Aaron Harris is an award-winning musician and composer. His critically-acclaimed releases have topped the Billboard Charts and appeared in television series, film trailers, documentaries, video games and more.
Here's our chat with Aaron:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
A few movie trailer placements that I’m really proud of are Us, Hereditary, True Detective, The Irishman and Pet Sematary. With my bands ISIS and Palms I’m really proud of the albums “Oceanic,” “Panopticon” and the self titled Palms album.
What's the best place for those new to your work to become familiar with what you do?
For my composing work my website or Instagram are the best places to go. For my bands you can go to the Ipecac Recordings website.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
It really depends on the project. As a composer it’s usually working with a client to realize a project and get a certain message or mood across. A lot of my composing work is in movie trailers and it’s a fast paced and competitive world. Deadlines can be within a couple hours. It’s not uncommon to have only a day or two to compose an original piece of music or sound design. But it keeps me thinking and moving forward and when I have the time I like to look for new sounds or create original sound design. With my bands I can be a little more selfish and come at it from a purely artistic point of view. The writing is a collaborative process but I play a big role in recording and producing the albums.
How did you get started in music for movies and TV?
It was something I wanted to do for a long time but never had the courage to pursue. It got to a point where I just said “well, it’s now or never.” So I made a reel of material and shopped it around to a few music libraries. A collective called Methodic Doubt liked my work and gave me my first opportunity as an in-house composer. I composed with them for 3 years. Then I teamed up with Vik and the guys at Elephant Music and Mammoth Audio. It’s been a great place for me and I’m really happy to be part of the team.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
Those moments come often in my line of work and you just have to work through them. There’s a few things I do to keep focused and level headed. I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to be making a living in music, and if something isn’t working I try to walk away (if I have time) and come back to it. Even taking a walk to clear your head can do wonders. Keeping calm is crucial. Panicking can really distort your judgment. And confidence is something that can be a battle, but it’s important to stay confident in your work and remind yourself that you’ve come this far for a reason.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
I really love my Overstayer “Stereo Voltage Control.” I use it on my mix buss and it makes everything sound great. It’s become a big part of my sound. I’m also loving the Arturia “FX Collection” lately. There’s lots of virtual string and synths I love. Especially the stuff from Spitfire Audio, u-he and Arturia.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
It seems cliche to say but work hard. Make connections. Networking is really important. Staying inspired is also important. But most of all work hard. I really believe it will pay off.
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
Headphones are so crucial in all walks of audio work. They can provide a change of perspective, or a means working in environments where monitors aren’t possible. They also provide a stage of critical listening that you can’t get with most monitors. With good headphones like Audeze you can mix on headphones and be confident that your work will translate. So if you’re working late at night while your family are sleeping, or on an airplane you know that it will also sound great when you go to mix on your monitors or have to turn into a client. And for recording having good headphones can make or break your session. When you can hear yourself accurately you’re then empowered to perform better.
I got the LCD-1's... I'm really loving them. I feel totally confident writing and mixing on them where I haven't with other headphones I've owned. The levels translate really well to my monitors. I love the low end. It doesn't feel hyped but it's nice and punchy and accurate. They're also very comfortable to wear. They're on course to be my favorite headphones that I've ever owned!
Listening to music is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Having really great sounding and comfortable headphones is crucial. It will change your life!