The Audio Maximalist
Self-described as "an audio maximalist exploring the illusion of minimalist sound," Dalton Newman '20 employs technology to advance his growing business.
With majors in music & technology and visual arts & technology, Dalton Newman '20 graduated from Stevens with expertise that cut across disciplines.
Recently, the College of Arts and Letters chatted with Newman and learned how he transforms his hybrid interests into business savviness.
Can you tell us a little bit about the company you launched?
I am the founder and lead developer of Grus and Sown, a sound design studio with a focus on the exploration of abstract sound sculptures and arcane processes.
Grus and Sown launched at the beginning of 2022, and our company slogan is “Consciously Elegant Sound Design.” Since the conception of my company, there has already been a release of a sample pack called Wraiths. It is a full production sample pack featuring an assortment of brittle and fractal sound-designed textures and one-shots. This pack was an experimentation with lossy compression and a variety of granular processes.
How is technology powering the company’s upcoming projects?
I currently have a few projects I am working on. One of them is set for a release sometime next year and is a collection of esoteric Max for Live devices. A few of the devices are pretty far along, such as a reverb and compressor, while others are still in their early stages.
Slated for a late 2024 release is a sample library exploring fringe organic and electronic playable textures. For any of my sample-based products, I source the material for the sound design in several ways. Most often I create sounds using soft-synths for the sake of flexibility and convenience.
As of the past few years, I have gravitated toward working with a variety of modular and analog synthesizers. The tactile experience is very liberating. There will be a portion of the library focused on aberrant MPE (Midi Polyphonic Expression) patches. My plan is to release the library with 200-300 base patches but continue to provide updates with new textures every few months or so. I am seeking to more fully develop this by the summer of next year.
You also work as an audio editor. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Since October of 2021, I have been working as an audio editor for Audio UX—an audio branding agency specializing in audio logos, UX sound design, automotive sound design, audio for voice experiences, and more.
My first experience with the company began when I was a junior in college looking for an internship. I got into contact with Eric Seay, the co-founder and CXO. The company was not looking for an intern at the time, but I continued to reach out regardless. A year after graduation Audio UX was looking to hire and I once again expressed my interest in joining the team. This resulted in conversations with John Kallen, the co-founder and creative lead. I was given a test trial and began working with them shortly thereafter.
When at Stevens, how did you find success through collaboration?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the music & technology and visual arts & technology programs. As such, I had the chance to collaborate with students that worked in a variety of disciplines: film, performance, video games, music production, to name a few. You can truly learn a lot through collaboration so I highly encourage it. It is a chance to not only grow together but to make lasting friendships.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Firstly, I believe everyone has had experiences where the odds of completing a given task felt nearly impossible. But in the end, we are always capable of getting what needs to be done actually done. Remember the next time you have that assignment, test or whatever it may be: no matter how unattainable it may feel, you can and will get it done as you have so many times before. Do not stress about it, because it’ll be over before you know it. It is far better to save yourself from stress when you can and preserve your mental health.
Secondly, live for the moments, for the present. It is very easy to get caught up in everything you do. To look forward for the next day to come because you want to move on to one that may be easier and present fewer obstacles. But the truth is before you know it, the time has passed. Pack as much into each day as you can because it is not the days that you will remember in the end, but the significant moments that make them up.