LA-based composer and arranger on designing the sonic spaces between words
Los Angeles, CA, October 28, 2020 – For the past two decades, Luis Guerra has worked as an in-demand composer and arranger for a wide variety of film, television, and commercial clients. More recently however, he has become known in the industry for his vibey, imaginative scores for hit podcasts such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, Freakonomics Radio, People I (Mostly) Admire, and Deep Cover. In order to achieve the artistic headspace required to create these unique soundscapes, Guerra uses Amphion One18 monitors to give himself the sonic clarity and creative confidence to delve deep into his imagination and bring forward the music that accompanies these heady, vocal-driven worlds.
The basis for many of Guerra’s compositional ideas for podcasting come from the unique opportunities afforded by the medium itself. Unlike his film and television work which require him to work off of the visual elements of the project, podcasting allows him to use the full extent of his creativity to explore the full possibilities of sound. “I spend a lot of time imagining ideas for sounds so I can craft things that are visceral and affecting,” he explained. “I typically build a unique pallet to work with for each podcast to give it an aural identity that’s just as identifiable as the narrative elements.”
This pallet of memorable sounds is built from the ground up in a direct collaboration between Guerra and his clients. He often starts by working in the low end, using it to create areas of tension and release within the music for an almost subliminal emotional effect. His choice of monitoring is crucial in this stage because his choices need to fit seamlessly into the narration and other vocal elements. “Synthesis is vital in my compositional style and you need to be able to hear objectively to create sounds with this kind of low-end impact,” he said. “With my Amphion One18s I’m able to pick up all that detail immediately and make my decisions quickly.”
A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Guerra’s compositions run the gamut of musical styles from delicate pieces involving solo acoustic instrumentation to more immersive, experimental work based in sequenced synthesizers and creative sound design. Despite his preference for imaginative sound sculpting however, his work remains grounded in classic songwriting tropes designed to be supportive of the narrative structure of the podcasts his work is featured in. “Composing for podcasts is very interesting to me because you have to really digest the material and create work that is truly supportive of the world it creates,” he said. “I’m ultimately creating vibes and motifs within a song format in order to make specific parts or moments in the podcast memorable.”
Patience and focus
In addition to seeking out tools that aid his creativity, Guerra is also constantly on the lookout for things that economize his workflow — a key part of being a working composer. Although well-versed in what’s available, he favors equipment that helps him get the job done right, the first time. “I’m not a gear fanatic by any means, everything just has to work for what I need it to do,” he explained. “Being able to work quickly and correctly is a big part of what keeps me working, so I seek out equipment that allows me to do that.”
“These Amphions have become my everyday go-to for that reason. They work incredible across the different mediums for which I compose music. For this kind of work, you need accuracy and detail when creating an immersive, headphone-centric environment for the listener.”
Often working on podcast composition projects for long stretches of time over the course of a full season, Guerra also notes how important the choice in monitoring is in allowing him to work longer hours without feeling burnout. “Some podcast projects can take as long as six months, so you need to listen to something that’s accurate for a long time in a way that won’t burn you out,” he said. “The Amphions have been a great tool for this because they are very neutral sounding so I know what I’m getting, but at the same time they are pleasing to listen to so I can listen for a long time without feeling like my ears are getting blown off.”
For more information about Luis Guerra, please visit: luisguerramusic.com
For more information about Amphion, please visit: http://amphion.fi/
Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998. We design and build loudspeakers that are characterized by honest and accurate sound reproduction. Precise driver integration ensures world-class imaging and phase coherency. Controlled dispersion technology helps achieve more stable results in a variety of room acoustics. All products are handmade in Finland (and the Amphion amplifiers are assembled in Finland) to ensure enduring listening quality.