by Sander Brandriet.
William Martens studied counterpoint, harmony, fuga, composition and film music between 1968 and 1972 with Nadia Boulanger en Darius Milhaud at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris in France. He participated in the 1970 Master Class “Music Concrete” of Pierre Schaeffer.
“Between 1969 and 1978 he was appointed as Music Supervisor/Coordinator and film composer by the French network. He studied between 1978-1983 Philosophy and Clinical Psychopathology at Amsterdam University. In 1985 he completed his study psychoanalysis with Paul-Laurent Assoun (Paris). In 1997 he earned his PhD Forensic Psychiatry at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Martens wrote more than 100 articles in international journals and chapters of books. He worked for 36 years as a psychoanalyst in forensic psychiatric hospitals and this inspired him to compose in a psychodynamic way. This means that his compositions are inspired by and are expressions of observed internal forces, drives, desires and conflicts of human beings.
All of his albums were composed and produced by himself and are available in internet shops such as iTunes, Amazon, CD Universe, eMusic and so on.
Fellow musician Sander Brandriet talks with William about music and has some very interesting questions for him. Interview below.
[Sander Brandriet] I’ve seen you have a rich history in music, at what age did you get started, and what specifically drew you to music?
[William Martens]From early age on I was fascinated by all kind and sounds and I felt a very strong need to create music myself. I made already attempts to make my own melodies or to improve melodies which I heard on the radio.
[SB] Your music has a lot of Avant Garde influences, is this out of admiration, sentiment or some other reason?
[WM] I was always most interested in musical experiments and new musical ideas. In the 60s in visited the master class of Pierre Schaeffer. He was the first one who cutted and pasted (magnetic tape) collages of soundscapes which included all kind of environmental noises (trains, ships, industrial noises, but also bells and voices) which were recorded by himself. In the the 60s he made also use of several prototypes of synthesizers which were developed by Moog and which were perfectionated by Moog in cooperated by Pierre Schaeffer and his students and which would be later lined – up of the series of famous Moog synthesizers. I the late 60s I was participating in his class we experimented with all kind of (prototypes of) synthesizers and mysterious hybrid electrical instruments. Soon after I discovered the album “Electric Storm” of the group “White Noise” and other experimental and avant-garde music and I knew that was my way. However, I learned that industrial noises and sound samples could be very effective in combination with normal instruments and orchestrations.
[SB]You have composed for film, and might some of our readers be familiar with any of your previous works?
[WM] Just a few months after the start my composition (including film composition) study in Paris we had internships at the French TV and radio stations and film studios. In the 2th year we were involved (but quite independently) in writing of scores and music supervision. I wrote a series of scores for documentaries, but I have still only old concert bands of it. But, recently I have re-recorded four of these compositions and these are included in my album Cosmic Breath (actually Part 2 and 3) and Light in Darkness (Part 1) and Dance Armada (Part 3). But, finally I specialized myself in music supervision in TV/film productions.
[SB] What would you say is the most endearing and fulfilling project you have worked on so far? And for what specific reason(s)?
[WM] I always belief that my latest project is the most successful. But, I don’t really know. It were all roads to discovery with their own challenges and strength.
[SB] You have a new album out, can you tell us a little bit about it? How was it conceived and over what timespan? Is there a message in it you would like to bring across?
[WM] My new album “Inside Out” was in fact inspired by the case story of a former patient, a remitted psychopath who became a very successful man. This story is described in my book “The Firebirds Among the Psychopaths,” which is also published last year (is available on Amazon, iBooks etc.). I wrote it in two months. It is the expression of the process of internal investigation, insight, the hard road to mental change, and finally recovery what is a very rare phenomenon in psychopathy.
[SB] Is it hard to combine your work as a psychoanalyst and your passion for music? Do the influence each other? And in what way?
[WM] Yes, that was very hard. After my conservatory time (1972) and my college time (1983) in the Netherlands I found a jobs at the University Nijmegen and somewhat later in the forensic psychiatric hospital (TBS) “Pompe Hospial” in Nijmegen first as researcher and later as psychoanalyst. This was an exhausting time and I stopped for a really long time with composition as professional job and this lasted until 2010 that I started again.
[SB] How does your creative process work? How do you get started?
[WM] I hear the music inside my head and need only to listen to it. I think about it (structure, orchestration and so on) and I write it down. My own ensemble plays it and I produce and record it. I have nice Magix Sequoia music producer equipment and mastering tools (Waves) and that helps me a lot.
[SB] I imagine doing music for specific purposes like movies is very hard because it is not your own vision, but more that of the director. Do you have any advice for aspiring soundtrack-composers that is crucial to their success?
[WM] Don’t forget that you are the music expert and not the director. Refuse to become a look alike composer, because the director request a composition that must sound like Hans Zimmer and so on. This happens a lot.
But, I have a most important advice that I already learned from my teachers in Paris. Do not make sad soundtracks for sad parts of a movie and so on. You should a different dimension to what is already there and that is the difficult part of it. It should not to be obvious. The problem is that director ask from you to make this mistake again and again. There is a solution. You can submit your music to professional film music catalogues and directors can take your finished material or not. It is there choice and you do not need make concessions.
[SB] Is there any personal message you would like to share with our readers?
[WM] Be authentic and be not too focused of becoming famous!