What was the first soundtrack or composition that you listened to and how did it affect you?
The first soundtrack I remember actively listening to while watching the movie was my uncle Howard’s score for Prelude to a Kiss. I remember at that time just starting to pay attention to scores, and I loved the opening piece he wrote with the baritone sax solo played by Ronnie Cuber. I think that was the first time I actively listened to a piece of film music in context and thought about what it might require to actually create it.
What was it that first attracted you to horror?
My friend and producer Andrew van den Houten started producing some horror films and he asked me to score them, so that was what originally turned my focus to the genre. I had watched some horror films growing up, such as Psycho and Poltergeist, but I hadn’t really watched very many of them. Now, after having scored a number of them, and having gotten to know the community of filmmakers and fans, I’ve watched many more horror films and have a real appreciation for the genre and the legacy of the films within it.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently scoring my first video game for Warner Bros which I’m really excited about. I’ve also been producing music for Lawrence Beamen’s upcoming album. Lawrence is the fantastic baritone/bass singer from America’s Got Talent.
Personally, I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve created with others.
Musically, I’m most proud of my score for Rex Steele Nazi Smasher. It was the first time I had the opportunity to write for a record with a full orchestra.
Recreationally, I’m most proud of having earned my pilot’s license. I love to fly with friends and family in and around California in my spare time.
Who do you most admire musically?
Oh there are so many. Offhand, I’m constantly blown away by Tchaikovsky and Chopin.
Talk us through your musical training and background.
I started with music at age 11 when I took up the saxophone. I quickly started taking up other instruments in the few years to follow – piano, clarinet and flute.
I had a ton of private instrument and music lessons through high school, and I played in all the high school bands – jazz band, concert band, marching band, etc. During my summers while I was in high school I went to a number of music programs – Interlochen, Eastman School of Music, Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp, and Berklee College of Music. I also started playing in local bands.
When I was 17, I enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. They gave me a full scholarship, so it helped make my decision to study music full time much easier. I played the saxophone and the other instruments full time while I was there. I often times played in 4-6 enrolled ensembles a semester, as well as playing in a ton of recording sessions, concerts, shows, and recitals. While I was at Berklee, I also played as a ringer in a number of other college’s music groups – Harvard University, MIT, New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory. Although I was playing full time, my actual major was in Film Scoring. After I graduated I actually got more into composing, but while I was there I was mostly playing the instruments. My 4 years at Berklee were an unbelievably amazing time for learning and gaining experience. I graduated when I was 21, and started working professionally right after graduation.
Most simply put, emotions are what influence me the most. I start with a feeling, which could be a feeling of the piece I’d like to write, or the feeling I have for a movie or scene I’m scoring, and then I begin to try to translate that feeling into music. Once I can get the music to give me the same feeling I have by listening to it, then I feel like I’m headed in the right direction and I begin to hone it from there. Most often I’m writing music for someone else, say for example a director or producer, and so once they have listened to it, then if they have insights about it or comments, then that collaboration will be my next major influence on what to do from there.
Recommend a score.
Catch Me If You Can. Brilliant score by John Williams.
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