granular processing/sampling is a big part of my process/sound. I try to fit that into every project I can. I honestly wish I had Stream a while back for some of my earlier film scores.
Can you share some of your social links with our blog subscribers? Where can they check out your stuff?