Name: Sofia Hultquist
Based: Los Angeles, California
Quad Immersive Performative Workshop before Suzanne Ciani Quadraphonic concert at LA Public Library (April 6th, LA)
Moogfest 2019 (April 25-28, Durham NC)
What’s the story behind THE name Drum & Lace?
It’s funny, so many people are curious about it! I wish it was a more interesting story- when I decided to take the terrifying jump into composing and freelancing full-time I felt that I needed an alias to work under that could capture all that I wanted to do with the name. Originally I wasn’t sure whether I wanted the name to be an artist pseudonym or more of a company name, but either way, I had a notepad that I scribbled endless lists of names down and none felt quite right. Nearly joking around, I wrote down Drum & Lace, which I felt had a good mix of describing my ‘sound’ and a softer more fashion-prone noun, and it just stuck. I’m also a Drum & Bass fan, so I went with it!
What inspired you to make music for film and TV?
I’ve been a film lover my whole life, and I don’t think I realised how important film was to me growing up until after undergraduate studies. What really brought out the desire to write for music was finding the Film Scoring program at Berklee nearly by chance- I didn’t apply to go to music school to write for film and tv but once I really thought about it, all the music I’ve ever written has been inspired by a visual element, so it felt fitting. When I was a kid, I couldn’t stop singing, and would often create songs that went with films and specific places. To this day, any piece of music either for myself or for media is always inspired by texture, colour palette, photograph or film that I visualise first.
Would you say working across different industries such as fashion has helped develop your work as a musician?
Absolutely! Like I mentioned before, I think the common thread throughout my work as a musician has been a visual stimulus, and fashion is by far the most indulgent in that way. The colours, patterns, materials and construction of garments is so fascinating to me and is just as inspiring as a work of art in a museum or classic film. Working in spatial audio, and creating environments with sound, has also helped me push the boundaries of what I think music can be.
What are the differences between composing for fashion and scoring for film?
Great question- to be honest, I’m not sure there’s too much of a difference at a base level. When composing for fashion specifically I think there is more space musically for grand gestures and for more saturation of sound. Mainly because music for runway presentations or fashion films allows for the music itself to become a character that envelops the whole audio aspect- very often fashion films or presentations have no dialogue nor added sound. Scoring for film more often involves nuances and working around characters and other audio. Music in film will also more often need to fulfil the director or show runner’s vision, allowing for experimentation but also great consideration of what is needed vs what you think you want to do. In terms of actually starting a project or getting to work though they both start at the same place.
What are the most important tools to your music making process?
There’s a few things that I feel are really vital to all my music making, that go beyond just having a DAW and MIDI keyboard you like. For me these tools definitely include a field recorder (I stand by my old Zoom H4N), a good reverb or spatial pedal (like Meris’ Mercury 7 or Polymoon), a failsafe microphone (I still use my 15 year old SM58 for most things) and a big cup of coffee.
WHAT DO YOU USE KIT WISE FOR FIELD RECORDINGS? to WHAT KIT DO YOU USE FOR FIELD RECORDING?
A lot of post work goes into making them sit and fit into my work. Sometimes the grainy and not-so-great quality of field recordings works great and fits what I’m working on, as was the case with my track ’Syncopate’ in which you can hear that the field recordings used (mainly air vents, metallic sounds) are kept pretty lo-fi. I just composed a new piece for a contemporary dance company which focuses on field recordings of birdsong and nature, as well as a string quartet. For that I had to do quite a bit of EQ-ing, compressing and ‘decapitating’ to make it sit well. The last example is my newest single ‘ae’, in which the motor of the whole track is cicadas that have been pitched down a bunch of octaves to create this rhythmic ‘wave’ throughout the whole track. The artefacts that were created by pitching down the recording actually helped because it made a not so perfect recording sound cool- the track also then has actual ocean waves in it too, which when super verb-ed out, mesh really well with the rest of the track. All this to say, each piece will have its own wonderful challenge, or not.
What do you use kit wise for field recordings?
The kit I use will vary depending on what sort of sounds I’m looking to capture. If I’m hoping to get stereo sounds, then I usually use the Zoom H4N (with ‘dead cat’ to prevent capturing wind/etc) or if I’m on the go and don’t have it with me I’ll honestly use my phone. That definitely then needs a lot of cleanup and is often unusable for really natural sounds. If I’m looking to record for more spatial formats, like decoding into ambisonics or quad, I’ll use a combination of microphones to create what is called a Native B-Format mic- this allows for me to record a spherical capture (immersive) of sound that I can then decode to however many speakers I need to. I’ve only had the pleasure of using a tetrahedron/ soundfield-type microphone a few times, but that obviously does the trick without any more decoding needed!
How do you get over creative blocks?
I wish I had a more zen answer to this- but to be honest, a lot of it is a mix of getting really upset and needing to hit a creative ‘low’. I often find that I need to ride the wave of the block all the way, really giving into it and hitting that ‘what am I doing with my life’ moment to then be able to crawl out of it. On a less intense level, if I’m stuck on a cue or a track, I’ll walk away from it for the day and try to sleep on it (if time permits!) and if it’s still not feeling right the next day I’ll scrap it and start again.
A note from Toby Gale – Spitfire Audio’s Events & Partnerships Manager
“Spitfire Audio’s LABS libraries are designed to be creative tools that are easily accessible and free to use for everyone.
The idea behind the LABS events is that they will be based on the same philosophy; to be experimental, inspiring and free to attend. We’ll be showcasing a series of artists who collectively represent a diverse and fearless passion for creating new music. In addition to this, I hope to unpick some of the artist’s approaches to their process and performance.
I’m looking forward to furthering the LABS mission in inspiring creativity through orchestral and experimental music.”
At the LABS event, we invited Finlay to perform at HQ. Finlay is an electronic musician, artist, producer, performer & engineer make sure to check out his latest release below.