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How I Got That Sound: Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman ‘True’ By Joe Matera
Published December 2021

Composer Danny Elfman.Composer Danny Elfman.Photo: Jacob Boll

Grammy and Emmy Award‑winning American composer Danny Elfman first came to public attention in the 1980s as leader of new wave outfit Oingo Boingo. In the 1990s, he segued into film and television scoring and has composed music for over 100 films including Batman, Men In Black and Spider‑Man, along with television themes for popular series such as The Simpsons as well as numerous advertising campaigns.

He recently released his latest solo album Big Mess, and chose 'True', a track from the album, as his favourite sonic achievement.

Room For Development

How I Got That Sound: Danny Elfman 'True'“I built the track outside of my usual studio, due to having been in quarantine with my family outside of the city. Because of that I had very little gear with me. In this location I had no studio, only a small writing room to record in. I did have my computer, of course, with my samples, and Digital Performer, which was my DAW for all my recordings on Big Mess. But I only had one mic, one guitar and a pair of headphones — which didn’t even work!

First, I started building the rhythm section using synths I programmed for the bass, which the whole song revolves around, and electronic drum samples I had. When I got a nice heavy feel I liked, then I began improvising on the guitar. I was playing rhythmic patterns, strumming really hard to get overtones...

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