Mike Reagan is a member of the first generation of commercial music composers who began their careers knowing that this field represented a viable option. A native of the San Fernando Valley, Reagan grew up playing guitar and piano, and spent time at the Dick Grove Music School before heading east to the Berklee College of Music.
Scott Gershin, of Soundelux Media Labs, which later became Soundelux DMG, gave Reagan his first major opportunity. “I started out doing sound design- effects mostly- for video games, which was a new division for the company at that time. From there I went into designing sound effects for feature films, then got the opportunity to compose music for games.
“Back then- the mid 1990’s- I was working with a simple set of tools. Opcode Studio Vision was my work station, SampleCell my sampler, and my keyboard controller was a Kurzweill K2500. It’s amazing to think of what you could turn out with those basic pieces of equipment if you worked hard enough!”
These days Mike works out of his home, which sports two mirrored studios, each with three Mac Pro’s. “One runs Logic 9 and a combination of Vienna Instruments and Bidule, another spits out samples only, and a third runs ProTools 8.”
Reagan left Soundelux in 1999 to strike out on his own, just after writing an original song for the Jim Henson/Sony Pictures feature film “Elmo in Grouchland,” supervised by music supervisor Andy Hill. “That score won a Grammy in the category of Best Children’s soundtrack album.”
Mike’s mixed his own tracks for years, but has recently reached out to LA mixer John Rodd to mix his music. “John is a talented recordist and mixer who has worked on hundreds of records, films, video games, and television projects. He is a joy to work with and it’s great to have his ears on my projects.”
Although he works with live players whenever possible, Reagan marvels at the constantly escalating quality of sample libraries. “Last year I flew to Skywalker Ranch a few times, to record the “God Of War III” and “Darksiders” scores, and you hear things from these great musicians playing in a great room that you’ll never hear from samples and synths.
“But it’s amazing what the technology is giving us these days. I mocked up some demos recently using LASS (LA Scoring Strings) and then went into a studio to replace them with live string players. The samples sounded so good on one of the cues that we kept them in!
“I’m a huge Spectrasonics freak, and a big fan of Tonehammer, Cinesamples, Sonivox, Andrew Keresztes at Audio Bro, Yuval Shrem at Fable Sounds and Eduardo Tarilonte at samplelibraries.com. Forest Kingdom, LASS and Broadway Big Band are some of my all time favorite sample libraries. On the plug-in side, I have all of the Waves stuff, and everything that Sound Toys puts out is great.
“I have two mirrored studios, and Adam 3A’s are my main stereo speakers in both rooms. I love them. I also regularly use Bock Audio microphones- David Bock was the inventor behind Soundelux microphones which I don’t think are available anymore, but he continues to make beautiful sounding mics under his own company (bockaudiodesigns.com) and they sound better than ever!”
These days Mike Reagan spends about two thirds of his time writing music for games. The rest of the time he’s scoring television shows, and he recently scored his first feature film. So, what changes has he seen in the audio for video game industry over the last 15 years plus?
“People expect- rightly- that music will sound great regardless of the playback system a user has. We’re used to providing that quality. My first game was on the Super Nintendo platform. We had to learn how to make stuff sound awesome coming out of tiny speakers, and we did!
“I’m really excited about our new company, Redvolt Audio. Redvolt will be targeting mobile entertainment, and we’re working with some of the premier mobile game designers and publishers.”
More about Redvolt Audio and Mike’s career can be found on his website, http://www.mikereaganmusic.com.