James Fowler is a UK based composer and producer, with 10 years of music composition and performance under his belt. A classical guitarist with eclectic music tastes and a progressive approach to musical genres. “I think in the end, all that matters is the emotional impact on a listener, regardless of an artist’s intent, how it is created and ultimately how it is eventually labelled.”
Can you share with us your creative process for composing music?
James Fowler: For straight music composition, it’s often just a case of recording a simple motif, which may have dropped from no-where into my head. I’ll then use this a basis from which to sketch the whole piece in Cubase with 4 pianos. I want to be sure I have a good arc to the music, that it’s rhythmically sound and harmonically satisfying.
When scoring to screen, however, that whole process comes much later for me and only after a detailed analysis of the footage. I have to ensure all necessary hit points are marked and there is a plan for each, be it an effect, a tempo change, or a specific requirement of the Director.
Scoring for film is a much more top-down approach to composition, requiring that you craft to the given constraints, rather than a bottom-up indulgence of my own deluded brilliance! It is another skill in itself to be able to write in this way, one which has to be practiced.
What was a unique composing or songwriting challenge, and how did you overcome the challenge?
James Fowler: One unique composing challenge that I overcame was trying to record classical guitar within a cinematic orchestral work. The concept was fine, but at that time I lacked the specialist recording skills with that instrument. So, after much pain and grief, the whole project was ditched, and lessons were learned. Get good at something and try to be the best at that one thing. Try to be the ‘go to person’ for that thing, is my advice.
If you could share your Top 3 Tips for Young Filmmakers on Collaborating with Composers, what would they be?
Tip #1: Composers should have a direct link to directors, not intermediaries; and the composer needs to support the director’s vision.
Tip #2: Be honest, if you don’t like something, please say so. That’s the only way progress gets made quicker.
Tip #3: Everyone starts somewhere. Just like filmmakers, composers need opportunities, so please be mindful of that.
How are you navigating and keeping active and creative during these Covid pandemic months of social distancing, and times of quarantine and self-quarantine? Can you share some inspirational words with fellow creatives?
James Fowler: It’s strange that these Covid times have affected me less than it perhaps would for people in other industries. I still come into my studio every morning and live a relatively solitary life whilst I’m in there. My advice though is not to become a hermit. Creatives have a tendency to be comfortable in their own company, which is great, but you must try to get out whenever you can. There’s a lot of love out there, so please share and pass it on. Remember that you will be more successful by trying to serve others, than by working out what they can do for you.
James’ latest reel of music is called, “Journeys,” a collection of orchestral, cinematic soundscapes. You can hear it at https://cloudfoundrymusic.com.