Robin Coudert is a songwriter, producer and film and television composer, his style is melodic and innovative and as well as being popular for his work in film he is also well known as a versatile and gifted arranger, to his fans and also within the indie pop community he is known as Rob. His music style is sophisticated and incorporates various genres of music, including symphonic, chamber music, electro pop, rock and acoustic. He began to play piano as a child, he released his debut album in 2001 which was a 1960’s inspired project entitled DON’T KILL. He began his film scoring career in 2005 and has been in demand ever since.
When did you begin to take an interest in music?
I have very blurry memories from my young age: playing records on my parents hi-fi system, I remember quite well the feel of the vinyl, the needle , the arm of the turntable… though I don’t remember the music itself, i still have the feeling of the gear, the system.
What was your first encounter with film or TV music as in when did you first take notice that it existed?
I used to spend a lot of time watching tv as a kid, and during the 80’s we had a lot of French/Japanese cartoon productions. I was (and still am) a huge fan of the music from those ones. « Les Mystérieuses Cités d’or was my favourite, Albator or Goldorak… the music was a big part of it, with a beautiful use of synth. That, was some kind of spaced electronic music… Very inspiring and tripping. I think all my generation has been inspired by these programmes, look at daft punk’s interstellar 555!! It comes straight from there!
I also have deep memories from watching The Mission and Morricone’s score was really something I did notice. I asked my parents to buy the score. I loved it. The same with Michael Nyman’s draughtman’s contract. I was obsessed with this music, that was a hit for me. I was probably 8-9 years old then. Polanski’s fearless vampire killers was also of my favs and I’m still in love with the music.
You use many ways to score pictures etc, do you feel that maybe in recent years film music has altered and become more soundscape rather than symphonic score?
There’s certainly a trend in using textures in scores rather than melodies. But I really don’t want to separate symphonic and electronic. Symphonic can be textured as well (cf Johansson)! There are so many ways to inject emotions in a movie. Every project calls for some different approach for me.
You have collaborated with filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowskia few times now, does she have fixed ideas on what style or sound that she wants for her movies or give you specific instructions, or do you have a free rein?
We started our careers together. We didn’t really know what we were doing on BELLE EPINE, it felt very experimental, as it was my first experience on a long feature. I think we try to stay in the same spirit now. Find new ways, new ideas, new concept. The trust she has for me allows me to explore new territories and push back the limits of my production.
You have worked on documentaries, do these projects demand more music or music to run in a more continuous way as opposed to a score in a motion picture?
I like to approach a documentary the same way as with features. I try to inject drama just like in a fiction.
TV music has become more popular in recent years, is the working schedule on a TV series very different from working in feature films?
Yes it’s very different !! Considering that Cinema is an industry, then T.V. is even bigger.
There are so many projects running right now, especially on platforms and networks.Basically, it’s like, less money, less time, more music!!
But it’s such a big thing, it’s very exciting! You can tell the producers are very creative and some would take more risk than in the cinema prods. There’s a kind of gambling vibe, because the networks are craving for content, they’re giving a lot of money to different kind of project, sci-fi, horror, historical, documentary…
We just opened a gold mine, and everyone takes a chance.
I think PINK COWBOY BOOTS was one of the first films you worked on in 2005, how did you become involved on the film?
My wife Maria LARREA was studying at the prestigious FEMIS the French cinema school. Pink Cowboy Boots was her first short movie. Many directors come from there: Rebecca Zlotowski and Teddy Modeste, Céline Sciamma but also Eric Rochant or Deplechins.
Your scores always have attractive and haunting melodies, do you think it is important for a film soundtrack to have themes rather than just sounds to support and enhance the images and scenarios?
I’m a great defender of the melodies. It is of course a fantasy for the composer to provide a theme for a movie. Something that will remain. But it’s crucial to understand that not every movie can have it. It has a huge impact on a film to stand a melody, and its huge artistic move. Not all the directors dare to do this. It’s risky and not trendy. That’s why I want to do it!!
How long is it after seeing movie that you begin to develop your ideas and thoughts into themes?
I often start the creative process before seeing any picture.
Just by reading the script or even talking with the director.
The ideas come first from abstract concepts, from an ideal of the film and not from the film itself.
A while ago the composer relied on seeing the script of a movie to get an idea of where he would place music etc, at what stage of production do you prefer to become involved on a film or documentary and do you have a set routine for the way you work on a project, ie start to finish or maybe larger cues first or establish a central theme and work from this?
I begin with some free composition process. As if I was composing for a record. Some themes and moods. Then I send it to the Director, and we start from there. It’s crucial to create a communication channel, to build a language we would both understand to be able to communicate artistically.
Most of the directors don’t know the words to describe their expectations. My job is to translate it into music. This process should start as soon as possible to make sure i wouldn’t go amiss n a wrong direction. Once we have this, if I feel trustworthy, everything should be fine.
Many thanks for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.