Composer Interview: iZLER

iZLER headshotThanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Hmmm ….. I’m a composer, a musician and I spend most of my life at the moment putting music to pictures. Kind of a cool job really.

You’ve written music for Shameless, ER, Revenge and much more. When did you first get started in writing for TV?

I got my start with Shameless actually, but before that I had a number of songs and instrumentals licensed on various shows here and there. That led to getting to know a lot of the music supervisors in town who ultimately would introduce me to showrunners and directors when projects came up.

What sort of timeframes do you normally have to deal with when scoring music for TV?

It depends, but the short answer is not long enough! Network shows tend to be the most frenetic and if you’re very lucky, you get a week to complete an episode. Generally speaking, you don’t tend to get lucky in that department …. the bottom line is, if you want to write music for TV shows, you have to be comfortable with working under extreme pressure over long periods of time.

You compose and conduct the music for Revenge on ABC each week – how do you develop musical themes yet maintain diversity throughout the score?

Good question! The basic themes were written very early on and I draw on those a lot to keep it grounded in Revenge world. But as the story progresses you get to develop new themes and the palate is always evolving. The orchestra and the tonality kind of glues it all together. Sometimes you get the chance to write in a very specific style for an episode while keeping it within the Revenge idiom, that’s always a lot of fun. That usually happens for the big episodes like 214, which was all set on a boat and written to the rhythm of SOS in morse code.

When you begin a project (whether a TV show or film), how do you find and settle on the “sound” you’re going to use?

It’s always a process of collaboration with the creators of the project, but at the beginning I just try to immerse myself in anything and everything I can get from them, whether that’s the final cut of the movie or a rough, or sometimes even the script, depending on the schedule. Different directors and producers like to work in different ways, so you need to tailor different approaches to that. Whatever piece of material I get first though is usually what I have my strongest reaction to.

You’re quite active on Twitter with Revenge fans. Does maintaining a close relationship with fans provide with you inspiration or feedback on the show’s score each week?

They’re certainly very vocal with their feedback! I like that though, it’s great to get such an instant reaction. (https://twitter.com/izler)

What does your studio currently consist of hardware/software wise?

At the moment, my main sequencer is Pro Tools HD, running into a second HD rig to print. A third computer runs Vienna Pro with my sample template.

iZLER conducting

As a busy composer, how do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

You’d have to ask my wife. I tend to have nothing to do with keeping myself healthy and were it not for her, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

What’s your definition of success?

Success is being able to do what you love whilst being surrounded by family and people you love. That’s proper living.

Do you ever experience “burnout” and if so, how do you combat it?

Mostly caffeine. I have tried vodka, but wouldn’t recommend it.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you were originally starting off?

Spend as little time as you can following anything that isn’t your own original true voice. Your life should be dedicated to that and if you’re honest with yourself, hopefully everything else will follow.

Your studio is on fire and you only have time to grab one thing – what do you take?

My own arse. I thank you.

iZLER’s album (music from the Revenge soundtrack) is now out and you can get it via Amazon, ABC.com, Intrada.com, and other soundtrack retailers.  Also, you can grab a free download of it here:  http://abc.go.com/music-lounge/blogs/soundtracks/revenge-soundtrack-free-download

 

Written by: Emmett Cooke

Emmett Cooke is an Irish composer for film, tv and video games. His music has been used around the world by high profile companies including Sony Playstation, Ralph Lauren, ABC, CBS, NBC, Lockheed Martin and many more.

  • Jon

    Good to hear from iZiler, his music is fantastic and it’s great to hear a more traditional score in a modern TV show.

    • EmmettCooke

      Yes his music is incredible – talented guy!

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