Federico Jusid (born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973) holds a “Master of Music” degree from The Manhattan School of Music, New York; a “New England CSS”, Boston; and “Diplôme de Exécution Musicale” with an “Antorchas” scholarship held at Brussels, apart from his “Bachelor Degree” from the Buenos Aires Conservatory. Jusid started his musical studies with 7 years old. Since then he developed a career as a piano performer (awarded in many international music competitions and festivals) and as composer. He composed the original soundtrack for more than 25 feature films, TV series, and music for the concert hall, premiered throughout Europe and America by recognized soloist and chamber ensembles. Nowadays, Jusid is a resident performer and composer of the Sonor Ensemble, Associate teacher at the Complutense University of Madrid and is the director of the music company Filmscores Productions in Madrid, Spain. He has also performed in Paris, Rome, St. Petersburg, Beijing, Seoul, Shangai, Sicily, Stockholm, Sofia, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Aarau, Ceuta, Ciudad Real, among other cities around the world. Also as a resident performer of the SONOR ENSEMBLE (soloist of the National Symphony Orchestra of Spain Associated) directed by Mtro. Luis Aguirre, has toured throughout Spain and Europe.
Q: I understand that you are going to Cordoba this year what will you be conducting at this event.
This year I am planning with the organizers of the Festival to give a concert with the music from the score of one of my latest TV projects, which has been a great success in Spain, ISABEL, MY QUEEN.
Q: You are the director of the company Film Scores Productions, can you tell us what this entails is it like an agency for film music composers etc.?
Film scores is my production company, named Metronome Musica de Películas, in Spain, and Metronome Music West, in Los Angeles. This project started off in 2001 to complete my work as a composer. Metronome offers to film and TV producers not only my music writing but also the music production, orchestration, scoring, mix and editing of a project.
Q: Your interest in music began very early, at 7 you started to your studies; did you come from a family background that was musical?
My Mother plays the piano, so I used to bang the poor instrument we had at home at very early age.
Q: What musical education did you receive?
As soon as I started torturing our piano my parents took me to a wonderful teacher. He not only taught me how to play but also we worked on improvising. Soon I started scribbling my first little pieces. Unfortunately not as wonderful as Mozart’s at the same age (lol), in fact quite bad pieces but at least I had an early experience in composing. Since then I studied with the wonderful piano teacher Claudio Espector at the Municipal Conservatory of Buenos Aires from which I got my Piano Teacher Bachelor Degree. At the age of 21 I got a scholarship that allowed me to move to New York to finish a Master’s Degree at the Manhattan School of Music. There I took both piano and composition classes, including film scoring. After that I was awarded with an Antorchas Foundation Scholarship thanks to which I traveled to Europe to continue with my musical education in Brussels where I received the Diploma de Exécution Musicale.
Q: You are an accomplished piano player and have been recognized many times for your excellence in this particular field, when did you decide to become a composer rather than be a performer, or do you still perform as well as compose music?
I always had this “double life”. I did perform a lot in my 20s, solo and recital concerts. For the last 10 years my professional career has been a bit more focused on the composing part, but I have never given up on my performer side.
I actually enjoy very much performing, mostly chamber music… Although sometimes composing for film and TV leaves me very little space for performing I try to be always in touch with this side. I have to say that it not only makes me very happy but I’ve come to realize that it feeds the composition side too and I miss it when I don’t have it. I do perform a lot with a Chamber Orchestra based in Europe, the Sonor Ensemble. With them we have toured and held many concerts around Europe, Asia and Latin America in the past years.
Q: Did you always feel an attraction towards music in film?
My family is in the movie business, so I was always around shooting stages, editing rooms and music studios. That was a blessing as I could witness that excitement quite early.
Q: You have worked on numerous television productions and long running TV series, for you what are the main differences between scoring television projects and motion pictures, is it mainly budget or do you feel that there are very few differences between working on the two mediums?
Indeed the budget was a strong difference between both mediums at the beginning. But in Spain I feel very lucky because the TV producers I have worked with tend to understand very well the importance of music in their projects and now I get to record with wonderful orchestras and soloist for both mediums equally. This was always common in feature Film projects but not us much in the TV ones. So I am grateful I can treat my TV scores almost with the same care as my films.
Another main difference is time, of course. I start composing for most films with the scrip and continue working to picture. This process could extend from 1 to 5 months, depending on how early I jump in.
In most TV projects I have to deliver one episode a week. That means I have to do a lot of writing and orchestration ahead. And then adjust and edit my scores to picture with each episode, as well as keep writing more music for particular scenes or new subplots. This work gets recorded in a bunch of pick up sessions throughout the season.
Of course, there are aesthetic differences also, but only that item would take us many pages to develop. Perhaps the most obvious distinctive element has to do with the audience. TV viewers give you only certain amount of attention and often we have to be more direct. The indirect or metaphorical construction in both script and music writing suits better the movie audience focus.
Q: HISPANIA, is a wonderful soundtrack, and one that was considered for a nomination by the international film music critics association last year, this I understand is for a documentary that was shown in 17 episodes. Do you think that documentaries need more music than conventional movies and how much music did you provide for Hispania, seeing as it was such a long running series did you re-use any cues at all?
Thank you so much for you words. Actually, HISPANIAis not a documentary. It is a fictional TV series based on the historical character of Viriato, who was a Hispanic-Lusitanian leader back in the times when the Spanish Peninsula was occupied by the Roman Empire.
As for documentaries, I don’t think there should be a rule. Each project, regardless if it is documentary or fictional, is different and unique and should have its own musical language.
Q: Also you worked on GRAN RESERVA a drama series for Spanish television which was 26 episodes, what was the schedule like on this by this I mean how much time were you given to score each episode?
GRAN RESERVA ended up just a couple of weeks ago with an astonishing 42 episodes (3 seasons and 3 closure episodes).
As I mentioned before when I work on a TV Series I have to record a lot in advance and during the production process. I usually have two or three big orchestral recordings during the season and then smaller orchestras and soloist recordings every 10-15 days.
When the postproduction starts I usually have to deliver one episode per week to the producers. In most of the projects I ask for a bit more time for the first ones but then we have to stick to a strict schedule of one episode-one week, which at some points can get quite intense but it is undeniably fun!
And now I am starting a new adventure I had never undertaken before. I will score for a daily TV series! And the calendar is truly madness…
Q: You have worked in Spain and also in Argentina, how do facilities vary between the two countries in respect of the availability of musicians and also the standard of recording studios etc.?
Spain used to be ahead in sound tech and facilities. Perhaps now they are a bit more even.
When scoring a movie do you like to conduct at the sessions, or do you think it is better for you to be monitoring proceedings from the recording booth?
It depends on every project. I enjoy very much conducting the orchestra and it makes it easier to communicate the needs of my score directly to the musicians. Particularly if it’s a very lyrical score. But sometimes, you want to be in the booth to listen more carefully to the sync with the pre-recorded material if there’s any, and to watch the screen, looking for a good synch with the film.
Q: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES is a beautiful score performed by the Bulgarian symphony orchestra, is this an orchestra you utilize on a regular basis?
I have recorded many of my scores with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra years ago and I am always happy to go back to work with them. Anyhow I am now working on a more regular basis with the East connection Symphony Orchestra from Budapest. They have extraordinary musicians and I feel very comfortable with their wonderful conductor, Peter Pejtsik and their contractor, Miklos Lukacs. I do a lot of recording remotely, so these two pieces are critical for the process to be a successful one.
Q: You have worked on many varying genres but is there a particular genre of film that you feel more comfortable in or are you happy to score any subject matter?
That’s a tough one. I actually enjoy the constant change of styles. It pushes me to study new music all the time. Our work is like that an actor who has to construct a new character for every film. And that’s extremely stimulating.
However, I realize I feel much more “at home” when I have to work on lyrical, dark, dramatic or operatic languages.
Q: How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin to discuss what type of music is to be written and where this music is best placed to serve the production?
At least 4 or 5 times. Ideally with a little time in the middle to digest my impressions.
Q: Do you perform on any of your own scores?
Actually I do perform in most of my scores. Is not a narcissistic exercise but a practical thing for me to do. Of course, if there’s enough time sometimes someone else could walk into the stage and play something much better than I did and with a fresh idea.
Q: Do you orchestrate all of your own music or do you at times because of time limitations use orchestrators?
I try to involve as much as I can on the orchestration process. It’s one of the stages I enjoy the most. Depending on the time I have in each project I assume a greater part of this task or a lesser part. In any case I always supervise the whole process adding my personal notes and round off the final scores.
Q: What do you think is the purpose of film music?
Oh my! This is another tough one! There are so many great books written on this subject. I would only dare to say that a music score should find its own purpose with every project and if we have a great honesty and work ethics it should never repeat itself. Sometimes music becomes a new character, other times an atmosphere, or the sense of time, or structure, or tempo, or an emotion map, etc… To simplify in a shallow way.
Q: Are there any composers of film music or indeed any composers or artists that have inspired you or influenced you in the way that you either compose music or approach scoring a movie?
I am not aware of the influential element. I studied a lot of Schumann, Liszt, Wagner, Bernstein, Hermann, Goldsmith, Newton Howard.
Q: When scoring a movie, do you begin with a core theme and build the remainder of the score around this or do you write smaller cues in the first place and then work on creating a central theme?
Probably, as a classically trained musician I need structure. So, I tend to start defining main lines, motives, color, and styles and then develop on each cue.
Q: Have you given many concerts of your film music?
I have participated in a handful of concerts in which some of my scores were performed. The most recent one was by the end of last year in Madrid where the Academy of Arts and Film organized its annual Film Music Concert and they decided to add a piece from THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES and THE HIDDEN FACE. This summer I will travel to Cordoba, Spain, where the Film Music Festival of Cordoba will perform a few concerts of my work, including the score of one of my latest projects, ISABEL, MY QUEEN.
Q: LA CARA OCULTA is one of your latest scores, a Spanish production, can you tell us something of the film, and what size orchestra that you utilized for the score?
THE HIDDEN FACE is a fantastic thriller and honestly I couldn’t say anything without spoiling the film. It’s a witty, psychological, dark piece…. but mainly, a good film!
This was a Spanish-Colombian-FOX US co production, and my first project with director Andy Baiz and producer Cristian Conti. I keep a great memory of the film scoring marathon on this project. Andy, Cristian and I worked together with the wonderful Robert Kraft, back then president of Fox Music Department. It was one of those experiences you just want to repeat! We had so much fun. The filmmakers were terrific in the process and I wish I could have Robert as a sensitive feedback in every film.
It was a hybrid score. About a 60-piece orchestra with electronics, percussion, prepared piano and electric guitars on top.
I had a wonderful input from my team, a sharp music production of A.Onyekwere and an amazing mix of J.L.Crespo.
Q: Are you working on anything for the cinema at the moment?
Well, it’s a funny timing for this question. Until a couple of weeks ago I was working on Warner Brothers 300 The Rise Of An Empire. And although the WB people were incredible supportive with me, a recent complete restructuring in the production management of the film plus a completely new calendar -the release date is almost one year off- might let me out of this project. You might be able to see my name on the current poster, at least on these weeks (lol). Hollywood has these things. Thank God, I have some good challenges and scripts on top of my desk!
Q: When one of your scores is released on compact disc, does the record company normally consult with you and involve you in the production?
Most of the times I take part in the production, selection, editing, mastering…. very seldom composers are totally ignored in this processes.
Q: Many thanks.
Many thanks to you 🙂