We had the good fortune of connecting with Maclaine Diemer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maclaine, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think being comfortable with risk taking is essential for anyone in a creative line of work, whether it’s trying to get out of your artistic comfort zone on a day to day basis or making moves that will grow your career. Taking risks is scary, but with some faith in yourself, it can open doors for you that otherwise may have remained closed forever.

When I first broke into the game industry, it was as a sound designer, a job I did for four years across two different studios. I had spent most of my 20s in a failed effort to make a living with music playing in bands and hoping to make it big. I switched gears and became a sound designer because I felt there was enough crossover with what I was already good at and it would provide enough challenges that would scratch my creative itches. Plus, I could make a living wage doing it.

During those first four years, I thought this would be my career path, and that was something I was perfectly happy with. However, a couple years into my tenure at the second studio, the team decided it was time to look for a new composer to work with. My boss, the audio director, asked me if I could put together a list of potential composers. He knew I had a musical background and trusted my opinion on who might work best for the game we were making. I began making the list in earnest. I quickly realized, however, that this could be an opportunity to do what I had thought was impossible, so I asked my boss if I could take over composing for the game.

At that time, I had no demo reel of any kind that could prove I was capable of writing suitable music for the game. The soundtrack was your typical lush, fully orchestrated fantasy score, something I had never even tried to write before. I essentially gave the audio director a “gimme a chance, coach!” type of speech, asking him to have some faith in me. The strongest parts of my argument were that, after working in the studio for two years, I knew the world of the game, the creative team, and the proprietary tools the audio team used better than anyone we would get off the street, even if they were a virtuosic composer. I would make the transition to a new composer as easy as possible, as long as he trusted that I was capable of writing appropriate music. I assured them that “I can hear the music in my head, I just need time to figure out the mechanics of getting it out.”

Fortunately for me, my boss and the head of the studio decided to give me that chance to prove myself. I had to spend about three months doing two jobs. During normal working hours, I was still a sound designer. However, every night and every weekend for those three months, I put in countless hours to get my composition, orchestration, and mockup production skills to a level that would give the studio confidence in me. I listen back to some of that stuff now and wince at it, but I can hear my creative voice emerging. It was a very intense period, but when it was over, the entire course of my life and career had changed for the better.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a media composer working in games, film, and television. The bulk of my work during my composing career has been in games, and it’s a medium that I get more and more excited about every year. It’s been interesting observing the entertainment industry through the past year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic. I think it’s pretty apparent to even casual observers that the more traditional mediums of film and TV have been struggling for years with a shifting landscape among consumers. Audiences are more fragmented than ever, and I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing that can just be reversed. Games, however, are thriving. Even as Covid put a halt to a lot of productions and left movie theaters vacant, game development was mostly able to adapt, and game sales continue to be stronger than ever.

From a business and career longevity standpoint, that’s comforting. From a creative standpoint, I think games are the most exciting medium out there. Don’t get me wrong, I love what’s referred to as “linear media” in the games industry. As a composer, though, there’s an extra layer of creative challenges that come with interactivity, forcing you to work completely differently than you would in film or TV. In relative terms, games are in their infancy, despite how sophisticated they may appear to be. I believe there is so much more to discover as games mature, and I’m glad that I get to be here at this stage in the medium’s history to be a small part of that.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve said to many people over the years that LA is a difficult place to visit, but a great place to live. Its size is overwhelming when you first get here, and Google can lead you astray if you’re not careful. LA, in my opinion, requires a liaison when you’re visiting to really show you what makes it such a fantastic city.

First off, I would take them for an afternoon at The Getty Center for some art and a picnic. The view of the city is fantastic, and the whole place feels like Westworld for art. Just getting up there on the tram from the parking garage feels epic, let alone when you step out and are surrounded by pristine white marble and gorgeous architecture. I absolutely love going there as much as possible.

For dinner, I’d take them to the Sawtelle area. My favorite ramen place, Killer Noodle, is there. I like spicy food, and they offer two different levels of spice in their ramen, both “heat” spice and “numbing” spice. I can’t get enough of the numbing spice. They also peanut butter in their broth, which sounds crazy, but it’s mind blowing.

Some other places I’d go would be Hatchett Hall in Culver City because their house rolls are unbelievable, Santa Monica Brew Works for some delicious and creative beers, a night game at Dodgers Stadium for some of that sunset magic in Chavez Ravine, an LA Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl, one of the legendary places in LA that truly lives up to the hype, and a hike in the Angeles National Forest for a brief respite from the city grind.

Unfortunately, some of my favorite things to do didn’t survive the pandemic, but if they did or we could time travel, I’d take them on a night out to Lucha VaVoom at The Mayan, and dinner, beer, and old school arcade games at Button Mash. I’m shedding a tear for both of them.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give a lot of credit to my parents and my grandmother for their support throughout the years. My parents recognized early in my life that I had some musical talent and fostered it, first by getting me a trumpet in elementary school and later on helping me pay for my first guitar. My grandmother was actually the person who paid for my first month of guitar lessons, with the message that it was up to me to stick with it afterwards. I’m happy to say that I stuck with it and it’s taken me to places I never imagined! I wouldn’t be here doing what I do without their love and encouragement.

Website: http://maclainediemer.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/maclainediemermusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/maclainediemer

Image Credits
1. Sela Shiloni 2. Maclaine Diemer

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