Q & A: Spitfire Audio and HBO’s Westworld Scoring Competition Winner Rachel Hardy on Creating Music for the Entertainment Industry & how Content Creators can use Social Media to Grow Their Fanbase

Making waves across the globe is Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist for video games, film and television, Rachel Hardy.

In 2019, Hardy interned under leading industry talents at Henry Jackman’s Sacred Tiger Music (in Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions) in Santa Monica, CA. The following year, Hardy gained international acclaim after winning Spitfire Audio and HBO’s Westworld Scoring Competition. Her impressive musical CV continues with having composed for several video game properties for companies such as Hidden Path Entertainment, Real Game Machine and Nexon. In addition, Hardy has used the various skills in her musical wheelhouse for a variety of multi-media projects, including documentaries, podcasts & short films.

Recently, I spoke with Hardy about her path to pursuing her career, her recent projects and accomplishments and how content creators can utilize social media to grow their audience and clientele.

Kyla Pearson: For those who are unfamiliar with your music and content, can you tell us a bit about your path to becoming a YouTuber, session vocalist and media composer? What made you want to pursue a career in these fields?

Rachel Hardy: My career so far has sort of been a series of happy accidents! I actually started my YouTube channel originally just to share a video with my friends on Facebook, and when other people started watching my videos, I started making some more as a bit of a side hobby. I began University, planning on going into education when my YouTube channel started doing quite well – and I realized that the extra passive income stream gave me some room to pursue what I’ve always wanted to do. So, I started moving in the direction of composition, which had been a lifelong dream of mine. 

Now that I’ve graduated, I work primarily as a composer (mostly for video games right now) and I record vocals for various projects on the side as well. I do still make YouTube videos and covers each month!

 

Kyla Pearson: In relation to the former question, you’ve previously stated that social media has helped you launch your career. Can you tell us a bit more about that journey? 

Rachel Hardy: Yes! When my YouTube channel started to do well, I had no aspirations of being a ‘YouTuber’, and no plans on having any sort of a platform to promote my music. But over the years, I’ve learned what an incredibly useful tool social media can be to musicians and artists of all kinds. 

YouTube has given me a fun space to be creative and grow as an arranger, orchestrator and vocalist. It’s given me an outlet to share my creations with the world.  It’s also helped me to establish a platform, which has led to a lot of great connections, collaborations, and external projects. 

I’ve also been surprised at how easy it is to connect with other creatives just by reaching out. A lot of great friendships and collaborations have started that way. 

Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.
Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.

Kyla Pearson: What is one tip you’d share with an artist and/or content creator trying to up their social media game?

Rachel Hardy: As much as I think social media is a fantastic tool, it can be tricky when you’re just starting out. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers (followers, views, etc), so try to start out in the right headspace.  Remember that the best thing that social media has to offer is the opportunity to share, connect, and collaborate, rather than compete. Find some creators that inspire you, and interact! Not only is social media a great way to market your business, (or your hobby/whatever it is that you do), but it’s also a fantastic way to make some awesome connections. 

Also, I’ve learned that you have to put yourself out there as a creative if you want to work – otherwise, how will anyone know you’re out there? Social media is the easiest way to showcase your portfolio, and it doesn’t need to be complicated! It can be as easy as posting 30-second clips of a song you wrote, or a photo of some art. You never know who might see it. I’d say probably 95% of the work I book comes through social media exposure. So just go for it!

 

Kyla Pearson: You’ve done some stellar covers of popular songs from video games, film & TV soundtracks, such as “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” and “The Dragonborn Comes” from Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls. Can you tell us a bit more about how you create your covers? What has been your favourite cover you’ve done so far? 

Rachel Hardy: Producing a cover is a lot of work! I begin by deciding how I would like to arrange the song and make it different from the version that already exists. The most time-intensive part of the process is creating the instrumental track; for this, I use sample libraries (which are like virtual instruments) to create an interesting arrangement of the song. I then record the vocals, mix everything together, film, and edit. The whole process takes about a week of full-time work, but I am hoping to begin hiring some help in the coming months.

I don’t know if I have a favourite cover. But if I had to pick, every year I try to do a big collaboration (usually a Twenty-One Pilots song) with people from around the world – it would probably be those. They’re a ton of work, but a lot of fun! 

Kyla Pearson: In the video game industry, you’ve worked on projects for companies such as Hidden Path Entertainment, Real Game Machine and Nexon. Can you tell us a bit more about some of the work you’ve done? How does it differ from composing for film & TV?

Rachel Hardy: The thing about video games is that they take forever to release sometimes. Many of the games that I’ve been more involved in are still unannounced or unreleased, so unfortunately I can’t share much about those. But I can say that I have really enjoyed working on video games in the past few years – it’s something that I sort of stumbled into by accident after agreeing to an indie project last year and finding out that I loved it! Games function differently than film or TV. Video games are not as concrete and linear, so composers need to create musical environments that can change and adapt around the player’s decisions and movements. One of my favourite things about writing music for video games is the opportunity to invent the musical canvases of fictional places and environments. 

Kyla Pearson: In 2019 you completed an internship at Henry Jackman’s Sacred Tiger Music film music studio, which is part of Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions. What was that experience like and how has it helped you in your career? What’s one lesson and/or skill you learned while interning there?

Rachel Hardy: Interning at Sacred Tiger marked the beginning of my career in a lot of ways. The most valuable thing that I gained from that experience was the connections that I made. I was very lucky to have an incredible group of interns around me, some of which I still consider good friends of mine, and was also very fortunate to meet some fantastic mentors there who continuously encourage me in my career and graciously provide guidance. 

While I was there, I had the opportunity to sit in with composers and other music professionals in their studios. Being able to see firsthand how everything works behind the scenes was invaluable. I also learned how to make a mean cup of coffee. 

Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.
Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.

Kyla Pearson: In 2020, you earned the YouTube Silver Creator Award and won second place in the Spitfire Audio & HBO Westworld Scoring Competition. What have those accolades meant for you? What does it feel like to have your efforts and skills recognized by your industry? 

Rachel Hardy: Both were a huge honour to receive. At the time I received a YouTube Silver Creator Award, I had been making videos for just over seven years, so reaching that milestone was really exciting! As for the Westworld Scoring Competition, I felt really lucky to have been chosen as one of the winners, since there were a lot of entries! I originally entered to gain more experience and try a style I’ve never tried before. I was just finishing my degree in University, so the timing was perfect. I really feel that this competition helped to give me a little career boost straight out of school, and I feel very fortunate that it turned out this way. 

 

Kyla Pearson: Moving forward in 2022, what is one goal you hope to achieve by the end of the year?

Rachel Hardy: This year, I want to focus more on my music and less on other tasks. Running a YouTube channel especially takes a lot of work, so I am hoping to hire out some help for things like video editing and mixing. Other than that, I just want to always strive to put my best foot forward and make some great music.

 

Kyla Pearson: Lastly, if you could speak to your younger self and give her one piece of advice from what you’ve learned over the past 5 years, what would it be?

Rachel Hardy: When I was a bit younger, I felt like I needed to have a plan, or an end goal, for what I wanted in my career. I became so focused on those goals that I despised the process of getting there. Now, I feel like goals and plans are ever-changing, and developing as an artist is also an ongoing process. So if I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self to enjoy that process of learning and growing as a composer a bit more.    

 

Listen to Hardy’s Latest Single, “The Man Who Can’t Forget” now:

 

Stay up to Date With Rachel Hardy:

IG: @rachelhardymusic

FB: @rachelhardysings

Twitter: @RachelHardy306 

Spotify: Rachel Hardy

Apple Music: Rachel Hardy

Amazon Music: Rachel Hardy

Website: https://www.rachelhardymusic.com 

 

Works Cited:

Hardy, Rachel. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jan. 14, 2022.

Unknown. “Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.”. Photo courtesy of Rachel Hardy. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.

Unknown. “Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.”. Photo courtesy of Rachel Hardy. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.

Unknown. “Featured: Canadian composer, arranger and vocalist, Rachel Hardy.”. Photo courtesy of Rachel Hardy. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.

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