VP Production: Change The Record


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Vlad Plotnikov and his craving to transform his number one side interest into work. He was consistently an artist, and in spite of the fact that Vlad got his advanced education in a totally different career field, he  didn't go for it and chose music. VP Production started out just as a one man individual company who made music and sound. 

Today, VP Production is a small company where everybody cherishes their work. Each day they they strive to move audience members on the two sides of varying media extends and appreciate it. Vlad takes on the role as a the founder, music composer, and audio producer; working along with his creative audio team that includes Artem Baskoev (Music Composer, Sound Designer), Mariia Marchenko (Project Manager, Casting Director), Oleksandr Falinski (Sound Designer, Music Composer), and Ruslana Kruchek (Marketer, Brand Manager).

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Interview with Vlad Plotnikov, Founder of VP Production

What’s your origin?

"I was born in Odesa, Ukraine, and I have lived here all my life. I like this city because it inspires me. Odesa is a city on the Black Sea. Whenever I want, I can come to the shore and enjoy the sound of waves and wind. In the past, Odesa was an important seaport. It welcomed many guests, so the city was developed by immigrants from Italy, France, Greece, Israel, and Germany. Moreover, Odessa has always been a touristy city, and many famous and talented people were living, working, and relaxing here. Because of these cultural heritages, the city has a European style appearance and a very friendly mentality."

What inspired you to make music?

"Ever since I was a child, I have been connected to music. I can't say for sure why this connection appeared, but according to my parents, I’ve always tried to sing and to pretend to play the guitar (usually it was a broom or a mop). I have always been fooling around, and it was mostly in a musical way. My first conscious composing happened when I was a teenager.  At that time, I had the constant and urgent need to express myself, and it seemed that none of my peers understood me. That’s when my connection with music came to the next level, and I made the first attempts to compose on my guitar. And so it all began."

Who are your biggest influences?

"Oh, it is hard to answer. I admire many artists' creativity and never really thought about the ratio of their impact on me. But I can answer for sure that I am pretty much influenced by British musician Steven Wilson's work. For me, it is a wonderful example of hard work, commitment, and courage to follow your own path. In general, I am a rock-guy, so rock musicians influenced me a lot. Among them are Jack White (ex-The White Stripes), Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Ville Valo (ex-HIM). If we spoke about modern composers and their influence on me, I would like to list John Williams, Danny Elfman, Clint Mansell, Joe Hisaishi, Max Richter, and Hans Zimmer."

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What's your songwriting process like?

"It is necessary to divide composing for my personal projects and commercial media projects. When I write music for my solo releases or Total-Empty albums (it’s my post-rock band), it all starts with an idea of what I'm feeling or thinking about and what I want to express through music. I immerse myself in this feeling, and I start to pick up the harmony and melody on guitar or piano. Everything goes very intuitively. I record the first sketches on the phone or use the Reaper sequencer. After that, I arrange, I add other instruments, and in the end, I mix and master the final result.

But everything works differently when it concerns music for games or brands. The initial stage is especially different. First, I collect all the necessary information about the project: what it is all about, who is the target audience, what emotions music should evoke in people, how and where it will sound, etc. This means I communicate a lot with the client.

Then I create an audio concept for the project. I define textures, instruments, pace, rhythm, harmonies, melodic moves, etc. I write everything down into a special secret document (ha-ha) and only then do I start to make the first sketches and discuss them with the client. This may seem more like a business approach, and truly it is. After all, the client and his audience want a working, efficient and pleasant product. Thus it requires a more rational approach. But it does not mean that creativity fades away. So far, I've managed to combine these approaches, and it gives a cool result.

The recent release of the Haydee II game with my soundtrack is a great example of how artistic freedom, creativity, and rationality can work together. I had all the means to express my personal thoughts through music, and I based everything on our team's audio concept that we developed to influence the project's target audience. The soundtrack was well-received by players, and what's more, it has become an important part of the game’s marketing campaign."

How important has networking been when it comes to working in the music industry?

"Networking is a great tool that helps people to build careers. I find it very important, but what’s even more important to me is how people use it. I regularly witness how social networks take away people's ability to be empathic and communicate normally. I see how some people are too shy, and others easily put themselves above everyone else. There's also this thing when someone is trying to sell you something so furiously that it’s almost unbearable. 

I've experienced this a few times. All these kinds of things break the concept of networking so that it becomes hard and inefficient in every sense. I strongly believe that many things in the musician's career happen due to helpful or unhelpful connections. We all need to learn how to build them and properly present ourselves, but most of all, how to be empathic and choose the right people to connect with. Strive to create something great together, not to sell yourself."

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Looking back to the very first song you've written, and seeing where you are today, what are your thoughts? How much has changed?

"A lot has changed. My first tracks had terrible quality because of recording, arrangement, and mixing. I didn’t have enough knowledge and skills at that time, but I was very ambitious. Though I think when you're 15 years old and want everything at once, ambition creates problems rather than helps. Thankfully, with time, I was able to tame myself and learn how to do work better. In general, I am very self-critical, and whenever I look back on what I did a year ago, I start to feel embarrassed. I am learning how to be less harsh on myself. Is it a good or a bad thing? I believe it is good, as it means that I notice how I am growing, but still, I am very ambitious as I was at the very beginning."

If you had the option to go back in time, what music composer would you have loved to have met, or even collaborated with?

"I consider myself a new generation composer.  I’m not really connected with the academic approach or classical composers. However, it would be curious to see how legends like Bach or Beethoven used to work. Especially in those conditions in which they lived. It seems to me that their process was totally different from what we know now. I'm not sure, though, if they would be interested in working with me, haha. But if there were a chance to glimpse their process, that would be good enough. At the same time, I have a whole life to live, and who knows, perhaps one day  I will collaborate with modern maestros."

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Working in sound design, what have been some of your favorite sounds to create?

"In fact, I haven't done sound design (meaning creating sound effects) for quite a while. Now I am mostly working on our projects as an audio producer, and I am controlling how our sound design team performs the tasks. But I always find it cool to record sounds. It's fascinating and gives room for experimentation. I often try to use unusual sounds in my music because they make it more unique and live.  Also, it seems like I’ve already recorded everything that could be recorded in my house. It is because we are creating content for our agency’s socials. This section is called #vp_transforms, where we craft music from the sounds of things that surround us."

What is some advice you can give when working with audio branding?

"If you feel like your product or company can benefit from an audio brand, my advice would be: develop it. Please don’t shy away from the sound and its capabilities. And don't be afraid to stand out. Find the right person to help you make your brand more confident, understandable, and attractive to your audience. Only big brands have thought about their sonic identities until recently, but we're now living in an era of huge competition and a battle for consumer attention. And it is a great time to start working on your own brand sound."

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What has been your biggest challenge as an artist and creating the company VP Production?

"Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t have any mentors or advisers at the beginning of my career. The biggest challenge was that I had to learn many things besides my core specialization (music composition and sound). I had to understand how to work in all related areas: from creating my first website to legal questions. Thanks to these, now I know a lot, but it was damn difficult (and remains so, haha). Now I have reliable partners who help me a lot. I love and appreciate them very much."

What is the best advice you’ve been given in your music career?

"Don’t be afraid to be unique."

What are your future goals in music?

"I really want to try to work with AAA game companies as a composer. I am very interested to see how the work with «big guys» would go and whether I could bring something new to their project in musical terms. In general, since I was a child, I have been a huge fan of Spider-Man, and I still dream of working on any music for a project with this hero. And as for audio branding, we are now developing this direction in Ukraine, and we are starting to work with major brands. I’m not talking about creating music for advertising or jingles for radio, but about creating unified systems and audio strategies for our future clients."

What would you like followers and other potential clients to remember VP Production by?

"We want to be remembered for the emotions that we give to our clients and listeners. If our work makes people happier, even for a little bit, or inspires them to do something and makes even minimal positive changes in their life, we will be beyond happy. After all, our tagline is ‘Change the Record’."

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