A strange thing happened the last time I updated the Soundsauca website. I was going through some issues and had prepared a long blog post for when I was updating things for the new Mojo sound set. As it happened I screwed up my web dev environment and lost the post I had created… Things often happen for a reason and, in a way I’m glad I didn’t post the initial version of what I had written. However I still felt the need to get it all off my chest and, hopefully this rewrite yields a more balanced perspective.
Soundsauca & me
First off, let me make something crystal. I don’t proclaim to be anybody. In fact I’m a nobody. I like it that way! This website and all of its contents are nothing but a personal creation. I am not trying to influence others, be a social media star, nor do I proclaim to be an “official” sound designer/GoPro, polishing my knobs all day. I’m certainly not that interesting or important.
So why write here about something unrelated to synthesizers that most people won’t read or care about? Simple – Soundsauca is an extension of me and how I feel affects what I do with Soundsauca.
Last year, having finished the Himalaya sound bank I felt like trying something new. I had always wanted to learn more about music production but always got stuck in my own time-loop. As if it was gods will, a Facebook ad popped up offering production courses. A not so secret guilty pleasure of mine is my love for hard house & trance music. I’m certainly over the hill these days, but dance music was my first love and it has always held a very special place in my heart. As luck would have it, the course was being run by many of the guys at the forefront of the sound I loved!
Back to the old skool
After some financial deliberation (thanks Leanne!), I signed on the dotted line for the 12 week course and held on for the ride! I was so excited, I’d never done anything like it before and it was such a great opportunity for me to learn some stuff that I’d always been wondering about. Over the weeks we started to build our own tracks from scratch. It began by choosing a reference, building up the drums & percussive elements, bass and leads. From there it went to the arrangement phase and finally onto mixing and mastering. I’m sure you know this better than me!
I had created some elements I quite liked and the initial arrangement came together. I got some encouraging feedback early on which really amped me up – maybe I could finish a track after all!
Things progressed and started to get a little harder. I felt I was close to something but wasn’t quite there. In hindsight I was no where near where I needed to be! I guess the last “track” I’d tried to complete was back in the late ‘90s, early 00’s, my experience was definitely lacking. Making sounds had always been easier in my head, so I had pretty much given up that dream of making music.
Trying too hard
The track I made was a hard trance track in the vein of legendary producer Dave Parkinson. I had a huge wall of supersaw powering my riff and it worked (for the most part). It was going somewhere but wasn’t quite right. They knew it, I knew it. I could hear it in my head, I tried, and tried, and tried, all the time getting more and more frustrated. I started to panic. There were other elements that were not getting my attention, whilst all the time I was going round in circles trying to “fix” things.
Without realising, I was also slowly spiralling down mentally. It wasn’t a competition, but subconsciously I knew that there was a chance of a track being signed. I was trying too hard and got myself further and further into the weeds.
Nearing the end of the course a livestream event took place. Everyone on the course had their track played and critiqued. It was a great opportunity to hear everyone else’s work. All of the tracks were really good, and it was interesting how different they all sounded. There was also a really great track. It was a really polished production with many of the elements that I had worked to achieve but unfortunately fell short of. I was really pleased for the guy. I congratulated him on his amazing work and knew that he would have great success with it. Well done Andy!
After all the energy & hype had died down, I had time to reflect on the whole experience and what I had created. It was a great journey. I had learned so much, made some great acquaintances, and with the help of some great people (thank you Martin & Przemek) released a track. All in all I had thoroughly enjoyed it. Imo I had fallen short because I lost sight of the reason for doing it in the first place and ended up chasing a prize. I didn’t concentrate on the learning for learnings sake.
Later I found that I couldn’t simply return to how I was beforehand. I did try, but getting back into sound design again was not happening for some reason. I felt frustrated, burned out, even hopeless. Why was it so difficult for me to do what I’d done before? I’d lost my vision and felt I couldn’t do anything anymore.
In the meantime I tried being a little more proactive on social media, y’know promoting my sounds a bit. No harm in that I figured. One day I responded to a Facebook group to post anything of interest, so I did. It turned out, that this was for “other people”, not me! Subsequently, I received a message from a well known individual in synth circles, who asked me to clarify the legitimacy of my business… I was a bit shocked to be honest. I mean, it’s sound design right? not asset management. He assured me it was “purely business” and it wasn’t personal. Thank goodness, I didn’t realise he also worked for the HMRC.
Naturally, I am very much a legitimate business and declare my vast fortune of earnings like anyone else! I have nothing to hide and no axes to grind with anyone. To assume that someone is somehow dodging the system because they put a post on Facebook to a YouTube video is somewhat presumptuous imo. Beyond that, it was clear that the said individual had no interest in building a rapport, exchanging tips like some of my other designer buddies do, or otherwise swim in the same pond. It was like, I’m bigger & better than you so “sling ya hook,” and so I did…
The thing I don’t understand about some sound designers is this. If someone likes a sound bank for a certain synth by a certain author, they’ll buy it. That purchase won’t preclude them from buying other sounds from another one by a “competitor”. If they don’t like it – they won’t, simples! As all sound banks are different, there’s not much need for any tribalism imho. Sounds are impulse purchases most the time.
Is it all such a big deal? Not really in the grand scheme of things, I guess I’m an extremely fragile person and situations like this don’t help my mental state. I still look at in different ways. Was I a threat? No! He’s an established figure, has more synths than I will ever have, does live shows, has loads of endorsements, plays live etc. Well done him, I like his work (I said it), he works hard and deserves it, so do I. Again, I’m not trying to be anyone else or rain on anyone’s parade. Sometimes I’d rather if some would just come out and say it; “I hate your sounds” or “I don’t like you” to me. Instead it’s this silent disdain for a presence in a supposed open community. One can see how wars start…
There are great many people in the synth industry and many are true icons. I respect these people and hope to earn the respect of others. After this encounter it became ever clearer how some in the synth community really work. The back slapping, the little clubs, the faux endorsements, the reviews, the ghost banning, the social engineering, the snubbing, the ignoring, I could go on but whatever.
The characters who operate within this cabal, and the who’s who wielding the power behind the scenes are very big and would like to keep everyone’s attention elsewhere. I’m not interested, never have, never will. I know who they are, but importantly, I know who the good guys are too!
All of my self deprecating and depressive thoughts rapidly faded away upon the devastating news of conflict in Ukraine. Like everyone, I’m heartbroken that in 2022 the world is going backwards. I don’t want to get political, but as a species we are heading in the wrong direction. We cannot ignore this, and this all didn’t just happen. I want to say more but I’ll save my thoughts on this for another day.
In a nutshell though, it all made me stop and think, and realise what the heck am I doing? How lucky was I… What was I worried about when these poor people are literally being destroyed. It was like someone had shaken me up. That was the very day I started to create Mojo.
Whilst it’s sad that it took something so terrible to happen to snap me out of my stupor – suffering mental health issues often has a way of doing this to me. Is my Mojo truly found again? Yes & no. I need to stop taking myself too seriously, brush off all this negativity in my head and stop fearing the fear of failure that I’ve lived with all my life.
Create what is in your heart, rejoice in it for whatever you do, do it for the right reasons for you and be happy! Hang on – that’s for me isn’t it! Right – I have unfinished business to attend to!