Composer Interview: Joshua Mosley

Composer for film

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you come from and what do you do?

My name is Joshua Mosley and I am a composer for film, TV video games and commercials. I was born in Tarzana, California and grew up near Seattle, Washington. I moved back to the Los Angeles area in 2009.  I come from a musical family; my grandfather, Robert Douglass, was a professional bassist and arranger who played with artists like Tony Bennett, Lou Armstrong, and Peggy Lee. My mother is a Jazz performer. She encouraged me with my musical aspirations and taught me a lot about music. Two of my siblings, Taylor and Jordan are also musicians.

When you begin work on a project, how do you find and settle on “the sound” you’re looking for?

It’s usually a collaborative effort with the producers, directors, audio directors, etc. More often then not, the client has a pretty solid vision of what they are looking for. After a back and forth process, the “sound” becomes clearer and emerges.

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

I currently use Logic Studio as my main sequencing software. It runs on a MacPro loaded with tons and tons of sample libraries and effects plug-ins. My audio I/O is Apogee’s  Ensemble.

What’s your favorite software right now and what software are you looking forward to most in the future?

It is hard to choose a favorite. Every piece of software that I use has its own special place,  but I can say I really enjoy sequencing in Logic. I have been using it since 2000. I am always excited to see what Cinesamples, Heavyocity and Spectrasonics put out.

You’ve written music for a wide range of media including TV, video games and film. Does your approach vary for different media, or do you have a set approach for all?

Whether it’s television, a film or a video game, there is a story that needs to be told or a time and place that needs to be supported musically. It’s all about speaking to the audience or user. Granted, there are different parameters you are given to accomplish this, but to me it all comes down to writing great music that supports the vision of the project.

How do you stay fresh as a composer?

You can’t be afraid to explore new areas musically. Listen to a lot of different music. I try to stay inspired constantly.

With the long hours and tight deadlines many projects require, how do you avoid burning out?

Although sometimes a “burnout” is unavoidable, it really comes down to managing your time well and trying your best to have a balanced life. When I am writing, I try to focus on that; not checking emails or taking calls, and avoiding other distractions. When I am breaking for lunch or closing down for the evening I try to completely decompress and enjoy my time with my family and friends. I have found for me at least, that constantly
producing creative content with no time to recharge really affects my work in a negative way.

What was your favorite project to have worked on so far?

I just finished scoring the After Earth mobile game, an “endless runner” based on the movie staring Jaden Smith and Will Smith in which players run, glide, zipline, and fight to survive in a harsh futuristic environment. It was an incredible project to be a part of, as I had the opportunity to work with amazing teams at Sony Pictures Consumer Products, Overbrook Entertainment, Reliance Games and Behaviour Interactive. Composer James Newton Howard scored the After Earth movie. He was a musical hero to me growing up, and has been a huge influence on my writing over the years. His score for After Earth influenced the score for the mobile game in terms of texture and my choice of instrumentation. Having the opportunity to work on a brand that James Newton Howard was also a part of has been a high spot in my career.

Another favorite project was the animated feature, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, which I worked on last year.

What do you do in between projects when you don’t currently have something to work on?

I have a wonderful family and great friends, and when I’m not working I enjoy spending quality time with them. When I’m on a project, my mind is very focused on work so when a project wraps, it’s a great reward to have uninterrupted time with the people I’m closest to.

What does your daily routine consist of?

My day typically starts at 7 AM. I check emails and handle the usual administrative stuff. Then I address the projects that my attention that day, and start working to achieve the quota of minutes of music I need to write.

What’s your definition of success?

First and foremost, I define my success on how I am as a husband, father and friend. As far as careers go, if you are doing what you love – at any level – never give up and persevere, always aiming high, I believe you are successful.

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

I would have moved to LA sooner. (Specifically if you want to be a film or TV composer)

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

Easy. Hard drives!

Can you recommend any useful books on composition/mastering/business etc. that you’ve enjoyed?

I highly recommend, ‘Music, Money and Success: The Insider’s Guide To Making Money In The Music Business’. It’s a great book for composers who are looking to gain  knowledge of the business.

Joshua R. Mosley is an award-winning composer and producer for film, television, video games and recording artists. His work can be heard on projects for clients such as Sony, EA, Overbrook Entertainment, FUNimation, Mattel, Activison, Tru TV, National Geographic, NATAS, Microsoft, Reliance Games and Twisted Pixel. His work has been internationally recognized and has been honored with multiple Telly Awards, an Aurora Award and Apex Award.

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.

Film and Game Composers

www.FilmandGameComposers.com offers a wide range of interviews, reviews, guides and tutorials for composers and musicians who are interested in writing music for film, TV and video games.

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