Spectrasonics contest winner Waen Shepherd talks about his winning track…

Waen Shepherd

Launched by Spectrasonics in May this year, the Moog Foundation contest invited Omnisphere users to purchase a special Bob Moog Tribute Library containing over 700 sounds created by well known composers and sound designers. Entrants had to submit a track created using the sounds in a bid to win the OMG-1 a custom built instrument combining a Moog Little Phatty, Omnisphere, Mac Mini, dual iPads, dual iPods and Omni TR.

On September 15th, Spectrasonics announced the winners of the contest and were so impressed with the level of entries they picked an additional three major winners. One of those lucky three was Waen Shepherd from the UK so we caught up with him to find out how he did it…

Hi Waen, congratulations on being one of the major winners of Spectrasonics OMG-1 contest! Let’s start at the beginning — please could you tell us a bit about your musical background?
I don’t have any formal training and never learned to play an instrument so I was a bit late to the table and just started mucking around with computer programs when I was in my late twenties. The first thing I made any music on was a PlayStation game  called Music which actually had a surprisingly good collection of sounds.

The custom built OMG-1

Because I don’t play an instrument, I write all the music in my head and then work out how to realise it electronically afterwards, and this PlayStation program was perfect for that. I was trying to make it as a comedian at the time, so the music ended up being part of my stage act, doing these New Romantic pop parodies. And from there, the music slowly took over – I got better equipment, my range widened and, though I’m still an actor and occasionally still do live comedy, every now and again someone will ask me to write music for a short film or a TV pilot or a stage play or a radio series, so I’ve ended up being a composer as well, if that’s the right word.

What originally inspired the winning track?
All sorts of things, probably. I don’t honestly remember. I had this tune in my head which seemed quite comforting and homely and I was reading about Ancient Roman religion and for some reason the title ‘Vesta’s Clock’ became married to the tune. Other than that I’ve no idea. Originally it was supposed to be for piano and strings but it struck me it would be more interesting to use a more eclectic sound palette and the Tribute library just had the right sounds on it. Everything else was just inspired by the library itself.

OmnisphereWhich sounds from the Tribute pack did you incorporate into the piece?
I did two pieces for the competition, one concentrating on the harsher, more in-yer-face sounds from the library, while this one incorporated many of the mellower sounds. ‘Pearldrop’ is one I used on both tracks – it’s a lovely soft ‘popping’ synth patch with a real retro sound like the sort of thing you’d hear on a kids’ TV programme in the seventies. The bassline for the bulk of Vesta’s Clock is called ‘Light Sabre Bass’ and it really cuts through the mix. The stand-out patch I used for the track though is ‘Shrimp Bite’ which was apparently created with a Moog Little Phatty and sounds perfect for creating the Robert Fripp-like “guitar” solos I put on the latter half of the song.

What other sounds/products, if any, did you use to make the track?
Everything else on the track is from the core library of Omnisphere apart from the kick drum and the tongue-clicking metronome sound which are both from Stylus RMX. I’ve used Nomad Factory effects on some of the tracks, assembled it in Cubase and mastered it in Sound Forge, but apart from that it’s pure Spectrasonics.

Omnisphere interfaceHow fundamental to your work is Omnisphere?
Utterly fundamental. It forms the basis of 99% of everything I do. I use other things too – East West’s catalogue springs to mind – but it’s rare I do anything without Omnisphere being in there somewhere. I think because it’s so versatile but also pretty comprehensive in terms of the kinds of sounds I like to use.

Do you use any other Spectrasonics titles?
Atmosphere and Trilogy were part of my studio set-up from the moment I moved away from the PlayStation! Stylus RMX came soon after with all the Xpanders, then I upgraded to Omnisphere and Trilian last year. So yes, the whole lot basically. I’m a huge fan.

So how did Spectrasonics break the good news to you?
They sent me a congratulatory e-mail! I knew the results were out on the 15th and thought they’d e-mail me if I’d won anything but by the time 7.30 in the evening rolled around, I hadn’t heard anything so I just assumed that was the end of it. Completely forgetting the time difference between the UK and LA of course. So I looked on their website and started listening to the winning entries, and actually scrolled down past my name before doing a double-take and going back to realise I was on the list. The e-mail came from them literally one minute later so I think they must have just posted the results just moments before I logged on.

You won a Moogerfooger MIDI MuRF Pedal – have you had a chance to use it yet?

Moogerfooger MIDI MuRF Pedal
Moogerfooger MIDI MuRF Pedal

The winners were only announced a few days ago so it hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ll be writing a piece for a short film next week and I’m hoping I might get the chance to experiment with it then. I’m hoping to post the results on my website before the end of the month!

Finally, what would you say to music producers who are still sitting on the fence when it comes to buying Omnisphere?
Everyone has their own favourite instrument which suits their own purposes and everyone has a different approach to making music. But as far as I can make out, it’s the most versatile and comprehensive synth package you can get, the sounds are uniformly brilliant, the library is vast, the updates and expansions are mainly free of charge and it’s very intuitive to use while at the same time being infinitely deep and customisable. And it’s not really that expensive either. So I’ve absolutely no idea why anyone wouldn’t buy it immediately.

Thanks Waen and congratulations once again!

Click here to check out all the winners of the OMg-1 contest or to find out more about Waen’s work click here

Posted by Melanie Doidge

Having worked in marketing for over fifteen years with experience in various industries, Time+Space and the world of music production continues to be the most exciting of them all. With our brands consistently pushing the boundaries of technology with their products, the terrific DJs, Composers and Producers using them and the feedback from magazines and our customers, there's always plenty to tell the world about. Musical experience? I reached Grade 6 in piano back in my school days and am currently in the throes of trying to resurrect my abilities!

Website: http://www.timespace.com

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