We connected with Los Gatos, California based composer and vocalist Megan McDuffee for an exclusive interview to discuss her newly released album “Hostile Takeover”, which she composed, produced, and mixed. During our discussion with the award winner, we talk about the overall theme of the album, find out the production software/hardware she uses to compose her music, as well as her creative inspirations, and much more.
After reading our Q&A with Megan, connect with her on her website and social media, and most importantly, stream “Hostile Takeover” on Spotify or Bandcamp.
If it's not giving away your secrets, can you tell us what production software and hardware you use to compose your music?
I work in Cubase, with a slew of my favorite VST's (Omnisphere 2, Predator, Alchemy, Absynth, Massive, FabFilter Saturn, Ozone 6, etc.) on an older Mac Pro tower. This thing is a music production beast (especially after adding the solid state drive and 64 extra gigs of ram). I also have a Roland Juno-6 analog synthesizer which I pull out on occasion for that tasty analog warmth. Fun fact - it's the same synth that you hear in the Stranger Things' theme.
What are some things that inspire your creativity?
Often I'm inspired by other artist's work. I'll hear a film score or a song, and get extremely motivated to work on something using the feelings conjured by those pieces. An intriguing work of visual art can be very inspiring too. And of course, any time I receive a message from someone who is enjoying my music, I get a little extra boost to keep going! That always makes my day.
Congratulations on the release of your new album "Hostile Takeover". Would you say that there is an overall theme of the project? If so, describe it for us.
Thanks! There's absolutely a theme for this album, as originally it was crafted for an upcoming video game of the same title. It's set in a dystopian future, where crime is prevalent and mega-corporations control the world. With the help of high-tech weaponry and a cybernetic implant, the protagonist of this sonic journey takes down one corporation at a time by whatever means necessary. Hence the title, "Hostile Takeover." The overarching flavor is retrofuturistic and cyberpunk: gritty, pulsing, with a healthy dose of synthwave.
Tell us about the composer's convention you attended where Hans Zimmer was speaking. Why was what he told the audience motivating to you and not discouraging?
That convention was a long time ago now! 2006 or 2007 I think. I knew that his talk would indeed discourage many people, which I found oddly comforting. I knew I would be persistent and persevere, and had no doubt about continuing down the music path.
How would you say that your Master's Certificate in Orchestration for Film and TV from the Berklee College of Music has helped you as a composer, and as a creative in general?
My entire reason for continuing my education at Berklee was to gain a better understanding of orchestration and film scoring techniques. My undergrad gave me a great general foundation, and Berklee gave me the nitty-gritty details. I came away from Berklee with the knowledge of writing for full orchestra, specific film scoring techniques, and a more refined grasp on the business as a whole. Coming away with these new tools made me more confident in my skills, which allowed me to focus on being creative instead of worrying whether or not my sheet music parts were accurate!