015: Greth Ligon - Inciting emotion through the exploration of music and sound
Greth Ligon is a Colorado-based composer and music producer. After singing for a number of bands growing up he eventually transitioned into writing music for various media. He has composed music for feature films Whensday and Crash & Burn Stories, and additional music for the thriller anthology film, Locker 13. He has also written music for many short films, commercials, animations, and currently the upcoming indie video game, The Archivist: VR.
In this episode, I talk with Greth Ligon about the realities that musicians face as they hone their craft and seek out their dreams of being a self-sustaining professional in today’s competitive landscape, where artists are compelled to be marketers and business people as well. Whether that’s either by choosing to write albums and go out on the road touring or scoring commercials, indie and feature films, and video games, such as he has. We get real and dive into the challenges that we have all faced when working with tough clients as well as the human condition itself, and the challenges that brings with it, such as depression, self-doubt, and perfectionism — something many, if not all of us face on a day-to-day basis as creatives. Finally, we talk about how psychedelics have played a part in his creative expression and allowed him to have breakthroughs with the way he looks at his music and how he taps into the “river of creativity” that he believes is constantly flowing for all of us.
Crash & Burn Stories: http://www.crashandburnstories.com/
Chair of Rigel: https://chairofrigel.bandcamp.com/
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Greth Ligon: 00:00:00 I think just being aware of that constant flow of creativity that is, it's always there. You know, if you just meditate or just kind of get in the right mindset, you can just kind of reach into it and touch it, grab it, and it's, you know, it's chaos and complexity in there. And uh, so yeah, I think so. Some of the big breakthroughs I've, I've gotten to, I've just been after after some of those, some of those experiences.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:30 Welcome to The Vitalic Project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I'm Gabe Ratliff, I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right. I'm stoked. Let's get to it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:59 Hey guys, thanks for joining me on another episode of The Vitalic Project. I really appreciate you listening to the show. And I also want to ask, you know, if, if you guys have guests that you would like to, you know, for me to interview or that you would like to hear their story or you know, if you have topics that you would like me to talk about or to interject into these episodes, you know, let me know. You can send me notes on the website or you can hit me up on the socials. But I really want to continue engaging with you guys and having more of a dialogue with you. Then just putting out these shows and you hearing these stories. You know, this, this is about developing a community and us doing this work together, which brings me to this episode. I had such an f, it was such a fantastic interview with Greth because it really took a turn as we had this conversation and we really started to dig deep and get real about what it's like to be a musician and today's landscape and today's, uh, in today's community, um, with, you know, music being accessible all over the world, free.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:22 And it's no longer the, the type of industry that it used to be and it's extremely competitive. There are so many people out there. And because of the ability to learn and share and find music and the access to be able to write and put it out there, there's just a lot of competition. And so on this episode I sit down with Greth Ligon who is a Colorado based composer and music producer. And He, after singing for a number of bands growing up, he eventually transitioned into writing music for all kinds of media. He's composed music for feature films like Whensday and Crash and Burn Stories. He's also done additional music for the thriller anthology film, Locker 13. He's written music for short films, commercials, animations, and he's currently working on an upcoming indie video game, called The Archivist: VR. And there's an interesting story about that too because it was originally an homage to Twin Peaks.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:03:35 Uh, they got a cease and desist letter from Showtime who has since picked up Twin Peaks for their show. And so they've now had to switch gears and, and shift the focus of the game. So interesting story there, but oh, I want to really talk about the episode and get into where Greth and I go because it's, it's, it's awesome stuff. He, we get into the realities. Like I said, we get into these realities of being a musician and what we've, what, what, what musicians face as we hone our craft and, and seek out our dreams of being a self sustaining professional in today's competitive landscape. You know, where artists are compelled to be marketers and business people as well, whether that's either by choosing to write albums and go out on the road touring and selling merch and all the things that go along with that and marketing yourselves or scoring commercials, indie and feature films, and video games, which is what he's done.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:38 And we get real and dive into the challenges that we have all faced when working with tough clients as well as the human condition itself and the challenges that brings with it such as depression, self doubt and perfectionism, which is something that many, if not all of us face on a day to day basis as creatives and as humans. Finally we talk about how psychedelics of all things have played a part in his creative expression and allowed him to have breakthroughs with the way he looks at his music and how he taps into what he calls the river of creativity that he believes is constantly flowing for all of us. This was a really interesting conversation for me. They went kind of a different way. The next specked it. So I really hope you enjoy it. And without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Greth Ligon.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:41 Greth! Thank you so much for being on the show, brother. I appreciate you being on the today.
Greth Ligon: 00:05:45 Thank you for having me.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:47 So I thought we'd start off with when did your love for music begin? When did that journey start?
Greth Ligon: 00:05:58 I was always listening music as a kid and you know, kind of singing and memorize songs. And I knew I had a good year and I think it was when I was around 15, I a have a really good friend who was a, this amazing guitar player. And I started hanging out with him a lot, but because he played guitar, I, we started playing in bands together and he started teaching me some stuff on the guitar and you know, we've recorded our first health home to get there when we were 18. And so, yeah, I guess in early high school I started playing in bands. Well, you know, actually back in, uh, when I was in middle school, I played the clarinet and the saxophone and I wasn't really all that into what I guess. But, um, you know, I, back when I was a kid, I used to, I used to take a tape recorder and record the music from video games from the Nintendo Games I was playing and uh, record music from cartoons and stuff and just, you know, put this tape recorder up to the TV. Yeah, record the music. I like, so I, I've always, I've, I've always really liked music. Right.
Greth Ligon: 00:07:08 But yeah, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I kind of, and also I remember I haven't had an uncle who gave me this twitch eno. I was visiting the man and the bay area and they had this little wooden twit piano and I just wouldn't leave this thing alone and they at some point just gave it to me. They brought it as Colorado and gave it to me and I never really take lessons. It wasn't classically trained or anything like that. I just kind of always, always enjoyed it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:07:39 That was one of the things that was so great. Yeah. About that time period back then was that we could do that. The recording right from the radio and from TV and cartoons and things like that. What, what were some of the things that you would record? What would like the games or the shows that you would record?
Greth Ligon: 00:07:57 Uh, let's see. I think, I think I remember recording start from like the, the hobbit cartoons as a kid. Wow. Nice. And, um, let's say I'm a verse with the Ninja Turtles Games in the Mario Games. You know, that that stuff is still in my head. You know that the old Super Mario brothers music is still heavily ingrained in my brain. Du Du, Du, Du, Du, Du, Du, Du, Du, du Du du Du du Du du Du did it. Yeah. Yeah. That, that stuff is still in there. And uh, yeah, I spent a lot of time playing video games as a kid. So any video game I spent a lot of hours on. That stuff is still in there.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:08:42 Yeah. Yeah. I remember, you know, taking, do you know the whole, the whole old school wave of making mix tapes. You know, if you just had like the one tape deck where you were written, you know, from the radio and then you would pause it and you'd have to, you'd try and get it right before the DJ would come on so that you have him wailing in between songs.
Greth Ligon: 00:08:57 And I used to do that. I went through rap and R&B phase, a big oldies phase. I listen to the oldies, ya know, Cool 105 (radio voice). Yeah, big metal phase in high school. Yeah. Yeah. I was wondering what, what was that first band like that you, when you guys were, uh, when you were started learning guitar, what, what was that band like? Well, so it was actually the rhythm section from the high school jazz band, and they were called before I was in the band, it was called Danny G and the Gravitons, Danny G was the guitar player who I was friends with and I saw them live one time. I was actually singing for a band of, you know, I was 16 in a band with guys that were 10 years older than me and it was this metal band.
Greth Ligon: 00:09:58 They were looking for more commitment that I was willing to give and I had to, had to leave the band. But when I saw Danny grab it tones one time and I was like, wow, these kids are, they're great, you know, these jazz players. And they're playing an interesting blend of maybe say fusion, you know, it was kind of, some of it was heavy and some of it was jazzy and some of it, it was just kind of all over the place. And so I started singing with those guys and it was kind of a genre hopping band, you know, it'd be really, really heavy one second and then go into something like ska or pop. Oh, you know, I kind of forgot that before the Gravitons, I was in a band, called Gone and we were three player, a three piece. I was playing bass and singing.
Greth Ligon: 00:10:44 And I guess it just kind of, I sang because I was the only one who was just kind of happened, you know? Yeah, yeah. I didn't really go through life thinking I'd be a singer, but uh, and I, I wasn't very good back then, but I got better eventually. Practice. What kind of music did you listen to as a child? Like what were your influences? Well, my, my grandparents and my parents used to take me to a lot of musicals as a kid, which I, I wouldn't say I'm all that into, but when to see a lot of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals like South Pacific and the king and I, and actually really, uh, a lot of, you know, I collected a lot of soundtracks growing up. That was really, Danny Elfman has been one of my heroes since I was about seven years old. You know, when I, one of the first cds I ever had was a music for a darkened theater volume one by Danny Elfman. So He's been a big, big influence from a young age and uh, but also soundtracks that were compilations of different songs, you know, like that. Another thing, when I was about seven years old, my Bergen cub scouts were supposed to take our favorite song to a cub scout meeting and it was Bohemian rhapsody when it was best seven because I had the Wayne's world soundtrack and I just love going in rhapsody. So, yeah, I'll a lot of stuff. But I, as a kid, I never really listened to a lot of bands. I was always, except for the Beatles and the beach boys, those were nice. And then some Elvis and the, yeah, it's a, it's funny thinking about this stuff in these little memories are popping up like, oh yeah, I listen to that too. But that's a lot of movie soundtracks.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:12:32 Yeah. Well, and it's interesting you say Beatles and Beach Boys, right? Because they were also, they had that, that same capacity in their music, right? Like they were doing these big, you know, operatic style albums that were, you know, these, these epic ideas and concepts in the layering and things that went into the songs and the way that they wrote them. And that, again, that multi instrumentalism that was a part of how they came up with some of these like pet sounds, you know, and some of the later Beatles stuff that started to get when when they, you know, start doing psychedelics. And the third eye opened up.
Greth Ligon: 00:13:12 Abbey road, especially, it was my Abbey road is probably my favorite Beatles. Right. My parents had that on vitals when I was a kid. I used to love listening to that.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:22 Right. What were some of the soundtracks that you really were into when you were younger?
Greth Ligon: 00:13:29 Oh, let's see. Besides Elfman of course, besides the scores. Um, well even some of the, some of the Disney soundtracks, like Aladdin was four. We used to listen to the Aladdin tape a lot, and the Dark City.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:48 Oh wow.
Greth Ligon: 00:13:48 Oddly enough the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack I had. I probably wouldn't listen to it now, but I liked it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:56 You mentioned, um, your family taking you to musicals when you were a kid. Um, I was wondering, did you grow up, it was your home, like did they support creativity or are there other members of your family that are also creative like you,
Greth Ligon: 00:14:10 They definitely supported creativity. I was actually more of a, I was doing a lot more drawing it back then. My, my mom actually worked for Georgia O'Keeffe, the artist. Wow. And, um, so my mom always had, uh, she always gives us a lot of drawing supplies. When I was a kid, there was lots of craft time in the kitchen. But um, my, oddly enough, my, my brother was the one who took piano lessons and I, I wish I had taken piano lessons as a kid, but he was always the one that was more disciplined for that kind of stuff.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:14:46 Hmm. Interesting. And does he, does he play still?
Greth Ligon: 00:14:50 He plays guitar and bass. It's actually, he's uh, my brother's a great guitar player and bass player. Do you guys ever collaborate? So we actually did briefly play in a band together and we've, we've collaborated off and on here and there, but largely I think we have pretty different tastes so, and I think we're both kind of control freaks, so been there. So we both like sort of working on her own thing separately alone. Yeah.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:15:23 What were some of the other projects that like bands and other projects that you've been a part of as you are aware as we kind of move along in your timeline? Like you were talking about the, the metal band and is there other projects or did you kind of transition pretty quickly into going solo black shit though? The whole film scoring thing is
Greth Ligon: 00:15:43 Probably started about 10 years ago. I hadn't really done much. I had been playing in bands before that next, you know, there was a period where I was, I didn't do any music and I was just trying to be a photographer and artist. But, uh, let's see, I, I played in a band called parlor trick that was kind of a avant garde pop thing. And uh, I've been called the piggies and Fort Collins with, uh, a friend, a Jason Larson. That was his, his, his brain child. So I was playing keyboards and some guitar and singing back up. And, uh, let's see, a band called the echo chamber in Fort Collins. I briefly collaborate with, collaborated with the guy, uh, was playing keyboards for a guy named Abe Abraham in Denver when I had first moved to Denver. And I'm actually starting a new project with the former singer of the band, tickle me pink. Oh yeah. Nice. And the former guitar player of the band, Allegion, Ryan Gleason. And uh, yeah, Sean after leaving tickled me pink had been, I guess trying to get this new project together and, and I, I knew Ryan before, so we're hopefully getting this thing off the ground pretty soon.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:16:58 Nice. That's cool. I was curious about, you know, as we start to transition to now talking about, you know, the scoring work you've been doing. I was curious about, you know, how your, like, what your early stuff was like relative to, you know, where, where you are now. And if you could speak to kind of like what that process has been like and you know, what that evolution has been like with your, with your music and where you are now.
Greth Ligon: 00:17:23 Well, let's see. I think it kind of started actually because of a piece of equipment. Uh, oddly enough, my friend Dan, who I used to plan the bandwidth was the sound guy for Herman's hideaway and someone left behind this, uh, uh, it's called a firebox. And he was like, hey, maybe you'd like this, you know, just gave it to me. And this was the first time I had an interface to put a keyboard, a computer. And so aside from writing music for a couple of little silly little short films in college, you know, this was when I first got, got this little firebox and got my hands on, uh, and my first virtual orchestra, which was, uh, the, uh, the, I came multimedia philharmonics something are there. Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah. And so I started playing around with these orchestral sounds and uh, and then not too long after that, I met to video Milka into that. You, you know, if a dim right? Oh yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. I met a Vadim and actually one of my art shows and I'm not too long after that, he recommended me to David Quackenbush or, uh, the short film worm that David was doing. And that's Kinda how it started once I worked on a few things with David and the dim. And then shortly after that, Tim and, and yeah, I've gotten a gone on to meet other people in the Denver film scene and still keep in touch with a lot of people.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:18:55 What is it that you love about, you know, scoring and, and, and sound, design, the, you know, the inspiration that you get from doing that. What does that come from? What is it you love about doing that?
Greth Ligon: 00:19:06 Yeah, I guess I just, I just love music. I love sitting down at a blank canvas and playing, playing with sounds and I just, I enjoy the process of it. You know, sometimes it's just something as simple as a new sound of that I have that will inspire something. And so I think that's why it's important to have good as a composer, to have good, good sounds to play with. Cause that that alone could inspire new music.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:19:33 I found that fascinating that you said that you love having the clean canvas to start with. You know, a lot of people, um, creatives can be intimidated by the clean canvas, you know, and I'm curious how you, you know, how does your process work and how do you, how do you start on a project?
Greth Ligon: 00:19:51 A lot of times it does help to have references. So I know what the, if I'm working with a director, I know what they like, you know, in some cases they just tell me to start making stuff and you know, I'm shooting in the dark and that can be a little more difficult. And you, you know, I, I definitely don't mind getting references if a director just sends me a couple of songs like I like these night, you know, like, well I know what he likes and now I can try to sort of listen to it, the, the instrumentation and have sort of a starting point. It's like, oh well he likes flutes. I guess just start playing with some flute patches or something.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:20:33 What about when you're working on like your own, like your own stuff?
Greth Ligon: 00:20:38 My own stuff. I,
Greth Ligon: 00:20:42 you know, I approach it from a different angle every time. It's, it's, I think partly to keep it fresh. You know, sometimes I'm sleep deprived, sometimes I'm just up in the morning and we're drinking a cup of coffee and yeah. And also sometimes it just helps to listen to some music to get going, get something playing in your head. And we'll be walking around the house whistling or go on a walk or something. You know, sometimes I've definitely come up with good ideas just where I was working on a film a while ago and yeah, was for kind of a spaghetti western kind of thing. It's the idea came to me while I was out on a walk, walk away from my house and I went back and, and just started recording that.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:21:22 Do you find that initial idea generally is like you hear it or is it the catalyst of an idea that generally will evolve into something else or how does that, how does that usually come together?
Greth Ligon: 00:21:36 You know, it's always different. It's kind of a, the whole process is chaos for me. It's sort of diving into the complexity and trying to find the, find the patterns that make sense. I guess. So yeah, sometimes it is just this, you know, a little melody or something like that that did evolves into, you know, cause I'll, I'll sit down and record something and I'll just start, start layering and developing other things around it. And I'm still, you know, still working on getting better. It's orchestration and knowing what to, what to do with the different instruments. But, uh, I love the sound of an orchestra. Yeah, you're here. I agree. You got to, usually I start with strings and then we'll add in the brass, the wood when it was later in the percussion. But yeah, it's, it usually starts with strings or piano.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:22:26 Yeah, those are my two favorite for sure. Where does your inspiration come for projects that you're working on? You know, where, where, what is your Muse, especially, uh, if it's yours, uh, versus, you know, a project, it's for a client.
Greth Ligon: 00:22:42 Well, if it's mine, sometimes it's just the music itself that, that starts before I have any real inspiration. But, uh,
Greth Ligon: 00:22:51 Yeah, there was a song I did a while back. It was the first song on the album that I put out in 2012. I knew this family growing up and the, uh, the youngest sister of these friends passed away and I'm not even entirely sure what happened, but, uh, she passed away and my friend Glenn wrote on Facebook, if I had a drink for every time I saw your pale face dressed in pink, at least I could sleep. And that line that I saw on Facebook, cause I knew what he was talking about, that inspired the song sister, sister.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:23:24 Hmm.
Greth Ligon: 00:23:26 I remember, you know, sending him that song after, after it was recorded and you know, he said that it brought him to tears. And so, you know, sometimes it's something, something like that. And sometimes it's just something that's improvise. Sometimes I'll, I'll write something and then I'll, I'll hit record and start improvising and then see what's, what's maybe subconsciously coming out. You see if I can go back and find some meaning and in what I was improvising and let that branch out through the rest of the song.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:24:01 That's a cool story. Thank you for sharing that. It's not, it's not a happy story, but it's, that's a really powerful story. That's one of the things I love about being a creative like that, right, is that you can have that type of inspiration where you can have that connection to someone and, and you knew the story behind the comment, but then took the comment and turned it into something that had even more power and was able to be shared back to, to them. You know, I think that's really one of the beautiful things about being creatives.
Greth Ligon: 00:24:39 Yeah. No, I think it was something that effected me emotionally when I, you know, you see something like that and uh, you know, just immediately got inside me. It was, I think it will only minutes after reading I like went and got my guitar and started working out some courts and, and those are the first words in the song. And honestly, you don't know how they're gonna react to it. I wrote the song about your sister dying, which is kinda weird, but here's the song.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:25:15 Yeah, that's a, that's a really poetic, like the quote, the quote that you pulled in and then you reuse. I mean, that's, as you said it, I was just like, wow, that's really poetic. I could see what that inspiration came from, you know, and just the connection as friends and, um, just the, the loss and how impactful that was. That's really cool, man.
Greth Ligon: 00:25:35 Yeah, it was a family that lived around the, uh, on the other side of the block from me growing up and actually lived in the house that I first lived in when I was a kid. Wow. Anyways, it's kind of a weird thing to go into, but
Gabe Ratliff: 00:25:48 no, I mean that's, that's part of, I mean that's, that's part of what I love about this show is, is pulling those stories that help make you who you are and, and, and share, you know, how you show up in the world and how you utilize your creativity as an artist, you know, and like how you can do something like that, that that is inevitably you're honoring that person and you're honoring the, those that are still here, you know? And I think that's really cool. I wanted to ask kind of on the flip side of where that inspiration comes from on a project, say like that, how do you cope with writer's block and, and that sort of antithesis of that? Say if you've got like a client project and you've got to get it done and you have a deadline, how do you get through that writer's block?
Greth Ligon: 00:26:42 Uh, just a lot of coffee. I mean, I, I find that, uh, usually the only times I really have writer's block is if I'm really depressed or something, which, you know, it does happen now and then, but uh, usually it just takes working through it. I think spending the time just banging your head against the wall until something comes out. But another thing about the, the technology of our current time is, you know, sometimes you can just pull up sample patches that will, you know, if I'm having a hard time coming up with something out of thin air, pull ups, some loops and just start, just try to start getting something down that you can turn it into something later just to get something out. But there have definitely been times working on you. I've done a few, uh, car commercials and stuff like that. And, and there, there have been times where I just could not pleased the director, you know, that no matter how many times I rework it and Redo it, the director is just not happy. The only time we've actually been fired from a job was on a car commercial. Like, yeah, everything you're sending is just, we don't like so sorry. It's like, man. So, yeah, I don't know. It is, it can be tough to work through sometimes, but I think putting in the time
Gabe Ratliff: 00:28:03 that happens, right? Like you're, if there's not an alignment and it could just be, that's your style. Even if you're able to play all kinds of different styles, there could just be something deeper that's just not connecting. I mean, I've been there with, you know, places I've worked or clients where it's just not vibing and it just is what it is. Some times you're just not in sync with the other person doesn't, you know, you're just not going to make them happy. Yeah. And you know, and that's fine. I've found, cause it's, it's nothing to take personal. Right. It's just, it wasn't vibing and you, there's other people out there that are the better, more aligned clients.
Greth Ligon: 00:28:51 The fire from that one car commercial and really kind of taught me something and the next time I worked with him I was just like this time I am going to get it. Yeah. I'm not gonna give up. I'm just going to keep, keep working on it and keep doing it until it works.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:29:07 Yeah. And that's helping you not only master your craft through that push, but it's also, you know, making you a better musician and working with different people. Right. Cause he, cause it sounds like you were obviously able to successfully do the next project, but honestly it was, it was difficult. Right, right. Wait again though, it sounds like there was a misalignment with that collaboration. Right. Like if it continued to be, and, and tell me if I'm wrong, but it just sounds like that if that continued to be difficult, did you work, have you worked with them on more projects?
Greth Ligon: 00:29:49 I, I've worked on a number of even a movie with him and he's a good guy. Really, really very professional. Good guy. I think maybe just some free music tastes and probably some different, just different instincts for creativity. Yeah. And so, you know, the, some of the projects I've worked on with them since then, yeah know, had sentence 20 different versions of the same thing until I get it right. You know?
Gabe Ratliff: 00:30:16 Yeah. This is, this is fascinating to me, just this interaction, right? Because it's just continuing to refine you as a, as a musician, as you're having to deal with these parameters and the, what you understand is needed for the client. So this is just interesting to me if you don't mind pulling on this thread a little bit. Oh No. Go for it. So I'm just curious as you were working on projects with, with him, were you able to diminish how many versions you'd have to do? Like has that gotten closer and closer where you were able to get what he was looking for on the different projects?
Greth Ligon: 00:30:54 Some of the projects have gone pretty smoothly, but there were a couple of where I was just banging my head against the wall and just really trying to get the right thing and it just wasn't working. You know what I was doing, my first car commercial, I really was not a good producer or good audio engineer here, so I was, I was making stuff that just was not well mixed and was really pretty unprofessional sounding. So you know, if I heard that stuff I'd probably wouldn't have put it in the commercial either at that point. Got It. So I think those failures of forced me to get a little bit better at production also, you know, just it helps you practice.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:31:34 Exactly. Yeah, that, that's what I was just trying to say. You know, I just think it's just continuing to push you to master your craft, having to go through all those renditions are, or those different options and versions and solving for that problem. I feel like on the other end of that, it just keeps making you a better producer and an audio engineer, you know, cause you're just continuing to refine that and solve for those problems. I mean, I think that's, that's really, you know, it's the 10,000 hour thing, right? It just keeps pushing you to get better and to grow in your craft. And I think that's what's interesting about having your own work as well as having client work, right? Because you have the freedom of your own work, but then you have those parameters and the constraints that come with client work. So it's allowing you to keep growing so that when you come back to your own work, you're just getting better and better and better. But you have the freedom to do what you want to do.
Greth Ligon: 00:32:30 Yeah. It's definitely, I mean, I, in some ways I feel like it's only been the last couple of years that I'm finally really, you know, getting better at mixing and stuff. And I still feel like I have a lot to learn. But, uh, but I have noticed the difference in the last just the last few years. Like I'm finding probably getting to a place where people are like, oh yeah, like this. We like what you're doing. Yeah. And it had plenty of failures in the past. So, but they're necessary failures.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:33:00 Exactly. I mean failing, failing is what makes you amazing and keep getting better. They just fail upwards. Exactly. Well and I've been listening to your newer stuff and you can definitely hear that maturity that's, that's in it and the presence and the mix and where everything is living and you can, you can hear and, and even just the composition, right? And like the, the journey of the song. I'm a real big proponent for music having some kind of music and albums having a journey to it. That's one thing that I love about deejaying is that you can take people on a journey with music. And so that's one of the things that really draws me to your music is that it has this, I love that score element because like I said, I'm a huge fan of that as well. But then also it has this journey to it. It has this expansion to it. You can, you can, it doesn't, it's not this cookie cutter music, you know, it's not these stereotypical things like it has, it has this presence to it and has this, this dynamics and you can hear that that's really starting to get more and more mature as you move through your discography. So I can totally connect with that.
Greth Ligon: 00:34:23 Well, thank you. Yes. I've, I've always listened to some pretty bizarre music, like a lot of Mr Bungle and Phantom. Awesome. I figured like patents, various projects that I think we once in terms of, you know, like Phantom Os has no structure. And so I think it is fun to, it's almost like shaking people off of your path. You know, you're giving them something that's unpredictable and I think that's, not that I'm necessarily setting out to be unpredictable or anything, but, uh, at the same time, I, I want to avoid sounding like, like other people if I can.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:35:03 Yeah. And I think that is one of the beautiful things about where we're at currently with what we can do. Just in a laptop with a keyboard is crazy. I mean, it's insane to think about how far it's come. You know, we used to have to have all of these outboard pieces of gear to make sounds and do all this work and now you could just have a little laptop and be chilling in a coffee shop, making an amazing music. And I'm a big fan of, I don't know if you know cliff Martinez, are you with him? You know, it's, it's funny that you mentioned him that his name just passed through my head earlier today. He does a lot more kind of moody stuff. He did the music for the nick, right? He did the music for that and he, he's done like, uh, I think arbitrage and some like thrillers.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:36:00 I could totally see you digging his stuff. I might, I'm a big fan. I love, I, I keep tons of his scores in my Spotify lists and whatnot because I just, I love his style. He even has like drum different, like custom drums made for his projects and he's in to doing a lot of experimental stuff. Uh, he and Ayman Tobin, I just think are, they do some really awesome man alive. I haven't seen him live, but I've watched some of the slide videos and he's just, he can make some amazing stuff. Yeah. I saw the behind the scenes of his foley room album and you could see stuff he was using to record in the Foley room for it. I mean he was, I love this idea, but um, uh, just as a drummer because I like using brushes a lot cause I just love the, the amount of sounds you can use, you can come up with, with brushes and just different ways you can use them.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:37:06 But he actually had his drummer use whisks, big ag whisks and they're even better. I mean it just, the sounds you get of whisks on symbols is amazing. Uh, relative to like, you know, if you're using brushes which are very similar. Yeah. Because of their, they're not as fluid as brushes. They have more dexterity to them and that like, and um, uh, stiffness. They just sound amazing. But they still have a similar kind of style, but they're super unique. But it was try this. Yeah. Yeah. Cause it's a nice organic sound. Um, but you still get this metal on metal and it's just uh, it sounds so good. But he was doing really fun stuff like that and, and um, yeah. So I'm a huge fan of him. Yeah. He's submitted. I also like um, uh, Johann Johansson. He did like the rival. Yeah. I really liked his stuff.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:38:05 Is Shaming the best way. I know, I know that was a tough loss because I actually had just been getting into him for about a year or so, maybe a little longer and was just getting super pumped about what he was doing and his path and um, the stuff stuffy. I mean the stuff he did those last couple of albums and scores, I was just blown away. I think a Sacara was the first thing I heard from him. I remember going to Sisa Carrio and noticing the music and that just, it was something very different. I had heard before this rhythmic, dark, dark and rhythmic and kind of jarring. Yeah. That was why I mentioned cliff Martinez. Cause I just, based on what I've heard of your stuff, both of those guys came immediately to mind of, you know, think wondering if you had checked them out or we're a fan.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:00 Yeah. There's probably a little bit of influence from those guys. And My, you know, I pick up influences from a lot of one guy. I like Matt Quayle who does the music for Mr. Robot. Yup. Yeah. I love the Mr Robot score and uh, yeah, there's some great stuff going on with TV scores and video game scores right now, you know? Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, um, the, the survived guys do in stranger things. I'm like, Oh yeah, that's great. It's tough, Huh? Oh that, um, dark wave and vapor wave synth wave, all that stuff. I totally, I mean that just, it's like you were talking about at the beginning about video game eight bit sounds, you know, I mean, it's just that perfect balance of modern sounds, but echoing back to that like 80 cents style and I love that stuff, you know? Yeah. I've spent a lot of money on those sounds.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:56 I, I've, you know, lately, last, last couple of years I've bought a lot of virtual instruments that are, I haven't bought a, you know, like a stranger things pack of sounds nice and a lot of, a lot of eighties synth sounds. That was actually a great segue. You were talking about, you know, the TV shows and video games, what not. I was going to ask you, you know, your style is so distinctive and it has this new sense of like Mystique, intention, you know, scores are for you, like something that just really calls to you. Where would you say that, like has that style always been there for you or has it evolved? Has it always kind of been living in your music in some form or fashion or, or has it been something you've kind of just continued to hone? I think it's always kind of been there.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:40:48 I think that, um, you know, I've always just loved, I always loved movies and video games and last couple of years TV shows and so I, you know, you been playing in bands that was always kind of there. You know, sometimes I would want to use samples from different movies or TV shows and incorporate those into the bands were have cinematic sections of of songs or these, you know, cinematic intro as to songs. So yeah, it's, I think it's always been there that you mentioned Mr. Robot, but what are some of the shows that you're really dig in like this, what they're doing musically out? See I really like the uh, t bone Burnett music and true detective, almost almost more sound design
Greth Ligon: 00:41:34 that is music. It's really kind of experimental all sounding. You had a lot of sort of sort of noise on them. Almost more noise than music. But the music and mad men and breaking bad David, Dave porters music from breaking bad was really great. And it also his music for better call Saul and halt and catch fire had good music. Yeah. Yeah. I wanted to touch on, you know, you've done some films like music for films like Wednesday, crashed and burned stories and the Thriller Ranch Anthology Film Locker 13. I was wondering if you could talk about working on those projects and what was that like on those? Well, each, each one of those or were very different experiences. Wednesday was basically just a bunch of friends making a movie together. So I have a friend, Ben Moser, who owns the lyric cinema cafe up in Fort Collins and he, it was his idea to make this movie Wednesday and yeah, it was just a bunch of really cool people in Fort Collins make it in this crazy movie together.
Greth Ligon: 00:42:36 And so I met some really cool people and ended up, you know, the guy, the guys from the B, a company up in Fort Collins. I ended up doing more work with and, and uh, actually the guy who does the sound design for a cyanide and happiness. Are you familiar with that? What is it? It's a, it's a cartoon series. It's pretty, it sounds familiar. It's a popular cartoon series and you know, if you look it up on youtube there, they're a bunch of shorts in any way. I ended up doing some, uh, sound design work on that show. Nice. But the, yeah, the guy who does that make it, makes his living doing Simon happiness. And, uh,
Greth Ligon: 00:43:16 anyway, it was a really, really fun experience. Some, some nights of just getting drunk with these guys and sleeping on a hardwood floor after trying to make sound all night. So anyway, that was Wednesday. A crushing burden stories was the director Randy Perkins or Rw Perkins up in Fort Collins who was actually doing another feature right now call the small town of remedies. So crash and burned stories was mostly done by the time I met. These guys just kind of locked myself in my room for a few days and wrote the music for this movie. And it was a fun, a fun experience, good, good movie. And you get to Eh, they had a fun little premiere up the lyrics, sentiment in Fort Collins and, uh, and locker 13. I never met any of the people involved in it. In fact, a lot of the music was done for the movie by the time I got involved with it. But they had me read the music before the end credits. Uh, it was actually my, my uncle's friend's boyfriend who was one of the writers of the movie. So it was kind of a connection through that. But so one of the only movies I've worked on that actually had some big names in it, like a Ricky Schroder was in it and John Polito and Jon Gries from Napoleon dynamite and yeah, that it was, they were shooting it down in Arizona. So was something I just Kinda, I made a couple pieces of music, sent it to them and they put it in the end credits. Nice.
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Gabe Ratliff: 00:45:19 You have a current project you're working on. That sounds really interesting to me. The, um, any video game that's coming up soon, called The Archivist: VR. I was wondering if you could talk about that project.
Greth Ligon: 00:45:31 I believe the game is supposed to, not sure if it's coming up next month. It's coming out soon. Um, another group of guys, so I've never met in person. We Talk Online, but uh, I've never met them in person or there's another composer working on the game with me and he's in Italy and the creator of the game was in Florida. This guy in Chicago, guy in Turkey, somewhere in Saudi Arabia. And everyone is just kind of scattered across the globe. Wow. Awesome. But originally was, a Twin Peaks inspired video game. Cool. So it was originally it was going to be called twin peaks Vr, but, uh, there was a ceasing to assess a cease and desist from the showtime network. So because of the legal issues with the Ip, we had to change some things. And actually now there's no, uh, there is an official Twin Peaks VR are coming out.
Greth Ligon: 00:46:30 And I think possibly as a result of a four game that we're working on, and I think they saw the risen demand for it and they thought, hey, that's a good idea. We're going to, we're going to go make our own and you guys can't do that. So they've had to sort of rewrite the game and you know, to get away from most of the twin peaks content. But, uh, I, it's a, it's been an interesting experience and hopefully that, uh, that comes up soon. And, uh, we actually have a deal with HTC Vive and so it'll, it'll be a HTC Vive exclusive for the first three months after that we'll get to a, probably be available on Steam.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:47:11 Nice. I was trying to think about how, how you're approaching the process of working on this. Did you, did they just, what were the, how did they sort of give you direction for the music?
Greth Ligon: 00:47:24 Well, it's another thing where, you know, sometimes they send me references of what kind of, what they're looking for. Like, can you do something that's like this? And, uh, so most of my musical direction has come from, um, a guy who lives in Turkey, the Co director of the game and come all and you know, I'll get, I'll get a message from him on Facebook. It'll be kind of trend to describe what he wants. And it's another thing we're all, you know, I'll make several different iterations of the same thing. You keep working on it and sending him the tracking till he likes it.
Greth Ligon: 00:47:58 And it's, uh, are, are you familiar with twin peaks? The series? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I like David Lynch. So it's, it's very kind of a, you know, in the style of the music from the series. Yeah, sure. So just keep that in mind. You have the Angelo Badalamenti. Yeah. Love it. So, yeah, it's always that kind of mysterious jet, jazzy and mysterious, you know, some saxophone and synthesizers and, and you know, come all, what can it tried to describe what he's looking for? You know, kind of, I wish I could go back and find something that his messages like a, like a slow kiss on a misty night in a dark alley or nice, nice. Just like really descriptive picture picture this, you know, it'll be trying to tell me what's picture. I'm like, all right, y'all play around with some synthesizers and make some dark. Moody makes some dark, Moody stuff. Yeah. Yeah. Did you do anything that kind of was an homage to that iconic baseline from the theme? Well, actually originally when we were still doing a twin peaks thing, they had me actually do a version of that cover or a version of that, a version of the Twin Peaks theme by Badalamenti in which, you know, anyone who's curious can listen to that on soundcloud. Yeah. Almost everything I've done for it is, is kind of an homage to, to Angelo bottle Badalamenti in his style. Nice. And you know, this, the Italian my, my Italian counterpart has been become
Greth Ligon: 00:49:38 You know, as, as good a friend as we can be without actually having met. You know, we've, we've, we've talked a lot through Facebook and we messages younger and his name is uh,
Greth Ligon: 00:49:49 Or he goes by Chair of Rigel, but uh, he's really talented also. So it's, it's been fun. You know, some of the Times it's, we've actually worked on songs together. He'll, he'll send me tracks and I'll put stuff on and send it back to him and it hit his, his soundtrack of the game is actually available on Bandcamp. Chair of Rigel, R I G E L and that's you, so you guys are, are co-producing that with each other or how's that working? Yeah, we, you know, we've each done a bunch of stuff. I mean I, I think it's combined. We probably have something like 60 pieces of music. Wow. So it'll be a huge, a huge soundtrack. So I've, yeah, I have around 30 pieces of music that I need to sort of Polish up and release myself.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:42 And what is the, I want to have it in the show notes. What is the, the your soundcloud link? soundcloud.com/grethligon one word. Okay. Cause I can, I'll put that in the show notes. I just, as we've talked about, like I've just always been fascinated with scores. Um, and I've seen work, like I've seen you a Stewart Copeland when he's working on scores that he got really into, you know, and, um, you know, Tom Holkenburg Aka Junkie XL. I mean there's like all these people in Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor. I mean the work he's done for like social network and I mean, just amazing. His score from, um, the girl with the Dragon Tattoo is amazing.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:51:23 Epic. So good. You know, and, and I'm so there, you know, there's all this backstory I know on these people. I adore that do it. Uh, but it's just, it's great to get this kind of behind the scenes of what it's actually like in this modern age of, you know, people wanting to work on projects. You know, you got, like you said, these guys on this Archivist project, they're all over the world and you're, you know, you're getting comments in Facebook about, you know, a misty night, long wet kiss.
Greth Ligon: 00:52:01 I don't think that's actually what he said. I was just trying to remember, but it was something like that. It was like, yeah, a picture, picture this and then try to write music for that.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:52:10 I love it. That's awesome. Speaking of collaboration, are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with or, or you know, video, video game companies are production houses or filmmakers or are there any people that you sort of, you know, like Danny Elfman, are there people that you really aspire to work with on projects?
Greth Ligon: 00:52:31 There are definitely plenty of, plenty of musicians and filmmakers and video game makers to, I would love to work with. I could die happy if I got to score a movie for David Lynch, but I'm sure that will never happen. But I, I would be very happy if that happens. I'd love to work with David Fincher, the director who wouldn't. Yeah. And actually my, my friend Doug who I was talking about earlier actually used to be David Fincher's assistant. Wow. Gotten to hear some stories. But yeah, I would love to work with David Fincher. Um, video game wise. You know, I would just, I would jump at the chance to get to work on any video game. Honestly, I, I w I love video games and that we'd love to work on any of that stuff.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:53:21 Or like a, you know, guest series. You like, I could see your style working with something like, you know, uh, resident evil or maybe a fallout, something like that. Is there, is there a series that you would let you love playing that you could totally see your music working well with?
Greth Ligon: 00:53:42 I would love to work on resident evil. Yeah. I love horror stuff. You know, I, I love
Greth Ligon: 00:53:52 Anytime I get the chance to work on a horror movie or, you know, I, I jumped at any horror projects I can get my hands on. Yeah. And yeah, I think video games, but would be any horror video game would be awesome. As much as I love working on projects for other people, you know, I just love, I like writing music for the sake of writing music. Just, just getting to sit down and, and flesh out the ideas that are running through my brain. Even if I, if I wasn't working in with any of the, any other people on projects, I'd be perfectly happy just just creating music for myself.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:54:33 Yeah. I mean you said you had what you 30 of your own songs.
Greth Ligon: 00:54:37 As far as my own stuff, I have probably have a couple thousand. Wow. Mo, Mo most mostly unfinished. But uh, yeah, I, I know the drill, you know, sometimes deadlines are good if you're, if you have a deadline, you actually finish it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:55:00 Yeah. That was actually my next question. I was gonna I was wondering, you know, do you set your own deadlines or how do you kind of keep yourself accountable and, and you know, keep pushing forward on things? You know, I, I totally understand the, the unfinished symphonies that we, many of us have created, you know, but the ones that you are either doing for clients or that you really want to put out of your own, you know, and an album or an EVP or single or whatever. I mean, how, how do you keep yourself accountable? Honestly, I,
Greth Ligon: 00:55:32 that's hard to do and I don't always keep myself accountable. You know, there was a while, you know my, the last album that I finished in 2012, I think it was partly because I had a girlfriend who was, you know, kept telling me, she's like, how about you sort of deadline for that? Yeah. Give yourself a deadline. That way you'll finish it. And, and I, you know, I did, but I haven't always been good about that. Yeah. Honestly, I'm pretty terrible at it. I even setting my own deadlines, it just doesn't work. So it's, it's best when I actually have a client or, or, uh, or a director. Yeah. Setting a deadline for me. That way I know, I know. I'll finish it because with my own stuff I can, I always think can be better, you know, if I let it rest for a week and come back to it, I always have new ideas to bring to something and pieces of music or never really finished. You just have to at some point abandon it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:56:37 Call it. Yeah. Yeah. Been there. Yeah. I know there's still a couple that I remember putting out just being like, I know there was more in there.
Greth Ligon: 00:56:47 You know, I, I just released an album in 2012 and I'm currently working on, remixing it remastering yet and hopefully actually finish this project. I want to make a special edition of it, you know, something that's the same album but a 100 times better.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:57:08 Yeah. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and kind of look more towards the current state of affairs with like the music industry. I'm curious, how do you feel about, you know, the music industry and where it is today?
Greth Ligon: 00:57:26 Mostly I try not to think about it because it's depressing. Yeah. I wouldn't say it's in a good place, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily in a bad place. I mean there, there, there is a silver lining to it. You know, I think right now it's a great time for, you know, spreading and sharing the music that you make. You, you just can't, can't hope to make a lot of money doing it. Cause people, people rarely buy albums anymore. They really, at this point, I think most people will assume that music should just be free. Something that they can just get on their computer and download. And I'm guilty of that myself a lot of ways. I still do buy music here and there, but not, not like I used to.
Greth Ligon: 00:58:16 I think as far as licensing and as far as um, you know, getting paid to write music for TV shows or movies, I think, I think that part of it is good. If you're a band trying to sell records, it's not a good place. Yeah. I guess it's not necessarily bad, it's just, it's, it's a very different world than when I was growing up.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:36 Yeah. Much different. Yeah. I mean, I used to be a vinyl buyer for almost a decade and wanted to open my own shop and you know, is developing relationships with distributors and then, you know, the digital era, hit iTunes, Napster, be port, I mean all the different avenues to get music that we now, I mean all the way up, you know, we Pandora and Spotify and all these things and you know, I saw what was coming and you started hearing about distributors closing and record labels closing and you know, at being a vinyl Dj, having to lug those things around, you know, there was a pain that was very physical and very understood and it was expensive and it made it, it unfortunately made sense because of technology getting to the point where music could be transferred and transmitted the way that it is today. But it was really hard, you know, and I ended up not deciding to go that way.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:59:37 Uh, and it was a difficult decision. But yeah, that landscape changed so drastically in over the last 10 to 20 years. I mean, it's just really a whole new place. It's interesting. You met, you were saying that though, because I actually was thinking, and I've actually heard this from other people I've talked to that produced music about they want to be in your position of scoring and you know, doing music that can be licensed because it's an avenue that is, that does have money attached to it as opposed to, you know, trying to tour, selling, merge, you know, where you're putting in a lot of sweat equity and not getting a lot back and it's taken, you know, five, 10 years to get your band out and get heard and get enough of an audience to make money. Especially with multiple artists. Whereas, you know, a composer like yourself, I have heard in a lot of these conversations that I've had with people, you know, they'll, they'll be saying to me, that's really where I want to go.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:00:41 To be in your position to have that ability to be doing music like that where you can do the song and then it can continue to be licensed in, you know, commercials or film or TV or things like that. You know, especially now with the Netflix and Amazon and all these other cord cutting services where, you know, they're putting tons of money into content and they need people doing these shows. Um, so it's interesting that you said that, cause I, that was one of the things I was curious to hear from your perspective if that, you know, if the grass was greener as a composer.
Greth Ligon: 01:01:20 Well I would say that it's, I'm not sure it's easier to make money on the side because it is an incredibly competitive field. I mean there, there are tons and tons, so many musicians who think, well yeah, I'll just go, I'll just go write music for, for TV and movies in it. It'll be, you know, make money. What I've heard is that it's harder to become a successful composer then it is to become a doctor. And I believe that because, I mean, you know, while while I am writing music for things, I'm not successful, I enjoy it and I'm successful in that. I get to do it, but I'm not making a living doing it. Like, if I, if I was having to pay all my bills, just using money from that, I would, I'd be out in the street. But yeah. So it's difficult. And I, I'm 37 and I'm still, I think most professional song composers don't really make it until there sometime in their forties, you know? Yeah. You have to keep that in a long time to actually get there. Yeah. And you know, hopefully I will, maybe I, maybe I will. Maybe I won't, but, uh,
Greth Ligon: 01:02:39 yeah, it's tough and I'm, I'm not sure it's something I'd recommend to people thinking for thinking that it's an easy transition into that world.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:49 Yeah. And I don't, I didn't mean to imply that, cause that definitely wasn't in the conversation that it was an easy transition. I think it was understood. It's a difficult one. But I, I would be talking to people that aren't doing it, you know? And so we would be discussing this same kind of question around the state of the industry and where you can fulfill your passions as an artist, but can also try to make that a lifestyle, you know? And, and a living.
Greth Ligon: 01:03:21 It's definitely fun if you can. I mean, if I definitely love it and hope I can keep doing it, I just don't know that it's easier than, than being a touring band.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:03:32 Yeah. Well, and I think that's what's great about this conversation, right? It's because it's the reality that not everybody wants to get real about, you know, they, it's like the, it's romanticized cause you know, people like I was just alluding to, you know, people think it's the grass is greener, you know, but you, you are actually living it and the reality of it and that it's not easy. And you, you know, we're working on 20 versions for a commercial and you know, or more than that. And you know, all of the work that goes into getting better and better and better and the perfectionism right, that we, so many of us deal with. I deal with it as well. And I have been in that place where I'm just not loving some little element in a song and I'm just like, fuck, like this. Not quite right.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:04:22 You know, and then you step away and you come back and you step away and then you finally get to a point where you're like, this is as good as it's going to get. We got to, we got to send this thing out, you know, and, and uh, I've been blessed that my bandmates uh, in a shoreline dream we had that check and balance with each other, you know, is, is having these collaborators that you can kind of stop and just be like, no, it's good, you know, make the next one better. You know, and, and like keep, keep moving. And that's one of the things that I've found is beneficial to me as an artist having that collaborative element because I would just keep spinning, you know? And I have several songs like yourself that I've done on my own where I'm in here noodling in, noodling, noodling and working on it.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:06 And it finally, I just either I either fizzle out and I just feel like it's not going where I want it to go or I move on cause I, it's not, I realize it's not hitting what I wanted it to hit, you know, it's not fulfilling what, you know, I started playing with it and I just wasn't, it wasn't speaking to me, you know, so I'd let it go, but then I've had other ones. I, you know, I finished an AP and it, it wasn't as refined on the back end as far as the mastering a, the mix and the master as I would have wanted. But I got the idea out and that was what I was so proud about. But then I was just was like beating it up and beating it up. And it was just like, I'll just have to, I just have to put this thing out.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:46 So, yeah. And so, yeah, it was just, it was interesting to just talk about this because like I said, I feel like this is the reality in this space as an artist. You know, I just had a Nicole who owns the Black Box here in Denver, the the venue and she also owns Sub.mission. Uh, she's a CEO of Sub.mission Agency and I was talking to her from the other side, right as the promoter, the agent, the venue owner, you know, and how she interacts with artists. But that's what I thought was so great to juxtapose her episode with yours to talk to a producer who is out doing this work. You know? And, and I thought even more interestingly on top of that, that like I said a minute ago, you are doing the work that I was really curious about because of the space that we're in. You know, as artists where licensing and TV and film and commercial are actually places that you can potentially thrive. And so that's why I found so fascinating about this conversation, what that reality looks like, whether you're here or in la or New York or whatever. Cause just like you said with The Archivist: VR project, everybody's all over the world. It doesn't matter. That's one of the benefits of today. But it's also potentially one of the downfalls of, you know, there's so much competition, there's so many people
Greth Ligon: 01:07:15 I should mention that I, I'm not a very good business person. I'm not good at marketing myself or really so I think someone who is more savvy with business can, can probably should you a lot better than I'm doing right now. Yeah. That's all I'm trying to say is that, uh, if someone who is better with business can, can probably get ahead that they did it might, might help to even have a, have a business degree or studies in business. Cause I, I'm not good at that stuff for myself.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:07:48 Well, and I mean that you're not supposed to, you know, like you're a creative who creates and you are a right brain thinker, right? Like you. Oh, definitely. So, so that's what you're supposed to be good at. And you know, I think unfortunately that's another thing that we have to deal with in the current landscape is generally having to be able to market yourself right. As, as a creative or be able to get on social media and be pushing yourself and out there hustling. You know? And that's something that's pushed a lot, but that's also one of the things that you're, you're putting so much energy into something that's not your wheelhouse.
Greth Ligon: 01:08:33 I do think it is more important to actually put that energy into making something good. Yeah. And actually I think it was the comedian Mike Birbiglia was saying that if he had things to do over again, he would have put, put more effort into just
Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:48 just writing and making something really good then to actually then putting that energy into mark self promotion and marketing. Right. I, that's what I was speaking to earlier when you were talking about, you know, the work you were doing on these commercials to appease, you know, your client. I think that's really the proof is in the pudding, right? Like you're doing all that work to make the project better and to master your craft. And I mean, that's what I recommend to clients myself, that you know, if, if, if you're a creative and that's what you're here to do, you shouldn't be having to do that stuff. Like you need support too so that you can be focused on what you're doing and can thrive as the creative and then, you know, the other stuff can, can be either a support to you or we'll come in the work that you're doing.
Greth Ligon: 01:09:45 Yeah, I guess, yeah, the problem is that, uh, you know, a while ago, a couple of years ago or so, I was, I was thinking like, well, I, I need an agent. It's like I need to have an agent and that would be great. So I actually reached out to this composer Austin Wintery lose that in la. He's actually from Denver originally, but, uh, he's done music for video games and movies and I tried to get his advice on this. He basically told me that if you're, if you're looking for an agent, you're not ready for one. So basically it to, to become represented by an agent. As a composer, you need to be
Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:34 working pretty regularly already. Yeah.
Greth Ligon: 01:10:37 Unless you're getting enough work to, to justify an agency contacting you, you're probably not going to get one.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:45 Yeah, that's exactly what I was gonna say. You're going to be contacted by the agent because they're going to hear about you. So far. I unrepresented at this point and I am, I still have long way to go before we'll actually find an agent. But, well, and that's part of my mission with this show is to showcase creators like yourself, right? That are working hard and they're putting out really great work and that are out creating with purpose, you know, and they're on this mission with their craft. You know, and I, I, I really have taken this upon myself to be an just an additional space to be able to do that because I want to spotlight people like yourself that are out there. We're putting in the time, you know, and might not have that audience, but hopefully through this show that maybe the right person hears about you are, here's your story and your journey and can help you along on that journey.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:11:52 You know, whoever that might be. And I, I personally also want to help, you know, promote you, period, right? Like I want to share your work because I connect with it. And there's obviously years and years and years that have been devoted to this craft, whether it's in appreciating the craft itself from Danny Elfman to Johann Johansson or you know, doing the work, like the hard clients that you're putting in, you know, 20 iterations of a track, trying to get it just right. And then continuing to work with that client and continuing to try and figure out how to solve for their needs, you know, and that just keeps making you better. And so I think that is, um, I think this, this is great to have this conversation and to acknowledge, you know, the weaknesses along with the strengths. You know, I think that is what we all have to deal with because we beat ourselves up as artists and you know, it's nice to, to, to know that you are on the right path and that you're not going to have all of the things, you know, nobody's great at everything and it takes a village.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:13:12 All of us making it, it takes a village. We all have to support each other. I feel it is. And that's part of why I do this, you know, cause it is tough. And you know, I, like I said, part of my mission is, is showcasing creatives like yourself. But it's also trying to create a space for the community to come and hear stories that are real, you know, to hear the stories like this and to understand that it's not all, it's not all rainbows and Unicorns and you know, money coming in and bling and you know, entourage and private jets, like it's not, it takes a lot of work. Even those people that have that, it's taken a lot of work. Nobody's an overnight success. And you said it earlier, you know, a lot of the composers that make it, they generally don't get to the point where they, you know, quote unquote made it until you know they're in there. Cause you know, some it same with actors and all kinds of people. You know, some people didn't make it until they were in their forties, maybe 50s. I mean it's just how it is.
Greth Ligon: 01:14:22 Yeah, of course there are exceptions, but I mean, yeah, some of these guys are new with killing themselves, trying to get, I've heard some of these stories, like Austin Wintery from Denver. I mean the guy, sometimes he'll blow all his, um, all that saving is on, on just putting a score together. It'd be like, I'm going to go all out on the score and spend all, all my savings on the score and hopefully it will, you know, pay me back or, and see a lot of these guys are, they're taking big risks. You know, that especially the guys who were making it young, you know, they're, they're really taking these pretty extraordinary risks just to get where they need to go.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:12 Yeah. What I continue to hear over and over is it's perseverance is the key. You know, just keep getting back in the studio, keep going back to the canvas, keep working on it. That's one of the things that's really great about creativity, right, is that you keep honing the craft, but you're also hunting your style and learning what you do and don't want to do who you do and don't want to work with. You know, it's always a learning lesson and it's all always pushing you to the next project to just keep getting to this point. You know, and I, I actually find it this fascinating thing about doing creative endeavors that you know, you're never really done, right? You never, it's never over that. You never do that last score and you don't want to do it again because you've created the opus. Like there's, it's never, it's never going to be that.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:16:06 And so I think that's one of the beautiful things because it can allow you to have this really long life filled with, with continual progression and continual intention and inspiration because you're constantly trying to strive for that next best thing that you're going to create. You know? And I think that's a sentence. It's very special. So I'm going to start kind of winding it down as we just sort of transitioned through these last few questions. But I wanted to talk about over your years as an artist in this profession. Do you have any tips for up and coming artists? I mean you were talking about a minute ago, you were commenting about having tunnel vision about or having any misconceptions about the difficulties of the profession, but do you have any tips for artists that are interested in getting into this work that you could share or advice you would have given your younger self?
Greth Ligon: 01:17:03 Well, I guess the first thing in the, I would say is get good at programming. The, the story of how I actually got involved with the Archivist game is that a friend of mine who's a musician in Fort Collins was trying to get this job as a composer on this game. And he didn't really seem to know anything about MIDI. He was, he was trying to do everything with real instruments and I got the job because I, I was at to come home, come home one day and put together a demo and sent it to them and got the job. And so, yeah, I guess, no, no, you're MIDI. Know how to program MIDI and use them. Use virtual instruments. That's, that's the biggest tip I can say.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:56 We get in these ruts, right? Like where are we feel like we've plateaued as an artist. Have there been any points where you've had like a breakthrough and, and could you talk to that and, and now what that was like or how you got through it or what you learned going through it?
Greth Ligon: 01:18:10 A number of the most important breakthroughs I've had weren't necessarily while working on a project, but uh, you know, experiences I've had on psychedelics. So taking, um, there've been a few times taking mushrooms that were, are really, really these huge breakthrough moments where I just saw everything differently. Hmm. Interesting. You know, sometimes you just haven't heaven, these kind of, you know, seemingly bet trips that would end up with me just seeing everything differently creatively and I'm leading me to, I guess, leaving me to be able to extract more from my surroundings and more from my own consciousness. Being able to sort of dive into that river of creativity that's constantly flowing in your brain. You know, it's like, it's like there's constantly something there and being able to just kind of like dip your fingers in it, like reach, reach in and grab. Yeah. Great. Grab pieces of music or just a, I think just being aware of that constant flow of creativity that is, it's always there. You know, if you just meditate or we're just kind of getting the right mindset, you can just kind of reach into it and touch it, grab it, and it's, you know, it's chaos and complexity in there and uh, so yeah, I think so. Some of the big breakthroughs I've, I've gotten to, I've just been after after some of those, some of those experiences. Fascinating. Fascinating. That's cool. Thank you for sharing that. Has that changed your, has that like evolved your music or has it just allowed you to tap more into like your, I loved your analogy of, you know, like reaching in to that river of creativity. Has that, did that open up that window to have more fluid connection to it and that consciousness that you were talking about or, or did it like how did that change? I hadn't experienced that. I mean, this was years ago, this was probably probably around 15 years ago or so, friend and I had planned to go down to the Museum of Nature and science and take, take all the way down there. And my friend decided that taking me, I'm just like, well, what, what, what don't you just take them and I'll, I'll drive you down there so that we're not not doing anything dangerous. And I, I took the s and a pretty large amount of mushrooms to myself. I was having a great time down at the museum, laughing and um, you know, looking at the, you know, the various things in the museum and just laughing and he was trying, trying to babysit me, keep me under control. But by the time we got back up to Fort Collins, I was, I was just in sort of an existential nightmare.
Greth Ligon: 01:21:03 I was freaking out and, and just felt like I was never going to be the same again and I can kind of a bad time. But he handed me a sketch book I used to draw a lot and he, he's like, man, here, just take your sketch book. Here's a pen. Just, just start drawing. And that was one of the most transformative experiences in my lifetime because I just started going, you know, going to town on this paper, but these, these images started to emerge from the chaos of the lines. And so I, you know, I have this just all the scribbling, but the, then these pictures and words start to emerge. And that was kind of how I came to the, the concept of this never ending river of creativity. Because I, after that, I started filling whole pages of and just start filling up my sketchbooks.
Greth Ligon: 01:21:59 Just the whole page drawings and you know, something, if it had just opened the flood gates and it, it applied to music as well, just knowing that it's, it's always there, you just have to sort of meditate or you'd be in the right mindset to tap into it. It's just this, this chaos and complexity that's, it's, it's like if you're in the right mindset, it's like sitting next to river and just being, it'll a little dip your hands into it. It's just constantly flowing. Yeah. Yeah. And so that's, that's what I think about music. That's why I don't really believe in, I mean I know there, there are definitely times where it's hard to create, but I, I don't really believe in writer's block because I think it's always there. You just have to, you just have to be in the right mindset to tap into what is the agreed. That's awesome. Especially to touch back to talking about that earlier. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate you being willing to to go there. Yeah, no problem. My pleasure.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:23:06 Do you still dabble any with that as you're working on music?
Greth Ligon: 01:23:08 Well, I don't think it's good to use anything as a crutch here, here, you know that that is one thing that I will probably do occasionally the rest of my life. I, I hope if if I'm 60 and I can still find a way to find some mushrooms once in a while, like I hope that because I think it's been an incredibly beneficial thing for me. It's been a very, very life changing thing and I'm not even sure I'd be doing it if it wasn't for that doing what? I'm not sure that I would still be, I'm not sure it would still have my creative pursuits if it wasn't for, for those experiences with, with mushrooms. Interesting. Who knows? But I know it, for me it has been very beneficial and, and doing it once in a while I think really kind of resets my brain and really kind of, it's kind of makes me happy. It's like an antidepressant.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:09 Well, have you heard about the work that is coming out in that? There's a lot of studies now coming out. Doctors and scientists have been working with psilocybin been and, and ecstasy and helping with like PTSD and depression and I mean all kinds of things. And there's all these really great studies that are coming out over the last year, year and a half now that are really making some waves about the, the benefits, just like you're talking about, about you. And you just said, and that's a bold statement to say, I don't even know if I would still be doing these creative endeavors had it not been for these experiences. I mean that's as powerful and the more and more the stories that are, these studies are coming out, I mean it's, it's pretty fascinating to see not, not only these making waves, but they're actually starting to make some changes, you know, and people's openness to the benefits over, you know, prescriptive drugs. And it's, it's, it's interesting that that came up because there is obviously this connection with music and psychedelics and the, the gap that is bridged with the two that puts people into this space that is still unknown but has a place that's very, very powerful and very moving.
Greth Ligon: 01:25:40 Yeah, man, I think there's, I think it's really good thing
Gabe Ratliff: 01:25:44 and that, that's why I wanted to kind of dive into this a little bit because you know, it's something that I think that's one of the benefits that's come out of, you know, the legalization of marijuana and you know, in some countries the legalization of all drugs and what they found is violence went down, crime went down. You know, a lot of things that were pretty surprising decreased. And I, that's why I'm really excited to see what comes out of these, these studies that are starting to come out by respected people that anyone can get behind what they're trying to speak to. I mean, everybody's going to have issues with things. Even climate change. There's people still are fighting and bickering over stuff and it doesn't matter what it is, people still either are for it or against it and that's just life. But it's interesting to me to see that now we're starting to get somewhere besides don't do drugs.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:26:44 And it's now getting to a place where people are saying, you know, there's actually, I mean I know Tim Ferriss is, I like a Tim Ferriss a lot and I've listened to his podcast and he has several people on this past year that he's starting to tap into that conversation. You know, these people that are actually part of these studies, you know, and getting this information around what's happening in this space. And I think it's really interesting. I mean this has been studied now for many, many years. I mean Lsd and Ken Casey and Esp, and I mean there's tons of things. You mean the, the, the MK Ultra, and I mean there's like so many things that have happened over decades, but in the midst of all of that, there's been some amazing creative projects that have come out of people's expansion. I mean, look at the Beatles. We'd talked about them earlier. I mean, they're a great example of how, I mean, there are music evolved. They evolved.
Greth Ligon: 01:27:43 Yeah. And it's amazing music. I mean, it's really, yeah, look at Abbey road and the white album and there were revolver. Yeah. Were, yes. It's something different than their, you know, the Beatles come out in the beginning and they're doing these, she loves you. Yay. These pop songs, you know? And then they, they do drugs and they start making these, this really interesting music. Yeah. It goes to a whole new level. Yeah. It's, it's fascinating to me. Yeah. Yeah. Same here. I think it's, it's been really transformative for me. I think it's, it's part of who I am at this point. You know, it's those psychedelic journeys I've been on are a big part of my life and a big part of what I, a big part of how I see creativity in how I see music and how I see art and how I see the world.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:28:40 Yeah, that is an interesting subject. I think people have their preconceived notions about things like that, but you know, to, to go through experiences and to be able to, you know, for you to go through your experiences. I think there's something there, you know, and I think you can see it over time and you can see it over people's journeys as a creative and as a human and how it's changed, how they interact. And I mean, this stuff I've seen, I've seen some documentaries where I even saw, I think CNN did a piece and you can see one of their correspondence who went through a study with ecstasy around coping with PTSD from all of the, the violence and just horrific things that he saw while he was over in, uh, reporting during war time. And he was finally able to smile and to like mean it.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:29:38 And that was something he talked about was that he would have to have a fake smile and like put on this face that was fake and it was like a mask to look like he could fit in with people in public. And it's just mind blowing to me to a imagine what he had to go through and what he saw. I, I'm averse to violence in any form and I can't believe what that was like. I can't imagine what that was like, but I can't even, I can't fathom the fact of like coming home and being so traumatized that he couldn't even like disconnect in a way to be truth authentically happy and to have joy and to be able to show it and mean it. And I actually feel it. And he, he finally, I mean it's like, it's like not being able to talk your whole life and then final or not being able to see.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:30:34 And then finally having this moment where you can see or talk or here. And it was like a moment where he finally could feel joy again. And he hadn't felt it in so long and you could, he was like crying cause he was so moved by the experience of being able to be connected to himself in a way that was real and be able to authentically feel joy men. That's just, it's mind blowing. I think it provokes catharsis, you know, it kind of gets you to a point where it can release. A lot of the bad stuff is in, you push out the battens sort of reset, you know? Yeah. And then write some really kick ass music. Yeah. I'm gonna read some fucking music right now. So, yeah. I mean, wow. What a, what a great place to kind of bring it all together. I mean, that's, that's awesome. Thanks for, thanks for going there. What's, what's next for you? I mean, I know you got the Archivist VR, I mean, is there anything else that you got working on? So I'm going to be writing music for a documentary, a feature documentary called watering the West.
Greth Ligon: 01:31:47 It's about the, uh, I guess just about water reserves and water sources. And in this part of the country, the director, her name is Sherry Do, she teaches at Front Range Community College and she's a Sherry Do and Mona Major are doing this documentary and they've been, they've been working on it for a couple of years now. I think. Yeah, it should be disturbing and informative and as any good documentary is. Yeah. And I, it sounds like they kind of want me to revisit the realm of the Spaghetti Western soundtrack, so there'll be listening to some, any more coding and Yup. Yeah. Go, go into any of our company for some inspiration. And so that's the next thing. And actually I'm currently working on a short documentary from one of my, uh, so, you know, I do the 48 hour for project every year and not last two years I've worked with these strangers studios. One of the cinematographer is Brian, I'm working on a, he's done a documentary about a girl who designs these elaborate cosplay costs costumes for, for a comicon. Yeah. And she has, her dad helped her with these costumes and so just, you know, a 10 minute documentary about that. So that's what I'm working on currently.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:33:15 Nice. That's cool. I mean that's, that's a huge culture. The comicon cosplay culture. I mean I, I volunteer at Comicon so I'm familiar with these elaborate cosplay costumes.
Greth Ligon: 01:33:31 Yes. It's about her maleficent costumes. Nice. Yeah. Yeah. Couple of documentary projects. Other than that I'm working on my own stuff right now and working on remixing and remastering my 2012 album Dream Such Pretty Things
Gabe Ratliff: 01:33:46 I've got usually just like a couple of sort of quicker response questions I like to do at the very end. Just some like, you know, more fun stuff. Um, obviously these will be music based for you. Favorite artist or band as a child?
Greth Ligon: 01:34:02 Uh, probably the Beach Boys.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:34:04 What about now?
Greth Ligon: 01:34:05 Now depends on the day.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:34:15 Yeah, copy that. It a lot easier when we were younger.
Greth Ligon: 01:34:19 You know, I, I'd have to say right now probably, Queen
Gabe Ratliff: 01:34:23 Nice. Album that changed your life?
Greth Ligon: 01:34:27 Danny Elfman's Music for a Darkened Theater: Volume One. Nice.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:34:31 You mentioned that before. Favorite film or video game score?
Greth Ligon: 01:34:35 That depends on the day too. Sometimes puts out, see, think about that for a second. Uh, might have to say Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:34:45 Nice. Yeah. I mean Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. I mean there's guys are powerhouse team
Greth Ligon: 01:34:54 You know what? Let me take that back even though I do love that score. But uh, the one that had the most impact, probably Pee Wee's Big Adventure. It's a very strange one to, I love that soundtrack. Super Quirky.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:35:12 I remember just being like Super Quirky and fun.
Greth Ligon: 01:35:14 Yeah, it's fun. It's weird. It recalls some, some other great composers like Nina Rota and yeah. Yeah. It's great score.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:35:25 Thank you so much. I always like to ask, you know, is there any final parting words or anything else that you'd like to say before we wrap up?
Greth Ligon: 01:35:32 Live long and prosper.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:35:34 Nice. And uh, last thing, where can people find you online and the socials and inner webs and all those things?
Greth Ligon: 01:35:43 I have a couple of fan pages on Facebook and Soundcloud and Bandcamp -- grethligon.bandcamp.com
Gabe Ratliff: 01:35:54 All right, man. Well, thank you again so much. I appreciate your time and I really appreciate the conversation and keep up the great work, brother
Greth Ligon: 01:36:04 Thanks brother. Good talking to you and hopefully I'll see you around soon.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:36:05 Well, that's it for this episode. If this is your first time listening, thank you so much for being here. I really hope you enjoy the show. Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment and all links and show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and leave a rating or review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. If you want to follow us, you can find us online by searching @vitalicproject and thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep being vitalitic!