We rarely do feature musicians around these parts, but there are so many incredible composers and sound artists in the community and we are thrilled every time we find some new talent here and there.
Brice Cagan is everything our editor will never be: talented, focused and determined enough to actually learn to play more than one instrument properly. Starting out as a session guitarist, Brice was able to find his own way in film orchestration and soundtracks, and his inspiring views on music and creativity are likely to blow your mind in no time.
For this Member Spotlight, we've had the chance to speak with someone on whom music feels like a second skin. Hear Brice Cagan speaking about his path into the industry below.
How did you get into the industry?
I started out as a session guitarist and playing in bands, but bit by bit I became more interested in film and orchestration. Somewhere along the line I started introducing myself as a composer rather than a guitarist, but I still view the orchestra as just a REALLY big band. I get as much influence from Zeppelin as I do from Chopin, and I really hope that brings a lot of my attitude and personality into my sound.
I slowly started getting more involved with projects from the ground up as a creative and really learned the creative direction and aspects of my job by trial and error. It took a few years for it to become second nature, and I love watching these projects take form from the start rather than just focusing on the musical aspects of it.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I’m the lead composer of a company called Black And White Sounds, which does music composition and audio branding. We’re based in London but our roots are in Los Angeles, so we’re back and forth a lot.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Easy. Stuntman. Unfortunately I lack all of the physical requirements, but maybe in another life.
Can you explain your creative process?
Every project is totally different, but I can say that from the beginning I’ll encourage everyone on my team to think of the end result. We’re musicians, but if we’re working on a commercial then we’re in advertising. If we’re working on a film, we’re filmmakers. Our job isn’t necessarily to create an amazing song to go with the product. It’s to communicate the narrative through music and sound, as well as words. Communication is key.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
This is a really interesting question at this time. We’re kind of at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak and are being encouraged to work from home if it’s possible. I think we’ve become so accustomed to office culture but collaborative technology has now almost made that obsolete.
Now we’re starting to see how easy and productive it can be to use video chat to collaborate. I hope that’s not lost on us when this is all over. Being able to collaborate with colleagues in other countries has been really inspirational.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Working with other people really helps. If I’m stuck on a project, just watching someone else watch your work can say everything. You can learn so much by getting involved with a collaborator’s workflow, even if it’s in a totally different role. I think other creatives, copywriters and designers can be super inspirational. They also usually have the best insight for what the sound of the projects is really aiming for.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
Composing for the 2016 & 2018 Olympics, and teaching my nephew how to play “Smoke On The Water” on guitar (no specific order).
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Focus on your presentation. If you’re in branding, then you should also be able to brand yourself. Make sure your website and portfolio can compete with the big hitters even if you have to invest your time and money into it.