February 2017

Music+Sound Awards' juror and Emmy Award-winning sound designer and composer, Andy Sherriff, discusses here the thrill of using original 'Alien' film sound effects whilst working on the 'Alien Isolation' game trailer, how 'Walking with Dinosaurs' helped change his career path, and how technology has transformed the industry...

Can you tell us a bit about your career path to date?

So, I started off playing guitar and ‘singing’ in an alternative band from the late eighties and early nineties, rehearsing in many a dingy space in London and playing lots of the small indie venues around Britain.  After a few years we got signed and toured home and abroad, releasing a couple of albums with reasonable success.

Eventually, this came to an end, by which time I had developed more of an interest in electronic music, so with the final publishing advance I received, I bought myself an Atari computer, Emagic Notator sequencing software and an Akai sampler and began learning about sound and how to manipulate it.  I released a fair few electronic records during this period as well as remixing, midi tech-ing and doing live sound onstage and eventually front of house.

One of the labels I was signed to, Adelphoi Music, became more involved with advertising in the mid-nineties and asked if I’d be interested in pitching on some of the work that came in.  One of these was to create the sound design for ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’, which I won.  This led to nearly two years’ worth of work and ended up in two Emmy Awards for sound design.  That was nearly twenty years ago now.  Adelphoi Music has grown and I have been happy to stay with them throughout this time, composing and creating sound design for a myriad of media projects. 

What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on over the last few years?

That would probably be the trailer for the game ‘Alien Isolation’ with Axis Animation.  It was great to work closely with the director, Ben Hibon, and get to use some of the original ‘Alien’ film series sound effects.  I enjoy going back to sound design on a big scale like this.  I also particularly enjoy the creative and collaborative flow of working closely with a director. 

Has there been a most challenging one?

One of the projects that I’m working on at the moment is proving to be quite challenging as it is a live performance art / dance experience involving interactive technology.  I can’t really say more than that at this stage.

What tech / tools do you rely on most heavily?

Coming from a musical background I tend to use Logic Pro for most jobs having followed the software from Notator through to its current iteration.  I use many third party plug-ins, too many to list!

At what stage in a project do you tend to get involved?

With advertising, we can often be the last stage in a long process.  Sometimes this is fine as the client either loves what you do or doesn’t and you move on to the next spot.  There are other jobs, though, that become more fulfilling as we get involved earlier in the process and can have quite a lot of creative input.  These tend to be when the audio plays a much bigger role in the whole piece.  It is, somehow, much more gratifying to work alongside the visuals even if the edits are at an early stage.  It helps you to find a rhythm for the audio.

Have you witnessed any significant change in the industry since you started out?

Technology has changed everything.  There are no longer cycle couriers waiting outside the studios to ferry your latest pitches on a u-matic or beta tape across Soho.  The agencies and production companies are moving further afield.  Cheap memory means that a lot of the skills an engineer or musician would have to develop, like looping samples to save memory, tuning loops to fit in time and time-stretching itself, are almost redundant now.  I like the fact that I learnt these skills when there were limitations.  You had to be more creative to make the technology work for you.  I wouldn’t give up what we have now though!

Visit for more information about Andy's work.