Aloha, everyone! Welcome to our very first interview at Trailer Music Academy (TMA) – where the industry’s most impactful composers team up with us to provide you rich details about the ins and outs of trailer music! Our featured composer’s music has captivated countless people’s emotions throughout the recent years. And now you – our fellow readers – will soon discover their success stories or tips that’ll help activate your journey in becoming a skillful composer like they did!
Among these suave trailer music maestros is the great Daniel Beijbom, who’s ready to share his knowledge and solid advice that could support your musical careers. Hailing from a peaceful town in Sweden born to a loving musician family, Daniel now works with people in Hollywood with his musical style that blends high quality together with pristine creativity. His music were prominently featured in trailers of notable films such as Star Wars: Rogue One, Planet of the Apes, Spiderman: Homecoming, Logan and The Finest Hours.
More than his music, however, is his natural charisma and prime compassion. His presence alone is able to calm friends during hard times, while he helps people whenever he can out of camaraderie. He’s the kind of man who doesn’t judge others and accepts everyone for who they are. Sometimes his closest friends jokingly refer to him as Jesus even, due to the hair and beard! Being a good human being full of virtue and love is something that Daniel respects dearly. Due to that, we are extremely grateful to have Daniel for our first episode!
THUS BEGINS THE INTERVIEW
TMA: Greetings, Dan!
Daniel: Hi! Thanks for having me here!
Now, a great number of people, especially friends and fans of yours, are dying to know about your career journey. First of all you came quite a long way from Lund (a small cozy village in Sweden) right all the way up to working with Hollywood. That itself is an incredible feat! Brand new composers who are beginning their first steps in their careers would love to learn how you made your journey happen. Because of that, what are the top three tips you can give to someone who’s just starting fresh with trailer music?
Daniel: Well I’m not physically in Hollywood yet since I’m based in Sweden for now, but thanks to social media I feel as part of Hollywood as anyone could. First tip would be listening to trailer music and epic music on YouTube. Study it, be inspired by it, let it all in! Watch film trailers to see how these tracks are edited and how they fit in. Secondly I would go out on Facebook and start befriending as many composers as possible. There is a huge network of amazingly friendly people out there who would be happy to help you, so get out there and join the community. I would not be where I am without Facebook and all the fantastic composers out there who helped me, so I am always giving the advice to be active on Facebook. Finally I would say: whatever style you bring to the trailer industry, go with that! Trends change all the time, don’t be afraid to be original even if it’s harder to get licensed. It is so worth it. You should of course write music that is licensable, but if you combine that with the style that just makes you feel happy about your work, then do that! It will pay off – if you keep at it.
TMA: It’s amazing to hear how social media and befriending people helped you in your success as a composer. Friendship really is a valuable element to have these days, and it’s also great to hear there’s a supportive community of composers who would gladly help out. It’s also important to hear from you about how music trends change all the time. Because of the constant changes of trends, what do you value most when it comes to music itself?
Daniel: That’s a tough one. Not sure I ever thought about it like that. I think what “speaks” to me can be hard to define sometimes. I love harmonies. So I think if I would value something the most, it would be harmonic writing.
TMA: For sure. Harmony always plays a key role in the music’s quality or style. Harmonies determine how beautiful, impactful or inspirational a music track can be to a listener’s ears. The best ones are nourished by dedication and skill too! Speaking of such, we love to listen more about your skills. What musical skills do you feel you have a natural ability in? What skills have you managed to deliberately learn and improve over time?
Daniel: I would say my strength is in my love for harmonies. I just love to try and keep it interesting or fresh. I always try to take the listener somewhere unexpected. I think one of the things I’ve learned from writing trailer music is to keep it simple. However my love for interesting harmonies can sometimes be too much overwhelming in trailer music, so you need to find a good balance.
TMA: It’s great to know how you try to introduce unexpected chord-progressions to the listeners! Listening to new and unique sounds is always a refreshing feeling that resonates with emotions. It’s also understandable too that mastering the art of harmonies can be a challenging task to some. What are some things did you personally struggle with the most when it comes to creating music?
Daniel: That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing trailer music, then keeping it simple is sometimes something that I struggle with. If I’m writing film music, I suppose the blank page is the most difficult. To actually get going or coming up with something from the start can be such a huge pain in the ass sometimes [laughs]! But, once you focus and face the challenge, it’s usually not so bad. It’s more in the mind that it feels like a gigantic mountain to climb.
TMA: Ah, yes. The mind – casting illusions on us just like that! But once people overcome the mind’s illusions and then fuel themselves with motivation, people can accomplish anything they wish! This one is a powerful piece of info you mentioned too, and I’m sure you have more advice or tips to share with us. As you may know, some people want to know all the “secrets” behind your sound design. They love to know exactly how you do it all – the “brams”, synths, impacts, hits, “whooshes”, techniques, software, etc.
What secrets would you gladly share with us regarding your sound design?
Daniel: [Laughs] What “sound design”? As most will find out soon (I’m gonna do a few walkthrough videos) I use mostly presets for everything. I barely tweak things more than EQ and reverb. I simply don’t have that skill. Or maybe I’m too lazy. I don’t know.
TMA: Well, where or how do you get inspiration to be on top of your game? Just how do you get a step ahead of the hottest tracks out there right now?
Daniel: Well, I never think of it like that. I don’t try to be on top of my game or ahead of the hottest tracks out there. I simply write the music that comes through me. If my tracks gets licensed and even start a trend, that’s a bonus. I have no idea how to be the best or write the hottest tracks, so I don’t bother. Overall inspiration comes from sitting down and writing. Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t, but showing up and being there, writing, pushing through, is what I do, and sometimes inspiration strikes. So be ready.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
TMA: It’s very interesting to hear how your natural feelings (together with keeping things simple) allowed you to create such wonderful musical masterpieces. That’s in contrast to others who always try to create hotter or more bombastic tracks each time. Your approach is more relaxing and natural! And this teaches us that sometimes being natural is the best thing one can do to produce the finest creations. When it comes to creating music, do you favor quality and originality or quantity and efficiency?
Daniel: Overall I would always say quality and originality. But, in this industry I would want both. I used to focus on writing for one company, but now I am writing for multiple companies. Even if all my tracks aren’t “fantastic” or make people scream “wow” or “oh my god”, there is still a good chance that they could be used in TV. So I would say try to aim for both quality and quantity. Sometimes you can spend more time on a track if it’s for a particular album you enjoy, but otherwise, try to write a lot of music. Which is hard sometimes; cause’ I’m lazy! Deadlines really help me. They get me going. Otherwise I would just play video games and watch movies.
TMA: Sounds like a lot of work indeed, but definitely worth the composer’s experience who’s undergoing the full career journey! With lots of work also comes the time to use necessary tools for creating music and doing mixes. With that being said, what are your favorite tools to cut through a mix?
Daniel: I don’t use many tools when I mix. Mostly because I don’t know how to use them. Mainly I’m just EQing things. I’m using almost only Logic plugins. Reverbs I use mostly Valhalla and logics own reverbs. So my mixes are all about balance, EQ, volume and orchestration. “What goes where? Is it needed? How can I improve this part”? Things like that. Eventually I find that it’s all pretty well balanced. I don’t master my music. That is something most trailer companies provide. So if I were to professionally master a track, I would only use some compression which I barely know how to use even (which is embarrassing) and maybe a limiter, which I barely know how to use either.
TMA: Yes, the technical aspect can be a complicated thing in its own right. Leave it to the tech guys to do it [laughs]! We have good news for our awesome readers, though! A composer – even those who are starting completely brand new – would be relieved to know that their own original mix IS enough to produce good music, but cooperating with a pro sound engineer who’s adept at mixing and mastering is a wiser decision – especially when one wants to create superior quality masterpieces. Nonetheless, masterpieces are also equally determined by their originality and creativity too. Lots of new composers would want to be better prepared when it comes to seeking that ideal tune. So Daniel, where would you advise a young composer to find their own inner voice? Where can he or she look for that true original sound? Especially when the world is so saturated with different types of music nowadays?
Daniel: Well, for starters I would advice them to look inside themselves. But yeah, seriously, I think you just need to write. Whatever comes through you is your voice. Whatever genre comes out, whether it’s pop or film music, or if it sounds like everyone else. It’s still you, it’s no one else. It’s coming from you, through you. Can only be you. Who cares what someone else thinks? If you want to write music that sounds like Hans Zimmer – do that! Enjoy it! Have fun with it! Music to me is all about writing what’s inside you. And if what is inside you at this time, is something other people would say “that sounds just like someone else’s” then so what? Don’t worry about any of that crap. If the music makes you feel good, then that’s all there is. Just that.
TMA: Do you ever take a moment and think how your music affects a person on the other end – especially with film music – and feel responsible for it?
Daniel: I mostly think “will they enjoy this music”? My main focus is for me to be happy with my music (or the client if I’m working for others), but the second thought I have is, will “they” enjoy this? Whoever “they” are. Be it my listeners or random listeners. I love doing the best I can, and I love to make people feel something together with my music. Whatever that is, I don’t know. But at least I have the intention to either entertain and move someone, but at the same time, always be true to myself and what I like.
TMA: And what would be your biggest mistake which can be an important lesson to a total beginner? What lesson(s) can they take from your past mistakes?
Daniel: The word “mistake” sounds so serious. We all make mistakes. All of us, all the time. If anything I think mistakes are what moves us forward. What to do, what not to do. I embrace them. I learn from them. However, of course there are some times when they sting a bit, and really teaches you something valuable. For me I would – always or at least most of the time – just say “yes” when an opportunity arises… even if you are afraid of it or simply too busy at the moment. If you feel it could be something of value, then say “yes” and figure out later in how to handle it. In the end if you simply cannot do it for whatever reason, then at least you gave it a shot… and will have no regrets. But passing on or refusing something that’s great, because you are too busy, or afraid to take a leap into the unknown (a.k.a. excuses) will make you regret it. In the overall picture, even these “regrets” are part of our path, and we should not linger on them. They are part of us, and part of shaping where we are. So even if you miss opportunities, new ones will come, just don’t be afraid to say “yes” to them.
TMA: Well said, Daniel. It’s essential that people try something new to maximize their potential and free themselves from limits. It’s time to just DO when the will to act comes. You also you mentioned earlier that whenever a new composer has a desire to write, he/she better writes out what they feel. Sometimes there are people who are excited to write as soon as possible because of this. Just how many tracks does one need to write in the beginning to see results quickly?
Daniel: I have no idea how to see results quickly [laughs]! I just write and then by writing I improve. How long that takes? I cannot tell you. Depends on how interested you are, how passionate you are. How willing you are to spend hours in front of the keyboard. To me, this is all part of your path. Someone might learn quickly and improve really fast, while someone else is a slow learner. That person might be much better at something else, that the other person struggles with. So I cannot tell you how quickly. Start writing now. Have fun, be passionate, spend hours and hours doing it. All of a sudden it will happen.
TMA: The call to action indeed! By the way, do you have any current projects that keep you in action?
Daniel: I’m writing for various trailer companies – keeping myself busy at the moment. A few live orchestra recordings in Europe this year. Excited about that! Some companies like to use live orchestras for trailer music. If you are ever offered to write for those companies – just do it. Really exciting to hear your music being played live. You learn so much from it. What to tweak, what to improve and so on. Amazing experience. Grateful for it!
TMA: Some people want to know how do you compose music outside your studio! Is it even possible to compose music while you are traveling to other places? If so, what equipments are you using for that?
Daniel: Yes, it’s very much possible! I started doing it last year. Traveled to LA, New York, Taiwan, Sydney, and Thailand. All thanks to trailer music! I use a Macbook Pro, a small two octave midi keyboard and a pair of headphones. That’s all you need. My first track I wrote on this portable rig was a track using only 30 instruments (you have to be conservative with your choices, since you don’t have as much Ram/cpu power in your portable rig) and it ended up being used in the Spiderman: Homecoming trailer. So yes, you can definitely write music while traveling.
DANIEL'S TRAILER CREDITS
TMA: Awesome! Next question … what is your own dead-honest opinion about the current trends of trailer or epic music? How do you think the trailer/epic music genre could improve?
Daniel: I think a lot of the music sounds amazing, and some of it sounds a bit generic. What I try to do personally is to always write trailer music my own way. Which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I’m always trying to make it as interesting as possible, harmonically and rhythmically. If you do that, then the genre will always be changing. It’s mostly when we are asked to “sound like this or that” does the genre gets a bit boring. Too much the same. I guess it’s normal with trends here and there. But if you can just be yourself and write what is you, then thats awesome. What more could anyone ask? To be honest, I think most of us do this. We all just want to write music we are passionate about and what we love. If that is something I personally find “generic”, then who am I to judge? I am no better than anyone else. Just trying to make a living doing what I love.
TMA: Do you believe that the trailer/epic music genre should become more mainstream, or do you think the genre should be left on low profile but operating powerfully behind the scenes?
Daniel: I think the music should be exactly whatever it wants to be. If more people start listening to this type of music, then fantastic. If it stays the same, then fantastic as well. If the music speaks to you, and inspires you, isn’t that all we need? Now, if we talk from a financial standpoint, then of course, the more the merrier. But music at it’s essence is not about the money. Whether it should or should not spread to the masses, I cannot say. All we can do is tell the world how much we love this type of music, and inspire others with it. If it takes on, so be it. If not, then alright.
TMA: Very profound answer. Respect! Inspiration truly is a prime factor when it comes to trailer/epic music. What is your source(s) of inspiration for your tracks, Daniel?
Daniel: Anything can inspire me. Music, films, games, drawings, nature, and so on. The most powerful inspiration for me is film music. Or actually any music whether its film music or not, as long as it has that “larger than life” grand filmic feeling to it… now that really inspires me. I saw “Interstellar” seven times in just a few months. The film itself was absolutely amazing. But to me, it was thanks to Hans Zimmer’s score that I was so incredibly inspired. I would see the pictures in my mind and hear the music, and dream away. Would I have done so without the music? I don’t think so. So to me, film music is the most powerful inspiration to me.
TMA: Seven times? Incredible! Absolutely agree with you that the film is amazing. Hans Zimmer’s musical craftsmanship definitely moved people during the film, and one can’t help notice that your music has a similar effect too when it comes to moving emotions. You mind if we ask who are your biggest musical influences throughout your career? Also, you got any favourite trailer music tracks?
Daniel: I have been in love with so many different music genres growing up! From pop music to progressive metal. But since my love for film music was so strong I will have to credit that to John Williams. When I first saw “ET” as a young boy I fell in love with the music immediately. I didn’t know back then that being a composer is what I would end up doing later in life, but the impact it had on me was all thanks to John Williams. Through the years I have been inspired by many other composers as well. James Horner, Don Davis and Hans Zimmer to name a few. They all helped shape my sound and style. I’m a big fan of classical music as well: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Holst all have a special place in my heart. As for favorite tracks… I don’t have a favorite track. Lots of fantastic tracks out there! Composers that inspire me are Attila Ats, Blake Robinson and Pauli Hausmann, to name a few.
TMA: “ET” has a phenomenal soundtrack! And it’s also interesting to know how film classics had a significant impact on your career path. That’s super! Working with movies are the goals and dreams for many composers, or even for tv and games. A lot of them would like to know how’s it like working with them. So between full length films, games, trailers and commercials, which field is the easiest to work with for you?
Daniel: If we are only talking about creative freedom, I would say trailer music is the easiest. Definitely not the easiest when it comes to production and actually getting paid. But yeah, I’m currently enjoying it a lot since I can write pretty much whatever is inside my feelings (as long as it’s still within the genre). Film music, games and commercials are different, since you are writing to motions and pictures – which is incredibly rewarding in itself, but I wouldn’t say its “easier” than trailer music. That’s why I am enjoying writing trailer music at the moment. Just write whatever is in me and hope it will fit a trailer.
TMA: Fascinating insight into the trailer industry! Trailers without a doubt have a huge impact on the successes of films, and if your music invigorates the trailer’s message… then it has the power to captivate would-be moviegoers in turn! Also, some people know about the “Pareto Principle” (which is 80% of results coming from only 20% of all potential actions). With that being said, what are the 20% factors that makes a trailer track licensable?
Daniel: At the moment, I would say it’s all about the hits and edit points. The more you give the editor to work with, the happier she/he will be and your chances improve to get a placement. After that I have no answer for you, which is why I like to focus on giving the overall track a unique harmonic feel, or something unique in the percussion department. Something that feels like me. If I combine that with lots of hits and edit points, I feel I have both been myself, while also giving the track as much potential for a placement as I personally can.
TMA: Next question is something that many people worry about. If you could shed light on this, it would offer great help to new and rising composers ~
How do you deal with rejection from publishing companies (or even friends/family) and still keep moving on? What’s your advice to help brand new composers to keep them going?
Daniel: If we are talking about rejection from friends and family, I would say focus your energy on your online epic/trailer communities. Some of the most amazing friends I have are from those communities. People that I’ve since have met up with then and now – friends that I have great lifelong relationships with. Talk to them, share your music with them, ask for feedback, be vulnerable, be humble. Be kind. It’s an amazing community and they can get you through any form of rejection. Now if we are talking about rejection from publishing companies, that simply comes with the territory. First of all I would say, if you get rejected, take it as a good sign for you to improve your craft. Write more music. It takes a while to get really good at it, and give yourself that time. There is no rush, you can’t force it. If you get rejected, simply share your rejections with your community and see if someone can offer you some advice or feedback. Keep writing and you will see that you don’t get rejected as much anymore from companies. They will actually be reaching out to you! So just keep writing, and keep sharing and talking with your friends in the epic/trailer community. They can and will get you through whatever it is that is weighing down on you.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
TMA: So when that inevitable time to “keep writing” comes, what’s your own way to overcome writer’s block?
Daniel: Writer’s block to me is a funny thing. It doesn’t actually exist I believe. The only thing that exists, is our judgement of what we have written. You write something, and then say “oh wow, that was horrible”, and so if this goes on for a while you call it writer’s block. I think you need to let go of the thought that what you’re writing needs to be 100% amazing. No. Let go of that thought. Just let it flow, even if you don’t like it. There is great potential in even the things we don’t like. You might look back the next day and say “oh hey, that part was actually pretty cool, maybe if I combine it with this”. So for me – I just sit in front of the computer and I write what comes out. Even if it’s “no good”, I then mute that idea and continue. If nothing “good” comes, I stop after a few hours. Take a break and then keep going. Eventually great things start happening, but only because I allowed myself to write. I didn’t judge it. I just wrote, and then looked back to see if something could be used. If nothing good at all comes out even after days or even weeks, then to me it’s not writer’s block. It’s simply about allowing myself to improve my skill. I need to level up. And I do so by continuing to write. Eventually it’s all good again!
TMA: Going with the flow is something that a lot of people could learn from. Sometimes people get carried away or get too much worried, but letting go of judgment whilst writing naturally from the heart seems like a very therapeutic solution to all this. An individual can also originate some of those stresses or judgment from the industry itself sometimes. All because the industry changes drastically or new trend demands suddenly pop up without warning. In those stressful moments, just how do you stay true to yourself in this ever-changing music industry?
Daniel: For me, you can never not be true to yourself. Whatever comes through and out of you… is you – whether you are writing music for money or for yourself. As long as you feel good about what you are doing, then do it; no matter what anyone else says. However, If you don’t feel you are putting forth what is your “truth”, and you are questioning why you are doing it, then that’s your wake up call. And then it’s time to change your path.
TMA: That’s an inspiring perspective. Thank you for that eye-opening, wonderful answer! You seem to have some powerful mindsets that people could learn a lot from. These mindsets could support your fans immensely. In addition, some fans of yours have also wondered about your philosophical perspective on music itself. Please shed light on your views on music, Daniel! What is music to you?
Daniel: That is a very interesting and tough question. We are so used to music as just being there, that it’s almost indescribable. For me, it’s anything that stimulates my senses. Meaning it’s anything from a person singing in the train station to the symphony at Carnegie Hall. Even as I’m answering this, I still can’t really tell you what music is. Because whether I am moved by it or not, it’s still music. I suppose I could try and describe it as another human being letting whatever is in him or her be expressed in the form of sound.
TMA: If music is something similar to a creative way of life, then what is your advice to kids who choose to follow the musical path?
Daniel: I would say fantastic! Whatever is in your heart – is you. Whatever is you – should be expressed. Whether in musical form, or any other form. I would say keep at it, and don’t give up – which are words that sometimes are hard to hear. But I would still say them, because I know what it’s like. Even if I had the support of two musical parents, I still doubt myself often. Very often. Many days I don’t feel like writing. Many days I feel that my music’s no good. But I also know that all of those feelings are just inside the mind. My ego is just telling me a story; a story that is not true. It likes to be pitied, it likes to feel sorry for itself. It is not the truth. You are amazing and you have incredible abilities and potential that you express everyday simply by taking a chance on your dreams. So keep writing, keep the passion going, enjoy it, enjoy it all, the ups and the downs. It’s all just part of this short ride, which is your life. Over in the blink of an eye. So be yourself, and follow your damn dreams!
TMA: Beautiful, Daniel… Absolutely beautiful…
We will now wrap up our interview but before we close… we got one more teeny tiny question!
So, Daniel… here at Trailer Music Academy, we’d like to give you a voice to express yourself to the People – especially to those who truly admire your work! If you were given the chance to say your true feelings/opinions on anything else – especially to your fans – what would it be? What would you like to tell to the People about yourself that you haven’t really told anyone else… up till now?! And do you even have future plans that your friends, family and fans don’t know about? Surprise us!
Daniel: I like to think I am an honest person, and have always been able to share my thoughts and dreams with my friends. At this moment I don’t think there is anything to tell. What I wrote above is pretty much who I am. But, hmmm, maybe I’d like to try acting some day. Never really talked about that. Actually, never really thought that much about it. Just kinda hit me now, that it would be something fun to try. Maybe [wink].
TMW: Perhaps that could be a reality, Daniel. You got a cosmic charisma that’ll take our breaths away!
And that everybody is the one and only, all-around-awesome… DANIEL BEIJBOM!
Once we again, we thank Daniel for being together with us and sharing his insights that are both important and mind-opening.
More interviews coming up soon, and further knowledge are awaiting to be revealed to you! Until the next interview, everyone! Stay tuned only at Trailer Music Academy.