#01 How To Approach Film Music Composing

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Film Music Composition is an amazing craft that can be applied today in Feature Films, Short Films and even Commercial Videos. Many of the ideas and approaches used in Film Music Composition can be applied to performance, and to writing music.
Our guest today is the Film Music Composer Ivan Barbou.
His music has been featured in 18 Indie Films, including writing all the music for a feature film in the Vancouver International Film Festival.
We’re really exited to share some great insight in Ivan’s work.
I’ve been working with Ivan for 7+ years and I was even surprised by new insights into Ivan’s work.
Ivan’s drive and passion for music will give a real look at how music composers are making their art.
We have prepared an awesome takeaway from the interview for you with the step by step process of what it takes to become a film music composer.
  5-tips-to-becoming-a-feature-film-music-composer
To get this amazing takeaway, go to click here and we will send it to your inbox.
Links:
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D

I’m really excited to introduce you guys to my good friend and music composer buddy Ivan Barbou.


My name’s Dan and I’m the Founder of Organic Music and I’m really excited to bring you guys some awesome insight into his music. And I really hope you get to take as much away from this interview as I’m learning today.


I

Thank you for having me.


D
Thanks for coming man. I have a list of questions here and I’ll refer back to them a little bit to give us some structure. The [purpose] of [the Artist Culture Series is to share the “why” of musicians. And also to bring you] awesome content with great insight into Artist’s music and what drives the fire inside of them.
So Ivan, the first question of today’s interview is “what drives your art?”or “what builds the fire inside of you for your art?”


I
Well you’ve known me for a while, what drives me is [similar] to the way you approach your business… I approach my art as a young [artist]. We’re just trying to do our best, trying to [create] things that are meaningful especially in the long run. I see myself [composing film music] in 10 years, working [with] artists and collaborating with musicians and getting more experience. I love the art [of music]: the process of creating something. Especially because I find writing music very interesting.


D
And what’s driving you into film composing and making that [the focus] of your art? Whats driving you into there?


I
I’ve always loved films and the soundtracks of films. [They are] very inspiring. [Film Music has] always been such an interesting blend of classical music, sometimes a bit of jazz, or anything really. [Film Music has] always had an incredible blend of styles. It doesn’t feel constrained. It can be anything. Of course, [Film Music] always has to be in service of the characters of the story. I guess that’s why I have a fire for film music – its so open and unconstrained [by genre].


D

Awesome.


I

Yeah, I love it.


D

[Film Music] is like a huge bubble where you can pour tons of creative everything into it.


I
Yeah, also now working on Films recently – I’m realizing that making great art is mostly collaboration between people.


D
I remember [from] before, I love watching movies with Ivan because, every time we go, Ivan brings so much energy to see the film. We went and we watched Mad Max together and, dang, that was awesome. Just the energy after watching it, Ivan and I were bouncing up and down and super stoked on the soundtrack.


I

It’s so good. Oh my god. That movie. Yeah.


D
And I think later on that evening, Ivan even sent me a link to – what was that producer’s name?


I

Oh, Junkie XL.


D
Yeah, Junkie XL had a crazy amount of layers and, dang, this guy: he’s a boss. Amazing.  So has that really brought a lot to your art do you think? All these layers and energy and all that for film composing?


I

Of course, that’s the basics for anything that you create. Anything that’s believe-able. My mom does painting and we always talk about these kind of things. And we think that – we always talk about layers that’s what really draws people in to something. When you have different layers, [an audience] has to think about the track. If you just have a plain soundtrack that you didn’t really go deep into the story or what you wanted to say, then [the soundtrack doesn’t really bring people in to the characters or story.] [When Junkie XL] nails it in [Mad Max] [during the] actions scenes, he writes the perfect music for [each moment]. Yeah.


D

So forget the Vanilla, [paint with] all the flavours.


I

Oh yeah.


D
I think that’s really cool because in Film, you want to engage people and bring a lot of energy to the story.


I

Oh yeah.


D

Let’s see here. What do you hope the audience gets from your music? Where do you want them to look? What do you want them to feel? These sorts of things. What do they get out of your music?


I

In terms of films, I just want [the audience] to have a good time. It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a horror movie – I’m going to write the best score I can of course – for this story, if it’s supposed to be the scariest [movie] you’re watching, the music is supporting it and [the audience is] really really really scared. That is the point. Highlighting everything [the director] is giving me, but if I have to pull back because scenes require [mainly] visuals. [The connection between the music and the] visuals is what I hope [makes the audience] feel what [the director] intends them to feel.


D

Nice.


I

Yeah


D

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


I

Yeah.


D

Building the flavours every time.


I

It’s all about the energy. When you nail the energy [with] the visuals, you can tell [and] feel it. [This is one of the factors that contributes to my] drive. When I finish the [film composition], [and] I see the energy is there. It’s so satisfying.


D

For your music, [there’s] not really any lyrics or vocals right?


I

Yeah


D

[when only] having instruments and no lyrics, how do you get the energy [in your film composition] and share it to the [listener]?


I

I think it’s because [instrumental music] is how I’ve always thought about music. I don’t think about lyrics ever. I always think about soundscapes and blending instruments in a way you [might not know what instrumentation is being used]. And that’s why I work well with Films. [Films are the] perfect blend for [focusing on] the atmosphere of the characters. Then it [builds] from there.


D

Let’s see here. What do you get out of sharing your music to an audience? How do you feel? What really gives you the energy? You’re giving all this energy to the audience, putting it in the films, bringing out the storyline of the film, what energy do you get out of making your music?


I

What I want to get from people is a reaction: that’s what Art is [for me], getting a reaction from people and, if they had fun with it, or if it made them think about something in their lives that’s important to them – I guess that’s a job well done.


D

Yeah.


I
Or if I have a really good time doing the film as well, just building relationships. That’s where [one] is going to spend most of [their] time. If you are a musician, [then you will spend your time] playing with other people so you [will] want to play in a band with people you want to play with. And I want to be working with people on a movie [film composition] that are really good to hang out with as well as share ideas.


D

For sure.


I

That’s what I want. Yeah.


D

Awesome. Building film music takes so much energy, we were talking a little bit about the layers [of music], for example in [the movie] Mad Max. You’re probably doing a lot of layers as well like what we were discussing. That takes a lot of time. What do you feel after you finish a session of composing. Can you describe that [feeling] a little bit?


I

[This feeling] goes [along with what we were discussing earlier.] When you get the rhythm right of the scene, and you get the soundscape right and everything just kinda blends properly and the director is like “yup, it’s all good, it’s working.” And he’s happy with it, that’s when you know you’re on point ([you’re doing a good job]). [Then] we can move on to the next scene.


D

So [at that time, you give yourself] a huge pat on the back and get a great sense of fulfillment, right?


I

Yeah, that’s why those movies are so successful because everything blends perfectly. Acting, cinematography, music – the rhythm of everything is spot on.


D

And you’re the guy who makes everything look even better than it already is


I

Hopefully.


D

Awesome. Well clearly you are doing some things right because – {sidebar} I was sharing with you guys earlier this week and getting super excited to interview Ivan and I was mentioning that he had 12 indie films out. And we just counted [the number of indie films Ivan has actually written music for] and I was actually wrong. He has, I think you said


I

18


D

So 17 short films and one feature film. What’s the feature film called?


I

Legacy of Whining. With Director Ross Munroe.


D

And it’s released in some film festivals or its coming out? Or…


I

[The Legacy of Whining] was released at the [Vancouver Film Festival] this spring. I did a short film with [Director Ross Munroe] as well. It’s called “Broken Palace.” And [this short film] was in the Vancouver Film Festival. That was a good experience. Just being there – it was fun.


D

What would you say, maybe share one story of when you were composing or something that happened when you were building this feature film [Legacy of Whining] score and soundtrack, what might you share to some up and coming ambitious film composers,


I

It takes everything out of you emotionally. Just working at it there’s no shortcuts. People sometimes get used to the internet, where it says oh there’s the ten steps to this or three tips for this. I realized with that amount of work with a film that its really throwing paint at a wall and seeing what would stick. Because it was very quirky and a comedy so it was very interesting. Alot of fun. I realized how much work it would be to approach something that I didn’t know how to approach at the beginning – just teaching you that there’s no shortcut you just have to work at it endlessly and good things will happen when you just love what you do.

 

 

D

How long would you say it took you to put together the music for this film? Is the film maybe an hour and twenty minutes or something like that?


I

Yeah, around that. Like seventy, eighty minutes.


D

And how many minutes of music did you have to make?


I

I can’t really remember but there was alot of tracks. [maybe] twenty something tracks, it would vary differently because characters had visions and subconscious, it was very interesting, there was alot of styles I had to write for, like fantasy, orchestral, also just simple vibraphone, bass, triangle, and claps sometimes. Basically, it was trying all of the pockets that had to work. And really working my balls off.


D
Yeah working your butt off. I’m sure its going to be super exciting for alot of our up and coming film composers coming up that there really there is no shotcut. Composing Music is just throwing paint at the wall metaphorically with sounds and layers and seeing what really works. And what attitude would you recommend up and coming film composers and musicians and music students – what attitude would you recommend they approach music that would really really help them out.


I
I’ve been thinking about this two ways, I guess one way would be that we all love the art of making music but its good to focus as well on how to make money through music because that always gives you a bit more stable set of mind and you’re more calm when you’re getting paid sometimes for your work. Thinking about the money instead of only the art. You can’t be thinking only 100% art. And when you focus on what you do, remember everything that you put out there, nothings going to be perfect. And you should strive for perfection but you can never really achieve it. So it doesn’t matter if it wasn’t your best track but if  you feel it meets everything it needs for the work you’re doing. And don’t be afraid of scratching out the ideas that don’t work and as long as you get the job done and its good quality. As long as you think its professional. Just don’t be afraid of throwing away ideas. Don’t be precious of ideas – that’s very important.


D

Ok awesome. Yeah. Thanks Ivan. I super appreciate you coming out man.


I

Of course. Of course Dan.


D

I’m really excited. I learnt alot from Ivan today and we’ll putting links to his music, to his website so you can check it out. I think he may even have a little bit of social media. Thanks guys for watching this and I hope you learned as much as I did.

Wrap Up

Just got back from eating some food with Ivan. And that guys has some great energy. We’ve put together a great giveaway for you guys and we’re looking forward to sharing it. Just check out the link at the bottom of the post on our website and I’m sure you guys will be very happy with the value that this guys put together in his work and also this takeaway for you guys. That concludes our debut series for the Artist Culture Interviews and see you guys soon.

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