Discover how Hexcal Studio Optimizes the Workspace of an Award Winning Musician
"Having a clean and organized space is key for me to have maximum efficiency and to be in a good headspace to write"
Juan Dussán is an award-winning media composer based in New York City. His film scores are a product of on going successful collaborations with directors. Current projects include HBO’s "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" (Music Editing), Francesca Scorcese’s "Crimson Ties," and Wells Watson Jr.’s Comic book adaptation of "Red Hood," and the upcoming independent “fan made” Star Wars series. Juan has one of the biggest social media channels in the film music niche, where he shares his work, reflected in his evolving music studio. He’s worked with the industry’s biggest brands such as Native Instruments, Universal Audio, ROLI, and many more.
What does it take to become a successful musician? What are the essential equipment and everyday habits that lead to a productive career and efficient creation of music? In a recent interview with industry leading media music composer, Juan Dussán, we sought to find out. we delved into his inspiring career journey and the complex technical landscape of musical production.
Although Juan has experienced remarkable success in the media composition industry, his musical journey began at a young age. “Since I was a kid,” Juan reflects,” I had always been interested in the filmmaking process and how music is part of it. I used to create homemade videos with my school friends that I would later edit and include the film scores I grew up with, like The Matrix and Harry Potter. Later on, when I graduated college, which was very intense classical piano performance training, I decided I wanted to continue my career in a more creative and eclectic way and that’s how I started writing music for media."
Juan utilized multiple methods of learning, to approach his passion in a well-rounded, holistic manner, reflecting: "At first, I did a lot of self-learning on YouTube, and from other mentors I had in the industry, but ultimately what taught me most of what I know is having done a master’s in screen scoring at NYU, as well as working with top composers and music editors in the US. Ever since I found that media composition is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I’ve been actively working and growing in the industry and I’m very grateful for the projects I’ve been a part of.”
As an industry leading musician, Juan carefully considers the importance of his work environment, and the influence organization plays in producing his works. Juan notes that “I care a lot about its functionality and how easily I can rearrange it depending on different tasks I need to do. I don’t like to have a ton of stuff or clutter around, because I feel like staying focused in one place when I write is necessary for me. Due to the amount of work and tight deadlines I have, all the gear I have is meant to make writing more efficient and eliminate distractions.” With this attention to suitable surroundings, we asked Juan the impact Hexcal Studio has had on his setup. Juan observed, “Hexcal Studio really keeps my space visually really clean and modern. My cable management skills are pretty bad, so having this solution where I can store and organize all my cables easily is super helpful. Having a clean and organized space is key for me to have maximum efficiency and to be in a good headspace to write.”
Efficiency is also a critical aspect of any profession, yet especially so for composition. For Juan, his strategies for performance derive from eliminating repeating processes, highlighting “I think having templates and automated processes is key for me. I use a pretty large composition template in Logic, as well as other programs. In addition to this, my keyboard and iPad can trigger a lot of shortcuts and functions to save me time … Besides all my gear, I spend a lot of time curating my own virtual sample library, which is comprised of sounds that I use to compose and showcase my work.”
The necessity for advanced equipment has become an industry standard over the years. Gone are the days of sitting before an acoustic piano with a pen and paper to create and produce a score. To facilitate his work, Juan employs a plethora of technology, reflecting, “I have many pieces of gear in my studio so it’s hard for me to list them all, but my favorite ones are my computer, a Mac Studio M1 Ultra, my Universal Audio Apollo Interface, my iPad, and my Native Instruments Keyboard. These are just some of the main hardware tools to have a working media composing studio.
However, in such a competitive industry, Juan humbly reflects on the support and training that led to his success. Juan stated that “I’ve been in the music industry for over 15 years and in the film scoring world for about 5 years. I think my family has been a big support system for all the different goals I’ve set myself to accomplish. My former mentors and collaborators have been essential to keep my business afloat. I also need to personally thank Matthew Wang for being such a big supporter of my work and my career in America, and to Alan Menken for his contributions to my education.”
Sharing wisdom from experience is one of the best ways to give back to the industry and encourage the next generation of artists to develop their skills without having to struggle alone. When asked if he had any advice to empart to young composers about constructing a home studio, Juan said “start small and only get what you need to complete work at a basic level first – It’s easy to fall into the trap of purchasing every plugin and every piece of gear that comes out. Think about everything you add to the studio as an investment for the next gig, and then you can justify growing and also look forward to it. This is how I started out to build my studio, and to this date I still follow this. It not only helps me value my gear and plugins I have more, but it’s also a good way of learning how to creatively utilize everything to the max.”
Copyright 2023 Juan Dussán