Andrew (Zircon) is a close friend of the Image-Line team working as an alpha tester helping us to develop new products and give FL Studio the thrashing it thoroughly deserves. Andrew has been steadily building an impressive portfolio of music and games soundtrack work, we took the time to interview Andrew and find out what he has been up to so far.
Tell us about your music, yourself and Soulcalibur V?
I'm a full-time composer and producer since I graduated from college in 2009. I got my start in computer-based music at OverClocked ReMix (http://www.ocremix.org/), a website devoted to arrangements of video game music. I've released over 30 game remixes and I'm still very active in the community; I even met my wife Jillian Aversa there! You may know her better as the voice of "Just Hold On" (the FL9 Newstuff.flp.) As an electronic artist, I enjoy working in tons of styles, from atmospheric drum n' bass to progressive trance and dubstep. By the end of 2011 I'll have eight original albums out, all produced entirely in FL Studio.
I also write and license music for video games. The highest-profile project I've worked on to date has been Soulcalibur V, a fighting game for Xbox 360/PS3. Along with a small group of other composers, I contributed six original tracks in an epic orchestral style. I love telling people about my orchestral work in FL because so many people see it as a program only for electronic music. In actuality, I was using 8gb of samples and writing for a full string section, brass, woodwinds, epic and orchestral percussion, choir and acoustic guitar.
My personal favorite track, the theme of the female ninja Natsu, used a full ensemble of taikos, dhol and toms along with my own sample libraries (Impact: Steel & Koto Nation) and bombastic strings.
Soul Calibur Trailer
FL's excellent piano roll, ghost notes, bit bridge, event editing and mixer routing allowed me to rapidly create both mockups and finished productions for the game. In some cases I was writing a revision a day, and I just can't imagine doing that in any other program.
How did you come to use FL Studio & what were your first impressions?
My very first music making program was a simple premade loop-based DAW that was easy to use but lacking in power. I heard about FL Studio from others in the OC ReMix community, and decided to download the demo. The workflow was very intuitive to me, especially compared to other programs I had tried like Cubase, Sonar and Reason. In particular, I was really spoiled by the piano roll. Trying to use any other piano roll after working in FL was like having my mouse dipped in molasses. It took me about six months to feel completely at home, and within a year I had released my first album. A year after that, I had album number two, and along the way at least a dozen game remixes.
Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (PS3/wii)
FL Studio 9 Theme
Tell us about your production environment & toys?
After trying a number of different workflows and software/hardware setups, I've settled on one that is very effective for me. Everything revolves around FL Studio running on a very fast Core i7 computer with a solid state drive, 12gb RAM and lots of storage for samples. I have two 20" monitors, a Korg X50 for MIDI control, and my trusty Beyerdynamic DT880 headphones (I do all my mixing on them!) Even though I have a Roland V-Synth and some other hardware tools, I just use these for a bit of flavor, preferring VST/FL plugins for most of my needs. As I write this, Jillian and I are moving into our first house where we're looking to create a custom recording space for her vocals and my custom samples too!
Humorous video made for conference
Do you have any links you would like to share?
http://www.zirconmusic.com/ - My music website. Besides hosting links and previews of my discography, you can also buy them in the web store along with synth presets and sample libraries I've created. But more importantly, there is a whole section devoted to both written and video tutorials. These are my way of giving back to the music-making community, as many people helped me when I was first starting out.
Zircon 'stutter editing' in FL Studio
http://www.facebook.com/zirconmusic - My artist Facebook page. I love interacting with fans and fellow artists! I also tend to post various interesting tidbits and announcements here first, along with discussions on all sorts of fun topics (music related or not.)
Antigravity feat. Jillian Aversa
http://www.jillianaversa.com/ - Besides collaborating on my projects, Jill has her own original albums (which I often co-write, produce and engineer) plus remixes and videos. If you enjoyed her work on Just Hold On or any of my albums, definitely check this out.
Want to get into the game music business?
For further viewing here is a 4 part symposium where you can see Andrew, fellow Power User Jimmy Hinson, Jillian and friends discussing how they made the transition from hobbyist to professional: