Delu Duan is an acclaimed composer and skilled sound designer based in the vibrant metropolis of New York City. Throughout 2022-2023, Delu played an instrumental role in catapulting numerous artists to success, securing over 30 festival selections and prestigious awards. His exceptional sound design work was notably featured in the Netflix-sponsored film, "Sunflower Girl," while his recent composition and sound design contributions to "Dear Vanessa" took center stage at the NewFest Film Festival.
Delu earned his Master's Degree in Music Theory and Composition at NYU, with a concentration in Scoring for film and multimedia. Delu holds a BA in Recording Arts with a concentration in Film Sound from the Communication University of China.
Presently, Delu is the founder and owner of ICING MEDIA, a creative agency providing full-production services, where he continues to bring artistic visions to life and create immersive experiences.
When did you first encounter music, and when did you decide that music would become your work?
I began learning the cello at the age of six, and I persevered for a decade, simultaneously studying music theory and performing in an orchestra. I dabbled in composition during my undergraduate years and eventually made the decision to formally study film music, earning my master's degree in music at New York University. It's been some time since I graduated, and I've already established myself as a professional composer and sound designer. My hope is to continue this journey for years to come.
You studied at prestigious schools, what did your studies bring to you in your professional life?
I completed my master's degree in the Screen Scoring program at New York University. This program was instrumental in my professional development, offering not only hands-on experience with live orchestral recordings but also the opportunity to establish my professional profile and build valuable connections within the industry. The professors in the program were incredibly passionate about their work and were dedicated to helping students enhance their skills. Upon graduating from NYU, I gained both the confidence and the ability to pursue a career as a professional composer.
How do you create music, what is your inspiration?
When it comes to media music, my inspiration is primarily drawn from the story itself. The narrative and its unique elements guide me in crafting the musical elements that enhance the storytelling.
For pure music, my inspiration is rooted in my daily life, encompassing experiences, emotions, and even the simplest moments. When I encounter something that resonates with me, I'm compelled to translate that feeling into music. As an example, my personal EP, "Prelude," comprises four singles, each inspired by distinct experiences I've had in my daily life. My sincere hope is that my audience can connect with and resonate with the emotions conveyed in my music.
What is your favorite part of making music?
To be honest, my favorite part is when the music is finally complete. The initial phase, typically the first several days, can be quite challenging. I find myself improvising on the keyboard or humming melodies. It's not uncommon for me to feel dissatisfied with the results, prompting me to start anew with a blank canvas. Then, as the deadline looms, usually just one or two days before, I enter the final stage. During this time, I work diligently to complete the draft, often accompanied by a sense of anxiety. However, once that last note is in place, I experience a profound sense of release and am consistently satisfied with the final result.
Do you make music alone or do you have a team around you?
Typically, I work on music independently. However, there are instances where, if I'm less familiar with a particular genre or require assistance with specific instruments, I reach out to my musician friends for collaboration. In turn, they may also seek my assistance with their projects, so building and maintaining these connections has proven to be valuable. Networking and teamwork are vital in this industry.
What does music mean to you, could you imagine life without music?
I simply cannot imagine a life devoid of music, and I'm grateful that it has become not only a central part of my career but also an increasingly vital aspect of my life. To me, music serves as a distinctive language through which I express my emotions and connect with the world. Despite its abstract nature, music has the remarkable ability to forge powerful connections with us. I also cherish it for its capacity to encapsulate memories. If I revisit music I adored a decade ago, it evokes a rush of memories associated with those musical moments.
Do you specialize in any genre?
I specialize in media music, which you could consider a genre in the context of composing for various media platforms. I find great enjoyment in using sound and music to enhance narrative storytelling and create immersive experiences. It's intriguing to get to know people through their stories and to explore the unique chemistry that develops when collaborating with talented artists from diverse backgrounds.
How did you get to the Immortal Mind project?
For me, Martin Stig Andersen is my ultimate role model. His work on video games like "Limbo" has left an indelible mark on my career. The way he seamlessly combines sound and music in his compositions is truly remarkable, and I was captivated by his approach when I first experienced "Limbo." Limbo remains one of my favorite games and Martin's distinctive style continues to be a lasting source of inspiration for me even today.
Who would you like to work with?
For me, the most crucial aspect of a project is the story and its underlying concept. When considering a potential project, my initial step is to engage in discussions with the producer or director. Once I can sense a strong resonance with their story, I become genuinely interested in further collaboration. I've been fortunate to work with several artists, and upon reading their scripts, I knew they were the right individuals to work with.
What are your greatest successes?
I've had the opportunity to work on a Netflix-sponsored film titled "Sunflower Girl," which is currently premiering worldwide and will soon be available to a wider audience. Additionally, I've recently completed work on an animation project called "Her Wish," set to be released on China's largest video platform.
My journey has allowed me to collaborate with many talented storytellers, and I feel privileged to have crossed path with them. My goal is to consistently give my best effort to bring every story I work on to completion. I'm committed to supporting more narratives and delivering the finest auditory experiences to the audience.
You had the opportunity to work with whom you consider your role model?
I haven't had the opportunity to work directly with my role model. However, the community within this industry is relatively small, and the environment is conducive to networking. Through my involvement in schools, industry events, and conferences, I've had the privilege of meeting and interacting with renowned composers and sound designers in the field.
Is it difficult to make a name for yourself as a songwriter in a city like New York?
I'm a sound designer and composer, and I believe it can be a challenge for all artists initially, as New York is undeniably one of the world's art hubs. However, on the flip side, this means you have the opportunity to meet numerous talented artists, and you'll soon make connections with individuals who share the same creative vision as you. As time goes on, I've found it to be easier than I initially thought.
What are your plans for the future?
I currently manage a studio named Icing Media located in New York City. I chose the name "Icing" to represent our aspiration for our work to be the icing on the top. Our team comprises young and talented artists, and the studio is flourishing. Over the past year, we've assisted numerous artists in sharing their stories, resulting in more than thirty awards and festival selections. I anticipate the team will continue to grow and thrive. We're always eager to connect with new talents in the industry, so please don't hesitate to reach out to us!