Asbjoern Andersen


UK sound designer and recordist Matthew ‘Wills’ Williams has worked in theatre sound for many years. And now he’s launched his very first independent SFX library: ‘Ambiences Of Spain & The Festa Major’, a hugely atmospheric collection of sounds from Spain. Get the story behind this unique library – and hear the lengths he went to to bring you some of the sounds in the library:
 

Hi Wills, please introduce yourself and the new SFX library:

Hi, my name’s Wills, I’m a theatre sound designer and operator. I’ve been in the theatre industry for over 20 years and been designing sound for shows for around 15 years or so. Over the years, I have dabbled in the music industry, engineering / co producing and mastering a number of releases and also co formed a small independent record label, but theatre is my main love and takes up all my time now.

The Ambiences Of Spain & The Festa Major sound effects library is the first of hopefully many and concentrates on the sounds of Spain and the famous Festa Major of Sitges.
 

What made you get into independent sound effects?

For years, I relied on commercially available sound effects libraries when designing shows, but would often get frustrated that I could’t find exactly what I was looking for. A few years back, when portable recording devices of professional quality became affordable, I started making my own recordings and got huge satisfaction from hearing my sounds in shows. It has become a bit of an obsession with me, and almost everywhere I go, even day trips or holidays, I usually have some sort of recording device with me in case I come across something of interest. Although I will still use recordings from other available libraries, if I can use my own, I will.
 

What’s included in the library?

The majority of this library is crowd noise and ambience recordings. These are usually the genre of sounds that I struggle with most in other available libraries. Many sound effects libraries have just about every individual sound you can think of, but finding the correct ambience is often a little harder. As far as I’m concerned, you can never have enough crowd and ambience sounds available to you.

Crowds and, well, giants at the Giant's Parade

Crowds and, well, giants at the Giant’s Parade

In addition to these sounds, there are also quite a lot of firework and explosion recordings. The Festa Major in Sitges is famous for its firecrackers and fireworks display and I wanted to be able to capture those moments. There are a few files that include the sound of the Graller players. A graller is a Spanish wind instrument and along with the explosions, forms the sound of the event. Finally there are a small amount of water / sea noise and gulls, more sounds that make the experience what it is.

Not all of the recordings are from the Sitges Festa Major, it also includes recordings from Barcelona, Benidorm, Cadiz, Cartagena, Figueres and Montserrat.
 
 

Why did you go for a Spanish SFX library? And what exactly is the Festa Major?

The simple answer to this, is, I have visited Spain a number of times and have lots of recordings of places and sounds that I haven’t seen available anywhere else and I was also blown away with the sights and sounds of the festival.

The Festa Major in Sitges is a festival that happens every August to honour the shared patrons of Sitges, Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla. The festival consists of music from Graller players, processions of Moorish and Christian giants performing the dance of the Moixiganga (a traditional and historical Sitges dance which represents religious scenes from the Passion of Christ). Devils, a dragon and an eagle are also part of the procession and are filled with firecrackers and screamers which fill the small windy streets with loud noise and fire.

There are many other parts to this festival, including services, concerts and the performance of the Castellers (Human Towers). It’s all concluded by a large fireworks display over the famous church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, watched by thousands of people gathered on the beach.
 

What’s been one of the highlights recording the sounds for the library – and what was the most challenging sound to capture?

The highlights of recording this particular library was mainly being in the heart of the festival. Although there are many tourists there, the majority of people are local, so you get a real sense of the Spanish community and party atmosphere.

devilsMy biggest highlight and most challenging sound was the recording of some of the firecrackers in the procession.
The first couple of times I saw the procession, I stood at a safe distance as there were firecrackers and screamers going off everywhere, but eventually, I plucked up the courage to get right in the heart of it, literally underneath the Devils, the Dragon and the Eagle. I did burn holes in a number of t-shirts, got burn marks all over my arms, my head and a burnt eye, but it was all done in the name of art… and fun!!! (PS: Don’t try this at home, or anywhere else, for that matter!)

My other biggest highlight was the pool recordings in Benidorm. They are actually from the same pool where all of the outdoor shots for the Benidorm TV series (which I am a huge fan of) were filmed, in fact they were still filming the latest series while I was there, and myself and my girlfriend were in shot in two of the scenes, which made our day. I’m a little annoyed, as I had a lot more recordings from Benidorm but somehow I seem to have lost them. They may turn up one day, hidden away in a folder on a computer somewhere, but as far as I’m aware, they are gone….which is really annoying, as I had some great ones on there that would have featured as part of this collection. I guess I’ll just have to go back there and record them again.
 

 

Any advice for others who are looking to do their first SFX library? And do you plan on doing more yourself?

The only tips or advice I can give to people looking at doing their first SFX library is just do it and enjoy it. As long as the quality of the recordings are good, someone, somewhere, someday might need what you have recorded, no matter how random it might seem to some, and if they don’t, they don’t have to buy it. I don’t know if anyone apart from me will ever have a use for any of the sounds of a Spanish Festival or any of the other sounds there, but if they do, and especially if I get to hear about it, I’ll be really chuffed!!!

Some people take photos and videos of things they have done or places they have been, I do that too, but I also collect sounds, and to me, whenever I listen back to one of my recordings, it always takes me back to that moment.

With regards to any plans on doing more myself, yes, definitely. I am constantly recording new sounds, even if I can’t think of a time I will ever use them. I also already have a large collection of recordings which when time allows, will be compiled into more libraries. There are a couple of collections I am the middle of compiling at the moment which should be complete soon.

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A big thanks to Matthew ‘Wills’ Williams for this behind-the-scenes look at his Spanish recording adventures! Hear a preview of the library below, and get the full library here – with more than 3.5 hours of authentic ambiences from Spain.
 

 
  • Environments Spain & The Festa Major Play Track 95+ sounds included, 220 mins total $79

    Ambience recordings from around Spain – and from the famous Festa Major celebrations in Sitges, Spain.

    Featuring crowd sounds, general street ambience, fireworks and explosions, music and all the sounds associated with the festival.

    The collection also features ambience recordings from various other Spanish cities and towns, including Barcelona, Benidorm, Cadiz, Cartagena, Figueres and Montserrat.

    If you’re looking for the authentic spirit of Spain, this library gets you more than 3.5 hours of it!

    Add to cart
 
 

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