Please tell us about yourself
Tanuj Tiku is a composer and producer based in Mumbai, India. After my higher education in India, I went to the UK to pursue an undergraduate degree in Music, Technology and Innovation and a Masters in Film and Television music. I write music for feature films and commercials and I have worked on over 15 feature films and 150 commercials as Composer/Additional Composer/Producer.
His music has also been featured on many international advertising campaigns such as Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, Blade Runner 2049, Passengers, BBC One’s Wallander, Tom Clancy video game and the 2015 Beijing athletics championship to name a few.
Tanuj won the prestigious 64th National Film Award (2016) for ‘Best Music’, for the short film ‘Leeches’, directed by Payal Sethi. Tanuj also received the (2016) ‘Best Production Music U.K’ award for his track ‘Cascade of Emotions’ which has been featured on advertising campaigns for the films, The BFG and Woman in Gold.
What did you study?
Tanuj holds a bachelors degree in Music, Technology and Innovation from De Montfort University, Leicester as well as a Masters in Film and Television scoring from Bournemouth University where he studied under Stephen Deutsch.
What is your niche or speciality, that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
Most often, I am called in to help with cinematic productions. I suppose, my niche is a rich and dynamic cinematic sound. Largely speaking, film music is sort of genre bending, in that it combines several disciplines into one.
Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
I use an Intel core i7 PC, running Windows 7 64-bit with 24 GB RAM with Cubase 6. I use RME Fireface 800 as a soundcard, Dynaudio BM 6A for monitoring and the Yamaha S90ES keyboard as my MIDI controller.
What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
I use a lot of Vienna Instruments, Orchestral Tools, Spitfire Solo Strings, Ivory, Samplemodeling, Vienna Suite and SPL. I also use a lot of Omnisphere, various things from Komplete 8, AAS, Plectrum, Project SAM and micro tonic. Every project is unique and I like to add different colour to enrich every cue.
When do you find you are most creative?
The world of film and television is very deadline oriented and there is often very little time. But, I like to think about every cue before I hit a single key on the keyboard. Just like an actor prepares for his or her role, I try to absorb the brief and try to live the story in my head. I then find a suitable vision for the said project. Once, I have this ‘feeling’ right, the music just flows. And for me, it flows in different directions simultaneously. I compose, orchestrate and mix more or less at the same time. I find these areas are forever linked. However, when I have the time, I do like to create a new project with all the stems to just focus on mixing. But, I rarely get that much time and other times, there is an engineer involved who will take care of it!
What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
I have never worked on a video game so I am not really aware of the process of creating music for it. For films, there is always a story to follow. Ultimately, we are trying to tell a story and often heighten the experience with the help of music. Of course, having a concept is very important. You need a central theme for the whole film in terms of the sound palette and the over all execution.
Once, I have a central idea, I will sit at the piano work out various musical ideas and create an entire graph for a particular scene scored to picture. Thereafter, its a combination of playing it in or direct MIDI input. Getting the sync and tempo right is very important, its what will keep everything together.
Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
As I have mentioned before, the only thing that really works for me is to live the idea in my mind before I even put down a single note. Whatever activity I am doing during the day, there is always something going on about the next thing that I am supposed to work on in my head. So, in a sense preparation is very important. Very rarely, I will come out with something good without any sort of preparation. You should become the idea in a sense. Once you have achieved this state (some call it being in the zone), music just flows!
Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
I am not sure if I am doing anything that has not been done before. So there is plenty of information online about various techniques. I find that working out your musical muscles is more important than picking up audio techniques. I try and work on the music as much as I can. Learn from the masters by listening to their music and reading up on various techniques. Hopefully, in the process you will come up with a few tricks of your own! I am too young and inexperienced to have my own special techniques. It will probably be years before I can arrive at any sort of resolution. A historical perspective of the music that has been written before is very important. Learn a few rules and then break lots of them!
Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
Don’t be afraid to say no to a project if it does not make sense to you. Follow your instinct. You may end up in a limbo on a bad project with random people.
Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Never get so daunted by the process of creating something that you are just afraid of it. Sometimes, the ideas work other times not so well. But, the important thing is to keep writing, always! It does not matter if you have a gig or not. I write music because it is a compulsion, an obsession not to get gigs or for money. That happens to be a side effect! Whether, I am working on a gig or just on my own, it does not matter. I am always writing something. This helps a great deal in improving your skill and your ideas as well. You will become very efficient and your music will improve with each composition.