5 With: Mike Hallenbeck

January 29, 2014

Several years ago, Mike Hallenbeck gave me a seriously great title for a dance: Independent Vegetables of Their Own Accord. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but please don't steal it. When he isn't suggesting clever titles, sharing my love of cats, or supporting the performing arts community, Mike is working in the music and sound design world. Mike balances a continuous stream of varied creative projects. He's a curious explorer of his art form, which seems to be a key part of thriving as an artist. I vouch that Mike is a great collaborator-- especially loving work with choreographers, lucky us! You can find more of Mike on his website, and on twitter.

What do you make or do?
I'm a composer and sound designer, which means I write music, and record, edit and mix audio. I have a passion for Foley and sound effects. I work in film, animation, games, branding, and performing arts. I am bald.

What are the challenges of what you do? 
A lot of what I do is invisible. If you crossfade audio so it blends smoothly rather than glitching, for example, the result shouldn't be noticeable. It's often about what you're not hearing, and thus hard to evaluate. So, sometimes it's difficult to demonstrate that it's a worthwhile practice. But then again, the low profile means you can "sneak in the back door" when no one's paying attention. It's not a craft to pursue if you want the glory, but it can be very satisfying.

What advice do you have with regards to making a living and finding satisfaction as a creative person
Find a way to leverage everything you do, so that each step facilitates the next. If you have the choice to take on a certain project or not, make the choice in terms of value. Potential rewards include money, building new relationships, learning new skills, upgrading your portfolio, helping out a friend, strengthening your community… figure out what you want/ need, and ask yourself if the experience will offer value in any of these areas. If not, don't be afraid to turn it down.

What's most exciting about your work?
The more time goes by, the more I surpass my own expectations of quality and versatility. The  further outside my comfort zone I'm willing to go, the larger that zone becomes. There's always been something satisfying about building a soundscape and/ or breaking it down into its components. Somehow that never gets old for me; it just gets more rewarding.

What's one of your dream projects?
A reboot of Swamp Thing as a film franchise: Alec Holland's accident would take place during a Louisiana hurricane, and it would have giant insects in it-- a giant mosquito fighting an Apache helicopter maybe. That would be awesome.

[You can read more interviews over here.]


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