Marc Van Der Meulen is a magician of dark music, creating enchanting work for all sorts of spooky settings.
His cover music includes “Our Truth” Originally by Lacuna Coil, “Whispers in the Dark” by Skillet, “Breathe into Me” by Red, “If I had a heart” by Fever Ray and many more dark orchestral covers.
Beyond cover music, he also creates original music for the macabre. Madness Manifest is his newest single with the enchanting vocals of Christina Rotondo, combined with Marc’s fantastic instrumentals.
Below is the Q&A from an interview with Marc Van Der Meulen.
How did you get started in music?
It’s funny but I didn’t really start liking music until being around ten years old, but at that time it hit me hard and fast. It started with the music by Ozzy Osbourne, and quickly spread to other rock and metal acts. Zakk Wylde’s playing style inspired me to start playing guitar myself. This just kept expanding by a chain reaction. Guitar playing introduced me to Yngwie Malmsteen and classical music. Classical music made me want to play violin (and eventually viola). This went on until I heard the soundtrack of Inception by Hans Zimmer. This type of cinematic music really pulls all things I like in music together.
How would you describe your sound?
As being completely in love with the dark sound of the viola. My music is mostly about bringing out that dark style that the viola possesses. Most artists making similar music call it ‘dark cinematic music’ or something along those lines.
Who are your musical influences?
A wide variety of artists. Hans Zimmer’s work is most definitely the biggest influence. Besides this bands like Skillet, Breaking Benjamin, RED, Symphony X and the like. And besides that, numerous horror and thriller movie soundtracks.
Why did you start on YouTube?
Actually, to motivate me to finish things. When you have somewhere online to share your work, it helps in actually finishing it and forces you to decide when to finish it. The covers are a way for me to force me to keep practicing viola and to be able to hear which areas I should still improve. While you play a string instrument it always sounds better than when you hear a recording of you playing. I’d advise anyone wanting to start playing violin or the like to record themselves a lot: it will help you improve a lot quicker.
How do you think YouTube functions as a platform for musicians?
Amazing actually! Despite of the complaining I hear a lot it helps me a lot in providing a bit of income I can use to improve the quality of music I make by buying gear and the like. It takes some time to get used to and learn what works and what doesn’t, but I find it the easiest online platform to find new fans through.
How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
It changed the field a lot, but I think for the better. It has definitely helped level the playing field and allow smaller artists to make some sort of living and help get their music out there. The only downside might be that it takes a bit of work to promote your music, though I think this used to be at least as much the case before the internet.
How has the internet affected your music career?
I would not have had any sort of a ‘career’ without it probably. Most of the money I make comes from creating film music. The music I make is very specific in the types of movies it fits to. Finding the filmmakers behind these films would be near impossible without the internet, as they come from all over the world.
What are your thoughts on copyright?
I could talk for hours about this, ha-ha. To be honest, I think the intention behind copyright is great but in practice there are so many grey areas it is almost impossible to distinguish theft from inspiration. There is a whole generation of film composers working that are so heavily inspired by Hans Zimmer I think we (because I’m very much part of this group) sort of owe him royalties for our original works as well. I’m glad we have laws prohibiting stealing compositions, but I do think we think of songs too much in a sense of being created in a vacuum. A difficult problem, and I’m very glad not to be a lawmaker tasked to come up with solutions to this problem 🙂
Why do covers in particular?
It’s the best way to study a song, really get to know it and why you like it and be inspired by it in original compositions. Especially when not literally covering it but remaking it in some sort of symphonic version.
How do they tend to compare to the originals?
In my case, my covers very much inspire ideas for original work.
What is the typical process of creating a cover?
Finding a song that works as a symphonic cover, and just slowly start throwing ideas together in a cubase project file until I’m happy with the result. It takes a lot of listening, standing back at what I’ve made so far and finding things I should still fix.
What do you think about collaboration?
Collaborating is all part of the fun! Each time I’ve received a vocal track or something like that to work with it’s like opening a Christmas present. You never know what you’re going to get but I’m always excited to hear what other people contribute. There are a lot of talented musicians on YouTube that go to extreme lengths to make these covers as good as possible and it shows from the moment, I get a wetransfer file.
Are there any specific ones that stick out as favourites?
Hard to say. I don’t put out covers that I don’t like (which I’ve done sometimes) so it would be hard to choose.
What are some of your fondest memories throughout your music career?
That would be performing at the 013 stage at Tilburg with Call The Riot. It’s quite different from my YouTube work. I love the comments and the interaction with listeners but performing live for people in real life remains something special.
What are some obstacles throughout your music career?
Writer’s block. Every now and again inspiration will just not be there. It is extremely frightening every time because each time I fear the ‘it’ that drives my music doesn’t come back. It has always thus far, but I wouldn’t know what to do without it, so those times are especially scary.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out on YouTube?
Realize that promoting your music by collaborating, telling people about your music and making sure it reaches audiences is by far what you’ll be doing most if you’re going to get any kind of audience to listen to your work. I could definitely improve in this part as well. Most of us just wanna make music but be ready to spend at least half of the time on promotion if you want people to find you.
What are some projects you have in progress right now?
A few films and video games that I’m making the soundtrack for. One to watch is ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ coming out in 2021!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully still making music and having even more time ready to invest in this.