An Interview With Composer Eric Elick
UKHS – How did you get into this and at what point did you realise you wanted to be a composer?
EE – It all started December 18, 1998 around the time my older brother purchased an Alesis QS6 keyboard and started making music on it. It looked fun so I decided to try my hand at it and I started experimenting and found that I really enjoyed it! I decided to learn the piano after having recurring dreams of playing Blood Roses by Tori Amos over a period of a few months. I composed and produced music and albums since that time, even majoring in music in college for a couple years, but renewed my gusto and drive to really go after making a career in music in 2014 when I had the opportunity to score the 2014 short “The Tour” directed by Damon Rickard and Alex Mathieson. The rest is history!
UKHS – If you weren’t a composer what would you be?
EE – I would be a medical speech-language pathologist! Wait, I already am one! 😉 Aside film composing I have studied many other fields and I am qualified to be a medical speech-language pathologist, Spanish teacher (in a private institution), Spanish interpreter/translator, manager, and even a private investigator field agent! I love to learn and I think it’s important to have diverse skill sets, you never know when you might need them! My ability to work in various fields ensures I have income coming in to where I can live comfortably and it allows me to be more discerning in deciding which film projects with which I get involved.
UKHS – In terms of composing, who inspires you and which scores do you love?
EE – Well first and foremost I will have to mention Tori Amos, although she’s not a film composer, she is THE composer that inspired me to become a musician which allowed me to eventually find my way to film work. She is a wonderful artist and I have been listening to her music since the early 90’s. Although I don’t listen to her as regularly as I used to in the past, I will always be grateful for her music that played a critical role in my life. As for film composers who inspire me, I love James Horner, Alexandre Desplat, James Newton Howard, John Debney, Fernando Velazquez, Carter Burwell, Bernard Herrmann, and many more..the list can get really long! Among all of the living film composers out there currently, I would say my favorite is currently James Newton Howard. My favorite soundtracks have been: Aliens, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, Lady in the Water, Dream House, El Orfanato, The Finest Hours, Psycho, the list can go on and on… Willow, Conan the Barbarian, To Kill a Mockingbird, Forrest Gump, Julie & Julia, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Stargate, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lawrence of Arabia, The Dark Crystal, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, A Beautiful Mind, Maleficent, Poltergeist, etc.
UKHS – What is the piece of music you are most proud of?
EE – That’s a very difficult question to answer for me, so I will simply say I am proud of them all, because they all reflect me at various stages of growth as an artist… even the first ditty I ever wrote on the piano which you can find on my SoundCloud if you dig deep enough. They reflect who I was at the time they were created and all of those life experiences that were influencing me at the time culminating in musical form. If I had to pick one, I would pick the latest piece of music I’ve done, the STAR TREK BEYOND trailer music I redid, because with every music cue I do, I always work to make it the best I can at that stage of my development and I do my best to stay present in order to enjoy every moment in life. I love all of my film scores and hope to have the opportunity to release them all to the public at some point. We will have to see how the official soundtrack for Seize the Night directed by Emma Dark does!
UKHS – What would be your ideal composing gig?
EE – My ideal composing gig is to work with directors who are passionate, easy to get along with and receptive to feedback, that recognize the importance of score in a film, understand the importance of marketing for everyone involved in a project, and just plain good friends. That’s my idea of an ideal composing gig. 🙂
UKHS – Do you ever feel you are type-cast as a composer? Do you think this might be a problem for some composers?
EE– While I LOVE that the horror community and directors have opened their arms to me, I do not consider myself a horror film composer specifically, as I compose music in all sorts of styles and now since moving to Los Angeles other types of film projects are starting to come in (e.g. Visitation directed by Austin Smagalski is a drama, and I’m currently in talks for potentially another drama with another production company). If you take a listen to my SoundCloud it will show I’ve produced all sorts of music. Egomaniac was especially satisfying to work on as an artist, because it required so many different types of musical styles from jazz to mariachi to EDM to introspective piano music to traditional orchestral scoring and so on! I would love to have opportunities to score more science fiction and action films as well!
UKHS – What are the main functions and goals of soundtracks and film music and how would you rate their importance for the movie as a whole?
EE – I believe the main function and goals of film music is to tell the story, but through emotions. The score suggests what the viewers should be feeling, or at the very least create an environment that allows the viewers emotions to naturally be augmented. There’s all sorts of creative ways to use score in film. Film scores outline and highlight the emotional trajectory of the film as well as each individual scene. Scores can also be helpful to augment performances where actors may not be emoting enough, or clearly enough. You can even fix or diminish editing errors with score. Some directors have told me they value the score and sound as 50% of the film and the visuals the other 50%, and I would have to agree with this! Sometimes it feels as though score comes as an after thought, but directors should really get a composer involved in the pre-production stages! Composers can be useful here as well with developing score concepts concurrently even as the film itself is being developed.
UKHS – Scores can either exist entirely of original material or temp-track music. Are these two approaches equal or do you feel as though a soundtrack written especially for a movie is always better?
EE – I would say score written especially for a film is usually always better, unless a scene calls for a certain style of music that may be better achieved through licensing of an already existing piece of music. Sometimes it’s just a perfect fit. The problem with temp tracks is that typically the editors/directors get VERY attached to the music and then anything that deviates from the temp track will sound “good” or “right” to their ear. Temp tracks, or should I say “temporary tracks,” can really put the composer in a box and limit what they can bring to the table and in some unfortunate cases relegate them to the role of a technician to recreate the temp track! In those cases it is advisable for the composer to encourage the director to just license the temp track and avoid that entire difficulty altogether. In my opinion the best way to do temp tracks is to hire the composer who will be scoring the film to do the temp tracks which is another reason why it can be important to get composers involved prior to the final edit.
UKHS – What’s next for you?
EE – Hopefully a successful launch of the Seize the Night official soundtrack which is currently available for pre-order and will be available on iTunes and all major online music distributors on August 5, 2016! So far the response has been incredible! After that, Horror Channel’s Fright Fest 2016 in London for the world première of Egomaniac directed by Kate Shenton! I am very excited to finally be able to meet so many people I have only known and worked with via social media! I will be scoring Emma Dark’s next film which should be announced very soon! I can’t wait to work with her again and she was a director who really allowed me artistic freedom and communicated her clear vision for music, but also open to new ideas about score. She is excellent about allowing her cast and crew to do what they do best. Her marketing skills are also second to none. Emma and I were in tune with each other from the beginning and she was fantastic to work with.
Kate Shenton also was very open to new ideas and was a pleasure to work with. You’ll be hearing more of my work with Damon Rickard’s new film “Dissociative” as well as Alex Mathieson’s “The Jitterman”. I could go on and on about how great these directors are but I’ll have to just say that I have been very lucky to work with so many talented and genuinely wonderful people who just happen to be directors! I have just signed on to also score “I Baked Him a Cake” directed by Vanessa Ionta Wright and written/produced by Samantha Kolesnik. There are some other unannounced projects that will be coming out in the not-so-distant future and I am currently in talks to potentially work on new projects which will be announced later this year if they work out. You can follow my career on all the major social media sites.
Thank you so much for this interview, it was a pleasure!
Twitter – https://twitter.com/EricElickMusic
strip light photo credit to http://www.michaelmknight.co.uk/