Multi-award winning, BAFTA and Ivor Novello nominated composer of film, television and video games Richard Jacques is quite possibly best known for his critically acclaimed orchestral scores. His impressive repertoire of work can be heard on blockbuster franchises such as James Bond 007: Blood Stone (Activision), Mass Effect (BioWare), Little Big Planet 2 (Sony), Alice in Wonderland (Disney), Starship Troopers (Empire/Sony Pictures) Headhunter (Sega) and many more.
Jacques’ dramatic music features in numerous TV and movie theatre campaigns for some of the world’s most prestigious media agencies, and top name brands such as Audi, Bacardi, Mercedes-Benz and Stella Artois.
What is less well known about Richard Jacques is that he has been a valued client of Canford for around twenty years. Taking a short break from his busy schedule (currently working on a new soundtrack), Richard caught up with Canford Marketing Manager, Stephen Gallagher to discuss his most recent purchases and the impact COVID-19 has had on his work.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work? Have projects been pushed back and have you found yourself with more time to plan/prepare?
Regarding COVID 19, I have been very fortunate in that I often get booked up with work up to 3 years in advance so in that respect I feel lucky that I am working on a big video game soundtrack that will be completed in late 2021. The game development team have all been working from home so we are still working to schedule and the development has not been impacted. Having more time would have been a luxury but that is not the case in the instance, it’s still 80 hour weeks!!
You have two studios. Has lockdown limited your access to both locations? Have you turned to Zoom like so many of us, and how has that worked out for you?
My main studio is in Fulham, South West London and I have a small studio in my house with a duplicate composition rig. I made these changes around Christmas time so that I can compose in either studio since my workload is always pretty heavy. This meant that I had to get all the computers set up in the same way, especially with regard to hard drives and sample library allocation, so I can simply take my iLoks between studios and just open up my current Logic and Pro Tools sessions. So far it’s working very well and I haven’t come across any problems. I knew that lockdown was coming so back at the end of February I made sure all my project drives and sample library drives were up to date between studios.
In fact I started writing in my home studio about 3 weeks before lockdown. As there was no public transport running during lockdown (except for skeleton services for key workers) I was composing in my home studio until around early May, but due to a few weeks of warm weather during April, it became harder and harder to work there since my home studio is not air conditioned so I was getting up 4am to start writing before the home studio got too warm in the afternoons (it was regularly 45 degrees during this time due to running lots of monitors and computers). I then bought a new bike, like many people I would imagine, and started cycling to my studio from early May, to take advantage of the air conditioning, not to mention having my main Pro Tools system, synths and outboard. It’s around 15 miles each way but I take a very pleasant route so it’s actually been worth it for not only health reasons but also to clear my head before a busy long writing day. I’m still cycling to the studio now, and occasionally take public transport. A lot of people asked me how I found the isolation, but being a busy composer, and spending 14 hours a day in a room on your own, I have in reality been isolating for 26 years!
One good thing about the lockdown was that I was able to help some young composers, as my friend and colleague, (TV composer) Michael Price arranged an 8 week mentoring programme, so I was able to mentor 2 young composers in the art of video game composition. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and one of them is about to start as my assistant. Zoom has indeed been a great facilitator in terms of communications, but in reality most of my work comes from the US, Canada and Japan these days so video conferencing has been a part of my day to day life for over 15 years.
How do you see social distancing impacting on your work in the future? Can an orchestra work as well under those conditions?
It’s probably a little too early to tell yet. I have projects until 2024 so nothing has impacted on my composition, but recordings are a completely different ball game. I’m booked to record my current score at Abbey Road in March 2021, but there are already certain social distancing requirements in place. For example we can (under current guidelines) only record a choir of 10 singers, so we may have do to some tracking and layering which could work out more expensive, especially with regard to studio time. Also the maximum number of musicians in any one studio at any one time is greatly reduced, so I will trust my engineer to do some careful mic placement and we will have to be mindful of the distances between musicians when we come to mix the score. I don’t see any real problems though, it’s just a different way of working that’s all. I can see many people (including myself) making use of remote recording technologies such Source Connect in the future, in a way that is our very own “Zoom”. I really want to support the outstanding session musicians who literally were unable to work during lockdown, and bring so much to my scores.
You have been a Canford client for many years. What keeps you coming back, and how do you find our service?
I have been dealing with Canford for around 20 years now, and always find the service excellent. For me it’s important to have updates and good communication on lead times and Canford always let me know if there is a stock shortage or a delay in shipping. This suits me very well so I am able to plan any studio upgrades or maintenance around my writing schedule. Also the technical service is second to none, and Canford’s technical engineers are always on hand to answer any specific questions, or recommend alternative products and solutions. I could not fault the service. Even during lockdown, when most suppliers were struggling with stock arriving from manufacturers (indeed, understandably so) I was able to place orders and get the deliveries as if there was no pandemic.
As ever. Many thanks for your most recent purchase from Canford. It looks like you are upgrading your studio setup? Can you tell us a little bit about what you are doing?
I have used Furman Power Conditioners supplied by Canford for over 20 years, and the recent purchases are going into new racks that I am building to house more outboard and some vintage synths, plus some more convertors. I currently run 7 in the main studio and 2 at my home studio. I’ve always had the PL-PLUS C E LED indicator version, it’s useful to see any power fluctuations when trouble shooting. It’s always reassuring knowing my gear is receiving clean protected power.