Alejandro Karo is a Mexican composer from Hermosillo, Sonora, México.

Alejandro formally entered the world of music at the age of ten when he began to study under Maestro Felipe García with whom he studied classical guitar. At the  age of fourteen the young musician continued to study piano with teachers Jesús David Camalich and Alfonso Cabrera. And when he reached the age of  seventeen he began to study musical composition, entering into various courses, During his time at the University of Sonora  he became more aware of his passion and attraction to write film scores.  As well as a composer of film scores in his own right, Alejandro has also been responsible for trailer music, additional cues for film scores and music preparation for soundtracks. 





Can I begin by asking about your score for MIS DEMONIOS NUNCA JURARON SOLEDAD, this is a horror western I understand, did the direction have any favoured style or sound that he wanted for his film, as your score certainly leans more towards the horror as in style and sound?
Yes, Mis Demonios Nunca Juraron Soledad is a horror western movie, in the meetings that we always had, the director Jorge Yahir Leyva and me, we always talked about having a hybrid and textural music where we combined string orchestra and many synthesizers, I had always wanted to write music for this type of film, so when I had the opportunity to write music for the film I wanted to do something different and not based on typical westerns, but rather work on a musical context based on suspense and in the mystery.

Even though the score for MIS DEMONIOS NUNCA JURARON SOLEDAD is very atonal in places there are also themes that shine through, do you think it is important to have themes rather than a soundscape as seems to be the trend nowadays?
Personally, I am not a very melodic composer, so when I saw the movie, I could not stop thinking about having a main theme for the film, but I did not want it to be a melodic theme with a memorable theme, I wanted the music to be as minimal as possible, so the way I thought about doing this task, was writing a specific progression of chords that at the moment of making them all sound, they gave the sensation of being a theme, and thanks to a lot of exploration time, I found out how to have Silence and Deina’s theme in the movie with a very basic chord progression, or at least I think I did achieve all that.



What do you think is the purpose of music in film?


That is a question I asked myself many times, I think that music helps in many forms, like supporting the movie in an emotional level, music often says everything that words cannot express, it is something beyond just music. Composer Brian Tyler says, “music is the heart of a film” and I think it is quite right.


Your latest score is for JESUS OF NAZARETH, how did you become involved on the movie, and at what stage of production did you start forming ideas about the music?
I came to the movie Jesus of Nazareth, almost coincidentally I can say, I was visiting the International Film Festival of Guadalajara, and my great friend Paulina Villavicencio who I work with a lot, she introduced me with part of the editing department of the film, after almost 5 months I received a call from the producer Jose Manuel Brandariz, who was very interested in me writing the music for this movie, of course I was too excited to make this story, then when we finished the call, I remember I started to make small musical ideas, without images of course, and I could not avoid writing a theme which became my favourite over time, for the sequence of the Viacrucis.



Within the score there is a solo female voice which is quite beguiling, who is the soloist, and what size orchestra did you have for the score?



The soloist of this score, is the soprano Brenda Santracuz, a great friend of mine, for this score I wanted just a small string orchestra and of course a lot synthesizers (laughs), I did not want to write too orchestral music as it is usual in this type of films, I wanted to write something a little more modern and minimalistic that could give a story to a more raw atmosphere.


How much music did you compose for JESUS OF NAZARETH, and will there be a CD release of it?
I composed 68 minutes of music and I’m in talks with an important music label for movies to make the official release of this soundtrack in a couple of months.



What musical education did you undertake, and do you come from a family background that was musical at all?
I have a degree in music from the University of Sonora also known as “Unison” in Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, and in my family there are no musical relatives, only a cousin and my brother played rock covers together, but I was the only one who ended up dedicating myself completely to music as a profession.



What is the state of the film industry in Mexico, I ask because I have been seeing some good movies coming from Mexican directors and producers, and also a lot of very good scores?


The industry in Mexico has been growing in the last few years, and from what I can see in my generation there are more and more composers interested in writing music for movies, every time they write and produce better scores, we have great composers of music for cinema in Mexico with whom I have been able to work and learn a lot like Edy Lan, Andrés Sánchez, Gus Reyes, Rodrigo Flores, Arturo Rodriguez, Leoncio Lara Bon etc.





Have you a favoured or preferred studio where you record your film scores?

Yes, my favourite studio is Estudios Noviembre and the Sala Silvestre Revueltas at Estudios Churubusco, with the incredible Strings México.



What was your first experience of writing music for film?


 My first experience in a real movie, was when I composed the music for a movie called “I Wish I Wish” by director Eduardo M. Clorio, which gave me many great surprises and a couple of awards, it is available in Amazon Prime.

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Do you feel that you have been inspired or influenced by certain composers?
Yes, a lot of composers like Edy Lan, Trent Reznor, Bryce Dessner, Hans Zimmer of course, etc.
How do you work out your music ideas, do you utilise technical means or do you write your ideas to manuscript, also do you orchestrate or do you prefer to use an orchestrator whilst you continue to write the score?

I first start writing themes or motives on the piano, after writing a harmonic plan that I like, I sit down on the computer and start to develop and orchestrate my melodic material and program my music against image, and finally I send my MIDI material to my orchestrator Mayra Lepró with whom I have worked in all my films for almost 4 years.


Have you ever performed your film music in concert?


I have never done it, but a few months ago I worked on a Suite for full orchestra of my score for “Jesús de Nazaret” and I hope I can play it live at the end of the year.



When you are asked to score a project, do you watch it continuously until you get ideas about where music should be placed, or do you watch just a few times?

I watch the movie  many times, and together with the director we work in a spotting session where we mark which are the cues that should have music and based on that I start working on the cues that need to have music. 


What comes first in the composing process, the central theme or smaller cues?
I start composing the central theme, it doesn’t matter if they are large or small, I work the rest of the cues in chronological order, it is much easier for me that way.
There are times when you are almost finishing the film and by the end of it you think of new theme which ends up replacing the main theme, it is quite frustrating, unexpected and funny but it has happened to me quite often.



The composer has also worked extensively in music preparation and provided additional music for a number of motion pictures.