Photo by Juliet Jackson
One tool features colorful visuals that swirl and morph as you tinker with sounds

When Casey Kolb ’15, founded Lunacy, a music software company, in 2019, he challenged the decades-old norms of music technology. Music software tends to be visually bare-bones with an emphasis on practicality, while Lunacy introduced an aesthetically-oriented approach — bright colors and toggles, almost like a video game. 

“We’re on a mission to change the way people interact with audio,” Kolb says. As a composer himself, Kolb brings to the software his own passions for bending genres and using music to build worlds. 

As a kid, Kolb collected Mozart paraphernalia and always asked for new, unusual instruments for Christmas. One year it was bagpipes. When he realized that he wouldn’t have time to learn how to play them all, he turned to composing.

At Princeton, Kolb majored in music and got a certificate in computer science. He also sang a cappella with the Footnotes and wrote for the Triangle Show. 

After earning a master’s degree in film composition from Berklee College of Music, Kolb went on to compose for a number of films and TV series — including Lost in Space —and video games, including XCOM 2. 

The video game Legend of Zelda and the film Spirited Away have been major influences for Kolb’s compositions. “I remember playing or watching those and being inspired to craft this universe someone could step into,” he says. 

A couple of years ago, Kolb composed world-building music for the Avatar video game. He blended an array of instruments as eclectic as modular synths and didgeridoos. “You have this wild combination of instruments because you want it to sound alien but also familiar,” Kolb says. Generally he takes an experimental approach to composing: “My philosophy on genre is that you should try to break it at every turn.” 

Kolb got the idea for Lunacy while working on the TV series Supernatural, for which he would often need to produce long scores on a tight timeline. He started brainstorming a tool that would automate the process. Kolb founded Lunacy in 2019 with fellow composers Bryan Winslow and Max Davidoff-Grey. The software isn’t just for people who work in film — it’s for any music producers and composers.  

Lunacy first introduced the plugin CUBE. This tool features colorful visuals that swirl and morph as you tinker with sounds and textures. “We’re trying to abstract user interface components like knobs, sliders, or labels so it’s easier for people to really play with their sound in a fun way,” Kolb says. 

“When you open [CUBE] up it’s like stepping into a world like Spirited Away,” Kolb says. He hopes that the whimsical visuals help composers not get so lost in the numbers when using music software. With CUBE, it’s more about finding the right visualization.

Lunacy also offers the BEAM plugin, a granular processor, convolution reverb, and filter. Next, Kolb plans to incorporate AI, with a product expected to release in 2025. “We’re trying to just keep leveling up with each product we release,” Kolb says.