Monday, December 21, 2009

3 x 5 Interview with Richie Nieto

In Fives:

What are five timbres/sounds/instruments of which you cannot get enough?

Waves crashing on a beach, a tongue drum, distant highway traffic, Andy Summers’ guitar tone on “Omegaman”, and my dachshund’s footsteps and collar jangle.

Name five resources (equipment, people, etc.) without which you could not live (figuratively speaking, of course).

In no particular order, my Mac computer, the internet, my lovely wife, caffeine and Soundminer.

If you could speak with your five-year-old self, what would be one thing about your work now that would impress him/her/you? What is something you would find very interesting he/she/you wouldn’t?

My five-year old self would be in awe of all the sounds and music coming from my computer, and that I work on video games. He wouldn’t be so impressed about the tech stuff like database apps, file formats and sample rates.

In Fours:

When beginning a new project, what would you work to complete within four hours time?

Organizing all the information regarding the project and the clients, outlining all the schedules for the following few weeks, and gathering sources of reference and inspiration.

If you could categorize your work into four food groups, what would they be and why?

Practical assets (music bridges, percussion stingers, foley, the stuff that has a more mundane function in a project), emotional assets (mostly when I pull out the symphonic samples library or design more subtle sounds and ambiences to set a mood), driving assets (I bring out the loud drums and heavy guitars, or design weapon and battle sounds to get the blood pumping) and fun & quirky assets (anything goes, really, just creating funny sounds and tunes).

What are four parameters of writing/working (e.g. timbre, rhythm, form, etc.) of which you are consistently conscious? Please explain.

Style (will the music or sound effect match the overall vision of the project), mood (will it convey the right emotion for the level or scene), sound (is it sonically up to my standards) and technical requirements (does it comply with all the tech specs from the client).

In Threes:

What are three things that consistently surprise you in working with music/audio?

The unpredictability of clients’ tastes, the unpredictability of my own ideas, and how everything seems to work out in the end.

If you had to choose between the following three free items, what would you chose and why?

A new instrument (if so, what), A 3-day recording session at the studio of your choice (if so, which studio), A performance of one of your works by a major ensemble (which work and which ensemble)

I’d choose a new instrument – namely, a fully-loaded Warr guitar, just because I have always wanted one. Besides, I already have a studio at home that I like, and a major ensemble performing my work would be nice but too fleeting. And they would probably snicker while rehearsing my stuff.

If you had a third arm to work, what would you use it to do?

Probably facepalm while I’m on the phone taking notes about music changes.

In Twos:

Finish this rhyme with a phrase that describes you: two, four, six, eight…

Sometimes I may be wrong but I’m never late.

Is it form over function or function over form? Briefly explain.

It depends on whether the goal is aesthetics or practicality. I think there is room for all kinds of creative output. Every idea has a useful byproduct, intended or not.

Who would you prefer as your No. 2 and why? Robin (of Batman), Rocky the Squirrel, Ethel Mertz, Ed McMahon, Scottie Pippen or No. 2 (from Austin Powers)?

Isn’t Bullwinkle Rocky’s sidekick? Anyway, I would prefer Number 2 from Austin Powers. He was the only smart guy in the movie – he pointed out that ONE MILLION DOLLARS was really not a lot of blackmail money to ask to not blow up the world. He could help me with bidding for projects.

In Ones:

Please describe a project on which you have always wanted to work.

I’d love to work on a great shooter, along the lines of a Gears of War, a Modern Warfare 2 or a Left 4 Dead. I’m pretty sure it will happen sooner or later. Not to be arrogant, it’s just that I’m extremely stubborn when I set my sights on something.

Please describe a project that served as a pivotal change in the development of your skill set.

Probably the straight-to-DVD film “Shallow Ground” in 2004. It had a tiny $72,000 budget but they managed to shoot it on film. I was the whole sound post department for it: dialogue editor, ADR engineer and editor, Foley performer and engineer, sound designer, and re-recording mixer. I mixed it in 5.1 surround at a Dolby–approved facility over a weekend. It was a bit overwhelming at the time, but it prepared me to be able to tackle almost anything.

If there were to be one thing in music/audio that you wish more people would try, what would that be?

Send all your clients my way.


  1. George,
    Great questions and VERY clever format! A very fun read.

    P.S. I would pick Number 2 as well, though Scottie Pipen might be handy for replacing light bulbs in my tracking room!!

    Dan Rudin

  2. Hey Dan,

    Thanks for the feedback! I'm also partial to Pippen, but I think it's due to the fact that I grew up in Chicago ;)

    Thanks for reading!

    -George Hufnagl