This week, we catch up with Craig Wedren, Bo Boddie, and Matt Wang. Craig and Bo are two of the composers in charge of the soundtrack for Netflix’s GLOW, and Matt is their all-around master assistant. We recently learned that H910 and Blackhole had a major role in the sound of the show, so we had to get the inside scoop.
How did you get the music to sound so clean, but as if it was still produced/engineered in the ’80s?
Bo Boddie: Many of the sounds are practically ready to go out-of-the-box, and if they aren’t then they are processed pretty much the same way every time with delays or reverbs. I actually think of ’80s music being pretty clean sounding, even though it might be heavily processed in some ways. Also, I think simply by having “2019 ears” we are already thinking about the ’80s sound in a way that is affected by 30 years of additional mixing/production styles… so we naturally gravitate towards a bit more low end and punchiness, which may seem ‘cleaner’? who knows?!
Craig Wedren: I agree with Bo. A lot of records -even dance records- from the ’80s lacked low end. Hip-hop was just starting to change the sound of pop music, sonically, and recordings were still largely analog, so it was probably harder to get those pure low-lows which we all take for granted now and which, like Bo said, are built right into the box. Using ProTools and MIDI and soft-synths naturally gives things a modern, ‘clean’ sheen, unless we deliberately do otherwise.
Did you stick to effects only available in the late ’80s, or did you use modern effects and reverbs?
Matt Wang: Three words: Valhalla Vintage Verb.
BB: Valhalla Vintage Verb is definitely the de-facto reverb for GLOW. Everyone on the team has it and can sound reliably ’80s-like… so while it’s a modern plug-in, it can be used to achieve those period sounds. This year we also threw Blackhole and SP2016 Reverb into the mix, wonderful additions that fit in perfectly to the show’s aesthetic.
CW: LOVE Blackhole. We used the Default preset mostly.
Were any other Eventide plugins used on the soundtrack?
BB: I almost always use the H910 on both clean and dirty electric guitars to give them that big stereo and slightly chorused sound, usually dry on one side and harmonizer on the other with the Default preset.
I actually put the Instant Phaser MkII on an entire cue this season; it just sounds so incredible and was ‘instant’ly perfect in that moment. SP2016 Reverb and Omnipressor were used on some drum kits this season as well.
What synths, guitars, and drum machines did you use the most?
MW: In terms of drum machines the team used a collection of samples from the TR-808, a LinnDrum, and a Roland CR-78. Synths have mostly been Omnisphere and on the upcoming season of the show, the new Hardware Synth Integration-based D-50 presets quickly became favorites. Guitars are mostly a Red Music Man Stingray.
BB: What Matt said. Since there are three composers working on the show (Craig, myself, and Lara Meyerratken) we try to adhere to a template so we can pass cues back and forth if we need to. That said, guitars and basses can be different depending on whose studio the cue started in or who worked on it last. In my case, I use a strat-style guitar for the show (need a whammy bar for glam metal excess) and a p-bass (sometimes with 910 chorus!).
CW: And let’s not forget the hot-pink Hamer we just use for Metal divebombs (our version of a ‘record scratch’, deployed tastefully, when necessary, for maximum ‘nuh-uh’ effect). There are also emotional, acoustic moments where we used my Larravee or Gibson.