Illumination: Interview with Michael Maas

German composer Michael Maas is about to release his second solo album, entitled Illumination.

Known for his work with Black Phoenix Music, the company he founded with Christoph Allerstorfer, Michael Maas recently started working for other trailer music libraries, including Liquid Cinema, and dos brains. Announced several months ago, Illumination has undergone some changes – the track “Be A Legend”, which was originally part of the albumwill actually be released by dos brains in an album coming this fall. In addition to this, the official release of Illumination, originally set on June, 23rd, was postponed to August 2013. In the meantime, here is an interview with Michael about Illumination.

Interview done in collaboration with Soundtracks and Trailer Music.

Trailer Music News: Why the name “Illumination” ? What’s the creative process behind this album ?

Michael Maas: “Illumination”, or to use another word, “enlightening” or “light”, was for me the right term to describe the  album as a whole. My pieces are always a mixture between soundtrack, trailer music, epic world, and epic fantasy music. So it’s not a theme album, it’s more of a mix between all my styles that I love to write, exactle that kind of music that gives me a piece of “Illumination”. This is the thing that I love doing: write music! It’s incredibly fun, every day.

TMN: What do the cover art  – made by Koke Nunez Gomez – and your new album have in common?

MM: When you see the cover art, there is a tree enlightened by the stars, a clear night. The tree is right in the middle of the cover, firmly rooted, it looks almost like in a dream. Perhaps this is a little bit a description of me right now. I’m right there where I want to be, writing music, clear thoughts, focused! Sometimes it seems a little bit like a dream to me, and I expect to wake up. But releasing my second album and seeing the great demand for it is a honor. Especially because my music is so accepted right now. I always receive a lot of great and positive feedback; that’s great too because it’s nothing you can take for granted.

TMN: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with the amazing female vocalist Julie Elven.

MM: There is not much to say more than that it worked really well. I gave Julie free reign to write a melody line for “Elven’s Dawn”,  she seemed to be the right person and voice for this song. I heard her song with Ivan Torrent, and so I decided to ask her for a collaboration. She also did the violin line in this song, just great.

I also did another a cooperation with Felicia Farerre, so I really like to work with female vocal artists, but I think to work with a male vocal artist would be really great too.

Here is “Morpheus and the Dream”, featuring Felicia Farerre:

TMN: Illumination will not only include music for trailers but also for movies. Why both?

MM: I really love these styles, soundtracks and trailer music as well. I always try to do a mix between both styles. In trailer music, it is often too noisy and loud for me, so there is a calmer part in soundtracks. I try to combine the loudest part of trailer music and calmer parts of soundtracks with each other. My music is really a mixture of a high climax and quiet parts. A lot of emotions, I hope! That’s the sound of Illumination. Trailer cues have to be short, about one or two minutes. Soundtracks can be much longer, that’s positive too.

Here is a promotional video montage for Illumination, edited by Rain Ventsel:

TMN: You just started working for two big trailer music companies, Liquid Cinema and dos brains. How does it feel?

MM: If feels really good, because if I’m sought after in this scene, that’ a big compliment for me and my music. There are so many other talented and young composers. If a company decides to work with you, that’s a really big thing and something about trust. I started working  for a smaller library in America before, Epitome Music, and did a dramatic film score release for movies and TV. Right now I compose a piano CD for this library too. So if I’m honest, I’m currently working on three different albums and for about five libraries. Really much work to do, but I need this, I’m a work-a-holic 🙂 !

TMN: In addition to Liquid Cinema and dos brains, you also have your own company, Black Phoenix Music. How will you organize yourself?

MM: It is all about time management. There will always be deadlines, so you have to make a time schedule and talk to different libraries about what you can do right now (probably an album, or just a single piece). It’s very important to be honest to yourself about what’s possible and what isn’t. About Black Phoenix Music, Christoph Allerstorfer is a CEO too and composes a lot of stuff.  So we are two composers always working. For Liquid Cinema we are actually composing as Black Phoenix Music on our first album. Hopefully there will be a lot of placements for us in the future.

TMN: Do you have particular plans for the future? Perhaps a third solo album?

MM: We try to build up Black Phoenix Music right now. As a solo composer, I will try working for more different trailer librarys, especially in America. My success will be the success of Black Phoenix Music. I’m right now in speakings with two other trailer libraries, so let’s wait and see what will happen 🙂 ! And yeah of course, I finished my second album in the beginning of 2013, and I’m actually writing my third album too. But I can’t tell you a release date, I hope end of 2013… perhaps 😉 !

TMN: Anything else you would like to share with us?

MM: I really wanna thank a lot of people here, especially Dominik Raab who always helps us  improve our English for upcoming interviews. A big part of my success right now was Trailer Music World too. They pushed my music every month so I get more fans every day. Trailer Music News and Soundtracks and Trailer Music are too two big sites and communities, you always pushed me too so I wanna thank you too for this great opportunity to do this interview!!!

And if there are any other composers out there who ask me “how can I be a successful composer?” I just have to say: “Do what’s fun doing for you, compose every day, hear the music of professional composers, and you will be successful.”

TMN: Thank you!

For licensing information, contact Michael Maas. He is on FacebookSoundCloud and Youtube.

UPDATE – August 25, 2013: Illumination is now available to the public for purchase through iTunes and Amazon.

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About Clothilde Lebrun

Editor-in-chief. Music-loving writer, currently living in Paris.

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June 26, 2013
Clothilde Lebrun