Julius Dobos is an electronic music composer, sound designer, film composer and professor for music production in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a renowned psybient producer, he is also known under the alias forgotten future. In this interview, he talks about his colourful life story and cutting edge production techniques.
Find out, how frei:raum once saved Julius’ day.
S: Hi Julius, tell us your story!
Who are you and what brought you to composing music? How did you find your personal musical voice?
JD: My name is Julius Dobos, I’m an electronic music composer, sound designer, performer in the psybient and ambient area… nowadays I work under the alias forgotten future. I’m also an ex-film composer, a music production professor, and an explorer of creative philosophies.
My earliest memories of playing with the idea of composition come from the unique sounds of electronic music that mesmerized me as a kid –sounds that my piano didn’t produce. I tried to visualize the sounds, the environments they created in my mind, and went to bed with headphones, usually falling asleep while listening to late ’70s electronic music that my parents introduced me to at a very young age. I started studying piano when I was 5, and went to a music-focused grade school. A few years later I realized that I really hated practicing classical music.
So, soon I composed my first piece… I was around 9 at that time. After that, it was a given activity, an automatic progress, which then became a way of life. I was writing music for advertising as a teenager, then released a few orchestral and electronic albums, and finally got deep into the film scoring industry.
S: In your early 20s you moved to the USA. It must have been a huge step for you personally. How did you manage to become and stay successful in this highly competitive market?
JD: Yeah, it was definitely a huge step! I was 24 with a platinum album and a couple of feature film scores under my belt, running my little music production business. Definitely a promising outlook, you would say. I felt that I was ready for a bigger market, new challenges. I was interested in a Hollywood career and, well, I was young. My clients and even most of my friends that I had known through my work in the music business were in Europe. I worked with Roland (beta-testing and writing demos for new synths) and had friends in the synth scene. When I moved to the US, I had to give all that up. Of course that was way before being able to stay connected through Social Media!
Arriving to Dallas, Texas was a culture shock on its own. Soon I realized that almost nobody there had ever heard of even Kraftwerk, let alone my humble work in Europe. So I had to start afresh and re-build almost everything from zero. I didn’t know anyone. The advantages I did have, though, were my prior music and synthesis experience, my comfort level with the production process – and a strong European style! So I used all that, with a good deal of motivation and patience. A few months later I was working on DragonBall Z for Cartoon Network, a few years later with some Hollywood studios.
The key was that I kept the work for clients and my personal music separated – the industry rarely cares about your personal taste.
S: Next to your artistic work as forgotten future, you have composed for many film projects, you are teaching music production and work for the music industry. How do you find the right balance between the different roles and where lies your main focus?
JD: That’s a great question. It used to be my biggest struggle. I was wearing two hats for many years: during the day I was a hired composer, sometimes a ghostwriter, producer, sound designer, mixing engineer – whatever the project was. But during the night and weekends I was working on my own sounds and music, and was developing my creative philosophies – the things that really mattered to me. I got proficient at the industry work, but it wasn’t too challenging creatively. At the same time I wasn’t productive enough with my own music either. You know, the most exciting, original work happens when you enjoy the creative process. However, it’s hard to enjoy the emotional side of composition when you’re working under stress and deadlines forced upon you by production clients… and by your basic need to make money.
You know, the most exciting, original work happens when you enjoy the creative process.
In 2012 I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and started teaching audio and music production at a unique digital arts college as a distinguished professor. This has changed everything: instead of my energy getting used up by clients, I’m now getting inspired by my students. Lecturing and giving workshops keep me up to date with tech and focused on my own work at the same time. It leaves me with lots of creative energies to compose without rules and explore new sonic directions. I am extremely lucky to be in a position now where I can chose if I’m creatively interested in working on an external project, or rather spend time on developing deeper concepts for forgotten future. So it’s still a balancing act, but I’m getting better at it.