What is your name and your current occupation?
Shawn Patterson – Composer / Song Writer / Music Producer
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a security guard when I first got to Los Angeles in the 9000 building on Sunset Blvd. It was a trip being able to watch the LA cops go across the street and clear out the drunk club goers when they poured out onto Sunset after the Rainbow and Roxy closed.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I would have to say Titan Maximum and El Tigre are my top for episodic animation. Fun stories and well developed characters especially El Tigre. Also, Robot Chicken because although the skits are generally very short there is massive variety needed in the music and that is not only a challenge but really fun.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Athol, Massachusetts. I drove to Los Angeles to find composing and playing work and started bringing my music around to everyone who would listen. I sold some music to a few trailer houses pretty quickly. But the real challenge was to continue to find composing work to pay the bills. So, I worked as a driver/PA for the Chipmunks and from there eventually Ren & Stimpy. I met tons of great directors and producers and as many branched out they would hire me on their projects. Billy West liked my music and handed out my CD demo right after R&S ended, which helped me land one of my first animated series.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A typical day of composing is mostly left alone to write and record to picture. This is, of course, after we have spotted picture and I am on my own until I deliver the music. I hire musicians to come over and play or sing on songs or parts of score – so I switch gears and engineer/produce and record live players and then eventually mix it all. Other parts of my day occasionally being part of both final mixes and helping produce excellent performances out of various vocalists we hire.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love the thrill of getting a job and sitting down to actually start composing. There is a built in feeling of, “can I pull this off? Am I going to fail? ” Its exhilarating and a bit frightening. Then when you nail the first few pieces and you know you got it and you’re feeling it…. then you’re off and running.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The exact same moment comes to mind.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Maybe its the balance of my personal life and my professional life. When I’m on a project and really into it….so much else gets side tracked. I try to make some time to ride motorcycles and train in martial arts, most importantly spend time with my kids and close friends. But, it’s not easy. You’re so pulled into the art of creation – you can get lost. Seriously.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
All standard stuff for music production; the best sample libraries, Mac computers, some exceptional plug ins like Universal Audio, speakers, wires, loud amplifiers, and never enough stringed instruments.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Clint Eastwood glared at me in an intersection a few years ago as I almost cut him off. He had that “look” like he wanted to kill me. He was animated in Rango. So that counts. I think…..
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring composer or artist trying to break into the business?
Get your name out there and be friendly, assertive and confident without coming across as crazy. Expect to know the feeling of rejection like an old friend. Believe in yourself and constantly strive to improve upon what you do and who you are on every level – this will come through in your art. Stay flexible, organized and able to accept any challenge that comes your way. If you are lucky enough to work full time at what you love, remember to reflect upon your good fortune. There are always many, many more artists than yourself out there far more talented or original that may not have that opportunity.