When do you know you've arrived as a composer?
For Benson Taylor, it was probably the moment he recorded 12 snare drums in a stairwell for the NFL's Super Bowl broadcast.
It's often that kind of "out of the box" mindset that sets apart composers in today's competitive field. Benson's drive to develop a signature sound has paid off, leading to work scoring international advertising campaigns for Sony Playstation, British Telecom, Walmart, Ford and others.
Although Benson has made his mark as the resident composer for the Super Bowl from 2009 to present, his score to "Fear of Water" recently won Best Original Music at the Monaco International Film Festival.
Tell us about your studio. What hardware and software do you use?
"My studio is based above a bank in Yorkshire, England and is pretty humble to be honest. I run Logic & Pro Tools, and a 28 channel Euphonix control surface with too many plugins, most of which I don't even use because I'm just a sucker for all those marketing emails with the 'extended holiday discounts'.
For me, you can't beat just sitting at the piano to come up with melodies and structure, so I try and stay away from the computer until it's absolutely necessary. In terms of software, I probably use the same as everyone else for orchestral works, Sibelius/Finale, East West, Project Sam, NI's Komplete, Spitfire Audio etc, but I like to record live where I can, as do we all.
For electronic works, anything goes soft/hardware wise, as I can quickly get wrapped up in tweaking and creating sounds until the early morning. The last Super Bowl broadcast I worked on back in February had a track in the opener where I'd recorded 12 snare drums in the stairwell of my studio, then layered them up on top of each other with a ton of processing. I remember hearing them come in as the show started and just sat there laughing to myself at how ridiculous the process was, but I think it was worth it."
You've had the opportunity to compose for many top television shows. What has been the secret to your success?
"Thank you. Yeah, I've had a pretty decent run so far. I managed my expectations of my writing from a very early age. I think it's crucial to sound fresh, unique, detailed, and make your final production stand out whatever genre you're working on. Sounds like a massive cliché, but just jump on SoundCloud, everything sounds the same.
I don't really have a 'secret' as such, but I always knew exactly what I wanted and still do. So when I first started out, instead of working in a crowded market place here at home, I took my music to a more crowded place and what I considered to be the source, Los Angeles, hoping that producers, supervisors, and directors would like my British accent, and they did. I built a strong team around me, like my agent and others, and it kinda went from there. It's important to have the right people working hard for you too. Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft on his own, right? I'm rolling out the clichés today."