SoundCloud Scholarship Winner on His Love for Audio

Before we broke for the holidays, we announced Gordon McGladdery was the winner of the SoundCloud and VFS Full Scholarship Challenge. It didn’t take long for him to get his affairs in order so he could start 2012 off as a student in the Sound Design for Visual Media program.

Gordon started his year-long experience this week, so we thought it’d be a great time to ask for his first impressions and get a better idea of what he’s bringing to the program.

[Be sure to scroll down to see Gordon with his fiancee, and current Makeup Design student, Caitlin Groves.]

What inspires you to work in sound design?

Gordon:  My first awareness that sound design was even a thing was while watching a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of Jurassic Park sometime in the 90s.  I was astounded at what one could do by manipulating mundane sounds (in this case, animal calls) to create things that were uncannily alien.  This taps into the fact that I’ve always been a nature geek, so I derive a lot of my inspiration from animals.  The complexity of sound for simple communication in the animal kingdom is mindblowing–I like to take that and try to pull emotion from it that we can relate to.

You mentioned in your acceptance sound bite [above] on SoundCloud that you love studios and want to spend as much time as you can in them. What is it about studio space that interests you?

Gordon:  There’s something magical about properly-treated rooms.  They are the ideal outside-world melters.  While you’re in a good studio all good sounds come through better and bad ones more subdued.  This can be dangerous if you’re an inexperienced band shelling out $650 to a middle-aged punk drummer with an olive-green dreadlock-mohawk combo and a poorly-hidden grow-op…but while in the studio, its heaven.  Not that I’ve had any personal experience in the matter.  I am not much of a gear fiend but I had the chance to watch one of Korea’s top sound designers at work, and the only thing I desired more than that awesome, awesome studio was her skill.

You’ve just arrived at VFS – any initial impressions?

Gordon:  My classmates are humble and cool.  I just had my first physics of sound class with Gary Bourgeois (Payolas!  Are you kidding me?) and it was totally badass.  I was terrible in math at school because my teachers always failed to explain things in an applicable light (or I was too dumb to suss it out myself) so I could never concentrate or care.  Gary knocked applicability out of the park.  I was paying attention to math.  Never knew it could happen.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Gordon:  #1: Filling in brain gaps.  I’m relatively happy with the progress I make self-educating, but I’m slow at digging up information and I think it’s spotty at best.  My knowledge of audio and sound design is total swiss cheese, and I’m hoping the course will have me coming out cheddar.  That was cheesy.  So was that.

You’ve been posting on SoundCloud for about a year now. How does it benefit someone who’s interested in audio?

Gordon:  SoundCloud’s got a clean, functional and so-not-MySpace design.  It’s been hugely useful for sharing private demos with clients on short notice as well as for plastering my stuff around for the masses.  I do, however, wish there was an option for artists to sell their material!

Thanks, Gordon! Best of luck this year!

If you haven’t already, check out Gordon’s winning submission on SoundCloud — and stay tuned to his profileand ours — for regular audio updates of his experience at VFS.

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