Vangelis, subtle tones, a music and movie blog, and the MIDI generation. Our sister site
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Hey, my name is Claudiu, but my friends call me Niki, hence the NikiN username I have on Envato. I am from Romania and I’ve just graduated (like two weeks ago) my MA studies in British and American Literature and Culture.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I belong to AudioJungle and I sell music, logos and sound effects (which are really fun to collect).
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
Wow, that’s a question that demands a long answer. I guess I first started music when I began playing around with an old guitar, that my brother bought in 1991. I was about 14 at the time. I still have it and play with it, but it’s a broken guitar, meaning that it can’t be tuned. At all. Maybe I should sell it to Jack White, he has this thing for broken guitars.
Anyway, my true idol has always been Vangelis, and once I got a hold of a DAW, I realised that I have access to a lot of sounds that resemble his 80’s stuff, which was really great. I started playing around and I was hooked instantly.
I’m also a writer. I won a few awards in college for my short stories, but I got to say that nothing compares to the creative pleasure you have when you are working on a song and you try something new and it doesn’t do what you expected, but something else, even better, and the song just comes alive and you can’t believe that this is your doing.
As for formal training, there’s none at all. I know some stuff, the basics I guess, but these are things that I’ve picked up in time. I tried for a little bit to learn to play piano from zero, like a 7 year old, but lost my patience, because there was nothing creative in the process. Who knows maybe some other time.
I don’t stress that much about since Vangelis himself has no musical training and to this day, after decades of making music he still doesn’t know to read/write music. And there are plenty others, like RZA or Liam Howlett.
On the other hand, musical training would have made some things easier, but I guess there’s a certain evolution required, like you learn music and then you start composing. It’s a bit difficult to start learning once you’ve tasted the pleasure of composing.
Still, I think I am a part of a new generation of untrained musicians, people for whom DAWs opened a whole new world. The MIDI generation or something.
Describe your home workspace.
My home workspace is really simple, I guess. Just my PC, my cheap MIDI keyboard, and some expensive speakers, which make everything sound better than it really is. No soundproof professional studio, I’m afraid, but I’m a generous person, I like sharing my music with my neighbours. (I’m not sure they feel the same.)
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
Well, it can all begin in so many ways. Sometimes it’s just a sound, or a beat or even just a kick sample, sometimes it starts with some chords or with a hook.
Usually, when I intend to make a certain type of song I end up with something totally different and those are the best cases. Like, if I want to make something raw and dirty, some electro rave stuff, something happens and the final product will be a cinematic piece, with strings and horns and all that.
In a way, this is the most fascinating thing about making music, the fact that a song keeps evolving and changing shapes, till you get at one point when you feel it no longer depends on you, it’s just like the song has a life of its own. Of course, if I want and have to write a certain type of music I will, but it is less interesting than when you let things evolve naturally.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Well, I am looking for some advice of this sort myself… But, I guess it’s important to not limit yourself to one genre and also don’t upload only songs which you think are so mighty good that you would include them on your indie downtempo album.
I feel most professional when I’m working on a song that is not something which I would listen in my spare time (the way I listen to my favourite bands), but something that would provide suitable audio for someone’s project.
What do you do to market your files?
I try to check the forums as often as possible to know what’s happening, especially on the item request section. I enjoy the challenge of AudioJungle’s competitions. I was really proud that my track Mindless Dance Indulgence was a finalist at the “120-140 bpm competition”, considering that there were so many entries from all the top authors. I also have some songs uploaded on an old YouTube account.
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
I’m sure you know how difficult it is to pick just three, but I’ll do it anyway. (I don’t really believe in measuring artistic value.)
Rave vs. Rage is a favorite. A track I made long before becoming a member of AudioJungle and I guess I’ve uploaded it just for the exposure. It has energy, but also melody, a combination I hold dear.
Philosophical SF is also a piece that I’m proud of, even though the title is a bit too revealing. There was a point a few years ago, when I was out of reach of my music-making devices for a couple of months and this was the first track I finished when I got back in the game and it kind of proved that I still had it in me.
Aftermath is my third choice, a song that I like for its subtle tones. It also has a special relevance because I used it for a video I made with some friends, a spot for campaign against tolerating violence.
Here’s the video, for those interested:
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
There are so many great composers on AudioJungle and I listen to a lot of songs, especially the new ones, but one name that comes to mind is aum, I love his strange sounds and the track called Temperature Rising is one of my favorite songs.
What do you do in your spare time?
I guess it is no surprise that I listen to a lot music in my spare time, watch movies and write about music and movies on my blog www.nikinphaser.com.
I’m really proud that I managed to get an interview with violonist and composer Fiona Brice, who’s a side member on Placebo’s current tour. I have more plans regarding my blog, but you know, time’s not always on my side.