How did you first get into composing composing?

It actually happened just about a year ago, but I would say my earliest memory of music was probably hearing Jim Morrison of The Doors. When I was a kid, I used to like recording songs off the radio onto cassette tapes. So I heard Jim Morrison on the radio and there was just something about his voice – it was really cool.

Then I went to college and I studied engineering. I got picked as the DJ of this pub in the town and I would play DJ sets every other night for about 3 years. Everyone would be drinking, partying and having a good time. Those were really formative days in my journey in music.

Then five years ago, I finally bought a guitar and a piano and started learning how to play those instruments. In 2020 I started creating different genres of music under my artist name Ghost Intent. I created an ambient EP called ‘Transit’, then a lo-fi Hip-Hop, jazz hop EP called ‘Lost Cinema’. Then I made an electronica/downtempo LP called ‘Spaces‘ and my latest release as an artist is called ‘Tides‘.

I was always very intrigued by the interplay of cinematography and how music emotes the shot and tells a story in a different way. So I thought, I’ve been producing music as an artist and I’m playing a guitar and as an intermediate level, as a singer songwriter, so might as well try a bit of composing.

I’m still figuring out what works for me and like how I can impart my own ideas and individuality onto film scores.

Film Composer Gaurav Krishnan - Profile Image

 

What are your tactics for dissecting music? How do you continually educating yourself to get to the next step?

I guess it’s like always a continuous process of learning. I haven’t worked on a proper film yet and I haven’t got my first gig. So the process is basically just trying to Improve my own ability as much as I can.

I like to go in like the opposite direction to what’s happening. For example, if it’s a scene of a car speeding, then I’ll write few driving string melodies and add piano motives in the background – which feels like it’s slowing down time.

If it’s a heroic scene where everyone is expecting a crescendo, then I’d rather go with some simple brass hits that are slightly dark. I’m just trying to do things differently and although I haven’t worked with directors yet, I’m looking forward to having those conversations with them & figuring those things out. For example, ‘Here’s my idea for this scene, would this work? What if we take this approach instead?’

It’s always been for me to stand out and do things differently. There’s a poem by Robert Frost that I like a lot where he says, “I took the road less traveled and that made all the difference.” So when it comes to imparting my own individuality onto the score, I like to do things really differently.

“I like to go in like the opposite direction to what’s happening.”

– Gaurav Krishnan | Film Composer & Musician

What are some of your career goals as a composer or musician?

So firstly, I’m counting down to my first singer-songwriter album. So I really wanna cut out like an early nineties debut album. I wanna put out a nice 12-track debut album as a singer-songwriter but sort of like a mix of acoustic and alternative rock with electronic influences.

I also want to continue producing as an artist and explore different genres. As a composer, it’s one step at a time. I want to compose for a bunch of short films and then do my first full-length feature. Although I’m from India, I just don’t resonate with the Bollywood industry. The last Bollywood movie I saw was probably 10 years ago. So I really wanna work with overseas filmmakers, directors and producers.

Getting into composing for film on overseas projects as an Indian composer is difficult. A. R. Rahman is the only Indian composer who has made it big in Hollywood. He’s won an Oscar for ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ He’s probably the only Indian composer who has made it big in Hollywood.

So I’m just trying to get my break at the moment in composing. But musician wise, I’m working on my solo album, electronic music production and DJing.

What are some of your challenges as a composer? Is it mostly working overseas?

Yeah so firstly, I need to say that there’s a huge gap in connecting composers to filmmakers, you know, it’s a huge space and it’s something that’s very necessary because composers don’t know where to get gigs from.

I’m on Facebook groups and some director or someone will post about their film, and then there’ll be like 300 or more people commenting on that and sending their stuff over.

So I would say firstly, the biggest challenge is getting heard by filmmakers. So a platform like yours is really helpful to bridge that gap. Although everything is remote now, but being from India, they have preconceived notions and stuff like that.

So unless I can show them my work and have conversations with them, then they can say “Okay, I can probably work with this guy.”

The third thing is probably self-belief. Being a musician, you always have a bit of doubt that drifts in from time to time. So when it comes to my singer-songwriter album and all my music production, I still have that confidence to say, “”kay, I’m good at this. I can do it.” Although the doubts still linger on and off.

But when it comes to composing, I’m not sure. Will I be able to handle it? Will I be able to make an impactful score? Can my ideas be fully translated into the music that I wanna make for them? I guess it’s natural to have doubts, but I believe in myself & my work thus far and know I can do a great job despite the second-guessing. So yes, believing in yourself is important, and I’m looking to get my break in scoring overseas films despite being from India.

Do you have a process for music creation for film composing?

I usually watch the film first and analyze the footage, and then I figure out, “Okay, this scene needs something like this. Or this is one way I can approach this scene.”

When I start working on the footage, I start experimenting. I also sort of try to use technology to cover up the areas where I lack. I just push the software to see what the software can do.

It’s like the vibe that I get from the shot – what I feel like playing. It’s just about feeling. Because if I’m not feeling the shot with the music, then how can you expect an audience to feel it? So it’s all intuition or a vibe or emotion.

Do you have any advice for new film composers just getting started?

Firstly, you need to get started at whatever level you are at. You need to just get started and start working on footage to see what you can do. Another thing apart from getting started is also studying the greatest film composers.

I like learning from scores by Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Ennio Morricone or even Michael Giacchino. I also closely follow Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead & Trent Reznor’s work as composers. I learn them and then I modify it form there to put my own imprint on it. It’s a learning process, but I would recommend young composers who are just starting out to learn from the best and start working from there.

Full Audio Transcript

How did you first get into composing composing? 

Actually, it happened just about a year ago, but I would say my earliest memory of music was probably hearing Jim Morrison of the Doors. When I was a kid, I used to like recording songs off the radio onto cassette tapes. So I heard Jim Morrison on the radio. And like, there was just something about his voice, it was really cool. And then I wanted to play guitar and stuff.

When I was in school, I used to listen to a lot of punk rock, like blink 182 and a bit of metal. System Of A Down, Linkin Park, stuff like that. I wanted to play guitar when I was in school, but my parents, like in India, you know, they were like, focus on your studies. This will distract you, stuff like that.

So I didn’t end up picking up the guitar in school. Then I went to college and I studied engineering. I got picked as the DJ of this pub in the town. So I went to the MIT money pile, which is basically like the MIT of India. So yeah, I was picked as a DJ of the most happening pop band there and I would play DJ sets like music every night for like three years or every other night.

That time there were no DJ controllers and stuff. I used to play a lot of rock, a lot of trip hop and hip hop. I used to hit the console and just play music for like three or four hours.

And everyone would be drinking, partying, and having a good time. And so, yeah, those are really formative days in my journey in music. So then I finally, like five years ago, I finally bought a guitar and a piano. And I started learning how to play the instruments. And then from 2020 onwards, like with the pandemic and everything, I started creating ambient genres of music under my artist name, Ghost.

And then, I created an ambient EP called Transit, then a lofi hip hop, jazz EP called Law Cinema. Then I went with an electronic downtempo with spaces and I’ve released them like, and my latest release as an artist is called Tides.

So yeah, I’ve been releasing music and composing actually just happened a year ago. And I was always very intrigued by the interplay of cinematography and music. And like how music emotes the shot and tells a story in a different way. And so I thought, I’ve been producing music as an artist and I’m playing a guitar and as an intermediate level, as a singer songwriter, so might as well try a bit of composing.

But that’s like my story so far. I’m figuring out my own niche. I’m figuring out what works for me and like how I can impart my own ideas and individuality onto music onto film scores and stuff like that.

And I’m obviously learning a lot. So at this stage, I’ve been studying Hans Zimmer and John Williams. So I sort of try to use technology to cover up the areas where I lack. I just push the software to see what the software can do. And then I add my work from there and yeah.

You mentioned that you are studying some of the famous film composers, like Hans Zimmer or John Williams. Curious about your sort of tactics or approach for dissecting and transcribing their music and how you’re continually educating yourself and kind of feeling like you’ve got all the knowledge you need to kind of get to the next step.

Actually, I guess it’s like always a continuous process of learning. I haven’t worked on a proper film yet and I haven’t got my first gig. So the process is basically just trying to Improve my own ability as much as I can. 

But I like to go in like a sort of opposite direction to what’s happening, for example, if it’s like a car speeding and like the scene of the car going early fast instead I’ll have like a few driving strings that are going, but I’ll have like this piano motives in the background, which is sort of slowing down the time.

And if it’s a heroic scene where everyone is expecting like this crescendo and stuff, I’d rather go with some simple brass, slightly dark, like, you know, simple brass hits. And I’m just sort of experimenting and trying to do stuff, which people are like that isn’t cliche basically, you know, so I’m trying to do things differently.

And although I haven’t worked with directors yet, I’m looking forward to figuring things out with directors.

Would you say that that kind of stylistic approach that you did just described where you’re kind of doing the opposite? Is that what you think makes you stand out as a composer?

Yeah, I mean it’s always been for me to stand out and do things differently. There’s this poem by Robert Frost that I like a lot where he says, I took the road less traveled and that made all the difference.

So even in life, I like to do things very differently and if you do what 99% of the people are doing, then it’s just gonna be the same thing. But if you do like the things that the 1% are doing, it’s gonna be different. So when it comes to imparting my own individuality onto the score, I like to do things really differently.

What are some of your career goals as a composer or musician?

So firstly, I’m counting down to my first singer-songwriter album. So I really wanna cut it out like an early nineties debut album. I’ve got the name planned and everything, and I’ve got a ton of original material and I’ve been working on them. I wanna pull out a nice 12 track debut album as a singer songwriter.

And yeah, I wanna continue producing as an artist and explore the genre and space. And as a composer, it’s one step at a time. I wanna do my first full length feature of them. I want to probably just start like a bunch of short films, you know? Although I’m from India, I just don’t resonate with the Bollywood industry. The last Bollywood movie I saw was probably like 10 years ago or something, you know? So I really wanna work with overseas filmmakers and directors and producers, and like just sort of get like that break too.

Getting into composing for film on overseas projects, you know, which I find as an Indian composer, it’s a bit difficult. A. R. Rahman is like the only Indian composer who has made it big in Hollywood. He’s won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. He’s probably the only Indian composer who has made it big in Hollywood. But yeah. So I’m just trying to get my break at the moment in composing, but musician wise, I’m working. Solo album and my electronic music production and DJing. And yeah, so those are my individual goals.

What are some of your challenges as a composer? Is it mostly working overseas?

Yeah so firstly, I need to say that there’s a huge gap in like composers connected to filmmakers, you know, it’s a huge space and it’s something very unnecessary because composers don’t know where to get gigs from. Like me, I’m on Facebook groups and stuff, but some director, someone will post something and then there’ll be like 300 people commenting on that and sending their stuff over.

So I would say firstly, the biggest challenge is getting heard by filmmakers. So a platform like yours is really helpful to bridge that. And the other second thing is probably like although everything is remote now, but being from India, they have preconceived notions and stuff like that.

So unless I can show them my work and have conversations with them, then they can say okay, I can probably work with this guy. 

And the third thing is probably self belief, like being any musician, you always have a bit of doubt and so when it comes to my singer songwriter album, all my music production, etc. I still have that confidence that, okay, I’m good at this.

I can do it. But when it comes to composing, it’s just so I’m like, you know, not sure. Okay. Will I be able to handle it, will I be able to make an impactful score? Can my ideas be fully translated into the music that I wanna make for them?

Do you have a process for music creation for film composing?

Yeah, I usually watch the film first and analyze the footage and then I figure out, okay, this scene needs something like this, or this is one way I can approach this scene.

Like when I start working on the footage, I start experimenting. if this is a particular scene that I’m going with a piano motif, so then I try that out. The process is sort of random.

It’s like the vibe that I get from the shot, what I feel like playing. And it’s just about feeling, you know, cause like if I’m not feeling the shot with the music, then how can you expect an audience to feel it? So it’s all just sort of like an intuition or a vibe, or like a feeling that, of course I try to do things very differently when it comes to the choice of instruments and stuff.

Do you have any advice for new film composers as far as getting going, or have you gotten any advice from other film composers about making a career out of composing music?

I think it’s a mixture. Firstly, you need to get started, like whatever level you are at whatever you think you can do. You need to just get started and start working on footage, seeing what you can do, what you can do. And another thing apart from getting started studying the greatest.

So I like learning and studying. I learn these scores by Hans Zimmer or John Williams, or even Michael Giacchino. I learn them. And then I modify it from there and then put my own sort of imprint onto the stuff. So, yeah, it’s a learning process, but I would recommend young composers who are just starting out to learn from the best and start working from there.

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