These days you can hear a lot of rock cues in video game or film trailers making good use of classics by the likes of Led Zeppelin or Queen. For anyone looking for something in a similar instrumental style, mixed with other genres and with a very editing friendly approach, Warner/Chappell Production Music’s ‘Machine Head’ Trailer Tools are here to help you out. Published under trailer music division Non-Stop Trailer’s successful Full Tilt label, it is already the 5th installment in the toolbox series.
About Warner/Chappell Production Music’s Full Tilt – Trailer Tools Volume 5 ‘Machine Head’
Some of you might remember that Full Tilt was acquired by Warner/Chappell in 2010 and under the creative lead of Ninja Tracks’ Michael Nielsen and Kaveh Cohen until 2012 [more info]. But let us focus on the here and now: Full Tilt’s legacy has been continued by composer Or Kribos and his team which now has released ‘Machine Head’, “a set of trailer tools from impacts, risers and swells to full-on musical themes with cutting edge approach and futuristic sound design” as stated in the official description.
In total, the release includes 100 unique titles/themes with an additional 230 mixouts and is divided into seven groups: Main Themes, Rises, Whooshbangs [you gotta love that technical term], Epic Hits, Deep Sub Hits, Metal Hits and Reverse Wipes. While only the longer, more melodic cues on the release are made for general listening pleasure, the tool box’s distinctive style is a mix of heavy guitar riffs, musical influences from the Middle East, a decent dose of electronica elements – and a usage of vocals which I haven’t quite heard in that particular mix before. What you get is a really futuristic sound on a very high production level.
Let’s have a listen to how you can combine all these stylistic directions and take one of my favorite cues from the album as a first example. It is called ‘Reloaded’ and was already featured in the official ‘Max Summer’ promo of US TV station Cinemax:
Listen to ‘Reloaded’ below (featured in Cinemax Max Summer promo)
How do you come up with a concept like that and who is behind it? Or Kribos, co-composer Or Chausha and guitarist Ophir Levi answered a few questions on the creative process of Full Tilt’s Trailer Tools Volume 5 ‘Machine Head’ and you can read all about it below. Enjoy!
Please tell us about the story behind the making of the album.
Or Kribos: The inspiration was to create a quintessential toolbox for music editors, sound design cues that are out-of-the-box, ready for transitions, tags, conclusions, cliffhangers and openers. The longer cues have more focus on the musicality and the dramatic arch. We loved all the great blockbusters from the last couple of years, films such as Mad Max, Prometheus, Star Wars, etc… naturally most of the cues are in the same vein: action, futuristic and sci-fi oriented.
Or Chausha: We are big fans of the Full Tilt brand since its beginning. Both Or and I absolutely love the work of Michael Nielsen and Kaveh Cohen. We wanted to create our own take on a slow-pacing drama or fast-driven action music while revering Michael and Kaveh’s epic legacy. It’s an honor to build upon what they had started and create the next installment in the Trailer Tools series.
Or Kribos: The biggest inspiration for this album comes from EDM — not stylistically, per se, but rather in terms of our focus on the technical aspect of production and production value. We listened to a lot of drum and bass, future bass, downtempo electronica, hip-hop and a little bit of rock and metal.
Or Chausha: Alongside the orchestral tradition of the Full Tilt catalog, there’s also an incredible propulsive, gritty, driving side of live guitars, which were done mostly by Michael Nielsen. Or and I wanted to expand on the rock and metal influences found in the catalog and we brought in Ophir Levi to record live guitars for us.
Listen to ‘Sands of Time’ below
You guys work very internationally. How did this influence the creative process?
Or Kribos: The most traveled track in this album is Speedracer. I came up with the themes at my studio in Oklahoma City. Ophir recorded live guitars in Qiryat Motzkin, Israel and sent me the files. During my summer visit to Israel, Or and I gathered at his studio in Jerusalem, where we re-arranged and completed the track you can now hear on the album. Overall, we work out of five different cities across four continents!
Or Chausha: The artwork of this album was made by the amazing, Walid Feghali. He started the work in Sweden, where he is based and completed it during his travels to Japan.
Listen to ‘Speedracer’ below
Or Chausha: My studio in Jerusalem is located in an area near a forest. We thought how cool it would be if we went out to record found objects and organic sounds to combine with our cues. During one of our field recordings, we discovered an abandoned house in the middle of the forest! We were astounded by the hall’s reverberation, which had such a unique and fresh tone. We experimented with a few materials, and ultimately recorded a violin in different variations. Back in the studio, we processed the recordings and ended up combining them in some of the rises.
Or Kribos: When taking out the trash one night, I noticed a big metal table in my back yard. The next day, I recorded a few variations of bangs and rhythmic patterns and after processing the recordings; we layered a few of these with the Metal Hits.
Were there particular obstacles to overcome due to the international collaboration?
Ophir Levi: In order to overcome the transatlantic distance, we used Skype and TeamViewer to remote-control each other’s workstations. As soon as I finished recording a guitar stem, I would upload it to Or so he could import it to his session. It took longer to find the right ideas, as I wasn’t there with him in the studio and every change on the fly had to be exported and uploaded so he could check it out. However, in this kind of collaborative environment, accidents can occur and fresh musical ideas emerge. I remember parts where Or mistakenly (or intentionally?) moved the guitars out of sync or time-stretched them and they created a totally different atmosphere, which ended up as unique effects.
Listen to ‘Cyber Heist’ below
What other challenges did you face while working on the album?
Or Chausha: One of the challenges of working with pre-made samples and designing your own sounds is to digitally maintain a coherent energy throughout. We learned that there’s a big difference between energy and intensity. For example, a cue could be very intense but at the same time lack the organic energy that may exist in a live setting or a live performance. Our goal was to emphasize the energy of the sounds and tracks we’ve created to ensure the highest and richest sonic impact on the listener.
Or Kribos: I was in charge of naming all of the cues and at some point, I just ran out of ideas. I turned to the thesaurus for synonyms.
Watch the ‘Annabelle 2’ Official teaser announcement – featuring ‘Mammoth’ & ‘Uncharted’
Listen to four Risers below: ‘Battlefield’, ‘Singularity’, ‘Genisys’ and ‘Dark Side’
How were you able to achieve a coherent sound working in two different studios?
Or Kribos: Working in different studios was actually a plus. We had to focus on finding the right balance, regardless of environment, and did a lot of A/B testing and comparisons. The goal was to achieve a standard level of loudness while maintaining the cues’ depth, dynamics and musicality.
Or Chausha: We get people asking us what kind of gear we’re using to mix our music. Almost all of the tools we used for mixing and mastering this album are software-based. We are psyched about the results we were able to achieve.
Listen to ‘Undulations’ below
Please tell us what gear you were using for this album?
Or Chausha: I’m using Cubase, and Kribos is using Logic as our main DAW. However, both of us are proficient in both programs so it makes our collaboration even more fluid.
Or Kribos: In terms of our processing chain and plug-ins, we did something different with each cue. We used a variety of plug-ins, but used some kind of distortion or saturation on everything. SoundToys is our main processing bundle; for synthesis, we used Native Instruments Massive.
Or Chausha: With the variety of cues involved in this album, it was important to have a cohesive mix and master throughout. Although working in two different studios, it was convenient that both Or and I are using the same monitoring system, Dynaudio BM5.
Ophir Levi: I used Gibson Les Paul Custom for clean melodies and solos. For hard rhythmic distorted riffs, I used ESP Eclipse-II. Generally, I am tuning my guitars to C# with Drop-B to allow the thick strings to resonate. For effects and amp simulation, I used POD HD Pro-X.
Or Kribos: For the field recordings we used Roland R-26.
Listen to ‘Seven Eight’ below
What have you learned in the process of making the album and what was it like working with Warner/Chappell Production Music and Non-Stop Trailers?
Or Chausha: In the original proposal, we pitched 90 cues, which we planned to split evenly between us. But neither of us imagined how enormous the scope of the project would be. We ultimately produced 100 cues and 230 mixouts, which has taken over a year to complete.
Or Kribos: What I have loved about Warner Chappell is the incredible balance between our artistic freedom and their fantastic creative input. It’s an ongoing relationship, developed over the last couple years, and we greatly appreciate the mutual trust.
Listen to a big selection from ‘Full Tilt Trailer Tools Vol. 5 – Machine Head’ below
What’s next for you guys?
Both Or and I are involved in different projects, but we’re already working on two exciting releases for the Full Tilt brand. Stay tuned and thanks so much for the interview!
We hope you enjoyed the look behind the scenes of Warner/Chappell Production Music’s Full Tilt – Trailer Tools Volume 5 ‘Machine Head’. For licensing info please contact David Epstein, Director of Licensing at Non-Stop Trailers (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can stay updated about Or Kribos‘, Or Chausha‘s and Ophir Levi‘s future projects via their official websites or Social Media.