Updated: Oct 21, 2019

W.O.W Sound Interview - Sing Ern & Sing Huey

W.O.W Sound Interview - Sing Ern & Sing Huey

This Interview with W.O.W Sound founders Sing Ern & Sing Huey will give you insight on two people (twins) from Singapore who took it from working in-house, composing music for video games and designing sound effects for them too, all the way to making their own company and hiring others at W.O.W Sound.

If you want to learn about how you can become a more independent artist in the audio industry, whether you make beats for hip-hop, EDM, or VGM, this interview with the founders of WOW Sound will give you some valuable information, including;

  1. Where you can go for inspiration for making video game music
  2. Reasons to start your own audio company (and when you should do it)
  3. How to grow your own company through in-house connections and experience
  4. Plugins you can use to make anime/cartoon sounds
  5. Much more…

Sing Ern Lee and Sing Huey Lee created a company together called W.O.W (Walking On Water) Sound. There, they make royalty-free music and sound effects for video games that are not content ID registered, meaning you don’t have to worry about content ID claims on YouTube.

Q: Let's start with your background in music/audio and what you're doing now. What inspired audio as a career?

We really loved playing games since we were young. We played Gameboy, consoles like Playstation 1-3, Sega, and also MMORPGs like MapleStory, Runescape, and Hellbreath, to name a few. We also loved watching anime, animation movies, and remembering loving many soundtracks from the anime and games we watched or played. 

We were also into J-rock and Visual Kei in our teens, and that inspired our decision to pursue studying music in high school. As we were studying at LASALLE College of the Arts in 2012, Sing Ern happened to chance upon an opportunity to create music and sound design for games. That sparked our interest in game audio, and we have been doing game audio since then.

We loved music from Legend of Mana, Threads of Fate, Final Fantasy Series, Studio Ghibli movies, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Animal Crossing, and many many more! We are always amazed at how much music can enhance a game or movie and help tell a story.

Q: Why did you decide to make your own company instead of getting a comfortable job working for someone else?

It was really difficult for us to find any game audio full-time jobs in Singapore after being let go from Boomzap Entertainment. We decided to work on a freelance basis first and heeded the advice of our friends who encouraged us to set up our own company as it might give our clients more assurance to work with us. This was how we started our company, W.O.W Sound! We stumbled into the decision of making our own company.

Q: Looking back at your experience with Boomzap (or any in-house job), would you have done anything differently like starting out freelancing instead or even on the side while working in-house?

I have no idea how I could have started out freelancing without any experience or connection. It’s not easy to find clients initially, so it is ideal if you could find a company to work in-house, even as an intern.

In a game company, it is helpful and effortless to build relationships and connect with people from the same industry! Many of our current projects came about because of friends made in the game industry while we were working full-time.

Moonlighting, while working in-house, was not allowed. However, we did ask for permission from our boss to work on a recording project of our local Singapore coffee shop ambiance. We also had the opportunity to work on many different genres of games in both Boomzap and IMBA interactive. That kind of diversity of game projects certainly helped us to grow our skills in both sound design and music composition. We are very thankful for that!

We don’t think we would have done anything differently. Probably just making use of lull periods more efficiently by reading up more on any sound design tips and finding tutorials on how to better use the sample libraries that we own.

Q: What are important steps a composer or sound designer should take to start (and grow) their own audio company?

We believe it’s essential to work for someone else first and learn from them how they manage their company. We feel that it’s also important to surround yourselves with mentors/like-minded friends who are ahead of you in their business.

Learning what worked and not worked for them in their company could save you lots of time from trying business ideas that may not work. Your mentor does not have to be in the same field but who has more experience than you in business. We had friends/mentors that taught us ways we could market and brand our company, and we are very thankful for that. 

Having the right skill sets in audio is only half of the business, learning to market and brand your company is equally important. Marketing and branding our company is something we are still learning, and we put a high priority on it.

Business aside, there are always many different creative ways to create and design sounds! Should never be limited by the equipment you own. The YouTuber, Marshall McGee, shows us that you could even sound design using sounds recorded on an iPhone! What an inspiration! You could also borrow or rent audio equipment from your friends. It is also important to know that you cannot do everything yourself and to get help from people. 

Take achievable little steps and set small goals for yourself, don’t set goals too far that makes you give up even before trying.

Q: Since you started W.O.W Sound while working at IMBA Interactive, how important is it to start your own company while working for someone else?

Throughout our working experiences working for someone else, we discovered what worked for us and applied them to our own company. It helps to have a stable income every month because a company takes time to grow. We had a monthly salary, which made us less stressed out and also gave us the finance to invest in W.O.W Sound as we started this company with no capital. It took us around two years before we saw fruits from W.O.W Sound and chose to work on this business full-time.

Q: What kinds of plugins do you use to get that anime & cartoon kind of sound? Any others you would recommend for genres around that?

For the Silly Comedy Music Pack, it took us a while to find the right sounds for each music. We want to make sure each instrument from the different sample libraries blends nicely with each other.

Woodwinds: We like CineWinds’ woodwinds because they have a solo wind section. The sample sounds are bright and realistic and able to cut through the mix in the music. There are also some ‘cartoon’ sounding flute in EWQL-Goliath, but they are a little dull, so I used SoundToy’s radiator to brighten it up. In the track Couch Potato, we used Goliath’s 80-Ocarina as the main melody doubled an octave higher with 79-Human Whistle, which gives an extra bright and cartoon sound to it.

Brass: Session Horns Pro has one of the more expressive solo brass patches if you do not have a budget to record live players. It allows you to easily change between different articulations, making a brass solo instrument sound more ‘lively’.

Rhodes and Piano: Keyscape. Really expressive and beautiful keyboard sample library. Our go-to for keyboard sounds! 

Bass: Trillian has some nice and warm acoustic and electric bass

Percussion and Flexatone: Play EW Symphonic Orchestra Percussion/CinePerc.

Addictive Drums 2: Sing Huey personally like this because of the drum presets and midi files that could be purchased. It is beneficial for someone who is not very familiar with composing for a drum track. Many of Goliath’s patches, like GM Percussion, is suitable for the cartoon kind of sound. The samples in Goliath are quite realistic yet not too realistic so it gives a modern cartoon kind of sound.

We highly recommend Arturia for creating synth-like anime magic sound and also cartoon kind of sounds. We usually go through presets found in Arturia's synths such as CS-80V, Jup-8 V, and Analog Lab. When we hear something we like, we will record down some samples of it. Then we further edit it by adding effects like EQ, compressor, delays when necessary. We also love using plugins from Soundtoys to change up the sound even more. 

We recently also purchased Tsugi that allows you to generate a lot of anime-like sound effects that are pretty good! We have not used it for any of our sound effect packs yet, but we like the sounds generated from this program!

Q: Is there any advice you two would like to give to composers, sound designers, or anyone else in the audio industry that you haven't mentioned already?

Our seniors in the industry often tell us that a good working attitude is often more important than talent. Especially during the rush period, you want to be working with someone reliable, trustworthy, and can deliver the work on time.

It is also good to be humble and see things from another’s perspective. Personally, there are many occasions where I have been given suggestions by non-sound designers that I did not agree with at all. However, when I applied the recommendations, the sound design work sounded much better! That made me realize that it’s essential to be open to constructive criticism though there are times when the suggestions are still bad, in my opinion!

In conclusion, I believe that as a composer and sound designer, our role is to help the client to bring to fruition their desired style and goal for their game. It’s about understanding what the client’s needs and helping them to achieve their objective.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with two very talented artists who started their own audio company. The takeaways from this interview with Sing Ern & Sing Huey, so be sure to share it with a friend in the audio industry!

As always, thanks for reading.

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