Santa Barbara, CA-area producer and composer Christopher Tyng began his career as a drummer and songwriter. After his style was described by friends as “visual,” he segued into composition for film and TV. During college, Tyng won BMI’s Pete Carpenter Fellowship and now splits his time between his Star Hill Studio and Los Angeles. Over his 20-plus years in the business, he’s worked with artists including Michael Stipe, Beck, Drew Barrymore and Matt Groening. He produces from a composer’s perspective and notable among his repertoire is the theme for Futurama and the music for USA Network’s hit show Suits.
Tyng’s approach to production is informed by more than two decades of composition. “It’s about taking the years of writing and producing a diversity of scores and songs for TV and film and applying [those lessons] to record and song production,” he says. “When you work in TV and movies, you do so many styles of music. I’ll go from hip-hop to African stuff to punk. It sets me up nicely to be a producer because I have so many tools at my disposal. I’m not just known as the rock guy or the dance guy.”Tyng has learned the importance of innovation and creativity in his work. “In one episode of Futurama, the crew flies back in time to 1939,” he recalls of one of his biggest recording challenges. “Matt Groening wanted the accompanying music to sound like it also morphed back to the 1930s. When I arrived at the Sony scoring stage, I quickly discovered that there was no obvious way to do that. The stage is configured to capture an orchestra in all its glory with some of the
best gear available. Lo-fi isn’t on the menu. I had the second engineer bring in several trashcans. I auditioned them all by sticking my head into each while the orchestra warmed up. When I found the one I wanted, I then placed it in the center of the orchestra and instructed the studio staff to sink one of their prized Neumann U 67s deep inside of it. We recorded through both the traditional Decca Tree mics and also our trashcan chain. When we crossfaded the mix, instant time warp back to the sound of an old gramophone! Sometimes the coolest sounds come from the craziest ideas.”
Last year Tyng established the GROW MUSIC PROJECT, which enables him to give back to an industry that’s given much to him. “GROW MUSIC is about identifying artists who are working hard to push their own train down the track but don’t have the resources or access to development and production talent,” he explains. “To be ready for TV licenses and so forth, you need to have your representation at a professional level. We help artists identify their most promising song and turn it into their calling card. It’s probably never been harder to see income directly from album sales so an avenue like film or TV song placement is or should be an integral part of an artist’s strategy.”
Tyng’s current and upcoming projects include music for season four of Suits and several new artists that he’s developing through GROW MUSIC including singer-songwriter Holly Henry. Shortly after he reached out to her, she was tapped for NBC’s The Voice.