3/8/2021 • Reading Time: 5min
Joe Steven Provides Insight on Scoring a Cinematic Music Album During Global Pandemic
Learn how esteemed recording artist and music producer Joe Steven was able to successfully write, compose and produce an entire soundtrack album safely despite COVID-19 restrictions.
By Niki Giovanis
There is no denying that the global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the course of music production for the foreseeable future. And like many industries around the world dealing with initial aftershock brought on by the pandemic, the music industry has also suffered. As a result of the social distancing guidelines, music producers and writers have been forced to search for alternative measures for recording music to prevent further considerable losses in revenue.
These challenges coincide with the film industry's complete closure, which has halted music production for those who compose high-grade cinematic music for Hollywood's most notable feature films, including Joe Steven. However, writers and producers alike have turned to collaborating over Zoom or Facetime showcasing how truly adaptable and innovative the music industry has remained despite these unprecedented times.
These changes also pose questions about how the collaborative aspect of the music industry will be affected in the digital age moving forward once COVID-19 is contained. While some writers and producers are more hesitant about the changes, others see a bright future ahead of them. It expands the possibilities of working on remote sessions with other artists worldwide without having to travel outside the country.
An Interview with Film Composer Joe Steven
I had the opportunity to catch up with the recording artist and film composer, Joe Steven, to discuss the new challenges of working remotely and how he managed to produce his space soundtrack album “Starman: Mission to Mars,” despite the uncertainties the music industry has faced throughout the year.
In light of the current global circumstances, how have you dealt with the sudden changes to the industry? What kind of changes did you make to finish the album on time?
I think, like most people, the beginning stages of the pandemic came as a complete shock. It just so happens that when we were in the early process of recording the "Starman: Mission to Mars," right as the first couple of COVID-19 cases were beginning to be recorded in the U.S. So I along with the other musicians involved in the album were bouncing off ideas of how we would make things work. And for a while, I didn't know if we would have to shut down production altogether or put a hold on the album indefinitely. Being a film composer who was recording a cinematic music album, I was especially worried that the album wouldn’t do as well considering the music and film industry’s halt in productions.
Luckily for us, all of the musicians that were featured on the album were willing to work with me via remote recording. I managed to successfully record and mix the entire album in the states and then have the album mastered by Simon Gibson at Abbey Road Studios in London without traveling there myself. It was a unique experience, to say the least, especially when you are working with such talented session musicians from around the world; however, I couldn't be more thankful and proud of everyone who worked so hard to help me finish the album despite the circumstances that we faced.
Are you spending a lot of time in your studio, or are you predominantly working from home?
I am working from home as much as I can. But I do like going to my studio whenever it's a change of scenery and collaborating with other artists in a socially distant way. I have been using Zoom a lot, which helps maintain professional relationships and collaborations with other artists.
I recorded the album on Logic Pro X while using my Roland Fantom G8 Workstation as a MIDI controller. My virtual plugins allow me to access and create beautiful and realistic orchestrations and soundscapes, which are heard throughout the album.
Still, I am excited for when the day comes to have a full group of engineers and musicians back in the studio without having to worry.
Do you think that the pandemic has influenced the meaning behind “Starman: Mission to Mars” in any way?
One of the things that kept me motivated to finish and produce such an intricate soundtrack album during the pandemic was to hopefully bring some inspiration to people's lives, no matter what they are going through, especially during such a difficult time. Despite the album being about human spaceflight and intergalactic travel, for me personally, it's all about creating high-quality music that people can listen to and enjoy no matter where you are in the world. I want to tell a compelling story through my compositions that evoke powerful emotions in other people.
I don’t think anyone was prepared for what the last couple of months would do to their physical health and mental health. It's easy to get lost in the chaos of it all, but I hope that my listeners will be able to feel a sense of solace and adventure when they listen to the album. Working towards finishing something so incredible and wondrous also helped keep me sane through all the uncertainty. It made me rise to the challenge of the idea of composing something epic and timeless.
If you could send one message out to your listeners right now, what would it be?
I want to send everyone love and light during these times. I know things are difficult right now, but the positive thing about hitting rock bottom is that the only way out is upwards. And no matter what happens, always keep moving forward. I hope everyone enjoys the album, and I can't wait to listen to all the feedback from my audience.
What do you think is next in terms of your career?
If you know me, you know that my work never stops - but I love it. I am always looking for new projects to take on and new people to collaborate with. I have some exciting projects coming up shortly that I've been keeping secret for a while now and that I am so eager to share with everyone. But, to keep you all on your toes, everyone will have to check back soon and see what I have planned!
To stay up to date with Joe’s latest projects, follow him on all his socials @JoeStevenMusic to make sure you don’t miss out on any exciting news going forward!
About Joe Steven
Joe Steven is a recording artist and music composer for film, television, commercials, and media. Inspired by the 80’s and 90’s Pop, Rock, and Hollywood film music, Joe began writing original songs at the age of 12 and launched a record label and studio company after graduating from the university. Joe’s new soundtrack album, “Starman: Mission to Mars,” is now streaming worldwide.
Recording Artist and Composer Joe Steven pictured at his home studio.