Interview – Tomas Wille on the emotional impact of music

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Not unlike many of you reading this, Tomas Wille aka PANTA dreams of becoming a cinematic composer. He knows full well how the right soundtrack can make a scene all the more moving and memorable. Fully devoted to his craft, he practices composing and live looping while focusing on improving his piano and production skills. In this interview, the budding soundtrack maker talks at length about his songwriting process, his production setup, and what keeps him going through the inevitable tough times. Read on…

Hello! Tell the world about yourself. How did you grow up to become the musician you are today?

Hi! When I was a young kid, my dad used to have an acoustic guitar laying around. I ‘played’ his guitar for fun and that led to getting my own guitar on my 12th birthday. From that moment, I discovered the (musical) freedom of expressing myself. I continued playing the guitar while learning how to play the drums and piano, too. I played in several typical failed ‘garage’ bands, before I decided to go full digital at 18. I stopped playing the guitar and started to focus fully on piano playing when I discovered that my music didn’t need any guitars. From there on, I’ve come to where I am now. Continuously improving, advancing and renewing my materials.

You have been playing music for a long while! How do you find the drive and inspiration to keep going all this time?

Because music never gets old for me. I keep renewing myself, and I prevent myself from doing the same thing over and over again, because it gets boring after a while. And when something becomes boring, it starts to become a daily grind. Just like music itself, I am trying to keep evolving my music. And I can only do that when people share their great feedback!

How is your local music scene in your perspective? Do you feel like you belong there?

I share a lot with the local scene. It consists of people who have a deep passion about the 80’s. Most of them have a connection with that era, one way or the other. It really helps to empathize when the people share your passion.

What is your all-time favorite record and how did it change you as an artist?

It changes a lot, depending on my mood. There is a track that got me influenced in a different way though, which I like to mention: Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough. This is the track that got me starting to dream about becoming a cinematic composer. I loved watching the movie The Goonies and hearing its soundtrack made me realise how much of an impact a soundtrack makes in a movie. How one song can open up a can of nostalgia (emotions). I realised this is what I wanted to do, too. This track might not be the best example of musical perfection, but it did change how I looked at music. And that’s why this track is still memorable to me.

What are your favorite software and hardware tools for music production?

Most important are the engines: the DAWs of choice are FL Studio and Bitwig Studio. FL Studio is mainly used for composing and arranging, while Bitwig is used for live looping performances (something I recently started to do.) The hardware I use mostly consists of MIDI controllers. I use two keyboards: A Nektar and an M-Audio. But for a live looping performance, my Novation Launchpad is the best buddy I can think off. I use a lot of VST instruments, but they change from time to time. No real favorite there, although I frequently use the TAL-U-No-LX plugin, for it delivers a good Roland Juno sound.

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What is your songwriting process like?

Most of the time it is trial and error for me. Some people have jingles in their head and they write it down, but I have to start with a blank mind in order to get some unique sounds.

80 percent of the time I’ll start with composing a bassline or a pad. I gradually build the entire track from one bar of music. This process can take days, or sometimes just one evening. The rest of the time is arranging, fine-tuning / perfecting. I am not an audio engineer, so I don’t know a lot about the craft of mixing and mastering. This is a job on its own, which I have huge respect for! Maybe one day I’ll master this, too.

What is your biggest musical goal?

To become a cinematic music producer. The musical impact in movies is huge (emotion wise). And I love to be part of that. I am not on a quest for fame. I am on a quest for happiness. If I can make people happy with my music, I am happy too. I am not the type to perform for people. I don’t mind being ‘faceless’ for the public. As long as my music gets heard and it contributes in a positive way to other people. It would be a great bonus to earn my bread with music. I envy Hans Zimmer!

How has being on Drooble helped you as a musician?

Firstly, thanks to Drooble, I gained new listeners. New listeners means feedback, and feedback means improvement. I am relatively new to Drooble, meaning that I don’t have much experience with it yet. So far, I like Drooble a lot.

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