We’re excited to spotlight one of the great music contributors on the marketplace, Lance Conrad.
Lance is a talented composer and producer, and along with creating tracks for Motion Array, he runs his own music production company, Humans Win. His work has been featured in over 100 cable and network TV shows, major films, advertisements, and platinum-selling artist repertoires. He’s also been nominated for the Mark Award, not once, but twice.
We recently caught up with him to learn about how he started creating music, what inspires him, and how he made a career out of his passion.
Tell us a little about your background and when you first started making music.
I recently moved to Los Angeles but grew up in a small town in Minnesota that was just big enough to have a regionally competitive marching band in which I played trombone. Not being totally satisfied by playing other people’s music, I started a band and became very interested in incorporating electronic elements into our live show.
I remember spending all paychecks from my first jobs on a Roland SP-808 sampler. My parents had no idea what it was, lol. After a year studying music at a university, I decided I wanted a more focused education so I moved to Minneapolis where I later graduated from a private music college with a degree in production and engineering.
I was mixing live shows and freelancing at recording studios to support myself until I found a way to build a commercial studio of my own which I called Humans Win. I produced countless records over the 10 years I operated there before diving headfirst into composing for TV, ads, trailers, and more.
What were some of your early influences?
Fun fact: I danced ballet for many years as a kid and so I absolutely love classical music. Big ups to Tchaikovsky!
I was a child of the ’80s and so I donned a jean jacket and Michael Jackson pin at all times. An uncle of mine would play Dark Side of the Moon on repeat, and I still love that record today.
Anything with a synthesizer would win me over and throughout high school, I was a techno fanboy. Aphex Twin is a hero. Radiohead was another big one.
How did you get into composing and producing music for TV and films?
I spent a number of years engineering and producing without taking any ownership of the publishing or master copyright because, frankly, I didn’t know any better. When I was first approached by a music house in Minneapolis that was interested in publishing some of the records I had been producing with other artists, I suddenly realized that needed to change.
I later felt confident that I could be making the music they were placing in TV shows on my own, and so I diverted my efforts away from producing artists to solo writing and occasional co-writes. To make the transition from paid studio projects to more speculative work possible, I pursued projects with production music libraries that allowed me to build up royalty income.
I also began dedicating time to building my stock music portfolio with companies like Motion Array because I support independent videographers and all types of businesses that want dope music to use.
This allowed me to keep putting food on my table while amassing a catalog of work for sync. From there, custom music gigs started springing up more and more often, well-established artists took notice and began coming to me to write, and music supervisors and executives started asking for more work.
How would you describe the music you create?
It may be easier to describe the music I don’t make because I’ve attempted almost every genre. Notice I said ‘attempted,’ haha.
I don’t have the chops for jazz and full-scale orchestral composition. Not even close! I have close friends that I call when I need talent on that level. Most of my work lives in pop, hip hop, electronic, indie, R&B, and rock worlds.
My discography of work with other artists also includes blues, sing-songwriter, and world styles, but most of my original work lives in sync and production catalogs, so it ranges widely. I tend to love lush, almost grandiose production, and sometimes making really simple music that can be used under dialogue is the most challenging for me. Go figure.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Being that I make music every day, I spend a lot of time sitting and staring at the screen. Although I’d like to think creativity is a bottomless well, I can only go so long before I need a walk.
Luckily, I live in a hilly neighborhood of Los Angeles, so at any given time I am only a few steps away from breathtaking views of the city. This keeps me fresh and ready to dive back into whatever I’m working on. Listening to other brilliant artists and producers is also a surefire way to find inspiration.
What are some of your favorite acts you’ve worked with and/or projects you’ve worked on?
Lissie and I covered a Rob Zombie song for the end credit of a film called Haunt by the writers/directors of A Quiet Place. It was probably the last song I would ever think to cover, but being a fan of horror films, I enjoyed every minute of making the dark, goosebump-inducing arrangement for Lissie’s powerhouse vocals.
Later that year, I produced and recorded an album with Michael Shynes at a beautiful farm in the middle of Wisconsin that had been converted into a wedding venue. The barn had amazing acoustics and being that it was in the fall, the trees were all bright yellow and red. It was an incredible vibe and I’ll never forget it.
What are you most proud of so far in your career?
I really love that I’ve had the chance to give back to the community of music makers by sharing my experiences and technical expertise. For over 10 years, I hosted internships and mentored up and coming freelancers. It brings me a lot of joy when I get a call or an email from my fellow colleagues asking for tips or advice because I always wished I had someone that I could turn to like that when I was coming up in this business.
Who are some of your favorite musicians right now?
Moses Sumney is mind-boggling. So amazing. I will likely always be a huge Tokimonsta fan. Pomo is super dope. I’d take Solange over Beyonce. Anderson Paak is a god. But most of the time, I’m decompressing with downtempo electronic musicians like Photay, Teebs, and Bonobo.
When did you start working with Motion Array?
I uploaded my first submissions in October of 2019.
What are some of your favorite tracks on Motion Array?
That’s an easy question. My two favorites are Epic Love and Spare Change. I collaborated with world-renowned cellist Cicely Parnas and piano virtuoso Peter John on these. They feel so nostalgic and peaceful. In these crazy times, I can always turn these on and feel calm again.