Gary Shepherd

Interview with in-house composer Gary Shepherd

A world without humans, how would that sound like?

Our composer Gary Shepherd will delight us one more time with his fantastic creations. He is the composer and producer of our new production ATMEN / evolution is silently unfolding. Gary's music can best be described as a vibrant fusion of rhythmic genres, exciting psychedelic sounds and euphoric emotions. At home in many styles; he composes and produces music for theater and film and can often be heard as a DJ in the Amsterdam club scene. His soundtracks have strongly influenced Nicole Beutler's artistic signature, they have been working together for over twenty years!

This interview was realized in the early stages of the creation of ATMEN. Read more about the music of the second part of our trilogy, RITUALS OF TRANSFORMATION, and get to know Gary a little better in this article.

How do you create the music alongside the production?

I always start to prepare the music very early on. Primarily to understand where I want to go with the music and how far I can push the theme. This procedure ensures that on day 1 of the rehearsals Nicole has a varied playlist with many inspired musical sketches, these often act as springboards whereby all involved can start to hear in solid audio form what a “thought” can sound like.

Do you use your own research for inspiration or do you use existing research of Nicole?

The subject of ATMEN or a world without humans is a subject Nicole and I are both very interested in. We both bring in our own sources, and they may cover different aspects and come from different points of view. Nicole often operates from out of the realm of a hope to find alternatives, solutions and beauty. I on the other hand am quite entertained by more dystopian spins on the subject as often discussed in sci-fi films and literature.

What have you created until now?

The general aesthetic of the music is already quite solid, the next stage unfolds in the coming weeks when all the creatives are together in one space, this is where the magic starts. 

Can you give us a taste of what the sound would be like in a world with very few people?

A world without or with very few humans, how would that sound like? If everything we knew has collapsed, including our collective memory of the history of music. We won’t have streaming platforms, cd-players and no venues promoting orchestra’s playing classical music from the past. We will at best have only fragmented recollections of music that was written or recorded previously. The sounds that will populate this new world will come from what is leftover from the planet. Leftovers of crumbling human inventions and constructions will be the last sounds that Humans are responsible for. So If humans are still actively busy with the making and sharing of music or song, will we start from scratch? Will we bang sticks and hit rocks to dance to? Will we sing songs for communal comfort or sing songs as a teaching tool?…. These first sounds may not be played by traditional instruments and won’t belong to an existing musical genre. Sounds would again be organic and made of primal sources.

Sound is obviously related to movement. If something moves or vibrates, it will produce a sound. Vibration is therefore the driver of all sounds: bubbling, crackling, exploding, scratching etc. Vibration is also the beginning of everything alive. If it doesn’t vibrate, then it isn’t alive. 

How does the very first vibration sound like?

Planet Earth & Mother Nature is ideally an orchestra already, the sounds of 50 million years ago would have been quite deafening as tsunami size waves crash and shape our continents, volcanos explode, tectonic plates rub and push up mountains and sink valleys and each individual life-form in order to be heard over this cacophony searches out its own unique frequency (pitch) to communicate with its own species in order to reproduce and at the same time each new life-form must also “listen” to the sounds around them to understand if their environment poses any threats or offers positives to their survival. 

Another sound inspiration is the remnants of our technology. When we are gone, the previously transmitted signals radio and communication stations will still remain in our stratosphere, as a residue of sound waste. Sounds that we have created in our existence, still resonate in the world when we are no longer there.”

Nicole desires to use pieces of Schubert for ATMEN. How will you use it?

I would like to deconstruct, dismember and dissolve the work of Schubert and his melodies so that they become a ghost of what was, a fragment left over in our collective history. If we as humans are still connected to music in the year 2200, it will be a broken connection. Maybe we remember the first 3 lines of a song, but will we be able to hold the traditions of a time long passed? 

What are your personal keywords and how do you expect the final piece to be?

From destruction comes the possibility to create better alternatives.