Yang E. Coutiño
Film emotions and composition
I'm a composer/songwriter for films, records, TV, theatre, dance shows, ads and videogames. I do love composing! The emotional power of film scores play a major part in my creative process for any composition may it be a soft piano song up to an epic, orchestral story. Guitars of many styles are also at your service :)
My main reason for getting into music composition was film and anime scores, musical theatre and symphonic metal. While at college I discovered a vast texture of sounds and musical tastes in plenty of other styles which have stuck with me ever since. I always try to connect with the message or the emotions expressed in any project not just "try to get the job done". The heart and soul of music are very important to me both in score composing and songwriting.
I've worked in theatre, musical theatre, short films, advertising and record productions as composer, lyricist, translator and guitarist
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Interview with Yang E. Coutiño
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Two fo the last projects I had really left me satisfied. I would like to make everythng better but that is a characteristic of composers, apparently: to be only moderatley satisfied with one's work and, occasionaly, satisfied. I wrote new music for a theatre play to give it a more clear emotional state and a subtle guide through the story. It is very cinematic for a theatre play but it does work for the expectators :) The other is a student short film called 'Instinto' (Instinct) to which I worked with my brother who is also a musician. I wrote a them song for the film and we both composed the soundtrack. We worked very smoothly and easily eventhough it was our first experience as co-composers. The producers and the director were very pleased with the music and so did we! :)
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently writing music for 2 LA short films, 1 short film from the city I live in (Querétaro), a theatre montage of Shakespeare's Cymbeline for Brown Box Theatre of NY, some publicity music and I constantly write new stock music for TvAzteca, one of the major TV Netowrks in Mexico. Also, I'm celebrating the 3rd birthday of my band: The Original Soundtrack Band where we play, indeed, movies', cartoons', videogames' and animes' soundtracks :D
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I've worked a couple of times with Blake Pfeil, a fantastic singer-songwriter. I've played his songs and collaborated in the production and arrangement of a new song and he is great to work with: reliable, humble (he knows his limits and yet knows his strengths quite clearly), fun, and works great with coming and going of ideas. If you need a very expressive, broadway-like tenor and songwriter, he is your guy!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I would say both. It depends on the type of sound one is looking for, what one's used to, how much space one has, and the budget. Digital is usually more affordable and practical so it's a great choice for low budget home studios but the analog sound of some devices is very hard to replicate so,... yes, it depends on many things :)
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I compromise to help them get their creation to be. They can be assured I'll be as perceptive and empathic as possible to share their vision and define it, expand it or empower it. All delivered on time and with the best effort I am capable of.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: It makes me happy! I enjoy wirting music of any kind, listenting to music of any kind, collaborating with the talent of others, and tellling stories so I have a lot of fun doing this. I focus on not letting this activity to be a 'job' per se.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: The main one is: 'how much would you charge me for...?' And my answer is a price range I would charge normaly with diferent possibilities. Not only time but style, complexity, the amount of instruments needed and how much time do I have to deliver the music have a lot to do with the price range. The next question usualy is: 'can you do this, or that?' and usually I can but if it's something that is out of my area of expertise, I can direct them to reliable and talented people who are great at those particular situations.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Mainly that one can just change the duration of a music cue easily. Like: 'just cut this', 'make it last 7 seconds longer'. This among others, of course.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Basicaly: - What is the project about? - What influences or music references did you use or would like me to hear? - Mention 5 emotions or adjectives you want the scene/movie/game/music to convey or to be described. - When is the deadline? And, of course, the budget is something that is talked about rather than just 'how much will you pay?' There are lots of possibilities and plans that can be done :)
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Get your vision as clear as possible to know what you want (or don't want) the music to do and sound like. It saves time and production money as well. If you can manage to learn basic music theory it does help a lot to communicate to a musician. Finallly, but very important, be aware of the connection you get with a composer/music producer. A good working relationship can make the journey far more satisfying and happy :D
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: An acoustic guitar (nylon preferably for strings not to rust that quickly), a very thick notebook, a box full of pens and probably I'd trade musical gear for a badass Swiss Army knife and something delicious to drink on sunny days!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: At first I thought one could not live of being a musician (a common old story) so I studied Electronic Engineering for a while up to the point where I could not see myself getting up every morning to "engineer". So I decided to study music to get to compose for films and videogames. in college I lost track of my path for a while. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the bunch of much more talented people around me so I got a job writing study manuals for my university, then as a teacher of various subjects (composition, songwriting, lyric writin, music theory and finnish) at a new college of music in Guadalajara, Mexico. One day I remembered that I wanted to be a musician because of films so I left the teaching job to become a full time composer, producer and guitarist. It's a little bit over 3 years now of that decision. :)
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'd say expressive and full with emotions.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Wow! This is endless. I still have many close friends who write great songs and produce amazing albums with whom I'd love to work and some with which I want to work again. Then there are some not so close friends who are also ridiculously talented. In terms of A-list artists, I'd be happy forever to work with Spanish singer Miguel Bosé. His career, songs, productions and he himself as an artist and person are one of my top admired musical entities. He sings fun, lighthearted songs joyfully and he can also sing the most heartbreaking stories with tremendous passion. Joaquín Sabina is definitely another one of my top Spanish composers. His lyrics have such a poetic strength and depth that only match his intensity and skill as a storyteller. Luca Turilli (and all of the Rhapsody family!) would be without a doubt a dream come true. He is a vastly complete musician: dedicated, commited and disciplined and yet profund, meaningful and full of emotion. His lyrics, melodies, orchestral arrangement, productions, ideology and dedication are simply superb. In the Film Score terrain I could go forever but Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newmman, Enio Morricone, John Williams or the late James Horner all are so expressive in so many ways. Such an inspiration! An such a long answer. Sorry about that! :)
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Produce every day, all the time! And don't let 'not knowing' keep you from experimenting, experiencing the process, and getting your work out on the world. It's ok to write crappy songs from time to time. :)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Even though it varies quite a lot, orchestral, emotional and electronic music do get a little bit more asked for.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'd say both versatility and empathy. By listening to many genres, knowing people from different stories, places and backgrounds I understand the raison d'être context and story of the different musical styles. I'v managed to like them almost all and enjoy composing for them as well.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Maybe rather than bringing to a song, I try to bring out the song, its nucleus, its emotions, its message. Every skill, memory and experience in life I've had connects with the situation the song or cue evokes and wants to communicate. It could be that I bring my empathy and my wish for the song to exist.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends a lot on what I'm working on but I usually compose first on piano and both structure and instrumentation ideas begin to form in my head. If it is a song I'm working on, some lyrics tend to appear also in this part of the process. Once I get something clear enough, I record it or write it down and continue until it has a defined shape. Then I start arranging, orchestrating, remodeling and mixing whatever is necessary. At the end I polish the mix and: done! That is if there isn't any change I've been asked to do. :) In that case, there are some extra steps to get the precise idea that is needed and bringing it to existence!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: In terms of hardware I have a simple yet powerful home studio where I do 95% of my work: I have 2 Yamaha HS8 monitors, a Scarlett 2i2 interface (and a M-Audio Profire 610 to record on other locations with my MacBook), a Mac computer with 16GB of RAM, 1TB HD and 1 250 soid state HD, 3 condenser mics and an Alesis controller. Software wise I work with Digital Performer both to record and secuence virtual instruments.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: That would be a tremendously long answer! I get very excited and inspired by renowned film score composers, songwriters, singers, instrument players, actors, writers, philosophers,and poets as well as by my very friends who are amazing in every niche of music: production, mixing, composition, singing, playing, management. They all inspire me to work, write and are an endless fountain of lessons.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: What I've been asked the most is to compose music for theatre, irish dance shows, short films and advertising so the music styles have joyfully been pretty wide: full on epic orchestra, eerie music landscapes all the way to uplifting, happy tunes and soulful, clean songs. :)