The American dream, at least the musical version of it, is alive and well. Anyone who needs proof of this can simply ask Indian born guitarist and composer Nipun Nair. He left behind an extremely successful career in his homeland with the band Public Issue.
The group was featured on India’s VH1 and MTV. Public Issue performed headlining tours, playing many festivals, and winning multiple awards (Nipun has won 20 awards for best guitarist in national level competitions). The loss of the band’s bass player in a tragic accident placed Public Issue on hiatus and, after some time away, Nair set his sights on furthering his career in America. In a narrative that seems too optimistic to be true, Nipun landed in LA and went straight to a T Mobile store to obtain cell service. The salesperson who sold him his cell plan was in a band called Destino with (at that time) an undiscovered singer named Anthony Cruz. The two exchanged information and within three days Edgar (the musician/ T-Mobile salesperson) called Nipun to play guitar in the band. Within Nair’s first week of living in the U.S. he was now booked at legendary clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go, the House of Blues, and many others on the iconic Sunset Strip. It wasn’t long before Anthony Cruz was discovered by Randy Phillips and Deborah Corday (music industry legends famous for work with Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Toni Braxton, and more). Nair began his role as the guitarist on Cruz’s songs with songwriter/producer Rafael Esparza Ruiz (known for his work with Santana, Ricky Martin, Chayanne, and many other world famous Latin artists).
The Grammy nominated and ASCAP Award winning Rafael saw Nipun with Cruz onstage at a live performance and confirms that he was instantly aware that Nair was a major asset to the music. Esparza also used Nair to play guitar on a host of other Latin songs he was producing. One of these songs, “Inesperado” has already been selected by EMI music for future release by world-famous artist Anahi. Rafael states, “As an internationally renowned musician, Nipun was undoubtedly leading and crucial to the recording of the songs and to my studio.” He continues confirming, “It became immediately apparent to me upon working with Nipun that he was not simply a session musician, but an artist in his own right. I was amazed at the skill and mastery he has with the guitar. Needless to say, I was overjoyed with his work and would collaborate with him again in a second.”
Not only delegated to the world of rock and pop music, Nipun composed music for The Little Theater in Nungambakkam, India. This brainchild of Aysha Rau provides a creative and educational outlet for children to explore the arts in a way not provided by the school system. The Little Theater has quietly been helping underprivileged children since 1991. Its original musical production of “The R.E.D. Bean Can” was one of only 6 productions selected from among 60 all over the world to play at the 22nd International Theater Festival for the youth at Hamaden, Iran. The Little Theater was recognized for its achievements and selected as #10 Best Theater in India by Broadway World. The productions, featuring Nair’s compositions, have played to sold out crowds across Europe and Asia. Nipun revels in the challenge and experience relating, “Working with the Little Theater has been nothing short of an adventure; always pushing the limits of our creativity. We push our productions each year to go one step further, often resulting in incredibly tight deadlines. It is an extremely creative and inspiring project for a musician to be a part of. I scored the most recent production of nine tracks within a week and a half. It turns out that some of your best work comes out when you are under pressure. I’m extremely proud of two productions I have done for The Little Theater. ‘Atita…The Curse of Xenu’ (a post apocalyptic sci-fi Broadway style musical for which I composed the music, trained the vocalists and musicians, and actively involved in brainstorming the plots of the script) and The R.E.D. Bean Can. Both received international attention.”
Continuing his work in live theater here in the U.S., Nair became the in house composer for the Theater of Will, a non-profit arts education company based in southern California. Willard Simms is the president and artistic director. Simms has achieved major notoriety for his work in Biographical drama (winning the 2014 New York Theater Solo Fest award for Best Biography “Einstein: A Stage Portrait, which has also been aired on televisions in the U.S. for three years). Theater of Will is dedicated to biographical theater and school education programs. They stage dramatic presentations that extend the knowledge of great and influential historical figures on the public stage. Sponsored by LADWP, the musicals focus on the importance of water conservation in both an entertaining and educational format. Simms confirms, “Our shows could never have attained the degree of success that they have without the leading contributions of Nipun Nair.” The theater performs annually at the Grand Park in downtown LA every year (among other performances) and performs in front of thousands during the summer concerts and plays at Warner Park.
Dreaming is a Private Thing, a film produced by Alan Sardana, taps into the increasingly popular concept of Artificial Intelligence. The film was featured at the Toronto Youth Festival and won the award for Best Production Design at the Ryerson University Film Festival in Canada. The question of “where does machine end and humanity begin” is approached in an original way in this tale (based on a short story by Isaac Asimov) of an android named Sam the sampler. Set in the distant future, Sam’s creator is the last filmmaker on Earth and Sam is essentially a camera in human like form. The cast includes Leo Lee (Swordfish, Contact, The Replacement Killers), Susie Park (Spider-Man 2, The Chaos Factor), and Dan Mousseau as Sam. The emotional theme of the film is one of birth, awareness, and even love. To enrich these themes and bring them to the surface, the filmmakers asked Nipun to create a score. What he composed is a dreamy and soothing soundscape that draws upon elements of blues and classical music. Dreaming’s director AJ Smith approached the composer after hearing some of his music online. Nipun recalls, “He [Smith] asked me if I’d like to score the film. I said ‘Absolutely!’ We were short on time, preparing for the festivals. They would send me scene after scene and I kept churning out music…we finished scoring the entire film within three days. It was crazy! I’m glad they were so happy with my work, especially considering the time frame we had to work with.” Director AJ Smith praises Nair commenting, “Upon the first listen, I was instantly impressed with the music Nipun created for the film. He seamlessly merged ambient electronic sounds with a more commercially minded orchestral score to tremendous success and effectiveness. It was a major achievement to have a score like this in our film.”
As with many other modern composers and artists, Nipun has found an outlet for his talents in a somewhat more practical outlet avenue. Still exercising his creative abilities, Nair has been lead composer and musician for Rubecon Creative Solutions. Rubecon is a large, award-winning advertising agency in India known for national and international clients such as; Citiband, Ibaco, Arun Ice Cream, Prince Jewelry, and others. Nipun views working with Rubecon as a great opportunity noting, “Rubecon is a creative agency that is always looking to make their commercials as creative and big as possible. Working closely with their CEO and creative head Alexander Zach has been nothing short of inspiring. Working with Rubecon has helped me push the boundaries of my composition and to further my skills with each project.” Rubecon Creative Solutions has been recognized with awards like the Gold award at the Campaign for Dignity and the prestigious Silver Medal for the Times of India at the 2015 Goafest, proving that Nair’s talents have been a major contribution to the company’s impact. Nipur may soon be using his skills in the same arena here in the U.S. via a deal memo with Terremoto Productions. Terremoto is an audio production company founded by award-winning music composer Luis Guerra. His compositions have been featured in commercials for Honda, Samsung, and Mentos, as well as the Netflix documentary Art of Conflict and the Tina Fey feature film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Among other projects, Nipun would take part as a composer and musician for Disney Junior Channel’s Doc McStuffins. No doubt his time with The Little Theater will greatly aid in his ability to communicate with younger generations. With so many possible paths for Nipun’s career to steer towards, it will be interesting to witness how he navigates them all.
Film composer and orchestrator Emily Rice has assembled a career that’s characterized with coveted, outstanding achievements many pursue and few obtain. Rice — born and raised in London — has punctuated her presence in the realm of film and TV, doing so behind the cameras with impactful music that’s integral to cinematic storytelling at its core.
It’s been a prolific year for Rice that’s included her musical brilliance dispatched to 11 different film and TV titles such as director Kavi Raz’s feature historical drama, “The Black Prince,” that’s produced by the management-production power, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Castille Landon’s feature family adventure, “Albion: The Enchanted Stallion,” starring Jennifer Morrison (“House”), Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”), Stephen Dorff (“Blade”) and Oscar nominee John Cleese (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”), the feature drama, “93Days,” from director Steve Gukas and WGN’s historical drama series, “Underground,” starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“The Great Debaters”) and Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton”).
Throughout her impressive tenure, Rice’s music has been heard in a copious collection of films including “Najmia,” an award-winning bio drama based on Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, for which Rice received a Best Composer nomination at the 2015 Underwire Film Festival (U.K.), as well as in “Lost Girls,” that stars Bar Paly (“Pain & Gain”), Marisol Nichols (“Scream 2”) and Siena Goines (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) and the award-winning animated short, “Cowboys in a Saloon.”
An alum of the University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program, Rice has recorded and conducted her own original material at both Warner Brothers and Capitol Records. She has collaborated with a who’s who list of talents including the Emmy and Grammy-winning composer, Laura Karpman, and Brian Tyler, who composed for box office sensations such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Furious 7” and “Iron Man 3.”
We recently had the chance to visit with Emily to get an insiders look into her own story that we are proud to present today!
What was your initial inspiration to pursue a career as a composer and orchestrator for film and TV?
ER: My initial inspiration was actually the singer-songwriter, Björk! I’d studied her music videos as part of my undergraduate degree and found them to be a really powerful storytelling tool. As soon as I realized that I also enjoyed writing music, music for film and TV became the obvious choice. As a kid I wasn’t that into film though, it was always music, and my parents didn’t watch a lot of movies. My earliest memory of films was watching Star Wars and Disney films at home, and my earliest memory of going to the cinema was probably to see Godzilla when I must have been about 12-years old.
Who are some of your musical influences and favorite composers?
ER: I grew up playing the cello in orchestras and my parents always humored my musical interests when I was young. So I’m definitely influenced by orchestral music and I love composers like Beethoven, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Prokoviev, etc. As I got older, I started mixing that up with a lot of Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Björk, 90s pop music, and as my interest in music and film grew, I started adding John Powell, John Williams and Alexandre Desplat to my list of favourites. The list really is endless though!
How did your assimilation into film and TV begin? What were some of your early projects?
ER: My very first projects were student films, and before I even started doing those, I remember contacting an animator I’d found online to ask if I could download some of his work and score it as ‘practice’! In addition to starting on student films, I also got on board with the film composer, Frank Ilfman, very early on, and was lucky to assist him on a number of his projects, including the Saturn Award and multiple Israeli Film Academy award-winning, “Big Bad Wolves.” I was so fortunate to get this kind of ‘real life’ insight very early on in my career.
What are some of the go-to ingredients that make up a most effective score and how do you go about implementing those into your approach?
ER: I think that the best go-to ingredients aren’t actually anything to do with music, but rather attitude. Because each project is so different and every film has its own very specific set of needs, my approach is always to first spend time with the film and talking to the filmmakers, figuring out what they want from the music. From there, it can be a different process every time. Creatively speaking, I do try and mix up live audio with samples if I’m not recording everything live, and I try and bring a unique element to every score.
Music is the essential auditory complement to what’s seen on screen. How do you go about building up and enhancing what audiences see?
ER: My approach is always specific to the individual film. Spotting, which is deciding where music should start and stop, is an important part of the process and dictates how successful a film score can be. Music also needs to be attached to meaning, sometimes to a character, but not always. For example, in “Star Wars” I always think of Yoda as being a vehicle for wisdom and goodness – so his musical theme is not about him as such, but rather about the ideas that he embodies. So it’s a combination of enhancing what the audience does and doesn’t see.
What’s the key in matching compositions to storytelling conventions such as tone?
ER: There is no one answer or formula. I think one must spend time with the film and get an understanding of it – you need to understand the tone before you attempt to tackle it. This is where an in-depth understanding of music and orchestration really do become helpful and one of my composition teachers once said to me: ‘There are no mistakes in music until you establish your intention.’ I definitely use orchestration to help define my intentions and match a films’ tone. A feeling of chaos can come from developing ideas too quickly as well, and the pace of a story is another important element to match musically.
It’s said often in film and television production that locations can serve as characters themselves, places like the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining” and the mystifying island in “Lost.” Can film music take on a similar capacity and life of its own?
ER: Absolutely. I think that some of the best film music we have does exactly that; it has its own identity and so it brings a stronger identity to the film overall. Having said that, the role of music in film is to enhance the story, or to say what the picture doesn’t or can’t say alone. It shouldn’t be overbearing and so the music taking on a life of its own isn’t necessarily the right approach for every film.
There’s music from composers like John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Alan Silvestri that is so recognizable, iconic and synonymous with dozens of great movies. What’s it about their quality and sensibility that resonates with audiences so well and pushes a movie into the classic threshold?
ER: Each of these composers have a very unique musical voice and have their own strengths which, in my opinion, they apply to their films in a very sophisticated way. John Williams is known for writing wonderful themes and has a traditional sound, whereas Zimmer has always been an innovator when it comes to creating new sound worlds. The point is that they are each extremely good at the thing that makes them unique. Movies are also always a team effort and for a film to be considered a ‘classic,’ every element of the filmmaking process must come together successfully.
You’ve mentored and trained under talents such as Frank Ilfman, Bruce Broughton, Christopher Young, Garry Schyman and Jack Smalley. What’s your takeaway from working with them and seeing their methods up close?
ER: The greatest thing is that I’ve learnt something different from each of them and have seen and heard the different ways that they all think about and approach writing music. Having said that, the one thing that I’ve seen consistently from them all is the integrity of their work and their motivation to create the absolute best work they can, no matter what the project is. And take great joy in doing so!
How did the scoring program at USC help shape your composing approach?
ER: USC was such a wonderful all-round experience. I was able to take away some very practical things like specific writing techniques, learning to conduct and run a recording session, as well as try new ideas like creating a concept for a score.
What’s your experience been working with Laura Karpman and Brian Tyler?
ER: Both Laura and Brian have been working in the industry for more than 15 years and so my experience with them both has been very enriching. It’s also been hugely varied as they each work on different types of projects and both work in different ways. They are both very creative musically and so it’s been a pleasure to witness them work and be part of their teams. I’m star struck by both of them on a daily basis basically!
Share with us a little bit about “Najmia.” What was the premise of the film?
ER: The idea behind “Najmia" was to highlight some of the difficult conditions child brides experience, especially when faced with pregnancy at very young ages. The aim of the film wasn’t to pass judgment on other cultures, but rather to help raise awareness about the need to improve sanitary conditions and midwife training in regions where these situations are common.
What was your approach in composing “Najmia” and what came together well that led to your award nomination?
ER: My initial concept for the score was for it to be predominantly strings. This was primarily because the film had moments of great intimacy, loneliness…stillness, but also reaches a pretty intense climax. As a cellist, strings have always been so emotional and expressive to me, and so I felt that they could convey everything that the film needed the music to be. We did add some piano, synths and a touch of brass for some additional colour later in the process. I think that the award nomination was a result of several factors, not least that the film was beautifully made and the story was told very effectively; I was very excited when I first saw the cut. The entire central cue was written around a repeating bass line, which I think helped the emotional content of the film feel very relentless and thus had a more powerful affect on the audience.
“Albion: The Enchanted Stallion” has a superb cast. What did your job as orchestrator entail for this variety of a fantastical family adventure?
ER: For me, orchestrating for other composers is such a joy as you get the opportunity to see the nuts and bolts of their writing and how they put their music together. The role, when doing it for someone else, can be any number of things from filling out harmony and instrumentation, to formalizing a sketch or mock-up that is already very detailed and near complete. I don’t view orchestrating for other composers as a form of self-expression. The opposite is true though when I orchestrate my own work. On “Albion,” my role was to take George Kallis’ music and expand it for the full orchestral and vocal forces that we had available, making sure I fulfilled his musical intentions. At times, this meant taking an adventure-like cue and filling out the brass section, or in a more fantasy based passage, making sure that the orchestra was being used to demonstrate its full range of colours.
You’ve also been working on historical dramas like “The Black Prince” and “Underground.” What’s the goal in crafting music for those productions and what do you think serves as the best music for titles that are rooted in history-based storytelling?
ER: You know, even though these two projects share the historical drama umbrella, they are so different to one another that it’s difficult to draw parallels. But this is also the beauty of composing for film and TV; that no two projects are the same. However, the goal in writing music is always the same for every project — serving the story. But at the same time, it’s how you serve the story that changes from production to production.
For “The Black Prince,” my role was orchestrator and the challenge was to maintain a classical feel in the score to reflect the time period. I also wrote some additional music, and as an additional music composer, ones’ role is to reflect the lead composers’ style and blend your writing with his or hers. This might mean doing an arrangement of a theme, for example.
“Underground” was a completely different type of project – it was a TV show rather than a film and had a contemporary approach in that it mixes modern songs with original underscore and slave songs from the time. I think one should at least hint towards the time period in historical dramas as this is a strong part of the story’s identity and perspective, helping tell us where we are and when. It also helps marry the score specifically to the film or show and gives it its own identity.
Your music for “Cowboys in a Saloon” sounds very interesting with its live performance by the Helix Collective at the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival. How would you describe the score and its ensuing performance with the screening where it went on to win Best Picture?
ER: “Cowboys in a Saloon” is such a charming little film. In my experience, I have found animations often need a lot of music because the mood/tone is changing at a faster pace than in live action. On top of that, “Cowboys” had very little dialogue and sound effects to add to my challenge! It gave me great freedom though, and meant that the score really was at the forefront from start to finish. I was quite nervous of the screening as the film wasn’t actually finished for the festival and I wasn’t sure how the audience would react. The Helix Collective performed the score perfectly with the best outcome we could have hoped for!
You composed for the dramatic thriller, “Lost Girls.” What’s the film about and how did you go about crafting music that serves the suspense and drama?
ER: “Lost Girls” is about a young girl (Marisol Nichols) who is kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking. We follow Marisol and the woman who helps kidnap her (Kara, played by Bar Paly). The film’s content is obviously serious and dark, so I started writing with these tones in mind. “Lost Girls” actually became two films — “Lost Girls” and “Lost Girls: Marisol” — each one told from the perspective of one of the two main characters. “Lost Girls” is Kara’s journey and we learn about her history and what led her to position she finds herself in. So there is an added sadness in parts of the score, whereas Marisol’s tale hints at hope.
Share with us a little on your composing for the short film, “FIrefly” that recently screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival. What’s the film centered on and what qualities encompass its score?
ER: “Firefly” is centered around a young girl who is determined to catch the ‘monster’ that goes bump in the night. When she finally discovers her ‘monster,’ she realizes that things aren’t always as scary as they seem. I wrote the score from Maya’s perspective as we spend the whole film inside her imagination. The instrumentation I chose and the way I orchestrated helped convey to the audience that we were very much in a child’s world; it was vital to get the tone right!
What are some of your hobbies when not working on film music?
ER: Haha! Well music started out as my hobby and I still view it this way – playing music, going to concerts or writing. And I feel the same about watching films and playing video games, though I’m a little rusty on the latter having left my Playstation back in England! I love the beach so I try and jump down there for walks as much as possible – we’re spoilt for choice in California and I wish I had more time to explore the state.
What’s next up for you?
ER: Up next I’ll be working on a feature-length documentary called “100 Faces of Survival” about Armenian identity today against the backdrop of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Season 2 of “Underground” was recently given the green light and I’m looking forward to working with Brian Tyler on his upcoming projects. I’m in discussions about a few other things of my own which I can’t mention yet!
Out of all of your achievements to date, what’s the most proud mark you’ve made in your career as a composer and orchestrator?
ER: It’s difficult to choose one specific project, and really I’m just proud to be doing a job that I love. I very much enjoy the process of moving from one project to another that is completely new and different, and I’m especially happy when I get to work with live players. I’m also very proud to be supported by BAFTA LA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Los Angeles), including receiving a BAFTA scholarship. As a Brit, being recognized and supported by such an organization is very meaningful to me!
Daniel Raijman is not only an experienced and immensely talented composer and orchestrator for film and media, but he’s also an accomplished musician.
His musical journey started at the age of 8 in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina where he discovered the world of Jazz and Blues. After a few years of learning the piano, he discovered his true passion was the guitar.
Raijman’s desire to learn everything there is to know about string instruments and his unwavering devotion to the art of composition is what sets his work apart from the rest.
“I’m passionate about music because every time I play, compose or listen to music, I feel I’m connecting with myself as well as with others throughout this incredible universal language,” he said.
His first taste of the music industry was when he played guitar and composed his first album with the band Quinta Estacion, a contemporary Jazz quartet. From 2006-2009 he toured with Orquesta Kef through Argentina and Uruguay and in 2010 he formed the group Pentafono, a contemporary jazz quintet.
In 2012 he produced “Imagem Imortal”, Rosario Barreto’s first album and in 2014 he played guitar and co-produced with Orlando Perez Rosso “Música Ocañera Volumen 2”. He was also able to play with Gastón Poirier and Gabriela Echevarria during the Raijman-Poirier Duet Show in 2014, and one of his songs, "Lo Que Mueve Las Cosas," wfor brands like Fibertel, Epson,ional camapings rier Duet Show and in ed piano and composed as well, Manuel Jauregui played bassas included in Echevarria´s second Album "Alli”.
Since then, Raijman has been working independently as a musician and composer with various instrumental groups and notable companies like Coca-Cola, American Airlines and Epson. He also recently worked as a guitarist for singer and actress, Christina Maria Davis.
His multidimensional educational background has allowed him to have his hands in numerous stages of the production process from composing and arranging to recording and mastering.
In addition to his love of music, he has developed a fascinating ability in film scoring. Raijman grew up in awe of Spielberg’s ability to create a story and John Williams’ impressive imagination to create an equally imaginative score. The combination of creating music for film was the perfect outlet for Raijman’s talents.
“Music is often used in film to describe what is not on the screen but rather in your heart,” Raijman said. “When a great score is fully integrated to a film, we can experience the magic of this art.”
This lifelong fascination with music and film has led him to multiple degrees, including a specialization in Film and Television Orchestration from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also graduated with distinction from the UCLA Extension Film Scoring program. In addition to his schooling, Raijman has had the privilege to perfect his craft with some of the most influential names in music, including Pino Marrone, Franciso Rivero, Walter and Javier Malosetti, Oscar Giunta and Hernan Jacinto.
Another notable name Raijman has had the opportunity to work with is the talented filmmaker and producer Angelo Agojo. Raijman and Agojo worked together on the film An Opening to Closure, which Raijman played guitar and composed the music for. The film went on to earn multiple Official Selections from the 2015 Los Angeles Lift-Off International Film Festival, Las Vegas Lift-Off International Film Festival, Hollyshorts Film Festival and Asians on Film Festival.
Raijman also mixed the documentary 15 Años Sin vos, which went on to earn an Official Selection at the 2008 Jewish International Film Festivals in Uruguay and Spain and the 10th Human Rights International Film Festival in Argentina.
Some of his most recent film work this year is playing guitar for the movie Triggerfish, preparing the score for the film Meet My Valentine and composing the score for the documentary 8 Seconds: Humane Decision Making Of The IDF.
In the article "Jurassic World composer on John Williams, making the new music his own" published Monday by Entertainment Weekly, C. Molly Smith writes, "John Williams’ Jurassic Park score is just as remarkable and memorable as the dinosaurs at the center of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 action-adventure blockbuster"; and we couldn't agree more.
In the same way that a sound or melody can make us recall experiences from our own lives, John Williams' film compositions have left an indelible mark on the memories of fans around the world. The five-time Oscar Award winning composer has undoubtedly influenced and inspired a great number of composers, like Canadian native Shaun Chasin, as well.
Chasin, who has found incredible success as a composer, says, "The two biggest influences that finally led to my choice of becoming a composer for film and video games were the Star Wars movies, with the fantastic and legendary scores by the great John Williams, and the video game "The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time," with it’s score by Koji Kondo."
Chasin's dynamic creative talents as a sound designer and composer are more accurately brought into perspective when considering the astonishing diversity of his body of work. Like Williams, Chasin has liaised between composing for films and video games with ease thanks to his refined understanding of how each musical composition uniquely affects a viewer or user's overall experience.
In the film industry some of Chasin's accomplishments as a composer include the films Ice Cream Man, Last Patrol, Nancy, Promises, Visitant, Salad Days, The Time Traveler and many more. In the world of video games Chasin's work has helped bring users into the virtual realities of games like "Pot Break," "A Hobbit's Quest," "Lama Drama," "Visage," "Geometry Saga," "Lodu Queue," "Adrift," "S8 Bingo," and "Hektor."
"At the end of the day, I have a strong relationship with film and games because I have an intrinsic need to be a storyteller," explains Chasin. "My music in all of these cases helped to heighten the emotional context of what was happening on screen. The goal is to help in telling the story without being obtrusive so that the final product is one cohesive thing."
Chasin's ability to create music that strikes a subtle balance and effectively drives home the emotional aspects of a story without dominating a viewer's senses is immediately apparent in Andrew Wood's film 11-Minute Mile, which aired nationally across the U.S. on PBS earlier this year.
The film follows an arrogant day-trader who is forced to take a pause and reevaluate what matters in life when his flight is delayed due to the Boston marathon bombings, leaving him stranded with his thoughts as he worries whether his best friend who was running in the marathon made it out alive.
"This was a particularly moving project for me to work on. I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston so I lived there for about 4 years. I had many friends there at the time of the bombing," admits Chasin. "For the score, I looked to the emotional potential of synthesized sounds to try to create the feeling of the main character’s inner turmoil and worry. The music was heavily inspired by Sigur Ros."
There is a huge difference between a composer's work that is intended to stand alone, and that which is intended to accompany a film, television project or video game. Over the course of his career Chasin has refined his skills as a film and video game composer with an acute understanding of not only what style of music is best for a project, but also, when to include music in order to intensify the story, and when to let silence speak for itself.
"Silence in the music can be a very powerful story telling device and create a heightened sense of realism in a moment," says Chasin.
Whereas Chasin best executed his work as the composer for the film 11-Minute Mile by allowing the necessary space for the main character's inner turmoil and understandable panic to come across through vital periods of silence, the six-part documentary series Ho Yaqeen required Chasin to take a completely different approach.
Directed by Oscar Award winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Ho Yaqeen follows the contributions of unsung heroes in Pakistan. The fact that each episode featured a new individual and consequently, a totally different subject matter, Chasin says, "allowed each episode to have a different and unique musical sound."
The first episode of the series follows Sabina Khatri who founded a preschool in the violent neighborhood of Lyari five years ago as an educational segue for the local youth to escape the gang afflicted area. Chasin brilliantly engages viewers with a strong and steadily rising drumbeat accompanied by bells and horns that magnify the rapid pace of the people on the streets of Pakistan in the opening scene. As the episode progresses and the interviewer goes further in depth into the story interviewing the children about their experience at the school and the myriad of ways this opportunity has changed their future for the better, Chasin adjusts his score accordingly. By transitioning his composition to the sweet and subtle sound of piano as the children disclose their experiences, he helps create a feeling of hopeful whimsy driving home the fact that their futures are full of endless possibility.
It is this ability to adapt and patiently decipher the needs of each individual project that separates Shaun Chasin from the plethora of other composers working across the globe today. And as his work continues to be recognized across continents, and filmmakers and game designers clamor to land him as a contributor to their projects, fans can bet that they will be seeing, or rather hearing, a whole lot more from this young composer for decades to come.
Originally from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, Rob Teehan had already created an impressive repertoire of work as a musician before embarking on a career as a composer for film, an area in which he has reached incredible success. At age 27, Rob Teehan was nominated for a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, for “Classical Composition of the Year” for his composition “Dreams of Flying,” which made him the youngest nominee in the history of the category. The master of several musical instruments and a highly sought after composer for classical music, Teehan received two music degrees from the University of Toronto and Indiana University, before undertaking an apprenticeship with multi-award winning film composer Rob Carli. Carli, who has received three Gemini Awards, is known for his work on over 50 film and television programs including the Canadian hit television series Murdoch Mysteries, Cracked and Unnatural History, as well as the films Survival of the Dead and The Terrorist Next Door.
Teehan’s extraordinary skills as a tuba player led the director of a short film to request him as a composer for his film several years ago, a fated collaboration that would spark Teehan’s interest and later his career as a composer for film. Teehan says, “I didn’t know what I was doing but I jumped into it and we had a lot of fun, it was a really quirky score, and I was nervous trying to do the job but I enjoyed the challenge of it.” Although Teehan had already been playing and composing music professionally for over decade when the opportunity to work in film presented itself, he admits that despite the international success he had achieved as a musician there was still a void, a challenge that was missing. Through his experience composing for film Teehan not only discovered the challenge he was looking for but a career he could dedicate his life to as well.
In 2012 he scored the award-winning documentary The Sugar Bowl, which won Best Documentary and the coveted Festival Prize at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival, and screened as an Official Selection at the Atlanta Film Festival. Shot on an island in the Philippines that once thrived in wealth from a booming sugar industry, the documentary focuses on the aftermath of a now, somewhat agriculturaly baren region, and the decades of famine, despair, and political turmoil that have plagued the island since it’s thriving period. A beautifully shot film that is poetic from beginning to end, Teehan’s score gives the visual imagery emotional depth and drives home the story in a way that is both powerful and touching.
More recently, Teehan scored the feature documentary The Babushkas of Chernobyl, which is set for release this year. The film is about hundreds of elderly Ukranian women who dare to live out the rest of their lives in their homeland, despite the fact that it is a high-risk radiation zone due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that hit in 1986. The film was directed by Holly Morris, a former National Geographic Adventure columnist and contributor to The New York Times, “O,” and MORE magazine, and Anne Bogart, a television producer and director who’s known for her work on the PBS travel series Globe Trekker. Teehan’s score adds to the film’s unique allure with his inclusion of traditional Ukrainian folk instruments and his own style of dark, ambient, electronics, which illustrate the tension between the vibrant traditional lifestyle and the modern, synthetic world.
Since discovering his true calling as a composer for film, Rob Teehan has become a highly sought after talent in the Canadian film industry. Aside from The Babushkas of Chernobyl and The Sugar Bowl, he has created original scores for the films Tulip, Texas and Us, The Unsinkable Captain John, Hogtown, Joe, The Power of One, Safe Socks, Many Choices, Life as a Coin, Flor De La Mar and others. From his proven track record of success, it is guaranteed that Teehan’s musical talent is one that will continue to impress audiences around the globe.
Born and raised in Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, England, Alex Redfern has been dazzling international audiences over the last few years with his incredible talent as a composer for film and television. Redfern realized his passion for both music and film early on in his youth, but at the time he never imagined that the two mediums would someday intertwine and provide him with the successful career he enjoys today.
After receiving his B.A. from the UK’s Leeds College of Music, Redfern went on to obtain a Masters of Music in Scoring for Film, Television and Video Games at the renowned Berklee College of Music. During his time at Berklee College of Music, Redfern was recognized for his extraordinary abilities as a composer and was the recipient of the prestigious Friends of Leeds College of Music Prize in Music Production, an award that is given to the top student in the course.
Redfern’s most recent film projects as a composer include Happy Face, Tumbleweed: A True Story, and the film Sisterhood of The Red Garter 3D, which is scheduled for release next year. In addition to working as a composer, Redfern has also played a critical role in the music department of the films The Curse of The Un-kissable Kid, Larsons Field, Penguin Trek, Holy Land, Varanasi and Disney’s upcoming film Cinderella.
Redfern displayed his ability to seamlessly blend and heighten the energy of each scene and the overall film with his fantastical musical creations in Marc Juvé’s film Happy Face.
“It is an adventure film, Marc chose me to score the film after I did a demo to one of the scenes,” explained Alex Redfern. “It is a great Spielberg-esque film with an orchestral score, which I got to record in Spain.”
A Spanish film, Happy Face follows an innocent and awkward young boy named Lucas who is promised acceptance into the cool kids group if he can retrieve a certain hidden treasure from a frightening old man’s eerie mansion. Redfern ingeniously created the film’s musical composition in a way that builds an incredible parallel story alongside the visual aspects of the film. The composer used subtle sounds to build the audience’s anticipation and curiosity as Lucas scours the house, sounds which, upon the fateful moment of the treasure’s discovery, culminate in a magnificent crescendo as if to say “Eureka!”
“The fantastical music in Happy Face played a huge part in the movie. The protagonist is searching for the fabled treasure so I tried to make that theme magical. I used celesta, a type of keyboard that uses metal instead of strings to create a light and mysterious sound, as well as the flute, harp and shimmering strings, which resulted in a mystical sound and shows the elation of the protagonist when he finds the treasure,” said Redfern.
Happy Face was produced by ESCAC Films, the production company responsible for the films Knifed, Dinosaurio, which received the Nova Autoria Award at the 2013 Catalonian International Film Festival, Los Inocentes, Timothy, Mano a Mano, as well as many others.
To find out more about Alex Redfern’s work, and to listen to some of his original compositions you can check out his website: www.alexredfernmusic.com or go to his Soundcloud Page: www.soundcloud.com/alexnmt and check out the trailer for Happy Face below!
We are a team of journalists and photographers who are dedicated to bringing you the most up to date news on Hollywood's who's who...