A conversation with Anthony Baldino
Born and raised in New York, Anthony Baldino is an LA-based composer and sound designer whose work spans an enormous range of production avenues.
The likelihood that you haven’t heard his world is nearly impossible, with music and sound design in too many trailer campaigns to list, including Prometheus, Interstellar, Ex-Machina, Star Wars: Rogue One, and Avengers: Infinity War and End Game just to name a few. From there, his work ventures to the opposite pole of production with custom sound design based compositions for Dolby Labs mixed in Atmos, beautifully glitched out remixes, and continues on to mind-bending modular synthesizer performances.
Following the release of his Twelve Twenty Two LP on MethLab, we sat down with the man himself to discuss his inspirations, and his approach to music.
Hi Anthony, how are you today?
I’m doing well, thanks for asking. How are you?
I'm good thanks, a real pleasure to sit down and do this. I'm intrigued to know what made you originally jump into wanting to make your debut album and take a bit of time away from writing trailer music?
There are a lot things that lead up to deciding to devote some of my time to making this record but what it ultimately boiled down to was that I wanted to do something for myself. I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t getting enough music out there and decided to make my own outlet create a record.
I had been playing a lot of shows doing live modular sets and the time seemed perfect to apply some of what I was doing live to a complete body of work.
How long did you spend making the album?
This record took me a little over a year. As with everything in life, things come up that need to be handled and other projects present themselves but I tried to make sure I didn’t spend too much time away from making this record.
In our press email, it mentioned you had used a Tiptop Audio Circadian Rhythms Sequencer and it was a key compositional tool in the process for the album. Are there any other kinds of modules you used, and for the most part do you try to stay within the modular and rack mount side of things?
Yes, the focus/limitation for this record was all modular synths except for the last song. As mentioned, the Tip Top Audio Circadian Rhythms was a key compositional tool as were the Make Noise René and Pressure Points, the Qu-Bit Electronix Octone as well as all the 4MS clock dividers / multiplier modules were all crucial sequencing tools.
I also love randomizing things so I used the Make Noise Woggle Bug, Noise Engineering Sinc Iter, Erica Synths Pico Rand and Cwejman D-LFO to make some patches evolve and get some ideas I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. As for sound sources, I was using my Arp 2600 and a ton of different eurorack oscillators from, Make Noise, Cwejman, Intellijel, Mutable Instruments…I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things.
That's so cool. What originally inspired the album?
Honestly just wanting to do a record for myself. Of course over time life happens and you go through stuff so directions and intentions shift but the main motive behind everything was to finish it for myself.
What originally sparked your interest of getting into modular?
A lot of the artists I was listening to were using modular synths in some capacity and I was really curious about how they were making all these crazy sounds. After I got my first semi-modular synth and spent a day with it alone in my studio I was really taken by how amazing it sounded and how tactile it was. It really opened up a world of exploration for me that I hadn’t experienced before.
Honestly, I’ve been staring at my modular system for 15 minutes now trying to pick three but it feels like being asked to pick your favorite child. I actually don’t know that I can answer this one haha. There are just so many that are incredible in their own right and do different things or fit different applications.
Last movie you worked on?
The last movie I worked on was Venom. I did a ton of the synths and sound design for the score by Ludwig Göransson.
First movie you ever worked on?
The first movie I ever worked on was a movie called “Mother and Child”. I also did synths and sound design for that score with my dear friend Chris Lane.
Favourite movie you ever did?
I’d have to say Venom. It was a really fun project and let me use a lot of my favorite tools and approaches.
What are some of the biggest challenges with writing music for movie trailers?
Good question. I think one of the biggest challenges is some of the turn around times but on the opposite side of the coin trying to come up with something cool in an extremely limited amount of time can be a really fun challenge.
How long have been you composing for? Was it something that started early in your life, or developed as you grew up?
I really got into composing when I was in college and was exposed to all sorts of new music. I grew up playing in bands and I found making music by myself more enjoyable.
Plans for the future?
Lots! Hoping to work on more film and game scores and really excited to start on the next album.
Where did the name for the LP 'Twelve Twenty Two' come from?
There are a lot of really personal things buried in the name “Twelve Twenty Two” that mean a lot to me and at the same time is also vague enough to mean whatever anyone else wants it to mean so it seemed appropriate.
Who are some of your musical influences?
In the last few years I find I’m mostly inspired by my friends. I’m really lucky to have some amazingly talented friends in my life and getting to see what goes into their works as well the stories behind all their music in real time makes it that much more visceral and inspiring to me.
What's been your greatest lesson through your career in music?
I’d have to say the greatest lesson I’ve learned, and always the hard way, is if you’re not fulfilling your musical purpose it’s ok to shift directions and realign yourself with what you want out of your time both as a musician and as a human in general. Life’s too short.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to speak with me Anthony absolutely an honor to get the chance to speak with you!
Thank you! I really appreciate you reaching out!