Thursday, October 28, 2010

3Questions: Bill Brown - Composer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Bill Brown, composer on the hit show CSI:NY and Dark Prophecy: A Level 26 Thriller.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

BB: I've always had music in my life in some form as a focus. I was fortunate enough to attend Berklee College of Music with my parent's support (they also helped support my song writing and recording habit in high school, and every penny I earned washing dishes and waiting tables went into my synth rigs back in the 80's). I think that support went a long way in giving me the space I needed to grow as a musician.

After Berklee, I had even more time in NYC to learn about building studios and doing commercial work as an intern. After working in the Big Apple for a few years I visited a friend in LA in 1994, and while I was there got a job offer to do sound effects editing for the Xena and Hercules series. I took the job and moved out to LA. I set up my very modest home studio in a one bedroom apartment and continued writing and creating demos. After a couple years as an editor on those series, and a number of feature films, a friend brought me over to Soundelux where they heard one of those demos I shared with a friend that worked there. They happened to be interested in starting a music division, and after a few months and a number of project demos, I had started work on both Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and DreamWorks Interactive's The Lost World: Trespasser video game scores. Those early game scores are what I cut my teeth on as a composer.

Eventually I would become the director of music at Soundelux, and was recording game scores with live orchestras year-round. Fortunately for me, Soundelux was also involved in the commercial and film businesses, and I had an opportunity to meet a director named Deran Sarafian doing a spec commercial spot. He gave me a call a couple years later to do a television film called Trapped, and then a few years after that to meet with he and Anthony Zuiker about a TV show called CSI:NY. I've essentially been writing music my entire life in one form or another. It just keeps evolving.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

BB: Looking back, I feel like I've always been exactly where I needed to be at any given point, with each challenge I've been given. There have been times where I felt I wasn't "supposed" to be stuck working on a commercial spot, or several games at once, or whatever the challenge of the month was. But I have to say, looking back, if I hadn't done that spec commercial spot, I never would have met Deran, and I never would have scored his film, and I wouldn't be scoring my 148th episode of
CSI:NY today, and whatever all of this is leading me to tomorrow. It's pretty wild if you think about it.

I've learned to work knowing that there is order to everything happening, even if I don't understand what that order is at the moment and to breathe deeply and sleep on it if I feel there is something insurmountable. Things have a way of working out. I'm fortunate in that music is like a hobby, even though sometimes with deadlines and all it can be a lot of work but even then I try to remember how blessed I am to be doing what I love to do. And it has always been gratifying for me.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into the position you're in?

Keep writing and recording your music, whatever that is. Study what you love about music, and then study everything else as well. Keep listening and learning every day, never stop. Also, if you know you are interested in scoring for media, then make friends who are interested in creating that media as early on in your career as possible. The more real and grounded the friendships, the better. Don't just make friends with a bunch of composers, make friends of the producers, directors and game developers that will grow and evolve in their careers with you, and hold a vision that you will create something great together some day. Outer experience is a direct reflection of inner reality. Food for thought.

The soundtrack for Dark Prophecy: A Level 26 Thriller is available for purchase on iTunes. To purchase, click here.

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