Not too long ago trailer music company Gothic Storm Music released 3 albums of their “Epic Emotional” series to the public. We got in contact with almost everyone involved in the process including composer, founder and CEO Dan Graham, composer and Creative Director Chris Haigh, composers Gabriel Brosteanu and Rob Oxenbridge, “Automated Audio Alchemist” Audio Android, as well as designer Sam Hayles.
Dan Graham told us that this is his favorite set of albums yet where this time “the emphasis is more on the emotion than the action. So instead of battle music, it’s all about the overwhelming feelings. And that makes it more slow and inspiring I think.” Also Chris Haigh “really loved working on this album because the concept was to write simple yet overwhelming emotional tracks that slowly build throughout the piece. Using long sustained chords and slow moving huge percussion. This was perfect to have recorded by live string players of the Liverpool Philharmonic, as they can add that extra unspoken emotional tone that you just can’t get from sampled instruments.” as he mentioned before on Gothic Storm Music’s blog.
To get this all started we would like to let Dan Graham who started off as a singer, explain where the name “Gothic Storm” comes from. As he told the public in an interview on Gothic Storm’s blog it relies on his most successful track that was called “Gothic Storm“. We wanted to know why he picked this name back then:
It was maybe 2006, one of my earliest trailer tracks and I can’t remember why I chose that name but I remember that for that first album of trailer music I thought up these epic titles as my private joke, laughing at epic sounding stereotypes for track names but somewhere along the line I lost the irony and now the epicness is deadly serious!
There were no alternative names for this company. I thought it was a great name from the start!
Gothic Storm Music is known for their multiple-album series: While the main themes remain, style and sound are altered, as Gabriel Brosteanu encapsulates it on Gothic Storm Music’s blog. Here’s how the idea came about in Dan Graham’s words:
I’ve always thought a good theme should work in different styles. And, I think each different genre gives the same piece of music a different meaning. Rock implies male power, electronica implies robots and Sci-Fi, while epic orchestral implies fantasy. It’s nice to cover these different interpretations.
Dan Graham told us though that soon they will release ‘Artist Series’ of single albums by each composer.
Being in the UK and the worldwide perspective
Those among you who follow us from time to time might have read our interview with composer and cellist Christof Unterberger. One of the questions we had was how he thinks about living in Vienna as a composer. Now we wanted to know what the people behind Gothic Storm think about the UK as a location compared to L.A. Here’s what Dan Graham said:
I suppose that not being in the same time zone as our major Hollywood clients means we have to work late sometimes, but we go out to LA when we have new releases so in some ways it’s not so different. Visiting the LA trailer editors was pretty mind blowing, seeing where these amazing videos are edited, while graphics departments create all those incredible famous film posters and Blu Ray sleeves. It’s a surreal privilege to be a part of that magical industry. [Nevertheless] I think being in the UK is a great place to understand this music in a worldwide perspective, understanding everything beyond the LA scene – the international fans, also the worldwide TV music business.
Also, the UK is amazing for the world class orchestra players. I’m sure LA is great too but I think they have a unique sound here – emotional and proficient like US players but also more serious like European players. They are halfway between in style and I like that.
Since Gabriel Brosteanu lives in Romania it was even more interesting to ask him what he thinks about his location:
I’m still kind of “new” in this business so i think its pretty early for me to think of moving [to L.A.] especially that in most of the ways, working from the distance really works in this domain, but one thing I can tell for sure, I will follow my passion and dream for composing music anywhere, so who knows what the future will bring…
The future of Epic Music and Trailer Music across the globe
Talking about the trailer music industry’s future Dan Graham predicted a big change to happen:
There’s been an explosion of fan interest greatly helped by pioneers like Immediate and Two Steps From Hell but now taking on a life of its own. Also, a lot of new companies are sprouting up which forces everyone to work harder to be better and stay competitive. The big CGI / superhero movies keep coming thick and fast and that also gives a great platform for epic trailer music to stay in demand on the trailers. Meanwhile naturally the trailer companies don’t want to keep using the same sound so there’s a pressure to not only be the best but keep finding new styles. I predict a big future for trailer music stars – writers being the rock stars of tomorrow, and a continued boom in fans discovering this sound.
Definitely [there will be more epic music concerts to happen in the future]. I think we’re still in an early boom phase of a new phenomenon and it will keep picking up wider and wider fans for a few years to come.
Speaking about upcoming concerts Chris Haigh said about the upcoming Hans Zimmer concert in London [tickets are still available!], that he is “totally over the moon about it because I have always wanted to see Hans Zimmer do a live concert and now that is possible and I have a ticket!” Regarding upcoming trailer music concerts he disagrees a bit with Dan – even though he is full of hope himself:
Hopefully this style of music will become more popular and the fan base will continue to grow. I think even though the fan base has grown hugely in the last 5 years it is still a niche market which has a lot of amazing fans that buy and support our music. Unfortunately because this music (especially Gothic Storm’s music) heavily features orchestra and choir, the cost to put one of these events on could be huge and because trailer music fans are spread far and wide at this point in time I can’t see too many trailer music concerts being done. But who knows….. if there is a demand for it, it will happen.
We also asked Gabriel Brosteanu who was, for the first time, involved in a trailer music album for Gothic Storm Music (as you can read on their blog) about “The Masterpiece” – performed in Bucharest – and the perception of epic music in Romania:
I haven’t had the chance to go to the show this year, but I was present at the last year’s edition, which was also the first edition. Apart from some minor technical problems (that were understandable given the magnitude of the project and the number of people involved) the show was great! I’ve met Ciprian Costin, the producer of the project and I’m really glad that a Romanian thought and managed to take such a production to completion. For most of us trailer music composers who dwell the majority of the time in computer samples (although we do use live strings and choir at Gothic Storm!), it’s always such a thrill to hear epic and film music performed by a real orchestra and choir!
The scale of the perception of epic music in Romania is still in its inception compared to other countries but the market is here and growing fast. Just as elsewhere, epic music is present all around, from multiplexes to radios, tv shows and news, it’s just that people aren’t that aware of it… Anyway, there’s a slow but steadily growing awareness for epic music here also and I’m planning to take this even further in the ways that I can.
Audio Android was involved in the process as well. Since it’s really tough to find out who he is, we just gave out a shot into the blue and asked if he’s maybe part of Daft Punk. He didn’t deny it so we’re still positive he is:
I am a 7th generation Humaniform Android.
Due to fragmentation of certain sections of my millennia old positronic brain, I am permanently engaged in noise shaping the rogue / stray data packages which inhabit the peripheries of my useful memory storage.
This noise shaping (which has developed into rhythmic, melodic and timbral construction) – preserves and gives new life to the endangered data packages / memories.
Who I am, is defined by my actions.
I am the AudioAndroid.
Surprisingly normal he answered the question about his role in the Epic Emotional Electronic album. He even started off with some nice words about the human beings around him:
It is always a great joy and honour to work with the scores of Dan, Chris & the Gothic Storm team. For the Epic Emotional series, this was even more the case, as the works were so beautifully written and recorded.
Really my role was only to re-invent the pieces in a more contemporary, synthetic, or rhythmic setting. To this end we sought to create new works ranging from recognisable re-workings, which would flex across a wider plain of visual settings – to very different edgier arrangements, which would have a more targeted and specific purpose.
Rob Oxenbridge from Australia told us the following about the same question as he was also responsible for the Electronica pendent:
I’d worked on a couple of projects for Dan previously. He approached me with the possibility of doing some of the remixes for this one and the ideas around it sounded really interesting. I took a few days listening to music in the style requested and then spent time building up a collection of sounds that I thought would be useful.When they were ready, the stems for each remix started coming over to me in Australia. The stems are the submixes of each instrument and vocal sections. I sketched out an initial draft idea of one to see if it was along the lines of what Dan was after. Then with feedback in hand, it was full into the work: sketching out an arc for a cue to take, writing new parts for synths to complement the recorded instruments and choir, building up percussion layers, then creative processing to add different textural feels to the recordings so as to make them more independent of the original themes.
It’s always a lot of fun, but often challenging because you want to respect the original ideas but rework them enough so that it does stand as a separate perspective. So being true to the original but bringing a fresh touch.
On Gothic Storm Music’s blog, designer Sam Hayles had said that the concept behind the sleeve design to the Epic Emotional series was “to have a person watching an epic scene in the background. Giving the feeling of something huge had happened and that the person is linked to what is happening in the scene.” Because the cover art of music has always been important, we wanted to know a bit more about Sam Hayles personally as well as how he approaches new projects:
I love music, movies and graphic design. By working with Gothic Storm I can combine all 3! Over the last few years, I’ve really got into listening to film soundtracks and epic trailer music. The first one which blew me away was the soundtrack by Atticus Ross for the movie “The Book of Eli”. I’ve been working with Gothic Storm since they started and I got to listen to their music more and more. I have now designed 32 album sleeves for Gothic Storm. I am a huge movie fan and I’ve always loved movie posters. When I was a kid, my bedroom was covered in posters from movies. I spent my pocket money on buying posters. I remember having Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Alien, Mad Max, Blade Runner… I could stare at them for hours.
The process: I receive a brief and concept ideas from Dan Graham and Chris Haigh. We discuss the idea and exchange comments and discuss the concept via email. I then get working on the artwork and I send them a first proposal. They send me feedback and comments and I will try variations and work on the modifications until everybody is 100% happy with the final version.
His favorite projects over the last few years, include the work with bands he really likes such as the british techno-punk band Pitchshifter, Celldweller, B.T (Brian Transeau), earthtone9 and “the superband”, as he called them, This Is Menace .
Expect the unexpected
To sum everything up we asked Dan Graham about him saying on the Gothic Storm Blog that everyone should “expect the unexpected later this year”. Of course we were curious about what that means:
We’re transforming from a niche trailer music company to something that combines that with being a record label, helping to promote our writers as the new stars, creating things for fans to collect, and branching out into unexpected genres with epic music still at the core. We’re deep in a very ambitious transition that will be more obvious in a year or so.
I’ve been a lead singer in a band and composed for years but I feel like I’m in the most exciting and challenging phase of my life just now. Gothic Storm is the first thing that’s felt like a mission and a true calling, and there’s such a wonderful team of world class individuals behind it. Expect great things ahead from us!
You can purchase each of the 4 Epic Emotional albums on ITunes (Epic Emotional, Epic Emotional Rock, Epic Emotional Electronica, Epic Emotional Percussion [industry release only]). More info about Gothic Storm Music you find on their website, Facebook, Youtube and soundcloud.