Tag Archives: Laurent Eyquem



The first time I heard Laurent Eyquem,s music was for the movie COPPERHEAD, which got me hooked straight away, well I say hooked more like interested and fascinated that a composer such as this I had not heard of before. I then heard a few more of his works that were for in the main movies produced in South Africa and the composer very kindly sent me a download of his score for WINNIE MANDELA, this led to an interview with him and then I realised just what a great talent he was. One of his latest assignments is RAGE-TOKAREV which is a tense action thriller starring Nicholas Cage. Cages characters daughter is kidnapped and he turns to his old acquaintances in the criminal world and reverts to his old ways to try and get her back. The score for this drama is a multi coloured and varied styled score which seems to encompass an entire palette of sounds and musical textures during its running time. Poignant and touching tone poems are accompanied by nervously tense and highly combustible tracks which have at their core thundering percussive elements that drive headlong at a break neck speed to create that edge of the seat tension that is required in movies such as this as in track number 2, THE KIDNAPPING and track number 3, TRYING TO UNDERSTAND which are veritable smorgasbords of sounds both symphonic and synthetic, but the composer fuses these in such a way that they compliment and embellish each other to heighten the drama and create a thrilling and relentless composition. I was struck by the fact that even the more robust and action led cues remain musical and melodic throughout, the composer creating dramatic and powerful cues that are dynamic and pulsating but have solid thematic properties. I must admit that it is the quieter moments within the score that attract me personally more than the action material; the composer has the ability to create haunting and subtle musical phrases that are highly emotive and in a word beautiful, as in cues such as BODY FOUND, THE PAIN and the plaintive and emotive BOX FULL OF MEMORIES. The composer also utilises female voice within the work which adds a fragility and delicate tone to the proceedings. Solo piano features large within the score also and it purveys an atmosphere which is calming but also at the same time is filled with melancholy.


The score does have a particularly attractive central theme which is at times performed by piano and also is give a fuller and more expanded work out by the string section who give the theme a sweeping, luxurious and lavish sound.
This is a score that I recommend you add to your collection, and while you are listening to it make sure you have your pc on to go to one of those well known sites that sell music because as soon as you hear the artistry and the richness and the freshness of Laurent Eyquem, s music you will be looking for more of the same. Presented well by Caldera records with informative notes by Gergely Hubai and eye catching art work by Luis Miguel Rojas. The CD was produced by Stephan Eicke and John Elborg.



Composer Laurent Eyquem first came to my notice with his highly melodic score for COPPERHEAD which was released earlier this year on Varese Sarabande, after looking a little closer at the composer I found out he had in fact scored a number of movies and on listening to samples from a few of them I was pleasantly surprised that a composer who had not really been working in film for a long time was capable of creating so many varied and beautiful melodies which he intertwined with dramatic and exciting musical passages. One movie in particular seemed to stand out to me it was WINNIE which the composer scored about two years ago, this is a bio-pic about Winnie Mandela, and starred Terrence Howard and the ever popular Jennifer Hudson in the title role, Hudson also performed the title song, BLEED FOR LOVE which was written by legendary lyricist Diane Warren and arranged by Eyquem.  The score will I am pleased to say be released on September 6th by RCA records to coincide with the movies U.S. release, the title now being WINNIE MANDELA, When writing the score Laurent went to the Mandela family and was granted permission to utilize the world famous and respected Soweto Gospel Choir in Johannesburg. His music is once again totally engrossing and stunning, it has a highly emotive sound to it which is created by the composers use of strings and choir which are enhanced further by woodwind and brass which have a kind of Barry-esque aura to them, they create a sound of solitude but at the same time have a warmth and emotion to them that is heartrending and attractive. This I think can be heard more prominently in track number 5, SOUND OF HOPE, faraway sounding horn begins the composition, at first it is a solitary sound but the addition of low but slowly building strings changes the atmosphere of the music, the composer bringing to the fore the string section whilst also introducing a brief but effective plaintive sounding wood instrument adding a touch of melancholy to the proceedings, the strings swell and grow to perform a rich and fuller sounding take of the central theme. Track number 6, ENCHANTMENT too is a highly emotive sounding piece, solo piano performing the central theme with support from strings, it has a sound that again radiates a feeling of tenderness and warmth, delicate woodwind is also utilized but fleetingly giving the composition a subtle and tantalizing atmosphere and style. Track number 9, DREAMS is also piano led, with at first a faint hint of strings and woodwind, but the piano melts into the background midway through as the strings become more prominent and bring the composition to its conclusion. Track 10, A WEDDING SONG is a combination of romantic strings which are enhanced by choir and have piano trickling through them, this is a piece that is far too short and one will find yourself returning to the beginning again and again and listening to it through.

This is also true of track number 12, ON THE RUN, although this does run for almost 4 minutes, sorrowful sounding cello opens the cue which is underlined by equally sad sounding strings, however the tempo picks up slightly as the composer introduces more strident sounding strings which are supported by percussion these gain momentum as the composition progresses and grows altering the atmosphere from sad to a more urgent and upbeat one, but still maintaining a melody at the same time. The score is an emotional one and filled with intricate, delicate and subtle nuances, which put me in mind of John Barry and also at times James Horner, it has a presence to it that is attractive and appealing but also has its fair share of more dramatic and darker moments. A score to be savored and also a score that I recommend. Look out for this one…


Laurent Eyquem.


Composer conductor Laurent Eyquem,is a relative newcomer in the realms of scoring motion pictures, but in a very short space of time the composer has created some of the most beautiful and melodic soundtracks for television and cinema. His most recent assignment is COPPERHEAD, an American Civil War drama directed by Ron Maxwell who also was responsible for Gettysburg. The soundtrack will be issued on compact disc by Varese Sarabande soon.



You were Born in France, and began your connections with music when you were just six years of age, your Father was a musician in the Bordeaux orchestra, even at this early age were you attracted to the idea of writing music for film, or was it at first essentially an attraction for music in general?


My first attraction was to melodies. I remember my father telling me ‘‘you have to come to the concert this Saturday, we are playing Strauss, and Bizet’’.  And sometimes it was Gershwin or Stravinsky, but I always remembered the melodies and their musical structures. Putting notes together is easy, but creating a melody that the audience will remember always fascinated me since I was a young child.  At around 11 years of age, I started to become aware of the role of music in film, and that was it – I knew that this was the direction I wanted to go.

What music and composers would you say might have influenced you and maybe had some influence over the way you approach a film score?



Definitely Vladimir Cosma (for the French comedies); John Barry (I remember talking about the theme of the Persuaders with Tony Curtis – the series was a cult classic in France); the beauty and subtlety of Ennio Morricone’s writing; and of course, the beauty and joy of George Delerue’s melodic scores.
MV5BMTQyMTc1NzQwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQyMTMxMw@@._V1._CR61,0,528,528_SS99_The composer with Tony Curtis.

After your first encounter with music what musical training did you receive?

I started music theory and piano at the age of 6 in a music school close to Bordeaux which later became the Conservatory of Merignac.  Over the years, I had a variety of music professors from this conservatory and from the Bordeaux Conservatory, until I decided, at the age of 16 to quit and to play in a semi-professional orchestra where I started re-orchestrating the top of the charts pop hits.

You only recently have begun to write for film, before this you dedicated yourself to helping others can you tell us about this?


I knew from a very young age that I would be scoring films and writing music, but I had many other interests – most notably medicine and communications.  So while studying music as teen, I decided to also get degrees in my other areas of interest before fulfilling my army requirements, which was mandatory  growing up in France.  With degrees in communications and certification as a paramedic, I decided to move to Canada to spend a few years ‘‘giving back’’.  So I became the director of communications for humanitarian organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross and traveled and worked around the world to promote the importance of humanitarian and relief work.
MV5BMTgyNzY4ODI1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzE2ODk1Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_Your first scoring project I think was a film called, MOMMY’S AT THE HAIRDRESSER, how did you become involved on this picture?

The 7 years prior to Mommy is at the Hairdresser were the darkest years of my life. I lost my younger sister in the crash of the Concorde (Air France) in 2000, and then my dad developed an aggressive cancer. Unfortunately, he lost his battle in 2003 at the age of 57. Three month later, I survived what should have been a deadly, 30 foot fall from the roof of my home.  I was left with an arm that should have been amputated and 2 damaged legs. It took 3 years of daily physiotherapy and surgeries in Canada and France to regain the use of my arm, play piano and compose again. During my rehabilitation, I was writing music, as an escape from those dark years, as an outlet to process the pain, and simply because it was the only way I could rebuild my elbow and the movement in my arm to make the long hours of composing possible again.  I started writing orchestral music in late 2007 and in December 2007, Lea Pool heard my music and asked me to score her film. The soundtrack got what the Canadian film industry calls the triple crown a few month later, with nominations for the Genie Awards (Equivalent to the Oscar or BAFTA), the Jutras (Film music industry awards in Quebec), and the ADISQ (equivalent to the Grammy).

One of your recent assignments is COPPERHEAD, I have to say that this is a very emotive and touching score, how much time were you given to compose the score and then put the music to the film?

For Copperhead, Ron Maxwell asked me to write the first cue before the shooting of the film. We had to create a song based on a poem from Emily Dickinson for one of the actors to sing on screen.  Shortly after this cue, Ron became very excited and very eager to get his first themes, so he asked me, while he was shooting, to write the main theme working from the script.  Otherwise, I had around 6 weeks to write the balance of the 65 minutes of score.

At what stage of proceedings do you like to become involved on a picture, do you like to maybe see a script before shooting starts or do most of your assignments begin with the rough cut stage of the picture, if so how many times do you like to see a film before beginning work on the score and do you immediately begin to think of what music is going where or where music will be best placed and the kind of instrumentation that you will utilize etc, or do you go away and think it through?

I’m usually involved before the beginning of the shooting and I get my first ideas from the script. For some projects, the directors ask me to write some themes specifically related to a scene so the editor can start editing the rushes directly on the mock-ups. But aside from one or two main themes, I do not like to write much before I get the picture lock. When I compose for dramas, my music has a lot of rubato, rallentando and it needs to be written to the image, to get the best natural feeling. If the scene is not final and is re-edited (made longer or shorter) it will affect the tempo and therefore, a cue that would seem right if the first case scenario, could seem rushed or too slow if we have to re-adapt its tempo to fit a new length.

You wrote the music for the bi-opic WINNIE (which stars Jennifer Hudson) and your score utilized the SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR, in fact you have scored a number of movies from South Africa, how did you become involved on these and what are the differences between **Johannesburg and Los Angeles regarding recording facilities and the availability of musicians, and when working on a South African movie how much research do you have to do regarding instrumentation etc?

MV5BMjAzNDAzOTc3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjg5NTMzNg@@._V1_SY105_CR26,0,105,105_The string of South African films was really just a case of one thing leading to another.  After positive first experiences, the South African producers and directors have kept asking me back to work on subsequent projects.  My first South African movie was A Million Colours, a sequel to a famous South African film named E Lollipop. When I finished the score, the main producer, Andre Pieterse, came to my studio, and while listening to the score, was really touched by the impact of the music on the film. He was also the main producer of the movie Winnie, and he decided, while listening to A Million Colours, to ask me to jump in and score Winnie.  Working with the Soweto Gospel Choir was a delight, as I had the chance to write many cues featuring them within the score, a first for the Choir: they sang with Peter Gabriel on the end credit song of Wall-E, but they never recorded as a part of a full soundtrack. Then, Darrell Roodt the South African Director of Winnie, called me last fall to help him for a movie he was shooting : Little One. The film is a beautiful drama and was the official selection of South Africa for the 2013 Academy Awards. It is always an adjustment to work with musicians from different countries, as is very hard to find musicians and singers that have the experience of the L.A or London artists, but often we can find musicians and singers that compensate the lack of experience by their tremendous gift and talent.

MV5BMTA2MTc0MTg4NzFeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDAzMDc0OTg@._V1._CR0,0,3896,3896_SS99_The score for COPPERHEAD is available on Varese Sarabande, were you involved in the sequencing of the compact disc or indeed did you select the cues that were to be issued?

For Copperhead, Ron Maxwell will release the Director’s cut of Copperhead with Warner Bros next year, but he wanted to be sure that the public will be able to listen to the entire soundtrack right away. So the final 60 min of score are on the soundtrack, in the same order that the public will hear them during the film.


What size orchestra did you engage for COPPERHEAD?

I had a 67 piece orchestra to record the largest cues like the main themes and for the rest of the score, I had a 57 piece orchestra. There are only 2 or 3 cues with solo instruments, such as the piano and the fiddle, but the rest of the score is entirely orchestral.

When you are working on a score, do you prefer to create the central theme first and then build the remainder of the score around this or do you tackle the score and then create the theme out of elements of the score?



I really write scene by scene. So I will start with what I believe will be my main scenes and main themes. When the music comes in my head, it is fully orchestrated, I can hear all the instruments, counterpoints etc, so I work first on the main 4 / 5 themes, and after, like a canvas, I will compose some scenes around some melodies and countermelodies from my main themes.

Do you perform on any of your film scores?

Absolutely.  So far I have performed on all of my film scores.  In fact, I have two requirements when I approach a score: I always conduct and I always play the piano parts on all my scores and compositions.

Do you orchestrate all of your music for film, or do you because of deadlines etc at times have to use an orchestrator also do you conduct all of the scores or again do you have a conductor on occasion, if so is this so that you can monitor the scoring process more closely from the control booth?


I have a very different relationship with my orchestrators than some composers. Since the music comes into my head fully orchestrated, I do not give the orchestrators a lot of freedom to change or add anything in the score. Depending on my deadlines, I write and orchestrate between 95 to 100 % of all of my music. So I send the parts of each instruments to my orchestrator, each countermelody, divisi etc. His or her role is mainly to ‘dot the “i”s and cross the “T”s’, and to prepare the first version of my conductor’s score.  At that point I have some exchanges with my orchestrators. I correct the final score and we have some discussions around getting the right texture depending on where we are recording and which orchestras I will be working with. I always conduct unless I have to record in Eastern Europe where the musicians do not speak English (then, the process can get too long).  In those cases, I work hand in glove with the local conductor.  The reason why I choose to conduct is simple: I write each note, and I’m extremely picky and demanding with the musicians, because I really need to record what I heard in my head.  So I do not want an intermediate between me and the musicians.


For you what is the purpose of music in film?

In my view, the music is like another character.  It adds the atmosphere and is there to help the audience go on a journey. It is like the dress on a bride, it helps her to look beautiful, without taking anything away from her, from who she is…

The temp track is something that composers love or hate,  I always ask composers about this, do you find a temp track helpful or distracting, when you come to score a movie, I ask because at times composers have told me that the director has more or less fallen in love with the temp track and it is hard to convince them not to use it?

To be very honest, I never listen to the temp. I need to be free to create a music that will have it’s own signature, to create my own themes and my own musical identity. The only use of the temp for me is to get the tempo map, to respect the changes of scenes / frames. But very often, I surprise the directors by proposing some cues that are not in the same place or that are not following the same pace as the temp, and very often, it works very well, because it is written to the image, to the emotion, to a look, a smile or a silence, something that a temp can never achieve.

Away from film do you compose music for concert hall performance?

There are two answers to this question:  I am always, always composing and have a huge bank of music that is waiting to be developed.  But, generally speaking, I do not have a lot of free time to compose outside of what I am doing for film right now.  However, this is one of my priorities for the next year. I have many pieces that I’ve started to write (always in the melodic line) that I want to finish. My pleasure is to write and conduct, so I really hope to be able to start concerts that will play both my scores and some of my very melodic symphonic pieces.

It was reported that you will be scoring TOKAREV, which will star Nicholas Cage, when do you begin work on this project?


I just recently made a decision with my agents to pull back from this project and not participate.

Your score for FEAR OF WATER, evokes many memories of Jerry Goldsmith’s BASIC INSTINCT, it is brooding and dark in its overall sound, what size orchestra did you use on the score and what percentage of the score was performed by synthetic elements?

For this film, the challenge was the budget…I recorded with 24 strings, one French Horn and one wood flute. So 80 % of the final sound is from the live strings, supported by light use of sample strings in the background to the final result some breadth of sound. 75 % of the overall score is orchestral, and the remaining 25 % is comprised of drones and percussions coming from sample libraries since we are dealing with a thriller kind of score.

What is your opinion of the increased use of electronics and technology in film scoring?

In my opinion, there are currently two schools of thought: the school that considers the score as an extension of the sound effects, and the school that considers the score as another character. For the first one, the addition of synths, drones, strong hybrid drums, hybrid brass is essential to create that sound effect that we hear in many Hollywood actions films today. Even if I occasionally have to deliver those sounds on some films, I prefer to be able to achieve the musical effects with my writing and with the play of the musicians, instead of always counting on electronic sounds and samples. I’m not crazy about the fact that so many action scores all sound the same today.

When writing a score or at least sitting down and working out the themes, how do you arrive at your musical solutions, via piano, or do you utilize anything that you think is appropriate to get the correct result?


I always start at my piano. I have a sort of very personal relationship / communion my grand piano. When the music comes, it comes fully orchestrated, so I quickly record the melody while I’m at the piano and then I literally run to my studio to put down all the parts, melodies, countermelodies for all the instruments that I have in my head.



Copperhead is due for release in the United States at the end of June 2013, and soon after this in the UK.  This historical drama set in the days of the American Civil War should gain just a little bit of attraction and do well at the box office. It is the untold story of the American Civil War, it tells of the war away from the actual battles and of how the chaos and brutality of war affects families and communities, turning Brother against Brother and Father against Son. Based upon the brilliant novel by Harold Frederic, it is a first hand account of these events. The musical score for the picture is a delight, it is such an emotive and poignant work that it is impossible not to like it, absorb it, be engulfed by it and end up loving it. Composer Laurent Eyquem is a relative newcomer to the world of film scoring, although saying this he has written a number of scores for films that I suppose are lesser known among cinema goers, a number of them being produced in South Africa and dealing with true life occurrences including the biopic drama WINNIE which stars Jennifer Hudson in the title role as Winnie Mandela. Eyquem’s music was an integral and also a major component within these movies, the composer always producing strong and haunting works that not only supported but ingratiated the storylines and events unfolding upon the screen. His music for COPPERHEAD literally is overflowing with highly emotive themes and musical passages that can best be described as being lyrical and poetic in their style, construction and overall sound. The music once listened to will I am sure be returned to so many times, it is a rich and eloquent sounding score, which I think not only contains elements of what can be categorised as the Hollywood approach to film scoring, but it also has running through it a secondary sound that is most definitely European sounding having affiliations to the intimate and melodic style of composers John Barry,(for the graceful but effective woodwind and melancholy sounding horns), Zbignew Preisner (for woods again and an almost playful sounding ambience gained by the fusion of woods and strings) and Georges Delerue (for the ever present melodic atmosphere, via strings, harp and woods). There is also present an ethnicity of sound within a few of the cues that is obviously inspired by Irish or Gaelic flavoured quarters, these appear in the form of an up-tempo jig orientated cue and also there are times within the score where a violin or fiddle will be utilized performing a lilting melody that has Gaelic connections. The score is mainly a piano led work, by this I mean that the piano plays an important part within the score, in fact it is the central instrument or backbone of the soundtrack and it is either utilized as a solo unaccompanied instrument or introduces many of the cues laying down a musical foundation which is later joined, supported and underlined by melodious and lushly romantic strings, faraway sounding horns and plaintive woodwind. The sound achieved here by the composer is for me at least mesmerizing.

There are also a number of solo performances within the score that are delicate and at times heartrendingly beautiful played by violin, cello and woodwind which themselves are unassumingly punctuated by harp. These overwhelmingly poignant and emotive sounding compositions are haunting and extremely moving. The composer’s music is not only attractive and well written but it is also affecting and enriching. I hope that we will hear much, much more from this talented and versatile composer.