Creative Insights from BT

What is it that allows someone to flow between creative spheres with such success? We cover a few key insights from the well respected Brian Transeau

By Dylan Korver

For a child of fifteen, having mastered the piano through the Suzuki method is nothing out of the ordinary but when you add Orchestration and conducting to the list of skills, you begin to take notice. This was the case for Brian Transeau (BT) who later attended the Brooklyn school of music, studied contemporary music and jazz amongst a long list of other disciplines but for the self-confessed “conservatory brat” meets tech nerd it was the discovery of synth-wave music that spawned his current form as an artist.

Soon after becoming exposed to the genre a love of synthesizers developed along with the realisation that many artists he had studied in more classical styles of music would have most definitely begun to use synthesizers due to the infinite sonic palette available to them. Despite this newfound sonic pallette, caming up in a time before social media with a very bootstrap approach was challenging. After numerous people commented on the oddness of his music, sighting the complexity and lack of distinct drums as something which couldn’t be understood in the US market he recieved a call from Sasha. It was Sasha’s discovery of his first record that prompted an invitation to move to England which was shortly followed by a signing with Warner Brothers, the beginning of a long and fruitful career. 

A very young looking Brian Transeau. Source.

Known for trance his early training as a composer was not used until later in LA early 2000s where he, of course, became very famous as a film composer. His technical and unique editing styles in the early days gave him a reputation among the recording industry and he was enlisted by many stars to apply these techniques to certain tracks and records. This creative direction led him to develop audio technology of which his plugins are used widely.

Go around it or do the work...

The saying “Don’t need a sledgehammer to crack an egg” applies here – when faced with composition tasks – the solutions which first come to mind could be very complex to implement or worse (as described by BT in the previous section) only conceptually possible. In other words – sometimes to get the job done it is easier to go around that complex solution and brainstorm a simpler yet equally effective solution.

These ideas he explains are tasks to be tackled later if he is unable to complete the composition with a more efficient tool. The composing can then continue – separating the types of thinking being used. We spoke earlier in the blog about seperating creative from x mind and this seems evident when observing BT’s working style also.

BT in his now former studio. Source. Musicradar

This may of course not always be possible, or the conceptual idea too enticing to let go. At this stage we see through BTs attitude you must roll up your sleeves and do what is necessary. With increases in technology, BT Ended up teaching himself to program so he would create prototypes of instruments to bring his compositional concepts to life. Prior to being able to do so, those ideas would be left behind, the finished composition being more valuable than one not complete despite a fancy idea.

While BT may seem to have more talent than most he does note that even for him half the time it doesn’t merit doing the complex thing so sitting down and considering whether it is worth creating an element or a bit of tech to create elements is important!

Feeling fulfilled takes time and the right people

When interviewed BT noted that after many years as a professional he decided to employ some artists who were performing less frequently. This change in team members ended up creating a different concept for composition and inspired a new direction. For BT it was over ten years with a full-blown career before he actually met the people he considered a tribe. 

Patience and networking then seem vital to seeing out creative desires but for someone starting out, a mentor or teacher may be both accessible and most valuable. For those further along – as with BT in this instance perhaps it is looking outside of your normal circles for collaborators.

While having a solid network of people around you whom which you work frequently with is no secret, this insight to venture out in search of different human solutions proved interesting.

Who could you work with outside of the normal circles, who could feed your inspiration?