The G.A.N.G. Scholars program offers a select number of students pursuing a degree in music, sound design, or audio programming the opportunity to learn from industry veterans while being given a free pass to professional conferences like GDC or GameSoundCon. We had the opportunity to interview Camilo Forero and Javier Moreno about their recent experiences!
EL: What made you apply to be a GANG Scholar, and what was that process like?
CF: I first found out about the GANG Scholars program thanks to Michael Sweet, who used to be one of my teachers at Berklee College of Music and he recommended me to apply for it as it would be an amazing opportunity for me to meet other fantastic professionals in the industry, learn about all the amazing things they are doing at the moment to push the industry even further while also finding interesting things to use in my own projects in the future and ultimately make meaningful professional relationships with people that I would have never meet otherwise. Similarly, I was very fortunate to study with other talented individuals that had the opportunity to be part of the program in the past, and their comments about the experience were more than positive, which really encouraged me to try and apply for this year's GameSoundCon opportunity. Finally, I decided to use the application process as an excuse to measure the progress I made since the first time I applied for the Scholars program, back in Spring 2018 for GDC. Having the opportunity to rewrite my application for this fall helped me see and reevaluate what my priorities, skills and goals are and gave me an opportunity to look back and see how much I've learned and grown while working on each one of my projects.
EL: Tell me about your experience at GameSoundCon. How did being a GANG Scholar change that experience for you?
JM: Honestly I wouldn’t be able to attend to the conference without the help of the GANG Scholars Program. As an international student, to study in USA is financially very challenging and this program gave me the opportunity to attend the conference and to meet so many professionals.
The conference was amazing and very well organized, and there were so many nice talks. The first day I had a little bit of everything, from more general talks about composition, VR, sound design to more specific cases about particular games or franchises, and the second day was more panel-oriented, but very interesting too. I literally didn't stop the whole day! And meanwhile, I had a lot of talking and meeting people everywhere. I had heard that the game audio community is friendly and very opened and I could experience it with my own eyes.
CF: My experience at GameSoundCon was fantastic all around, as it gave me an opportunity to learn about things that I wouldn't have been able to learn in school, while also providing an excellent space for me to put in perspective all the things I already knew about the industry. It also gave me an opportunity to have interesting conversations with professionals outside of a strictly academic environment like Berklee, which I feel, allowed me to have more sincere and realistic conversations on what the expectations on game audio professionals are in the industry today, and what my life could look like as a successful composer or sound designer in the future. Having the chance to learn from their mistakes and stories of success also proved to be extremely useful and surprisingly inspiring. Furthermore, being able to spend some time with the speakers and panelists at the end of the event was also a great way to not only listen and acquire even more valuable information but also share some of my own experiences and professional work, and get some feedback on it.
EL: Who was your mentor, and what kind of conversations did you have with them?
JM: My mentor was Jason Hayes and that was definitely one of the best parts of my experience. He is not only an amazing composer (if you like video games, I’m sure you’ve listened some of his music) but also a really amazing and very friendly guy. He even called me some days before the conference to talk and to introduce himself. He listen to my music and he even gave me feedback! That, I appreciated so much.
And later at the conference, he was also extremely helpful and available all the time. We attended some of the talks together and he explained to me so many things about the industry. He also introduced me to so many people (some of them, very known and established audio professionals) and he was always willing to help me somehow. Another detail is that he always treated me and introduced me like a professional composer, even if I’m still at college, and that made me to feel very confortable and accepted by the community.
I’m very thankful to him to have been so nice and to have helped me so much during the conference.
EL: What are your long-term goals and aspirations in game audio?
JM: Music and video games are two of my biggest passions, so just to work composing for video games and to have a career doing that sounds like a dream come true. If I could choose, I would like to work someday in a big production/AAA game, and to have some my music in “that moment that made you to have goosebumps”.
EL: Do you have any additional comments about the GANG Scholars program?
JM: I just want to say again, that I’m extremely thankful to the GANG Scholars Program for giving me this opportunity. It was an amazing conference, full of learning, very interesting sessions, an incredibly nice mentor, and it couldn’t be more positive. I truly encourage to everyone to apply because you never know, and this opportunity can definitely change your career path.
CM: This has been a dream of mine for a long time now and thanks to the scholars program, I am one step closer to making this a reality. I cannot express how valuable this opportunity has been for me but I hope this helps you understand how I feel about the program: Thanks to the GANGScholars program I got to connect with new talented individuals and reconnect with old friends. Thanks to you, I am now part of the Igloo Music team, where I have been able to work on amazing game audio projects like Life is Strange II and Insomniac's Spider-Man. Thanks to this opportunity, I got to meet Richard Ludlow and the Hexany Team, of which I will be part of next year, as an intern.