South Korean composer, music director, and instrumentalist Mowg is a difficult man to track down, typically scoring or producing a half-dozen movies and TV series per year. Remarkably, over the last nine years, no less than eight of his scores have been awarded Best Music awards by four different awards organizations, including The Blue Dragon Film Awards and The Korean Association of Film Critic Awards. Sonarworks was able to catch up with Mowg and have a short conversation regarding his workflow and his take on the state of the industry.
While most of his time is taken up with scoring, composing and playing bass, Mowg occasionally gets to work on music outside of scoring and music production for films. He often works by himself, but puts the right team together when he needs to step up the size of his crew and enjoys collaborating with other music directors and composers.
Mowg has studied all kinds of traditional and contemporary music and his composition styles range from traditional orchestral scoring to modern, groove-laden new age styles. His scoring ranges from adventurous, wind ensemble battle scenes to lonely, melodic or atmospheric backdrops. Cubase and Vegas are Mowg’s digital studio tools, but he relies heavily on live instrumental recording and prefers to use real guitar, piano, and bass over software on his productions.
When asked about his own studio space, he says, “When working on new music, I try to make sure it is not affected [by the] monitoring environment, as much as possible, and then create music itself. My studio doesn’t have [the best] monitoring environment in terms of hardware or software, compared to professional studios, but I feel more comfortable because I’ve been working in my studio for a long time. I am trying to narrow the monitoring gap with other studios as much as possible.”
For monitoring on speakers, Mowg trusts PMC and Mackie monitors, and when working on headphones, he prefers Ultrasone and AKG models. In his quest for reliable monitoring at his personal studio, he utilizes Sonarworks Reference to help with the sonic translation from his room to professional studios. Mowg says “I use it (Sonarworks Reference) on both speakers and headphones, and it has helped me when monitoring and confirming my work.”
For the future, Mowg envisions a streamlined approach to music production, perhaps further aided by technology and with even less live recording. He recognizes that creating music can be both frustrating and rewarding and offers these words of encouragement to up-and-coming composers: “Music is work that takes time. It is important to think in the long-term, not short-term. When working with music, sometimes you may feel stuck and just want to give up. However, if you hold on tight and think about the big picture of the future ahead, you will find yourself and your music improving and growing.”
Many of us face similar challenges and constraints of working in less-than-ideal production spaces and also with the limitations of software instead of live instruments. Mowg has shown us that a talented composer can create amazing pieces as long as their surroundings are comfortable and familiar. Home studios, small production rooms and even laptops with headphones have become standard equipment for many producers and we can all follow Mowg’s lead in creating inspired and musical works that, in his words “… break away from the traditional techniques and methods… and find [your] own style…”