From ‘Chicago Hope’ to drumming in Deadsy to my own company Gramoscope
I started playing piano when I was around 10 and from there I picked up the drums, which led to many years of being in bands and doing tons of session work. When I was about 18, a producer friend of my mom – who worked on the show Chicago Hope, said they license music for each episode and I should write him a few songs to pitch. I got together with my friend Inara George (The Bird and The Bee) who has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet and we wrote two songs for the show which ended up getting licensed. From that moment on, I was hooked on the idea of being a part of the story telling process through music and all I wanted to do was learn how to compose music to picture.
Piano and drums are my main instruments and I play a little guitar and bass as well. Most of my time is spent on the piano since it all starts there for me when I’m composing.
Scoring vs. playing in Deadsy:
Playing in a band and composing music to picture are really two completely different skill sets. When you are scoring a film or TV show, you are given a limited amount of time to work within very specific creative guidelines. When you are in a band, you are not bound by those creative guidelines so you are left with a lot more time and freedom to explore.
My scoring process:
I think it varies from project to project and depends on the direction and the sound you are trying to create. I definitely like to read the script and find out as much as possible about what the Director or Producers are thinking in terms of the story as well as their initial thoughts on musical direction. From that point on I immerse myself in the world of the story and try to find the musical through line that ties everything together. I sit at the piano before I start scoring to picture to see what kind of theme ideas I can create. The most important thing to me is the composition and finding the right themes…from there everything else falls into place.
Less is more has always been the goal from the day I started learning piano and drums. When you are just starting to learn an instrument you want to be able to play anything and everything which ends up translating into overplaying everything! Once you mature as a musician and are able to reel it back and realize that the simplest groove is always the most effective, that’s when things really start to click and then you have an arsenal of tricks and techniques you can draw upon when the moment calls for it.
First and foremost, I’m a composer and do what I do because I love to create music and push myself artistically. My career as an artist for the most part is pretty separate from Gramoscope Music. I created Gramoscope because in between scoring a film or scripted show there can be down time before the next gig. Early on, I never knew how long that down time would last. In some cases, it lasted long enough that I might not be able to pay my rent. Starting Gramoscope Music has given me the creative freedom to explore various film and television projects I might not have been able to do without the support of the company and my team.
Scoring a TV show vs. scoring a film:
The only thing that’s really different in the process for me is the time factor. With a film you usually have a pretty good amount of time to create a score. In TV, there is always a very limited amount of time to create the score for each episode. I really enjoy both ways of working!
My experience with All Nighter:
All Nighter was a really fun score to create so I’m looking forward to people getting a chance to see the film and hear the score. Director Gavin Wiesen killed it as always!
The score for All Nighter is more of an indie, garage rock, retro blues bandy type of score that supports the comedic and emotional moments throughout the film. The director wanted to do a sort of updated sound that you might have heard in some of the buddy comedies from the 80’s that had more of a down and dirty bluesy score. It was a lot of fun because the root of the score is super percussive so I got to play drums on most of the cues which I don’t always get to do.
What’s on tap:
Currently I’m about to start scoring a couple pilots and I’m looking forward to a season two pickup for Sweet/Vicious. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a great film I scored directed by Judy Greer starring Allison Janney, Katie Holmes, Keanu Reeves, Common and Rob Riggle called A Happening of Monumental Proportions.
For more information visit Gramoscope.com
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All Nighter will be released on March 24, 2017
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~Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra