An Interview with Composer Harald Boyesen
When did you start composing?
“You know, I started composing, I think in 2003. I met Ian Schiller at an internship that I was doing, and he was doing it too, it was called DV Garage, it was kinda like a gym for media creators. And it was just a monthly membership, and you know you would meet all these people. I was, I was young at the time and Ian came up to me and said “hey I hear you make music” and then I said “yeah, why”. “Well I’m working on this commercial, do you, do you want to work on it?” and I thought “oh yeah, great, that sounds, that sounds cool”. And so, it turned out that that spot he was working on aired during the Superbowl, and I actually saw it. And after that I kinda just fell in love, with it, I just I had no idea you could make money off of music, and it just kinda consumed my whole person.”
What are your personal music inspirations?
“My personal music inspirations were kind of heavy, specifically synth driven music, like Boards of Canada from Scotland. Uh you know, kind of recreating these films from the 70s. Mixed with, you know, sorry, scientific films from the 70s. So like National Geographic, things like that, things you would see in high school. And that mixed with these epic film scores like Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight. And uh yeah. Just kind of a broad variety of inspirations really. My main inspiration outside of music is cinematography, and I just love seeing pictures, moving pictures, edited these beautifully lit shots, and it’s just special to be able to create an emotional story behind those incredible shots, you know.”
What is your process going into composing a piece?
“It really depends on the piece, sometimes with narratives if there’s a lot of voiceover, I will listen to the voiceover and put markers throughout the piece, so I can, make a story that is following along with the voiceover. So if the voiceover says, I did this thing for NASA, and the voiceover says “Mars once had water on it and but something happened” and that went to a minor key. So I’ll switch between these minor and major chords to kind of make the dynamic emotional story a little bit more interesting instead of just some loop. And then after that then I go to instrumentation and after that is editing and arrangement and then mixing. And by that time I have the final cut, so then it’s pretty much, then the project is typically over.”
What is your biggest challenge when you’re composing?
“Oh making the client happy. That is hands down the biggest challenge because there is so much incredible music and you know, a lot of people, directors too, use temp music that’s produced by maybe eight people, you know, it might be a Pharrel remix or it might be Daft Punk. They want some of the best musicians in the world, and I’m expected to live up to all of these incredible mixing engineers, producers, and composers, and even ghost producers. So, I would say that is the biggest challenge for me.”
What was your process with Director Ian Schiller in creating the score for Epic EVO?
“Ian and I, we have worked for so many years together, you know, since 2003. And my process is, sometimes, for this one it was all about the sound of the 1940s. So I played a 40s style chord progression on a piano. That’s how I typically start with instrumentation is just using a piano. And I just went through the whole video and made the chords, did the progression, and Frances Osley sang the melody for the EVO piece. And then after that I would build instrumentation, like drums, strings, horns, trumpets, all around that piece in similar keys doing different things. So it’ll switch, sometimes the excitement or the energy will have a peak and this is typically, Ian and I go over these things, he says at ten seconds we want it to feel a little sad and then the peak is around one minute and twenty and then the finale comes in at the end. Ian’s really good at being very, straightforward, with those sorts of things. He definitely makes my life a bit easier, because he knows what he wants, which is the sign of a good director.”
Were there any major changes that happened throughout the process?
“There were a couple of spots where, I think, Ian wasn’t sure, he needed something, he needed energy, because there was this section in the middle of the piece at about one minute and twenty seconds, it’s a one minute section from one-twenty to two-twenty, and we needed energy. So one night I just stayed up and listened to a lot of, a lot of forties music and how it was produced and again, Ian wasn't really sure about the section. He just said, “we need it to be energetic because it’s a montage of the bicycle”, and you know this is a mountain bike where these guys are jumping over really insane, insanely big jumps, so it can’t just be this, piano, this solemn piano with a voice. So, I just, kinda made this, I just kinda went crazy with it. To me it kind of feels almost like crazy carnival music, because it’s a waltz, and then I just added a bunch of drums, taiko drums, and bells, and glockenspiels, and a whole string symphony within my computer, and just tried to make it as exciting as possible and it ended up working, it ended up adding the energy we needed, even though that was a blank spot.”
Are there any other projects you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about? Things to look forward to?
“I’m working on many projects right now, yes I’m exciting about them, give me a second. You know, the other projects, specific to One Twenty Nine that I’ve been really excited about, were the other Specialized projects. Right now the projects that I’m working on currently are specific to licensing and I just, really enjoy creating melodies in my head that I could see picture being synced to. I create a whole lot of ideas prior to projects coming in so that I have all these ideas, even though I might think or say in my head that they’re bad, they’re never bad, because no idea is a bad idea. So I just create, and I think that’s one of my favorite parts of the process is actually just creating melodies on the piano or guitar, I think that’s fun and exciting.”