Really Slow Motion: Interview with Founder & Creative Director Agus Gonzalez-Lancharro
In early 2013, we interviewed Agus Gonzalez-Lancharro, the founder of a new trailer music company, the very promising Really Slow Motion. Their first album, Cosmogeny, was about to be released. A year and a half later, Really Slow Motion’s music has already been featured in various movie advertising campaigns and prominent trailers, and their library keeps expanding. In this new interview, Agus talks about some of Really Slow Motion’s major placements, as well as several exciting new projects…
Trailer Music News: Can you tell us a bit about your role as creative director at Really Slow Motion, the company you founded? What’s a typical day like?
Agus Gonzalez-Lancharro: Typical day??? Madness!!! A normal day includes a little bit of everything related to managing such business. I usually start working around 9am UK time, checking out emails that piled up during the night. Then I move on to music supervision, feedback and production of music. After that maybe I need to go out to the bank or a to a meeting, so I usually try and arrange it to happen right before or during lunch time so that gives me time to go back to the office and keep working on stuff before 4-5am, meaning 8-9am Pacific time, and here is when things start to go crazy for real and usually runs like that up until 3-4am, UK time. Quote requests, stem requests, audio editions, custom enquiries, invoice and agreement writing, phone calls, skype, more supervision, production… I would consider that the most important and intense part of what I do are the custom orders from the clients. Managing all that at the same time can get incredibly crazy and can be huge responsibility but… what the heck…!! I love it!!
TMN: Does your musical background influence your view of the trailer music industry?
AGL: Totally. As a matter of fact, I don´t listen to trailer music or just very little of it out of personal interest, not as research. I like all kinds of music. I landed in the film/advertising industry from a very different world, still musical, but very different. I have recorded/performed/written as instrumentalist for pop artists, gospel ensembles, rock bands, blues trios, flamenco, latin, funk, fusion… Even dance music for rowing machines at gyms!!!! Having that type of background can provide you with a different and way richer perspective, and I´m not just talking about music only, there´s much more to it than only notes and sounds. You can´t pretend making music successfully if you don´t listen to music. You would be surprised to know the humongous amount of people that I have encountered during the years that are trying to make a living out of playing an instrument or composing music that don´t even listen to music at all… And that´s definitely not the way to go.
Trying to musically analyze this industry, you could consider that it blends several aspects of contemporary music. We are trying to sell a product, in this case trying to get people going to the theaters, so the Pop formula and its commercial approach has to be there somehow. For energy you throw in a tad of Rock, for emotional some modern R&B can do. Also, electronic elements are sort of a must nowadays. Most of the time, the tricky part is trying to do that with orchestral arrangements. In my point of view, there is exactly where most people get it wrong. You can’t approach a commercial track as if it was a movie score, let’s face it, we are helping to sell a product, you need to market it as such, so you have to make your way around it to make an orchestra sound commercial. It doesn’t need to be orchestral but whatever you do it has to be commercial, in some way or another. Video editors can make wonders with the right track, such as getting millions of people all around the world going to the movies by their own free will. I surely think that I would have a completely different perspective of music and production if I only listened to trailer music, and not for the best.
TMN: You customized music for the Captain America advertising campaign. Can you tell us more about the custom music process?
AGL: Those are so much fun!!! Even though it is, by far, the most exhausting part of my job and more often than not it leads to no money at all, when doing custom you really feel you have your two feet in the business. Those calls come in different shapes and forms. It might be the studio asking you for a work for hire and a buyout, it might be a trailer house asking you to do something from scratch, or they might ask you for any draft you have been working on and you have to shape it under the client´s specifications. One situation that can happen sometimes is when they request a remix of a hit by a band or artist. You get the original project from the label or the artist directly and you adapt it following the editor instructions. You get paid for it but the license goes to the band or artist. Production of a custom cue is a very complicated process, with plenty of back and forths, revisions and the “rush now and wait for weeks”. It can be very frustrating too, because sometimes the effort is too much, full of night shifts that may even lead to nowhere.
Working closely with the creative people cutting the trailers is highly rewarding and can enrich your knowledge big time. The preparation of “Gender” only taught me a lot in so many ways. From production, to video edition, to incredibly tight deadlines. Since that gig happened we have done quite a few customs and I learned to approach them differently. Sometimes it is like climbing a no-summit mountain. When you think you are done… more stuff needs to be added or replaced. Talking about the Captain America custom… The client wanted the track to have a lot of bass in the backend of the cue but, in terms of frequency and sound production, the more bass you have the less general impact the track end up having. They wanted to keep the huge bass AND the “in your face” effect, too. Well, at the end we managed to make it. Days after, I received an email from the client saying: “Don´t kill me, but we need to add an extra bass line on top of the really bassy backend that we have now”. Again, we made it… somehow!!! Stuff like this happens all the time and you have to be ready to deliver for them no matter what.
TMN: Really Slow Motion’s music has already been used in various advertising campaigns, and particularly the track “Shredder”, featured in numerous trailers, teasers and TV spots. What is your favorite placement so far?
AGL: I really enjoyed some of them. The very first one on Universal Pictures, Oblivion, was special, and also placing 4 tracks that were broadcasted during SuperBowl 2014 for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. That was totally unexpected since I had no idea that Sony Pictures was planning to release them on such a big event, watched by millions all over the world.
Captain America: Winter Soldier was also released on SuperBowl containing our cue, but I kind of expected that, it wasn´t such a surprise as those other 4. If I really had to choose… It´d be the one that is right now in the making as a custom cue. I obviously can´t tell anything about it just yet but it was so much fun spending an evening with some friends around a microphone to record some crazy and very creepy whispers for a huge 2015 blockbuster. If that gets confirmed it will be my #1.
Oblivion TV spot featuring “Shredder”:
TMN: You recently started a catalog called GiantApes, which debuted with the album Exitium. What are the particularities of this new catalog?
AGL: The main difference between GiantApes and the rest of the Really Slow Motion catalog is that the latter one also takes care of fans. On most of the releases we include several tracks that are fan-friendly, but not so good to place because they are not full editor-friendly. GiantApes only cares about placements. Of course, there are tracks that can be good for listening, too. In fact, a couple of them are included in our fan release Fiery The Angels Rose, but GiantApes´s main goal is clearly the industry and the next of its series, Incendus, is being mastered as we speak.
Exitium album preview:
TMN: A second catalog, Epic North, is in preparation. Its first album, Arcadia, is due out in a few months. What is the goal of this new project?
AGL: I am incredibly excited about this new catalog. Some of the Epic North guys were already featured in the Really Slow Motion albums but after some talks with Pauli Hausmann and Miro Laiho we thought that it would be beneficial for everybody if we joined forces and work together in a series of albums. We agreed that Epic North will be produced and published by Really Slow Motion as their own Epic North catalog. As I already mentioned, most of our catalog offers tracks aiming the industry but some tracks are produced to satisfy the fans, too. Epic North has a growing fan base that we need to keep feeding, as well as having high placement expectations. Tracks on Arcadia have to meet both quality standards, industry and trailer community. We are being very picky on the tracks and there´s a lot of work left to do still, but it will rock for sure. Those sons of Odin are a talented bunch, you know…
Preview track from Arcadia, “The Song of the World Tree”:
TMN: After receiving many requests from fans, you decided to release your first public album, Fiery the Angels Rose. Do you plan to do more public releases in the future?
AGL: Indeed!! And I literally can´t wait for it. Before the end of the year we will release a new album with the most beautiful tracks that can be revealed. We have produced 9 albums in the last 6 months and there´s plenty of stuff there that I´m sure fans will love, while maintaining our exclusive stuff for the clients.
TMN: Do you have particular plans for the future besides this?
AGL: We need to make the most of the momentum and expand Really Slow Motion in a wise way. This is a fast moving industry and we need to get consolidated solidly in. Any new opportunity has to be analyzed and considered because you never know what´s around the corner waiting for you. We haven´t got many placements on video games so let´s see what I can do in that regard.
TMN: Anything else you would like to share with us?
AGL: When I got the news about being the most voted company on “Best Company Of The Year 2013” category award I couldn´t believe my eyes. So… I really want to thank you all, TMN community and fans, for your votes and all the support!! I have no words!!! I really hope we won’t be disappointing you in the future.
TMN: Thank you Agus! Best of luck with your projects!
Really Slow Motion recently released a compilation of tracks to the public, Fiery the Angels Rose. The album is available for purchase through iTunes and CDBaby. For licensing information, contact the company.
UPDATE – Feel free to also check out Soundtracks and Trailer Music’s interview with Agus.