Audeze talks to film composer and record producer Rayshaun Thompson

Rayshaun Thompson is a film composer, record producer and EMMY nominee whose work spans a wide spectrum, but always aims to stir emotions and create a strong vibe. Until recently, he used only headphones to monitor, but says "I ended up getting a pair of Adam Audio T5Vs shortly after I got my Audeze cans and I actually can't tell the difference between when I have them on and when I don't... Which is so amazing. When I have my Audeze cans on, it's like having a natural pair of monitors on my ears."

Rayshaun Thompson working on a film with his Audeze LCD-GX headphones

"Working with Audeze headphones has changed my work tremendously. There’s such a natural sound to them." - Rayshaun Thompson
Here's our chat with Rayshaun:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

You know, There’s a lot of moments that come to mind and I’m very thankful, But when I landed my first trailer placement, It kinda tripped me out. Watching TV with my family and hearing my music play on an ad for ( The Theory Of Everything ) to this day just gets to me…. Aside from that I got to go to Hans Zimmer's studio back in 2019 and still haven’t recovered lol. I was visiting a composer friend of mine ( Atli Örvarsson : The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Etc ) and just being in the building where so many of my favorite scores were written is probably one of the biggest highlights for me.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

It depends on which hat I’m wearing, As a Record Producer my role is to try and make the best sounding record I can with an artist. It’s about perspective and delivering a song that will stand the test of time. When I’m working on tracks for artists - Me and my production partners goal is to make something that stands out. But as a film composer, My role is different. I’m actually helping to tell the story and so my process is entirely different. I kind of put myself in this space where I imagine that I’m actually in the story I’m musically trying to help tell. It’s a lot of fun…

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I actually got started with music playing the drums in church, Ironically it wasn’t always something I enjoyed doing. But drums turned into rapping and then rapping turned into making beats and producing and eventually that led me to wanting to produce different types of music. Growing up I listened to a lot of hip hop music and then I got into all types of music shortly there after. By the time I was 18 I was listening to everything from Hip Hop, to Classical, to Rock, and nowadays I listen to just about everything, I love listening to film scores and Dark Ambient music though.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Back in 2012 I was living in California and managing an indie band “ Breach The Summit.“ We went on a small CA tour and I ended up being introduced to a whole new world of indie rock music. It was amazing and then somehow that led to me noticing “ post rock “ as a genre. A lot of films I watched consisted of scores that had a lot of Ambient Rock and by the end of 2012 I had made the decision to become a film composer. I left CA and moved to Florida and from there the rest is history. I’ve always loved film as long as I can remember, One of the craziest and most influential  things to happen that sort of kept me on this journey was, Back in the MySpace days. I actually for a brief moment got to chat with Director James Wan. At the time I had no interest or didn’t know I had the interest rather, in being a film composer. But hey I loved the Saw movies and had produced for a few rappers at the time so I figured perhaps one of the songs I produced could end up in a movie he Directed and I recall him saying something along the lines of “ Anything is possible “ lol.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

When I first got into film scoring back in 2012/2013 In order to Kinda build a resume I began saying yes to just about every project that came my way. I recall having maybe 6 films to score back to back, it was a nightmare lol. I learned to dial it back a bit and only focus on the projects and the stories I wanted to help tell. But if I’m being honest I don’t think I would change a thing about it. Yes I was stressed because at the time I had maybe scored 1 film, and figured I could do this all day. Lol without actually knowing if I could. Which for the record I couldn’t, So now I pace myself. I can score a number of short films but when it comes to feature films I keep it under 4.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

My favorite instruments to use on my projects are mostly Guitar and Cello. I typically get asked to score a lot of Horror films, Thrillers etc. So I have a ton of fun making sounds and creating evolving atmospheres with Guitar and Cello as the sound source. One of my favorite plugins to do this with is “ Blackhole “ by Eventide. It’s incredible.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Regroup and try it again. Over and over until it happens. Keep God first. It’ll happen. Take it from me. The guy with no monitors who moved to FL from LA and decided to pursue a career as a film composer lol.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve always worked with headphones. I’ve written the scores to over 35 films both short films and features on headphones. I’ve also produced for rappers like Earthgang, 50 Cent, Scarface, Little Brother , Joyner Lucas, Etc… Every track I’ve ever made or was involved with on my end was done in headphones. I love it. I’ve tried monitors and I will eventually get monitors but I’ve purposely used headphones this entire time.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

I have to shout out to 3 guys that put me on to your products: Mez (Engineer for J Cole) , Steve Davis (Film Composer), and my production partner Ralphie O.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

Working with Audeze headphones has changed my work tremendously. There’s such a natural sound to them. I would always worry about my mix whether it was with Music production or Film scoring , But I can honestly say that since using them, I don’t worry at all anymore and what’s really cool is that since using them, I’ve been asked if I can mix a few projects. Which tells me that others can tell the difference in my sound too.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them so far?

I’m currently scoring a Horror Video game by an up-and-coming company called Tilted Games. My scoring team 'Controlled Noise' and I will be working on a feature film called Random Acts Of Violence as well as a Mini TV series called Tremble and on the music production side, Me and My production partner RalphieO are working with these artists ANoyd, Nefertitti Avani, BIGSTAT, Fuegobase, and many others.

Rayshaun Thompson's Audeze LCD-GX headphones