Yes, it did happen!
Well, this is quite embarrassing, but I wanted to finish up this story. For those that don’t remember, because it was so long ago, we did a live chat with Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, via webcam. It was a first for us, and I was hoping that things would go perfectly. They didn’t, and that’s why there was never a follow up article with a video of the interview. Actually, there could have been that; it just would have been without audio.
That said, I wanted to have something posted that kind of summarized what was said. It’s a little silly to do this when it happened so long ago, but I did promise this, and I’d like some closure. I’m sorry to that those that missed it who won’t have the opportunity to see it. To give you a picture of what happened, I asked Aleksandar often clumsy questions as I struggled with the few second delay, and Aleksandar provided some wonderful insight and thoughts about himself and trailer music.
I get into more detail, after the jump…
Aleksandar introduced himself, and explained that he had, in the past, done a variety of things including electronic music. He started out writing for some video games and short films, but his main focus prior to 2005 was sound design. Trailer music is a rather recent development after all.
Speaking of which, Aleksandar talked about how he entered into the trailer music arena. He decided to start at the top, and contacted Immediate Music. They happened to be working on the second of the Themes for Orchestra and Choir series (TFOAC2), and they liked Aleksandar’s tracks so much, they decided to record them for that release. It was a complete surprise for him that his tracks (e.g. “With Great Power” and”Epicon”) ended up being very successful in that release. Aleksandar never expected his music to take off in the way it has, and he was just extremely grateful for the opportunity to have it recorded with a real orchestra and choir at the famous Abbey Road Studios. They could have been left off the album, and it would still have been worth it.
Aleksandar mentioned that he is still composing a lot of tracks for Immediate, and two (probably) of them would be in Immediate’s second upcoming public release, Trailerhead: Saga. [We now know one of those is”Darkness on the Edge of Power”]. He said most of his collaboration with Immediate, and in general, is long distance, but they work closely together. For example, when he was working on “Epicon” for Themes For Orchestra And Choir 2, he said that he and Jeffrey Fayman spent more than a week and a half editing the last 10-20 seconds of the track to give it a bigger impact. If Jeffrey says that it can be more powerful, it can be, and he can probably make it happen!
At one point Aleksandar discussed his process for composing. He said that the length of time he spends on each track varies. Usually, if he doesn’t not have a catchy and powerful core of a song after about 5 hours, he throws it out and begins the process again. Trailer music relies on simple, and catchy melodies, and if one doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, the song probably isn’t worth it. Before the start of the interview, Aleksandar played a track that he was working on. It was incredible, and I was stunned to find out later, that he had just put that together earlier that day. My hat off to you sir!
I asked him about the difference between composing with samples, and composing with an orchestra in mind. He said that he writes all his music as if it is going to be played by a real orchestra and choir. There is surprisingly little difference between the composing process for a real orchestra versus virtual instruments. He said that he aims to make the transition between the two as easy as possible in case he gets the opportunity to record the track with real instruments.
I was very curious to hear about his personal library venture, Teddy Bear Music, so I asked him about it. He said that the Teddy Bear library is not his main focus, and while it has gotten some attention, there hadn’t been any trailer placements (as of the time of the interview). At the time of the interview, Aleksandar said he wasn’t working on a new album, but he was hopeful that there would be more coming soon. He said that Teddy Bear Music was his personal project where he could feature unique, but worthwhile tracks that he enjoyed, which would otherwise not have the opportunity for licensing. These included pieces that he had put aside, with the hope of coming back to, as well as pieces from other composers that he felt deserved some attention.
In regards to the popularity of trailer music, Aleksandar said that he was very happy that it has taken off like it has. He’s encouraged by the sales of albums like Invincible from Two Steps From Hell. While he was not at that time planning any public releases of his own work, he said that the idea of one was always in the back of his mind, and certainly a possibility for the future. Aleksandar said that in an ideal world, if he ever did make a public release, he would want to create an album not with just trailer music, but with music for fans of trailer music. He never expected this genre to get the recognition it has now, and he just concentrates on making music for trailers as best he can.
I asked Aleskandar what he thought about the sharing that was rampant in some areas of the trailer music fanbase. I was a little wary about asking this, but I figured it was the elephant in the room when discussing this genre. Aleksandar said he couldn’t talk too much about it, but that there is no question that it is stealing. He said that Immediate and other trailer music companies don’t do public releases to make money, but rather purely because they love their fans. If people pirate their music, there isn’t much incentive for any more releases, and companies will just revert back to the way things were. Aleksandar particularly condemned those who put 50 tracks from the newest libraries on YouTube. He likened the sharing that exists to kids trading cards: “I’ll trade you this rare song for 5 other rare songs”. He doesn’t at all condone this mentality (and neither do we!). I think this would be a good time to suggest that everyone buy Trailerhead: Saga!
I asked him at one point, whether he had a favorite soundtrack, knowing full well how difficult this question was. Aleksandar couldn’t choose one soundtrack, as there are so many. He did name some composers, like John Williams, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore pre-Lord of the Rings, and Don Davis.
In typical fashion for me, I wondered what his favorite part about his job was. He said that it would be difficult to pinpoint what would be the thing he likes most, as music is such a big part of his life.
Finally, I asked if he had a message for his fans (and in this case, he had the chance to speak directly to them!). Aleksandar thanked all his fans for their support, and he hoped that he can continue to make music that we enjoy!
I have to thank Ryan’s memory, more than mine, for this article. And thank you Aleksandar again for the opportunity to speak with you. It was a pleasure, and perhaps we can hold another one of these in the future (next time with sound). I hope that we got everything right here in this summary. Thanks to everyone that watched and listened in!
Lastly, if anyone can read lips, I’ve got a 50 minute silent film that needs captioning.