Kevin Gillen
Sound Designer

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… I was a rebellious kid. I dreamed of being a rockstar. I got my first guitar when I was 13 and started a band called Tinnitus.

I’m Sound Designer here at MakeMatic and my average week is pretty full on. I’m a finisher. I come in at the end of each video project, when everything else is done – the script, the interviews, the illustrations – and add low key operation sound. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

I was a rebellious kid. I dreamed of being a rockstar. I got my first guitar when I was 13 and started a band called Tinnitus. I was born in Redcastle and raised in Moville, a seaside town in County Donegal, where you could swim, run around and get in trouble, but there weren’t many places for teenagers to play gigs. So I went off to university.

I studied Creative Music and Sound Technology in Leeds, focussing on abstract music, electro acoustic programming. But I really learned about the art of sound design after graduating, when I enrolled in North West Regional College in Derry to study Music Production. That’s where I first wrote music for the screen and learned about synchronisation, sound effects, all sorts.

As part of my dissertation, I took two three-minute movie scenes – the end scene from Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects and a fight scene from Walter Hill’s The Warriors – and re-scored the music and sound effects. The Warriors is a ’70s film, so I wrote all the music on synths, and used guitars on The Devil’s Rejects. That’s when I thought, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do’, and I’ve done it ever since.

In the future, I’d love to do the sound design for a feature film, video games and Virtual Reality programs. I don’t play video games anymore but I loved RPGs when I was a kid and I have a tattoo from Final Fantasy 7 on my arm.

When I was young, I loved Pantera, lots of metal music. Then I started studying music and my tastes completely opened up. Now I listen to everything. My favourite artist is Nick Cave. I love his music. I also love Murdered By Death, an Americana folk band from Indiana. I met their lead singer, Adam Turla, in a pub in Toronto once and went full fan-girl for a big cheesy selfie.

My greatest artistic and professional inspiration would have be the Italian sound designer Diego Stocco. He’s written scores for films like Sherlock Holmes, lots of TV and video games. He makes his own instruments. He’s completely unique. I’m interested in sound designers and producers who make sounds that I can’t make – yet.

After I left college, I lived in Canada for a couple of years, and back home rigged stages for concerts and presented a metal radio show on ICR FM. My first professional job in the industry was sound designer for James May’s Things You Need To Know in 2008. Then I started with Makematic.

When it comes to my kit, I can’t live without the digital audio software and MIDI sequencer Logic Pro. Izoptope RX is also essential. That’s what I treat all voice-over recordings with. It lets me take audio that may not be very clear and make it sound perfect by taking out clicks, pops and background noise. I use the stock music website Audio Network for my underlays.

My favourite MakeMatic project to work on so far was the full frame Global Icons series for Participate. Participate is a global learning platform for teachers and the Global Icons series was a collection of twelve two-minute videos telling the stories of global citizens like Nelson Mandela and Frida Kahlo. I really enjoyed that.