Our sister site AudioJungle is a royalty-free stock audio site that helps musicians earn money. In this interview series you’ll learn about those musicians, their gear, and their AudioJungle experiences. Today we meet Derek Palmer (Palmtreep).
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
I was born smack-dab in the middle of the United States in Monett, Missouri. Yes that's right... corn fields, cows and silos all around. Actually, that's not how it looks out here where I live. I live in a pretty good sized city. I currently work at a restaurant and I also do music work (obviously).
After getting more serious about my music, I started my website up. After getting that set up, I found AudioJungle. I mainly found it from ActiveDen (FlashDen back then) to use some items on my website. I thus began my selling of items on AudioJungle.
I also produce Trance music, a type of electronic music. I mainly produce what is called "Uplifting Trance". After some convincing from friends, I sent some demos out to labels and got signed to Winter1212 Records. My first CD is expected to be released in early September.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
Currently I only sell items on AudioJungle. I became amazed at how music sounded in film scores, specifically film trailers. Fast and intense music accenting the video on the screen.
I searched around to find this music, only to find that the companies that make it do not sell to the general public. Realizing that there is a market for "High Impact" music, that's the type of music I make. Most of the music you will find are energetic, emotional, climactic music cues designed for using in film trailers and the like.
I also have other files that are good for using in addition to film trailer style music. Rises, effects, drum hits and other things that could be used to accent the music.
I may at some time begin doing 3D animation work and video work. But for the moment, I'll stick with the music. :P
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
I took an interest in music at a very early age. I remember when I was about six or seven, setting up buckets in the backyard and banging on them like they were a drum kit. At about the age of twelve I started taking music classes and lessons. I've been playing drums for over fourteen years and piano for over six years.
I then went on to college at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), majoring in Music Studies and Percussion Studies, taking classes in Music Theory, Music Composition and Technical Music Studies.
Describe your home workspace.
My home workspace is pretty basic. I just got a brand new computer, and that is where most of my work comes from. I have two keyboards/synths that I use. I'm thinking of getting a third one at the moment.
The speakers I use are 5.1 surround sound speakers. A little much you think? Haha. I actually need those speakers for my video editing as well. So they double up, musicly and for videography.
If you like tech specs, just send me a message, I'll be glad to share any hardware or software details with you!
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
First I have to start with some sort of inspiration. This could come from an experience, a film, a video game, or even other music. Sometimes I think of different parts before others. Sometimes I will think of a melody, sometimes I will think of a drum groove.
Before I start, I try to figure out what direction I want to go with the music. What kind of sound do I want to have? Is this more action oriented or is it more laid back? Do I want it to be heavy on drums or have very short punchy instruments? These are all questions I ask myself.
After figuring out what type of sound I want to go for, I record the initial idea; whether it be a drum groove or a simple chord structure from the strings. After that has been recorded, I can loop the playback and "jam", so to speak, until I find other elements that may work in the final track.
After that has been done, the hard part comes - actually arranging the music. I record every instrument individually. Sometimes I have to make changes because instruments may clash at times.
The hardest part for me in every song is the ending. A lot of trailer music ends with just a sustained note. Some end with a very short stab at the end. I usually try three or four different endings before I choose one.
Same goes for melodies. I may have six, seven or even ten different melody ideas before coming to the final version. I also try to add in key changes, tempo changes and time signature changes where I can. This helps a great deal in moving the flow of the music and getting away from the "looped" sound that some trailer music seems to have.
After the track is finished, I render it out and send it over to another program where I will add the mastering touches (EQ adjustments, level adjustments, limiters, compressors, etc.). This just adds a final touch on the music and will help it sound the way it needs to sound.
Overall it can be a very long process, taking me weeks to months of work for one song. I also never spend too much time working on a track. Just as your eyes need a break from reading or watching a TV screen, your ears need a break from listening to music. I usually work on a track a few hours a day, then skip a day or two, then come back. This often lets me think up new ideas and make the overall track sound better and more emotional.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Not to have a set mind on what is already out there. Have your own style. Don't try to copy what has already been done. The more unique your file is, the more it will stand out in the long run. Also, long and hard work will pay off. Don't rush things just to get the file finished. If you rush something, you could make a mistake or worse yet, make the file feel unfinished. Also, try using new techniques. Learn something new and think of how you can impliment it into your tracks. Experiment and try new things. You'll be suprised what you can learn and find out by trial and error.
What do you do to market your files?
There's many ways I market my files. I have audio demos up on a lot of different website, the main one being my personal website (www.dp-studios.org). I also promote using Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.
Marketing, for me at least, isn't the hard part. The hard part is actually coming up with new ideas. :D
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
It's hard to pick out my top three files. I enjoy all the music I make. But if I had to pick, I'd pick these three:
1. Lucius Dei
Lucius Dei, for me, was a great leap in my music composing. It was the first track that I actually used a choir singing real words. For the first time, I was able to capture an emotion from my music that I hadn't been able to before. For me, this is one of my pride and joys.
The Final Battle is one of my faves because it is straight up action. Intense and not letting up until the final blow at the climax...
3. Devia Vita
Devia Vita, for me, was a very emotional track. At the time of writing it, I was going through a lot of bad times. It was tough being able to make it through the next day. So I wrote this track at first as just a way to get how I felt at the time out of me. It ended up striking such an emotion from myself and people who listened to it, I decided to share it with the world.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
There are so many talented artists here. It's hard to pick any one over the other. They all bring their own style and sound into the marketplace. Audio, video, flash... you name it, there is a lot of great talent here. If I had to pick a few, I would say:
What do you do in your spare time?
When I'm not working on music, I try to spend time with friends and play with my dog. I also take an interest in videography and photography. Making videos and other artwork. I also draw and paint often and read books.
Once and a while I play a video game or two and catch a sports game on the TV. But most of the time, I actually write more music in my free time. It's what I love to do, and what I will always love to do. Music, for me, is a way of expressing myself and a creative outlet to help relieve the day's stress.