This week, as Heavyocity celebrate their 5th anniversary, we caught up with one of the founders Neil Goldberg to find out more about the people and products behind the brand…
Hi Neil, so tell us the story behind Heavyocity, how did it come about?
We’ve always used a “music meets sound design” approach, and spent many years combining and manipulating 3rd party virtual instruments and sample libraries . As working composers, we were using many of the popular VI’s at the time, and it began to feel like we were using the same sounds repeatedly. We were experiencing what we affectionately call the “creative fumble factor”, where we spent large amounts of time trying to find the right sounds for our projects.
We began developing our own sets of custom loops, sounds, and instruments, tailored to our needs. It grew into an extensive stockpile of unique sounds and we decided to format it into a virtual instrument. When we realized there could be a huge demand for the type of instrument we had created, Heavyocity came into existence.
What were you doing before that?
What we still do now! We’re all musicians, composers and sound designers. Currently our focus is writing music for Motion Picture Advertising and Video Game trailers. Over the years, we’ve created scores for several video games, major advertising campaigns and quite a few long format documentary TV shows. Our extensive client list includes Disney, Paramount, Universal, Activision, Electronic Arts, Gillette, Pepsi, Sony and the Discovery Channel. Our latest composing work can be found on our sister company’s site http://www.heavymelodymusic.com.
I’m a partner and one of the founding members. Like everybody in our core team, I’m involved with all phases of the production; from initial concept and development, to final marketing and release.
Which aspects of your job do you most enjoy?
The initial concept phase, recording and tweaking the sounds, and then the final weeks when it all comes together and we start writing demo’s with the instrument we’ve created – it’s really exciting to get a true sense of what you’ve spent six to eighteen months creating is all about.
Editing samples and our long meetings about how many pixels we need to shift the punish knob, ha ha!
Who else makes up the Heavyocity team?
My long time business partner and collaborator, Dave Fraser – Evolve (our first product) was Dave’s idea, It was his vision for “EVOLVE” which really started it all for Heavyocity seven years ago.
Ari Winters – also a partner who’s been with Heavyocity for 6 years full time. Ari is involved in every phase of product development from concept to release. He’s an accomplished composer/sound designer for our sister company as well, working on recent trailer campaigns such as The Walking Dead, Seventh Son, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Our newest member is George Valavanis – George’s chief roll at HY is Project Manager. He also does a large amount of instrument concept development and creative work. George is also an accomplished DJ/producer with a number of releases on labels such as Suara and KD Music.
In your view, what makes Heavyocity stand out from other virtual instrument developers?
We strive to give each instrument a specific sound and focus. We’re quite particular about how we capture various instruments or sources (experimentation is always a large part of it). The sound quality and depth has to be world class and inspiring. We record some of our sources at our studio in Manhattan, but often go to larger studios to record ensembles or out into the field to capture unique environmental and found sounds.
We launched “Evolve” in May of 2008 after two years of development and we really had no how it would be received. We knew we were on to something when we began receiving hundreds of emails about how much people loved the instrument. Word quickly spread that Evolve was a “must have” among the Hollywood Film and Game composer crowd. We then won Electronic Musician’s “Editor’s Choice” award for it, solidifying the critical acclaim for us. I think the general acceptance and admiration we received from Evolve in its first 6 months was it! Now we’re always excited (and fortunate) to get very favourable reviews of our products and hear them used in every facet of film and TV composition.
After Evolve, Evolve Mutations 1 & 2, and then Damage (which was mostly percussion) we felt it was time to address our melodic side again. We didn’t want to just recreate another variation of Evolve though. From the start, we knew it was important to focus on creating a fresh and inspiring instrument that would take the melodic aspects of its predecessor to new levels. We recorded eclectic and unconventional ensembles of instruments we hadn’t captured in our previous products and introduced a new palette of textures by carefully incorporating modular synthesizers in the sound. This time around we have a entirely new category of “Hybrid” instruments that embody our philosophy of blurring the lines between music and sound design. We melded analog synths and organic instruments into highly playable evolving instruments and beat-sliced tonal loops.
We have a lot of fairly in-depth tutorials on Youtube that explain some of the deeper functions in AEON but there are always other tricks and combinations that you can do to personalize the sounds. I like to push the Punish Knob up pretty high to get a nice saturated and compressed tone, then play with more radical EQ and experiment with the sequenced trigger FX. The Trigger Fx are great for drawing in your own modulation curves to get the sounds to really morph and breathe.
We think AEON is a unique collection of very high-quality instruments and sounds that are incredibly expressive and playable. They also tend to sit in a mix really nicely, which is very important to us. We pride ourselves on customizing the features and layout of our user interfaces to offer a high level of “tweak-ability”. With all of the modulation possibilities in the Filter/LFO section, it’s like having an analog synth and an organic instrument at your fingertips at all times. There’s a vast dynamic to the overall sound of AEON that can go from pristine and intimate to gnarly and aggressive in short order. We’re very excited by all the sonic possibilities AEON affords and feel it fills a very important void in the world of modern scoring tools.
Finally, is there anything you can tell us about in terms of what we can expect from Heavyocity in the near future?
We don’t let the cat out of the bag too early on future releases but we’ve got something cooking that we are very excited about, everybody will hear about it soon enough.
Thanks Neil and happy 5th anniversary!