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Thursday, September 10, 2009

 

Interview with Jeremy Sherman

Jeremy Sherman was one of the first composers who joined up with the Shockwave-Sound.com team back in 2001 or so. We immediately took to his music because it was so acoustic, so natural, so real. In the world of online stock music, there is a lot of electronic and loop based music, but Jeremy's music was all guitars, all played by hand - and it made his music stand out.

Today, many years later, we have a lot of acoustic and played-by-hand music in our catalogue, but Jeremy's tunes still have that special sound. He can do Americana, folk, country, blues, retro rock, jazz and more. He is completely self-taught on guitar and other stringed instruments, and he lives near Brighton on the south coast of England.



Jeremy Sherman is a "signed-on" composer here at Shockwave-Sound.com, which means that his tracks are always exclusive to Shockwave-Sound.com for a minimum period of one year, before they are made available on any other sites.

This week we've had the pleasure of adding 19 new tracks by Jeremy Sherman to our catalogue, and we thought it would be a good idea to conduct an interview with Jeremy for the benefit of our visitors -- so we gave him a call...:

You’ve been a musician for a while. What made you decide to start composing for library music / stock music? 
I had been writing material for years but I realised that I was hopeless at lyrics and because I like so many different types of music the material was too diverse. So, library music seemed the ideal solution... no lyrics and I could do  whatever style I liked.
Your music has a very earthly, acoustic tone, heavily based on stringed instruments. Which ones are your favourites among these instruments?
An acoustic guitar with a new set of strings is hard to beat but my favourite stringed instrument is the pedal steel or the non-pedal steel guitar. I love the harmony of chords and a lot of steel playing is just that.
How many different stringed instruments have you got? Any of them particularly interesting or unique sounding?
2 Fender Strats (one for slide), Fender Tele, Ibanez AR300, pedal steel, 2 acoustics (one for slide), dobro, classical guitar, 5 String banjo, mandolin and an ESP bass.

Do you ever compose music “to order”, i.e. get hired by a company to produce bespoke music especially for their project?
Apart from a few requests for a particular style to fill a niche in a library I have'nt had any commissions yet.
Would you take a commission for bespoke music composition, if it was offered to you?
Certainly... I think  it would be good sometimes to see If I could successfully write to a client's brief and deadline.  
Can you tell us, in short terms, a little bit about your recording setup and techniques?
I use Sonar Studio 7 on a PC with another slave PC handling the VST's - BFD Drums & Percussion, Native Instruments Classic Keyboard bundle & Sample Modelling's Trumpet and Mr Sax. I use an M-Audio Pro 88 controller keyboard and my trusty old Korg X3 synth. Microphone wise I use a Rode K2 tube mic and an Audio Technica AT4033. The various electric guitars and pedal steel go through a Line 6 Pod. Everything goes to Sonar via a Yamaha 01v96 VCM mixer and 24 Channels of ADAT and comes back to be mixed on the Yamaha. I know one can mix on the PC but being old school I wanted to have the hands on feeling of real faders rather than mix with a mouse. It's all monitored on a pair of Alesis MK II active speakers.
As far as techniques go I know there's a hell of a lot of features on Sonar and the Yamaha that I haven't used. Basically I just treat it like an old tape recorder with the added benefits of cut and paste and settings memory. I usually start with an idea on guitar or keyboard and record a guide track then add drums which I play in real time with seperate passes for kick , hi hat and then snare and toms. I never use grooves or patterns as doing it in real time accidents/mistakes  happen on fills etc that turn out be great, and besides I haven't the patience to write or program in step time. Given the type of stuff I do a fairly loose, haphazard approach to the drums is probably best.
Then it's just a case of bass and other overdubs and sometimes going back and changing the feel on the drums as the track progresses.



Do you ever experiment with mixing down different versions of your tracks, say, a “bass and guitar only” version or “version with banjo instead of guitar”, something like that?
Occassionally. I should do it more to perhaps give tracks a different slant or take them off in a different direction to that originally intended but I have a tendency to impatience so as soon as the main mix is done I'm raring to go on the next composition. I should slow down a bit and make sure I've got as much out of a track as I can.
How many tracks have you composed in your lifetime?
Around 400, I guess
Listening to your music, I’ve always felt that your music has something quintessentially American to it – even though you’re in fact British yourself. It kind of makes me think about when the British director Sam Mendes directed “American Beauty” to such critic and public acclaim. Any idea where this comes from? Why the “All-American” sound from a British composer such as yourself?
When I started off I was listening to all the UK bands around at that time (and here I'm showing my age!). Cream, Led Zeppelin, Free etc. But then I heard the brilliant Steely Dan and that pointed me across the Atlantic. Whilst they were mostly sophisticated "pop jazz" they sometimes used pedal steel and the sound of that took me off in search off other bands who used it and that lead me into Western Swing & Country which lead onto Bluegrass, Appalachian, Cajun etc. Taking in the modern exponents on the way such as Ry Cooder and the Band.  I love the complexities of jazz but equally I love the raw simplicity of the American "roots" music. I do like the UK's and Ireland's own roots music but it is mostly set tunes whereas the American music to me is looser and more open to improvisation.
Speaking about Ireland – I really love your Irish track “Lanagan’s Ball”, with Irish flute. I assume you got a chance to work with a flute player on that occasion, and did you ever consider doing more of that Irish, Celtic stuff? We’d love to feature some more of that in our catalogue.
Yes... we have intended to do more but never got around to it, but we shall put that right and get some more going. We do gigs together so we know plenty of tunes.
Apart from the obvious – royalty payments from Shockwave-Sound.com – what would you say that composing stock music for Shockwave-Sound.com has meant for you?
Having it accepted and appreciated in the first place was great... One is never sure at the start whether it's good enough. And then to see it sell and get used all over the world , especially if it's been on TV, is like a shot in the arm... a confidence booster.
Have you ever stumbled across your music playing in a TV program, unexpectedly?
Yes ..quite a few times and it's a real buzz. It always takes a few seconds to sink in, I'll think I know that from somewhere... oh yes, it's one of mine.
If you had to pick only two tracks that you’ve composed for Shockwave-Sound.com that are your two favorites… which two tracks would that be?
Difficult question but I think it would have to be Lonesome Cowboy and Mayfly. both have that simple earthiness but coupled with wistful melodies
I’ve heard that you’re about to get married. Congratulations! Is she a fan of your music? Does she play any instruments herself?
Thank you... yes she is very encouraging but she doesn't play herself which perhaps is just as well as she'd probably be telling me how to play something or do I need that much boost at 500 hz! (Laughing)
What are your plans for the future, with regards to your music? Just keep on producing more quality stuff and enjoying the ride?
Yep, just keep on going I reckon. I love recording... though having written so many tracks and delved into lots of styles it is sometimes difficult to come up with something new and not to go back one self too much, but if I am struggling I'll usually leave it alone for a week and then when I pick up the guitar or sit at the keyboard something usually comes out. My ultimate hope is that the income from music allows me to give up the day job. We have to wait and see, but even if it doesn't it is still so satisfying and allows me to buy nice equipment etc.
Ah yes, equipment shopping is nice, and can be very inspiring for making new tracks, too. What nice equipment is next on your shopping list? 
From a practical viewpoint, a 12 string guitar and some lesser known instruments such as Bajo Sexto, Balalaika, Mandola, to add more colours to the pallette and open up new avenues of composition. On the luxury side, I have hankering for a Neumann mic and  I can't seem to get a cherry red Gibson 335 out of my mind!
And that's where we left it off. We hope you'll enjoy Jeremy's music here on Shockwave-Sound.com. For your reference, here are Jeremy's 5 most frequently licensed tracks from our stock music catalog:
And here is a link to all Jeremy Sherman tracks.
We hope you enjoyed this special artist feature here on our blog. If you did, let us know. We'll probably continue with more artist special features in the future.

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