Hey fellow creators!
We’re extremely excited to share with you the news that we recently had the unique opportunity to engage in a captivating conversation with the maestro of cinematic and trailer music, Ivan Torrent. Hailing from Spain, Ivan has etched his name as a legend in the industry, distinguished by his unique, elegant, and commanding musical style.
Diving into his illustrious career, Ivan has successfully curated three full studio albums, each serving as a testament to his artistic prowess. Among his masterpieces are compositions like Human Legacy, Icarus, and Facing Fears.
Our dialogue with Ivan transcends the boundaries of his musical achievements, offering an intimate glimpse into the person behind the melodies. Beyond the notes and compositions, discover the thoughts, experiences, and inspirations that shape the artistic brilliance of Ivan Torrent.
Check out some of Ivan's Work!
When did you start composing and what or who were your early passions and influences in regards to trailer music?
My journey in composing began around the age of 6 and it has been a lifelong pursuit. Turning 46 this year, I find it amazing and exciting to think that I have been connected to music for 40 years. Despite this, I still feel like I know very little and have so much more to learn. My passion for cinematic music stems from my love for cinema itself. While I initially gravitated towards electronic music, I have always been a big fan of Mike Oldfield, Enya, Enigma, and others. I believe that somehow, their music resonated with the magic that emanated from the soundtracks I listened to and the adventures and science fiction genres that captivated me in movies. John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Harry Gregson Williams, and Danny Elfman, along with many other incredible composers, have been major influences on my journey in cinematic music.
What was one of your biggest hurdles in your career and what helped you get over it?
One of the biggest hurdles in my career was gaining support and credibility as a musician, especially in the early stages. It took time and some achievements for everyone to start believing in me. The music industry is often seen as economically unstable, so there was concern from those who love and care for me. However, I believe that the fight to achieve what we want in life is inherent in us.
On a different note, creating music when I was younger and sounding grand and credible on an orchestral level was reserved for those with great fortunes. Almost all music was programmed on hardware and it was extremely expensive. Obtaining good sounds before the emergence of major sampling companies was almost impossible, unless you had a lot of money to afford good synthesizers, Akai samplers, high-quality PCs and good sound cards. However, with the pass of time and the democratization of music technology, everything started to become easier. Thanks God, haha… Today, creating orchestral music is a dream within reach of any composer. There are thousands of libraries available, almost all at reasonable prices, and musical hardware has become less significant compared to musical software. Nowadays, almost everything that was done with external samplers, mixing consoles, and more, is done “in the box,” which is simply worderful and makes everything much easier.
Where do you usually start when writing a cue and why?
It can happen in various ways, from a rhythmic pattern that comes to mind, a melody, a chord progression, or even creating a sound from scratch that suggests enough power to make me stop and compose. In any case, I almost always start composing on the piano… it’s the way I feel most comfortable and where many ideas arise. I capture that in Cubase and if I feel motivated enough, I develop it immediately. There are moments when creating a track, that even a counterpoint emerges, and if I feel that it has potential as a main melody, I just save the project with a different name and retrieve it later. I would say that it’s a fairly random and organic process…
On average how long does it take you to write a trailer cue and can you break down those days tasks?
Haha, this makes me a bit embarrassed… but here we go… In trailer music, especially when it comes to customizing or creating tailored music, there is never enough time. Everything needs to be done yesterday. You’re always at the mercy of deadlines and there is no possibility to perfect the composition to your desired standards as an artist. It’s simply not possible. However, when it comes to music for my albums, I can spend months on each track. It takes me many weeks to shape them until they have the desired look and message that I truly seek to convey. Additionally, time is less important to me in these cases, because what matters most is the end result and understanding that the work will be preserved for posterity.
There is no second chance to make it the way you want. Once it is released, it’s done… that’s why it is so important to me that the songs mature and take shape over the months, because over time, you start to notice things you would change, things you can add because you have learned new techniques, or even the fact that when you compose, you don’t have the orchestral recordings because they are usually done around 70% into a project, and in my humble experience, those recordings and their mixing significantly influence the final outcome of the production.
Were you classically trained at a music school and would you recommend that path for someone starting out today?
I studied piano and a bit of harmony from ages 8 to 13, but I got bored out of my mind. And that was supposed to be what I wanted to do with my life…but music has a lot of math in it…and I’m more of a language person…haha. Honestly, sometimes I miss having more knowledge to better defend myself in terms of musical language when I talk with orchestra musicians, but thank God I have colleagues who assist me and take care of those issues so I can focus more on the expression, dynamics and the overall sound of what is being recorded. That being said, knowledge doesn’t take up space, and although it’s not essential (from my point of view), it’s great to have certain knowledge to be able to better defend yourself in certain scenarios. Although most likely, you will have external help to improve your product and reach where you can’t.
What’s a broad overview of your go-to orchestral libraries and mixing tools you’d typically use in a trailer cue?
Although I have some tools I use frequently, the selection of libraries I use changes all the time and my template is always in a state of flux. I tend to switch stuff around when I really like something new, throwing out libraries I haven’t touched in a year. So the overview of libraries below is more or less only a snapshot of my current sample library situation.
Percussion: KeepForest, Boom Library, LAPercussion, PercX, Cinesamples Perc, 8Dio Percs, Project Sam True Strike and Pandora.
Strings: Cinematic Studio Strings, Cinematic Studio Solo, Performance Samples Vista, Pacific, Fluid Shorts 1 and 2, Solos of the Sea B, Audioimperia Dolce, Spitfire Tundra, Spitfire Olafur Arnalds, Emotional Cello, Viharmonic violin and cello…and some custom libraries…
Brass: Audioimperia Jaeger, East West Hollywood Brass, Orchestral Tools Metropolis, Pandora, Cinematic Studio Brass, Cinesamples Cinebrass, Fluid Brass
Winds: Audioimperia Solo, Orchestral Tools Woodwinds, Auddict, Cinesamples Woodwinds, Eduardo Tarilonte, Fluid Woods
Choirs: Oceania 1 and 2, Audioimperia Chorus, Dominus by Fluffy Audio, Eric Withacree Choirs
Mixing processors: Fabfilter Suite, Waves, Wavesfactory Trackspacer, Soothe 2, VSL Suite, Universl Audio
Reverb: Valhalla, Blackhole and Liquidsonics
Misc: Also I work with Cubase, Protools and Divisimate
What’s your favourite part of the process when creating a cue and why? What’s your least favourite part and why?
There are two moments in creating a new cue that I love. The first is when everything starts to come together and the cue flows harmoniously. It’s when I can see the cue as a complete entity. The second moment is when I feel a strong connection to the song and want to listen to it on repeat because I genuinely love it.
The most challenging part for me is the mixing process. My tracks have many intricate elements, so achieving proper unmasking and ensuring each element is heard can be difficult. Sometimes, harsh frequencies or sections that don’t cut through the mix as cleanly as desired pose challenges. During these times, I have to rework or create new structural links, which is the part I struggle with the most.
A wise person once said that “mixing never ends, it is abandoned.” i agree, haha… So, there comes a point where I have to leave it and listen to see if everything works. However, it is always fulfilling when the project is finished and ready to be shared with others.
More of Ivan's Music
With sound design being such an integral part of trailer music, how do you go about creating your sounds and what are some of your favourite tools to use?
Creating sounds for my own music is an essential aspect of my artistic process. I enjoy experimenting with various tools to achieve unique and creative results. Among my favorite tools are Rapid by Parawave, Mangle, Soundwave, and Falcon.
These tools are crucial to my workflow and are like my trusted companions. If I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring these tools along with FLStudio, which allows me to resample and map the results in Kontakt.
One aspect that excites me the most is blending random sounds from everyday objects like a glass or a pot with granular and stretch manipulations with conventional synthesis. The possibility to create my own swishes and impacts, my own pads or atmospheres… is simply fantastic. Incorporating these sounds into my tracks, is a cool experience to me… Even when using commercial samples, I love to think that many of the sounds within my music are crafted from scratch…
Trends are constantly changing in trailer music so are there any tips or processes you could give to help stay ahead of the curve?
For some time now, I have been consciously trying not to get caught up in following trends too closely. I believe it can become too restrictive. Instead, my approach is to simply create music, allowing myself to be guided by my emotions and what I believe the theme requires, both instrumentally and in terms of production. I also consider whether what I am creating will still appeal to me ten years down the line. I think that timelessness in the music we create is key.
Even if there are occasions when we align with current trends, the essence should always be for our music to reflect our personality, both in the present and in twenty years’ time. In my opinion, personality is a trait that remains constant throughout time. Circumstances may change, and we adapt to them, but if our distinctiveness persists, I truly think that our music will always be recognizable, regardless of whether we create pop today or cinematic or hybrid music tomorrow. I strive to be true to myself, and write or produce what I truly like and enjoy, always. For me, that is of utmost importance.
There’s a specific formula for writing trailer music so what advice would you give to balance ‘nailing the structure’ with ‘sounding unique’?
In the scene of trailer music, it can be challenging to maintain your own unique style while adhering to the established formulas and trends. If you’re seeking success in the trailer industry, it’s important to consider the rules of the game. By willingly playing by these rules, your individuality may be compromised. However, as mentioned earlier, developing a distinct sound, whether it be through harmonies, melodies (although they are less prominent nowadays), or overall sonic quality, can be the key to achieving that desired uniqueness.
This is perhaps one of the main reasons why creating trailer music doesn’t satisfy me as much anymore, and I prefer to create my own cinematic music because it gives me a freedom that I don’t have in trailers, due to the formulas and trends.
Burnout is something we all experience at some point in time so what are some things you would recommend to help relax and get through that phase?
I completely understand the feeling of burnout and how it can have a severe impact on our well-being. I faced a particularly intense burnout before writing “Immortalys” and that made me avoid using my PC and listening to music for almost a year before I started to compose again. During that time, I couldn’t find the inspiration nor energy to write anything… It can be quite hard if you push your limits to a point of no return… So in that break I found some “solace” in the family and mainly in some sort of meditation that I tried to practice… but there is so much noise in your head in those moments that it can be a hard task to achieve.
I think that Music should be something enjoyable, and unfortunately, in the midst of our work in this industry, we tend to lose the initial energy and excitement we once had. Taking the time to reminisce about the beginning of our journey and reconnecting with the passion that drove us can be incredibly rejuvenating. So that would be my advice… Enjoy your time. Spend it on everything that you truly love in order to maintain a well-being in the long run.
What was that singular moment when you realised that going full-time was possible?
Many years ago, when I was around 21 or 22 years old, opportunities for work kept coming my way, which gave me the confidence I needed. At that time, I was composing and producing electronic and pop music for other artists in my country. The cinematic aspect came later, although I always tried to incorporate orchestration into my work… but that certainly sparked the interest of other artists, and that snowball effect created an economic stability that made me believe that making a living out of this could be possible.
Do you have any other sources of income outside of trailer music?
I currently work full-time on my music, but my goal is to venture into the field of sampling at some point.
Do you recommend a composer focus on one style of trailer music or have a vast repertoire of styles?
I would say that being eclectic and having a diverse repertoire of styles can bring a composer more knowledge and the ability to apply concepts, ideas, and patterns from one genre to another. This can also lead to the creation of exciting crossovers within their music.
What’s the coolest project you’ve ever had a chance to be a part of? Or what was the trailer you are most proud of landing? Could you explain the process a bit?
In terms of trailers, my collaboration with Audiomachine for the latest Star Wars saga has truly been a standout experience. Being able to see my work associated with such an industry icon like Star Wars and Disney has been an exhilarating dream come true. It is undoubtedly my proudest achievement in the trailer industry.
This project wasn’t without its challenges, as it was a custom project with numerous fixes and changes. Additionally, as is often the case, we didn’t always have access to images, so we had to work blindly most of the time. However, despite the difficulties, the project was incredibly exciting. The moment when everything synchronized perfectly was mind-blowing.
On a personal level, I have to mention the recording sessions for my albums Immortalys and, more recently, Onyria. Typically, I record each element separately – chords, melodies, child choir, adult choir – which requires a significant amount of time. However, being able to record with a symphonic orchestra and a massive choir of over 120 individuals has been a true dream come true and one of the most rewarding moments of my career so far.
My top priority at the moment is creating my fourth studio album. Typically, my albums have a significant number of tracks, and lately, I haven’t been too concerned about their timing. This allows me more creative freedom, but it also requires more effort and attention to detail, resulting in a longer time investment. Each album takes me around 2 to 3 years to develop, but it is a precious experience. Additionally, I have a strong desire to explore the realm of sampling and potentially establish a company specializing in audio samples and plugins. It may seem ambitious, but only time will tell.
If you want to learn more about Ivan or support him then you can do so in the links below.
Thanks for hanging out!
– Shawn from Cinematic Tools