“They say, ‘Get it done by next week’ – I’m constantly given tasks like this”: TV composer Nathan Micay on tight turnarounds in the industry

“You do it, and then at the end, the directors are happy and everyone’s happy.”

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TV composer Nathan Micay has been discussing what it’s like working in the industry in a new episode of Scuba’s Not A Diving Podcast, and it’s an eye-opening listen.

The composer, who’s also an electronic music artist, has scored TV series including Industry on HBO and BBC, and the new Paramount+ drama Sexy Beast and discusses layering real orchestral recordings with recordings from Spitfire Audio and NI string emulation plugins on the podcast.

He was asked if he could add a full orchestra into Sexy Beast, but only had a week to do so. He says, “We had a very limited amount of time … I was working with string emulation – they’re like, ‘These sounds great. But you know, it would be great if we did it with a full orchestra.’

“I was like, ‘Sure, no problem. What’s the budget? And how long do we have?’ And they’ll be like, ‘Oh, we need it by you know, next week,’ and that’s just not going to happen. You’re constantly given tasks like this, where they’re like, ‘Here’s the budget, just get it done by next week.’

“What I would do is just record myself playing stringed instruments in layers to try and emulate an orchestra and then put that on top of string libraries. And then you get this sort of hybrid sound of real, separately recorded, strings that I’m doing on top of an orchestra. I got this idea because I listened to quite a lot of interviews with composers and during the pandemic, obviously, nobody was recording full COVID-infested, disgusting orchestras. So they were doing it person by person through Zoom, which is interesting, and it seems to have worked.”

He describes it as time-consuming and says that he had around 200 channels because you’re “constantly consolidating” files. “But you do it, and then at the end, the directors are happy and everyone’s happy.”


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