Born in 1972 in Lorient, Morbihan, France. Erwann Kermorvant studied clarinet at a local conservatory before studying composition in the USA at the Grove School of Music and UCLA. He was instructed in film composition by Gerald Fried, Don B. Ray and Steven Scott Smalley before moving back to France to have his first musical success with Mensana and Katoomka. Kermorvant lived and made music in Lorient for a while before moving to Paris in 1999 to establish himself as a film composer. After several short films, he finally made his debut in 2002 with the television comedy Les frangines.


Les vacances de Sam I think was your first scoring assignment, this was a short film from 2000, how did you become involved on this movie?

Wow, I never thought I’d get a question about my first scoring assignment! You really have done your homework. Let me try to remember how it all started. I think it was after I did my first paid composing job for a role-playing game magazine called Dragon, if I’m not mistaken, which released themed CDs “Soundtracks”. Science fiction, Heroic fantasy etc. I had to do a heroic fantasy one and I think the director of that film somehow heard it. I have no idea how it got into his hands.

Was music always a career that you wanted to undertake, and were you always wanting to write for film?

To tell the truth, I didn’t realize that composing was an option until the end of high school. Until then, I was more or less aiming for a career in genetics or biology. I studied at the conservatory in my hometown. Clarinet and harmony. But I could not see myself as a professional clarinettist. I wrote little pieces on the side, hence the harmony lessons, but I did not know what to do with them.

Your score for Bowling has just been released digitally by Plaza Mayor, the film however was released in 2012, why did it take so long for the score to be released as it is such a great soundtrack?

I’m notoriously picky with my mixes… On a more serious note, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of projects in the meantime and little time to devote to the release of the soundtracks. On the other hand, these films were released at a time when you could only consider a physical release of the music. This, considering the costs involved, did not allow the release of a twenty-minute soundtrack. Since the arrival of platforms, things have changed and indeed, I don’t like to release soundtracks that I don’t like the sound, the edits and the order. I happened to have a window of opportunity last summer to rework and remix some soundtracks that I had left behind. So, there you have it.

What is the starting point for you when working on a score, do you like to sit and watch the movie a number of times, before you start to sketch out ideas about music, style and sound etc?

A vast subject. It depends a bit on the project and the director I’m working with. For example, Olivier MARCHAL, with whom I have worked a lot, sends me the script very early. I love reading his scripts. They feed me a lot. Then, he tells me: “You know what I like, do as usual” and then I start working with his editor with whom I work in parallel with the editing. But I already have a good idea of the colours and sometimes certain themes when I read them. In other cases, I receive films that are already advanced or even completely edited. And sometimes with sample music. My first viewing is done by cutting the music in order to be as little influenced as possible. And then from there I start to put ideas on the piano often. I like to improvise while watching the images.

When discussing a potential project with the director or producer is it just the sound or style of the music that they talk about or maybe how a score can help a movie and where music may not be needed?

Again, each case is different but generally the discussion is more about the style of music than the sound. On the other hand, it is often too early to talk about music placement or its possible role. But it all depends on how far along the project is when I am contacted. If it is already shot or edited or if it is a pre-shooting meeting.

 As I already mentioned Bowling is now available on Spotify and Apple etc, when a score of yours is to be released in whatever format, do you take an active role in compiling the tracks you would like released to represent your work?

Very involved as I said before. If I’m going to do a soundtrack release I like it to be what I think it is. That’s probably why I take so long to release the soundtracks. So if I get a satisfactory result before the release of the film, so much the better, if not, I prefer to postpone the release when I really have time to devote to it and when I like the result.

In 2004 you scored 36th Precinct for director Olivier Marchal, which is a varied soundtrack, did the director have any specific ideas about where music should be used and what style of music would be best for the movie?

For my first collaboration with Olivier MARCHAL, we had to discover each other. I think we tried some things. All I had of the film at the beginning of my work was the script. So I wrote themes that I sent to the editor, who gave me feedback or asked me to go in this or that direction depending on what he was working on. Since that film I have always worked in parallel with the editing for Olivier’s films. As for the music, we just knew that we needed a strong and lyrical theme around Camille, Leo Vrinks’ wife, as the whole story revolves around her. Olivier has always been a fan of Morricone and that was the direction he gave me.

Have you encountered the temp track and is it something you like or are indifferent about?

Yes of course I have often had temp-tracks for the projects I have worked on. But I always cut them off at first viewing. To make up my own mind. But sometimes on the second viewing, or if the director asks me to listen to something in particular that he likes, I put the temp-track back in to see what choices have been made so far. Sometimes some temp-track can help to start a discussion about the artistic direction. But sometimes they are so overwhelming that they cut off any thought of what might be possible to try. This is also why I often work in parallel with the editing. So that the editor works as little as possible with a temp-track. This process is a bit longer and doesn’t guarantee to be original for each film but I find that this process at least allows you to ask the right questions about the music rather than just plastering on the soundtrack of the latest film without worrying about whether it is what the film needs.

You have worked on many genres of film and TV do you think there is one genre in particular that is maybe more difficult to work on than any other?

Comedy,  As a producer friend of mine used to say: “It is always easier to make people cry than to make them laugh”. And this is so true for music too. Comedy music is probably the trickiest thing to do. In fact, if you think about it now, if comedy works in a film, it doesn’t need music, or very little. But sometimes to accompany a situation, you need music. And it takes so much delicacy to find the right balance between what is funny and what is ridiculous. I am currently working on a series called “Bright Minds” (Astrid & Raphaelle in France). And it’s a police series where one of the protagonists is autistic. There are a lot of comical situations. And the whole point is to laugh with her and not at her. It’s very perilous. And very difficult to do musically.

Is there a great deal of difference between scoring a TV project as opposed to a feature film or a short?

Apart from the budget, I don’t think so. My involvement is pretty much the same for every project. If I’m trusted and left to my own devices, I work the same way. After that, some projects are more interesting than others…

What musical education did you have?

I entered the conservatory at the age of 7 in the clarinet class. I stayed there until I was 17. I then moved to Los Angeles to study at the Grove School of Music. Then I went to UCLA to study at the Film Music Program under Don Ray. While there, I was fortunate to be taught by Dick Grove, Jack Smalley, Steven-Scott Smalley, Don Ray, Gerald Fried, Thom Sharp, Jeff Rona and to assist Ralph Grierson on numerous recording sessions. After graduation I returned to France.

Going back to Bowling, I just love the sound of this score, you incorporate bagpipes into the score because it is set in Brittany, did you research the music of the region and who are the pipe performers on the score?

One of the biggest Celtic music festivals takes place in Lorient (my hometown) every year. I was surrounded by the sound of bagpipes all my childhood. So, I didn’t have to look very far inside myself for influences for this score. I don’t remember who played the Irish flute and biniou parts but I do remember that the Breton musician I wanted and had worked with was not available. So I worked remotely with a musician from…Los Angeles… Chris Bleth! He did a remarkable job.

Do you like to conduct all your film and TV scores or is this not always possible?

I hardly ever conduct. First of all because I think it’s a real job and I’m very bad at it. And also because I am much more focused on the music when I am in the booth. When scoring a short movie which is something that can be less than ten minutes in duration, is it difficult to establish a musical identity for the project? No more than for a feature film. I would even say that short films force efficiency. And to define an identity very quickly. But once again, it all depends on the film.  

Your score for Ma Premiere Fois is an emotive and haunting one, I felt it was quite Barry-esque in places and made gentle nods to the music of Georges Delerue. What composers would you say have influenced and inspired you?

Thank you for the compliments, they are composers I greatly admire. I was lucky enough to see a lot of film music recordings during my stay in Los Angeles and they all had a great influence on me. Some of the ones that have had the biggest impact on me are obviously Danny Elfman, Alf Clausen, Georges Delerue, David Newman. And then there are those who influenced my writing like Ennio Morriconne, Thomas Newman, John Powell, Terence Blanchard… I voluntarily don’t mention John Williams and Bernard Herrmann because their influence is so important for all film music composers that it is obvious. But I have also listened a lot to classical composers who have influenced me a lot. Take the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in France and Russia and you will have the list. And also a lot of rock bands. A lot of jazz.

Do you perform on any of your film or TV scores?

Yes. All the Synthesizer to start with. But also sometimes some percussions, guitars, or woodwinds. And also some instruments that I own and that I would have difficulty in recording outside my home.

How much time do you normally have to score a movie, maybe use Overdose as an example, which is an Amazon production with a dark and atmospheric score that is mainly electronic if I am correct?

Overdose is a special case because Olivier’s traditional editor was not available, so he chose to work with an editor who prefers to work on his own while he gets a first version. So I only started working once the editing was in V1. Given the back and forth process with Amazon, and the fact that everyone had validated the temp-track, I preferred to wait until I had a locked Image before really incorporating my ideas into the film. This meant that I had very little time between the lock and the recording. About fifteen days I think I remember. There wasn’t a lot of orchestra but the score is still very hybrid. Even the very synthetic cues are tinged with real strings to break the cold textures with the warmth of the real musicians.

What is your opinion of the non-thematic or drone fashion of scoring movies which seems to be the current trend?

It’s a fad, hopefully we’ll get back to more thematic scores. But, after all, some films work very well with this type of music and would probably be too heavy with orchestral scores. I think films get the music they deserve. To have a thematic film score, you need a film that is suitable for it.

What is next for you?

I am currently working on season 4 of Bright Minds (Astrid & Raphaelle). A soundtrack should be released soon. In parallel I’m also working on a series by Olivier Marchal for Netflix. I have several other series projects coming up and also normally a film later this Year.


Driven by passion from early childhood, composer & sound designer Jonas Wikstrand is constantly inspired to evoke emotion through unique sounds and original music. Jonas started playing the violin at age of 3 and started composing music at 6, and has since then been working in tons of musical directions. From working with large symphonies to producing Grammy winning rock bands, Jonas has created a very diverse discography throughout the years. In the last years Jonas has been concentrating on developing an original voice in the big white noise of music & sounds for visual media, with the objective to tailor art that stands today and in the future to come.

Jonas Wikstrand.

Your first scoring assignment was in 2010 for a short film entitled Serenade, how did you break into writing music for film? 

I guess ‘The Serenade’ was technically my first paid film I worked on, but I worked on several student projects before that. My thought in the beginning, when I was still a student, was not to approach established filmmakers but to approach people that were also film students at the time. That was a great way to learn the craft of scoring properly and to get a bunch of projects on my resume for a showcase. One of the students I worked with got hired to direct and produce a short film and he asked me to do the music. That was ‘The Serenade’. A lot of the students I approached I still work with today. Now 15 years later we’re all being established professionals. 

Was this a career that you set out to do or did you initially have another path in mind?

After I decided to not become a professional ice hockey player when I was 10-11, I knew I wanted to work with music. I worked in so many fields of music before I was scoring films. I ran a recording studio, I played in a piano bar, I was a drum and band teacher and I toured the world with a heavy metal band. During my youth I composed a lot of concert music with visual context but no pictures. When I scored my first film I instantly felt I could use all my knowledge from all fields in one profession. I’ve been hooked ever since!

You began to play violin aged three and started to compose at 6, what formal musical education did you receive?

I started playing at the local music school where I grew up. Even at a very young age my dad had my practice the violin every day. But it wasn’t until I started to create my own music in the mid 90s that I felt the meaning of it all. When I was 6 years old people migrated from 2D video games to computer powered 3D video games. I felt so dizzy playing those games so instead I found a software called Fasttracker 2. This was an early version of a MIDI-programming based software that you could write and program music in. That’s how I started working with music production. Other than that, I’ve studied music and composition in high school, and then I’ve got a bachelor’s degree at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

As well as a composer you are a multi-instrumentalist, how many instruments do you play?

I love playing instruments and I love creating tracks of me layering myself. So It’s more that I have a sound in mind and I keep working until I get there even if it takes a lot of practicing. It’s helpful to both be playing both strings and woodwinds however. It helps me create organic sounding music without having to rely on samples. 

You are also credited as a sound designer, is this basically scoring a film but with sounds, fx and dialogue, etc? 

Yes that is correct, I worked as a sound designer for multiple TV shows, feature films, trailers and commercials.

When scoring a film do you have a set routine in the way that you approach it, by this I mean do you like to create a central theme and build the remainder of the score around this, or maybe you write the smaller cues first and then move onto to bigger pieces?

I like to read the script, take a look at the mood board, read the character descriptions etc. and then just move away from it all to compose freely. It often starts with me jamming for hours on an instrument. When ideas start to come I go to references and listen to get inspired from other music. After that I create a conceptual suite with themes, ideas, sounds and what not. It’s not until I have the concept down that I start composing to pictures. 

 When creating music for a commercial is it harder establishing a musical identity or sound because of the short duration of the project?

The most success I had with commercials have been from sync licensing where the music I’ve done is being placed in the spot by an editor. However, the times I’ve scored commercials I approached it the same way as I would with longer projects. I feel like for any duration the tone and the concept is just as important.

How many times do you watch a film or project before you start to put together ideas for the score? 

Usually just one or two times. Then I move away from the visuals and compose freely before jamming to the pictures. If I would start scoring and working on a sequence with, let’s say 30 seconds of music for an opening cue, I want to know what that music is going to develop into at the end of the film. I need to have the basic dramaturgy down, like how the screenwriter works. That’s why I need the thematic DNA written before I can start with pictures.

A recent score of yours is for the TV series, Kronprisen Som Forsvann, which had 18 episodes I think, do you score these in the order that the episodes are to be shown, and as it is a series do you ever re-cycle any music from earlier episodes into later ones?

It was 24 episodes! 🙂 I worked with a handful of themes that kept returning and developed throughout the duration of the series. Even though a lot of similar music reappeared in the series all scenes were specifically scored and tweaked to the pictures. But again, I knew where I wanted to land in the last episode so I kept hinting and revealing more and more of the music as the series progressed. 

Staying with the series and your score, how many live players as well as yourself did you have for the project and what electronic elements did you have?

I played all the parts myself for that series. Instrumentation for most music was violin, nyckelharpa, viola, cello, recorder, clarinet, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar & double bass. 

Are there any composers, bands or artists that have inspired you or influenced the sound and style that you employ in your film scores?

I probably get inspired from everything I see and hear. What to do and what not to do! haha. I watch a lot of animated movies these days with my daughter. Those films often have so much elaborate and fun music which is really inspiring. Often, it’s composed in certain genres. I love composing in genres!

Have you encountered the temp track, and is this a tool that you find useful when working on a project? 

I don’t mind temp tracks. If the director is very specific about the tempo of the scene it could save many feedback rounds to just have a temp track to show general direction. I don’t mind not having a temp track either. I enjoy the mix of different approaches for different projects.

What would you say is the job of music in film?

Listen. Communicate. Collaborate. Understanding story. Translating story into music. You’re just as much of a filmmaker and storyteller as a composer. Use your identity and uniqueness and don’t listen to much how other composers are working

 Håkan Bråkan is a great score filled with energy and its so much fun, with references to a few scores by the likes of Grusin and Williams etc, did the producers have specific ideas about what route the music should take in the movie?

Oh thank you so much! I think your review of the score captured the whole discussion I initially had with the director, (ha ha). We wanted homages from a bunch of classics but with a unique identity that felt like our film.

What is coming up for you?

I just started working on an animated feature which really excites me at the moment! Then I’ll be working on a sequel to Håkan Bråkan this year. And then there’s a lot of other projects under NDA right now, I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

QUEL POSTO NEL TEMPO – (That Place in Time).

Memory is a door with which to cross time, but the key to open that door is Love.

As a collector of movie score’s, I am always on the lookout for new and inspiring material at a time when maybe film music is probably not that inventive, melodious, or innovative.

Just today a composer sent me a message saying this is a score I have been involved with recently, I listened to the first few tracks, and I must admit I was totally consumed and smitten by the sheer beauty and emotion of the score, the richness of its themes is stunning and the artistry and perfect performances of the soloists and players involved on the project are all phenomenal all of which are members of the Orchestra of Conservatorie of Rovigo.

I straight away went looking for the movie which is Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) and found that it is about conductor who has dementia, a dreadful illness that destroys lives and wipes out memories.  Mario (Leo Gullotta), a retired conductor, spends his days in a luxury resort and care facility in the South of England, he has long suffered from Alzheimer’s and is often bombarded by thoughts and images of his past. Images and thoughts that disappear as swiftly as they have manifested themselves due to the cruel illness. He lives every day with the fear that the disease will erase his past, but above all he fears losing his thoughts of the love of his wife Amelia (Giovanna Rei), who died years before, and of his daughter Michela (Beatrice Arnera).

The reality of his days are confused between flashbacks and imaginary visions, which work in such a way that the viewer also  experiences first hand, through the eyes of the protagonist, the terror of debilitating and confusing illness. The movie is directed with passion and compassion by filmmaker Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo.

The score is so heartwarming and affecting it is I must admit difficult not to become caught up with it and shed a tear or two in the process. Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) has to it poignant and haunting compositions. Many of the pieces within the score are written by different composers as it is a genuinely collaborative work, a labour of love that in essence is a homage to the music of Italian cinema. Why? Well, because there are many nods of acknowledgement throughout the work that evoke memories of the trademark sounds of Italian film music, lilting thematic material, touching piano solos, subtle woodwind, melancholy cello and violin solos, guitar performances and exquisite wordless female voice that at times is supported by more voices bringing an ethereal sound to the proceedings. There are no standout tracks as the entire score is magnificent and each cue has to it a heartfelt and heartbreaking musical persona a musical voice that reaches out touches one’s heart and awakens one’s emotions.

I hear in the score the genius of Ennio Morricone, the subtle yet majestic style of Marco Frisina, and the beauty and melodic lushness of Nino Rota. With affiliations and inspiration being taken from the works of Max Richter and Abel Korzeniowksi too, with some of the composers applying certain compositional techniques that they had been studying under the guidance of Maestro Biscarini. This is a powerful score, a gracious and affecting work that is overflowing with delicate nuances and fragile tone poems.

The score as I say is a collaborative or collective effort which was the work project of the master’s in film music led by David di Donatello Winner Marco Biscarini: with whom the composers and performers are attending research studies about contemporary film music, they agreed together about the music elements of the score’s ostinatos, harmonics, functional harmony and opera elements too, because of the opera scenes in the movie. The opera scenes being performed by Rovigo Conservatorie Students: from Gluck’s Orfeo and from Puccini’s Turandot these scenes being directed by Anna Cuocolo.

Composer Michele Catania who is one of the contributors on the score and composed the Love Theme and the Main song for the movie, said “My theme is linked to Italian melody, but it is written in 6/4 to recreate the expanded time of memories, and the strings often are covering the voice: the maximum level of affection in the song is representing the maximum damage of the Illness”.

Come la musica (M. Catania)

Italian Lyrics

Se I miei ricordi sono qui


La mia realtà ormai fugge via


Quando ti scrivo Tu torni ancora qui davanti alle mie mani Il tempo scappa via E ti allontana più da me


 Il miei dolori sono qui Ma Io non li afferro perché so


Come la musica Mi sfuggon via Non riesco a farli miei Ma sono dentro me Come te che resti qui Con me.

Temporary English version.

I see my memories that flow Through My mind that returns back again, And When I am writing To you I’m feeling as if You’re in front of my hands. My time is running out And brings you too far from my brain. If All of my damages are here, But I am not bringin’ anymore And It’s like the music does. They run away I can’t make them myself My pains are still in me As if you were staying here With me. 

The song Come la Musica is performed on the soundtrack by vocalist Sara D’Arielli, accompanied by Claudia Lapolla on violin and Alessia Bruno on cello, the conductor for this piece is Stefano Celeghin, who was one of three conductors involved with the score the other two being André Bellmont and Yati Durant. The vocal version of the piece is also presented in instrumental form which is breath-taking, the violin and cello soaring and intertwining to realise a sound and emotion that is consuming and passionate.  It’s an interesting fact that this is the film score to be produced by a Conservatoire which included the music, sound design and internal music such as the Opera’s all under the supervision of Marco Biscarini. It is such a polished and effectual work I hope it is not the last.

This is a heart wrenchingly alluring score, a bittersweet and tantalising listen, that will stay with you forever. Composers who collaborated on the score for the movie include, Dino Viceconte, Giuliano Romagnesi, Davide Tura, Luca Brembilla, Rodolfo Matulich, Federico Ciompi, Alessio Pasquale, Biagio Mauro Mariano and Michele Catania.

With Adriano Aponte contributing to the score in his own right and being the main credited composer on the movie. It is a great achievement for a score such as this to be partly composed and produced by members of a Conservatoire collectively, and I recommend it without reservation.

There is so much within this score it literally oozes emotions and has to it wide variety of colours and textures that go to make up a stunning piece of movie music.

 If you miss out on this wonderful soundtrack you will be poorer for doing so. The score is available via Soul Trade music on digital platforms, please check it out. Mention must also be made of the audio department, that recorded and mixed the music, Antonio Ministeri orchestra manager, Francesco Petronelli orchestra supervisor and Daniele Ceciliot who recorded and mixed the Vincenzo Cavalli mix for Tema lirico that will be released very soon. Highly recommended.


Babylon is a movie that has certainly caused a stir and has been nominated in many categories at the up-and-coming Oscars, which is rather ironic as it’s a film about the overblown egos of Hollywood. It follows the career of one Manny Torres, an aspiring filmmaker from Mexico who meets up with fellow aspiring starlet Nelly LaRoy at a Bacchanalian party in 1920s Los Angeles.

The film also focuses upon several other characters who are at the same party, these include movie star Jack Conrad, cabaret performer Fay Zhu, journalist Elinor St. John, and a musician Sidney Palmer. It follows them as they rise and inevitably fall in their careers in a time period that spans the demise of silent films and the revolution that was to be known as the talkie. Each of these individuals’ cross paths throughout the movie as they navigate the unpredictable business of Hollywood.

The movie has an impressive and memorable opening scene with a wild an party sequence that is more like a full on orgy that perfectly encapsulates the mad and devil may care spirit of roaring twenties Hollywood. It sets a visual high  that is not going to be easy to rise above, even though I have to say there are  there are a number of fantastic sequences throughout the film that do come very close. This party sequence where each of the characters are introduced/first intervene is, without a doubt key to remainder of the movie and is the highlight of the film.

Director Damien Chazelle bars no holds and does not soften any punches in this full-on tale of decadence, unrestrained behavior and sleazy yet mesmerizing goings on. It’s like the opposite of the directors La La Land, being dark, licentious, way overboard and unrestrained rather than over the top cheesy and sugary.  It indulges in the extreme and comes out the other side even more outrageous, having to it a glittery and tinsel town persona, but with an underlying mood that oozes with scandalous at times offensive content.

At times I was reminded of The Day of the Locust and to a certain extent the more recent version of The Great Gatsby. It’s an impressive first hour or so, but after this I felt the director lost sight of where he wanted to go with the storyline, with sections of the script being surplus to requirement to be totally honest.

Composer Justin Hurwitz re-unites with director Chazelle to provide the movie with a wonderfully upbeat and thematic score. Providing foot tapping dance numbers that to be honest would go down a storm on contemporary dance floors in the many night clubs around the world.

The music at times contains little nods back to the composer’s score for La La Land, that shine through momentarily supporting, enhancing, underlining, punctuating, and becoming part of the scenarios on screen as well as being an extension of the characters. Hurwitz is in my mind a genius and can turn his hand and adapt his style to most genres, in this case his musical mind delivers flashes and glimpses that can only be described as brilliant.

The photography is excellent, and the costumes are superb, with a storyline that is for the most part just as compelling. The score, which is built on a fairly simple but effective eight note core theme adds much to the proceedings, and I can understand why it has been nominated for best score at the Oscars.

Justin Hurwitz.

The composer employs saxophone, jazz sounds, big band passages, risqué and sexy sounding vocals and unusual but at the same time gorgeous melodies. With the occasional Golden age sounding sumptuous compositions such as Gold Coast Sunset, entering the musical arena with lush strings, tantalizing brass and thundering percussion sounding like Max Steiner or Erich Wolfgang Korngold.  There is also a rendition of Singing in the Rain, which I suppose is a homage to the Hollywood musical as we of a certain age remember it, and Singing in the Rain the movie as that too was about the face of Hollywood that we don’t often see (but told in a simpler and more innocent fashion).

The score for Babylon is a delight to listen to, from beginning to end it is a rollercoaster ride of sounds, styles, and highly inventive and affecting musical fare. In fact, I listened to it I think four times on loop and each time found something fresh.  It is just intoxicating to the point of the obsessive.  Upbeat, infectious, and just so good. Recommended…………


Film composer Johannes Ringen is known for his eclectic approach to music. His recent work includes an action-packed score for Netflix’s No 1 original film Troll, dark ominous music for the disaster movie The Quake, and a symphonic score for the quirky Viking comedy show Norsemen on Netflix.

After moving to Los Angeles, Ringen has contributed music and/or arrangements to major Hollywood productions such as Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7, directed by James Wan, and The Fate of the Furious, as well as TV shows such as MacGyver and Hawaii 5-0.

Ringen is a graduate from the prestigious Film Scoring Program at the University of Southern California. When not composing, he can be found at flea markets with his family, secretly hoping to find unique instruments previously unknown to mankind.

What would you say is the purpose of music in film?

To elevate the film. All departments of a film productions have certain superpowers, and I’m there to serve the movie through writing the music. The score can do a myriad of things when you break down a film scene by scene. I think people would be surprised if they attended a director/composer meeting, because we barely discuss the music itself. The conversation is almost entirely about the film, and how we can utilise music to tell the story in the best possible way. We discuss moods, emotions, characters, atmospheres, pacing etc. It’s all about storytelling, really.

One of your recent scores is for the movie Troll which is streaming now on Netflix, how did you become involved on the project?

I had been working with the director, Roar Uthaug, on a few of his previous movies (in the background as a composer’s assistant). Since then I had moved on from the assistant position, and worked on pretty successful movies on my own. Roar is a brilliant director and a breeze to work with, so when I heard he was making a movie about trolls, I simply let him know that I would love to score his movie. Fortunately, he was onboard with that idea.

In your score for Troll you weave in elements of Greig’s The Hall of the Mountain king, was this something that you thought of doing, and did the producers have any specific ideas or instructions regarding how the music should sound or where it should be placed?

When we started to conceptualise the score, the director and I tried to figure out if there was anything musical related to trolls that we could tap into. Both of us being Norwegians, we knew a lullaby about trolls that most Norwegians know, and of course Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. The latter is known way outside of Norway, so we went with that. We thought it would be fun to sprinkle bits and pieces from it throughout the movie – without being too “on the nose”. The theme reveals itself at the end, but I think 9 out 10 who watches Troll won’t recognise any similarities before you simply can’t miss it.

You were born in Norway, did you study music there, and what musical education did you receive?

I actually didn’t study music formally before I moved to LA, and started studying film scoring at USC.

Were any of your family members musical as in performers or composers, and what are your earliest memories of any kind of music?

No one in my family were professional musicians, but we had a piano at home. I had to take piano lessons, and I remember very well playing piano with my granddad. I can still play those pieces.

Was music for film and TV something that you had always wanted to pursue as a career, or were you attracted to music and then moved into film scoring as your career unfolded?

I grew up in Lillehammer, a small city most known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1994, and later on the Netflix show “Lilyhammer”. We had only one TV channel when I was a kid, so I don’t think I even knew writing music for film and TV was a profession. I played in bands, and even toured, but I didn’t particularly like being on stage, and I didn’t like playing the same songs over and over. A friend of mine studied to be a director, and he needed some music for his short film, and he called me. I loved every minute of it, and hasn’t looked back since. Everything just clicked right there and then!

Troll is a fusion of both symphonic instrumentation and electronic elements, but I think it remains melodic and thematic, do you feel that themes for characters or locations are important within film music?

If clarifying characters and locations is important, I think character themes and themes for different locations should be considered, yes. It’s important to analyse and try to figure out what is really needed of the score, and how it can contribute to the overall experience. It’s easy to default into writing character themes, and use world instruments whenever the action takes place on some exotic location. Not to say that it’s wrong, but it could be that a different approach would serve the movie just as well, or even better. For Troll, the director wanted to highlight the adventure aspect of the story, and I think that translates well into a melodic and colourful score. On the other hand, it’s a monster movie, so it has to be somewhat hard hitting. Balancing all these considerations can be a fun challenge for the composer.

How many live players did you have for Troll?

A 60-70-piece orchestra with a reinforced brass section. But I also recorded a lot of the featured instruments (Hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa etc.) as overdubs in a smaller studio setting.

You worked on Avengers the Age of Ultron, and other big movies such as the Fast and Furious franchise, what was your role on these?

I did additional music/arrangements on those movies. I just got out of USC, and before I knew it I was working on those giant blockbusters. Quite an experience for someone who just got out of school.

You are now based in LA how do facilities and the way in which movies are scored differ between the United States and Norway?

I still work both in the US and Scandinavia, and the difference isn’t between the continents as much as it is the size of the projects. In the states, the budgets are generally higher – and with that comes more politics, and more corporate culture.

The music from Troll is available now on digital platforms, were you involved in selecting what music would go onto the release and will there be a CD release?

Netflix trusted us on putting it together ourselves. The director and the script writer love film scores, and I think they came up with every single song title on the album. I don’t think Netflix do CD releases, but I’m not sure to be honest.

What composer’s either in film music or classical music and also artists would you say have influenced you or inspired you?

I listen to as many genres as possible for the pure joy of it. I consider myself a music lover, and I have no boundaries whatsoever when it comes to what I listen to. Even if it doesn’t appeal to me, I try to find qualities in the music, and try to figure out why someone finds it enjoyable. I have a lot of fun with it! In my film work, the movie itself is the biggest influence.

In 2016 you worked on a TV series entitled Norseman, this was 18 episodes, do you approach a series such as this in a different way as opposed to scoring a feature?

It’s not that different, but there is more re-use of material to cover that many episodes in such short amount of time.

You also have worked on many short films, is it more difficult to establish a musical identity when working on movies that have a short duration?

Absolutely. When scoring a feature film there is so much more room to let things develop.

 How many times do you like to see a project before you begin to formulate any ideas about the style or sound that you think will enhance the film or TV project?

 Sometimes I’m onboard even before they start to shoot, and that is my preferable way to work. If I’m approached later when they have a rough cut for me to look at, I often ask if I can watch a version without any music, and I find that tremendously helpful. If the picture editors have put a lot of temp tracks in there, it limits my imagination. However, when I start working to picture, I can watch the scenes quite a few times.

Do you conduct your film and TV scores, and do you ever perform on any of them?

I did a fair share of conducting when I studied at USC, but conducting really is a profession on it’s own. It is generally better for the project if I’m in the control room communicating with director and the producers if any questions or feedback comes up. I do perform on most my scores; percussion, guitars.

Do you orchestrate all of your film scores, and do you consider orchestration an important part of the composing process?

 That’s a good question. I think what “orchestration” means in context of film scoring has changed a lot over the last 25+ years. Nowadays everyone has heard a surprisingly pretty decent computer version of the score many times already before the recording session, so in a way the music is already orchestrated. The director and the producers have already approved the computer version, so you’d run the risk of getting into trouble if you go too far in either direction. My process is that I work in the computer, and everything is split out between the instrument groups in my sketches. Once a piece is approved, I then hand it off to my orchestrator who cleans it up, writes out any shorthand I may have in the demo, and correct any errors etc. He and his team makes sure everything looks great on paper, before it ends up on the stands in front of the musicians.

 Do you think that a good score can help a not so good movie

 It can definitely help a mediocre movie, but no way it’s gonna save it completely in my humble opinion.

There are a few of your credits that are for additional music, how does this work, is it a case of the composer has moved onto their next project and cannot write any more and if producers want extra cues you then step in?

 I’ve done quite a lot additional music, and I usually bring one additional writer onboard per project myself – unless the schedule is very comfortable (which is rare). I normally bring the additional writer in late in the process to help tie up loose ends etc. Film scoring is a race against the clock, so typical assignments for the additional writer are tasks that are very clear and concise, but takes time to do. For instance take a theme I’ve written, and arrange it for a new scene. I still have the full creative responsibility of course, so I normally give a few notes and fixes before I greenlight the piece, or even do tweaks. It’s all about getting to the finish line in time. After working on those gigantic American movies, I realised that you need a team to survive, and I mean “survive” in the truest sense of the word. It can get pretty intense before the deadline 🙂

What is next for you, if you can tell us that is?

I’ve been working on a show called Captain Fall Guy with the directors from Norsemen. It’s been a lot of fun! I’m not 100% sure when it’s released, but I think between Q1 and Q2 this year.

Many thanks to composer for answering my questions, and for his time and patience.