We sit down with the sonic polymath to learn of his unique journey as a composer, and also the happenings that led to the creation of BT Phobos.
BT is a musician most typically associated with electronic music, based on his pioneering influence in a number of genres. However, that association represents just one of the avenues that BT has travelled - having grown up studying classical music, and developed a keen interest in synthesizers and synthesis early on, the scope of his interests have always been much greater than what might appear to a consumer of one of his works; “I’m someone who loves electronics and digital signal processing, and electronic music, yet was a conservatory brat, so... I suppose my work is characteristic of a love of those two things.”
He laments, “Because people new me for this one specific thing it was actually very difficult for me to get jobs in film”. Following initial work in film score composition that drew upon his electronic music background, he slowly began to establish the trust to integrate orchestral instruments; “It really wasn’t until the first Fast and Furious that I got to combine my love for electronic music with orchestra. You know, chucking 8 cimbasso parts through Marshall half-stacks...”
His continued experimentation across these three disciplines forced the requirement for technical solutions - “You can’t ask a violist to play 2048th notes” - and he subsequently started his own software company. Continuing to pioneer, as he does, he’d developed a series of techniques and products that were revered by music makers globally. As for BT Phobos, he’d been exposed to convolution in audio by his professor at college, though at the time it had been considered to be extremely computational intensive. It was much later on that he began to think “What if you made impulse responses that had an inherent tonality to them, and what if they had palindromic loops and used really interesting loops and sound design, and what if you could change the pitch of them?!”. This led to the idea of a polyphonic synthesizer based on these convolutions, which would potentially solve a common problem he’d encountered: “One of the real challenges we have in film composition, tv and video games, is subtlety - you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack and egg”. The proposition of a synthesizer that could produce gently percolating rhythmical and tonal sounds at the press of a key was extremely exciting - “Everyone was freaking out like 4 year olds” - and it was at this point that he, in collaboration with Spitfire Audio, embarked upon the development of the world’s first polyconvolution synthesizer.
Christian Henson takes us through how he created his music for the BT Phobos Trailer.