Musical fusion: Get to know ‘Eat Wheaties!’ composer Kevin Krouglow
Kevin Krouglow is here to inspire musical fusion. The Canadian composer has made a career out of blending electronic experimentation, sound design, world music, and rock & roll into unconventional and memorable film scores. He studied Theory and Composition as a piano major at the University of Western Ontario, and he’s used his extensive knowledge to great effect on shows like Backstage and The Next Step and video games like Skies of Fury: DX.
Krouglow recently composed the score for the award-winning film Eat Wheaties! starring Tony Hale and Paul Walter Hauser. Soundtrack available for streaming and purchase on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and more. The score allowed to flash his musical prowess, which includes proficiency on guitar, piano, cello, violin, and clarinet among countless others. Film Daily had the pleasure of talking with Kevin Krouglow about his eclectic influences, his songwriting process on Eat Wheaties! and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about your journey into composing. What did you do before becoming a composer?
I actually knew I wanted to be a film composer since I was 15 years old, so I didn’t do a whole ton before that! Haha. Before that I actually wanted to be a graphic designer, video game developer or programmer, as I used to love drawing and playing video games, but when I got a guitar at the age of 13, I fell in love with it and that quickly took over all of my free time. I started writing my own themes and compositions back then, and also started teaching myself piano when I was about 15.
My sister heard what I was writing on the piano, and told me it sounded like it would work well in films or games. She asked whether I had considered being a film composer, and that’s when it really clicked for me! I loved film and game scores, but I hadn’t thought of it as a career until that moment.
I decided I wanted to study classical music and managed to get into the University of Western Ontario as a piano major, after having only been playing piano for 2 years at the time. In my first year of University, I saw an article in our local newspaper about a few student filmmakers looking for funding for their film dealing with Alzheimer’s. I took a shot and reached out to see if they had a composer on board already, and offered up my services to them for free. At first they weren’t sure if they were even going to have music in their film, but when I followed up a month later, I got the gig!
It was called Last Stage, and it ended up being very well received by their film program and the program coordinator Jean Desormeaux (of Sheridan College), who I kept in touch with afterwards. He recommended me to other students in the following years, which is how I started building up my experience and credits writing music for films. I ended up playing in a few bands out of University and also dabbled in acting, all while continuing to score student and independent films during my early twenties.
I didn’t get my real break into this career until I was 24 when I got a job at Grayson Matthews, an award-winning audio house here in Toronto. I worked as a second composer on the Family Channel TV show The Next Step, along with Ryan McLarnon, and later was hired full-time, primarily in the long-format division. During my time there I was composing on shows such as Disney Channel’s Backstage, the second and third seasons of The Next Step, the pilot for Dark Haven High, as well as feature films such as Trench 11 starring Rossif Sutherland and Full Out starring Ana Golja, plus quite a lot of commercials.
I worked at Grayson Matthews for just under 4 years, before switching back to freelance. Since then I’ve continued composing on films, wrote the music to the Skies of Fury: DX video game for the Nintendo Switch, and still pitch on commercials as a freelancer with different audio houses both here in Toronto and internationally.
Was there any particular movie or TV show soundtracks that inspired you to become a composer?
There wasn’t a specific movie or TV show that inspired me to become a composer, but I really loved a lot of Hans Zimmer’s scores growing up. The Rock, The Last Samurai, and Gladiator which he collaborated with Lisa Gerrard on. Braveheart by the late James Horner was another one I really liked, as well as The Last of the Mohicans by Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones. I was also a big fan of Nobuo Uematsu and his work on the Final Fantasy video games. At some point it hit me that a lot of the movies that really moved me were also the ones who’s scores I loved.
When I look back on the days before I knew I wanted to be a composer, I realize that I used to listen to the music from movies and games quite a lot, and was really drawn to it. My sister and I would try and play different themes by ear, and would comment on the music in the different games and movies we’d watch. Looking back on those early days now, and how much impact film music had on me, it makes a lot of sense that this is what I decided to do.
What was the first project you worked on, and what did you learn from the experience?
The very first project I worked on was the student short film I mentioned earlier called Last Stage. Compared to how I work now, it was a bit of an unusual experience since I wrote the entire score to the script, visualizing the scenes unfolding in my head, and playing back the music I was writing while reading along with the script. When we slotted in the music to the cut of the picture, it surprisingly flowed rather well and everyone was happy with how it fit, so I didn’t have to change anything.
I’m not sure how much of it was them not wanting to ask me to do more work though since it was all for free haha! I didn’t ever actually end up composing any footage on that project, and that’s something that’s rather rare. Also, at the time I didn’t have access to a midi keyboard, so I had to write the music on a piano and then enter each note manually into the midi sequencer on the computer, which was a great lesson in making the best of the tools you have access to.
As it was my first “commissioned” project, and my first time writing to a deadline, I quickly realized the challenges that come with that. You can’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to start working and trust that the inspiration will come along the way. You’ll have some good days and some bad days, some ideas will work and others won’t, and that’s just part of the process. This is something I tend to keep learning over and over again.
It’s not about being able to come up with the perfect piece of music right away, but rather to keep working at it until it feels right. Ultimately though, I think the fact that it was a positive experience overall and that everyone told me they really liked the music gave me the confidence to feel that I could do this as a career, and confirmed to me that I was on the right path.
What are five movie scores you think everyone should listen to?
There’s so many great scores out there, but I haven’t really been listening to scores on their own as much in recent years as I used to when I was younger. There’s also so many composers that I’ve heard cues by and seen their films, and am completely blown away, including Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Britell, but I haven’t listened to the soundtrack albums on their own – I need to get on that! I’m sure I’ll want to change this answer a few weeks from now as I remember a score that I missed, but I’ll do my best to pick 5 right now!
Gladiator by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard is a fantastic score and film, and probably the one that made the biggest impact on me in my early days. It’s really powerful, and has these very visceral and astonishingly beautiful moments. I used to listen to that score on loop as a teenager – I remember working on many assignments and papers with The Battle playing in the background. Definitely added some intensity and excitement to the process haha!
For my second recommendation, I think most people should already be very familiar with it, but if by some chance you haven’t heard John Williams’ masterful score to the Star Wars series, you’re missing out on an essential part of film scoring history. He built an entire universe with just the music alone. Another score I absolutely love is American Beauty by Thomas Newman. Thomas Newman is definitely one of my favourite composers, and I’d recommend any of his scores, but his work on that film is such a staple – I’ve heard it used as temp music and referenced so many times – and it brings so much to the film that I honestly don’t know if I’d have enjoyed it without it.
Amélie by Yann Tiersen is probably another one of my most listened to scores. Apparently the director discovered some of his existing music which he included in the film along with pieces Yann ended up specifically composing for the film. The music is absolutely beautiful, very minimal but incredibly emotional, and complements and colours the quirky world of the film perfectly.
It’s really hard having to pick only one more, but I think for me personally, I’d have to say Moon by Clint Mansell. Clint has crafted so many amazing scores, including his famous piece “Lux Aeterna” from Requiem for a Dream, but his score on Moon made me cry (which is pretty rare for me). It’s incredibly powerful, minimal, and the textures and sounds Clint used are really unique and modern. I loved everything about that score and think it really made a huge impact on the film.
I’m going to cheat and throw one more in here, There Will Be Blood by Jonny Greenwood, but not so much as a score everyone should listen to, but more so a score that is incredibly effective at what it’s meant to do – which is to make you feel uncomfortable. If you’re a composer or musician, I think it’s worth listening to, and paying attention to how much it contributes to the film and the tension we’re supposed to feel.
Walk us through your creative process.
The first thing I do is have a conversation with the director (or showrunner in the case of TV) to talk about the story, characters, main themes and any musical ideas or directions we may want to explore. Usually this happens after I’ve had a chance to either watch a rough cut, as in the case of Eat Wheaties!, or after reading a script. After that first conversation, I’ll take some time to think about what instruments to use, what musical approaches may be interesting to try, and what sounds to explore.
In Eat Wheaties!, everything centers around our main character Sid Straw – it’s ultimately his story, how he sees the world and how the world and audience sees him. Some of the initial thoughts and conversations I had with Scott were about how to express Sid’s essence through music – his kind hearted outgoing happy-go-lucky nature, but also how he stumbles through social situations and rubs people the wrong way. We also knew we had to create a sense of tension and discomfort with what he’s doing, and also express his emotional character arc through the music.
After taking some time to think about those concepts, I start trying things out – playing different instruments, creating various sounds, trying different chord progressions and improvising some melodies and rhythms – usually away from picture first so that I can really focus in on the essence of the film rather than anything too scene specific. I tend to record as much as I can while I’m brainstorming and sketching different musical ideas out, because I don’t want to lose any of those initial sparks.
Often I’ll pick a few ideas that feel like they’re working and develop them further, finishing up a rough structure and arrangement, and then send them off to the director and producers for feedback. After that there may be some more brainstorming, or I’d dive into some scenes and start working the themes and ideas in to see how it all feels and flows. With Eat Wheaties! I was sending Scott different scenes and cues every day or two, and we’d discuss them – he’d give some great suggestions that would spark new ideas for me, and something I’d do would make him think about a different way to approach particular scenes.
We also got David Phillips, the other producer on the film, as well as the executive producers including Daniel Webb, Tony Manolikakis, and Salamo Levin, to weigh in and tell us what they thought of the music and how it was working. Everyone had really great insights which helped make the score what it is now.
Who are your current influences?
Man! There’s probably too many to name, but currently, in terms of film composers, I’m most inspired by Daniel Pemberton’s work. What he did on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was really innovative, raw and exciting. It had a rock sensibility while using medieval instruments, which is something I would’ve loved to do! I think his bold modern scoring techniques really resonate with me, as well as the way he works in a broad range of genres and styles from project to project and continues to reinvent himself. The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Birds of Prey and Molly’s Game were all really fun, bold scores that stood out to me.
I’ve also recently discovered Anna Meredith’s work on Eighth Grade and Living With Yourself, and absolutely love it! I’m a big fan of her modern electronic style, and I actually found it really interesting that she writes her compositions on sheet music first and then transcribes it to her synthesizers! Her music plays such a big role in Eighth Grade and I think is a large part of what made me love the film. It’s incredibly bold and really expresses the chaotic inner world of the lead character as she navigates the fears and anxieties of being an adolescent.
Other composers and scores I’m really drawn to right now are Rob Simonsen, Toydrum’s work on Two Weeks To Live, Clint Mansell, Jeff Russo, Ian Hutlquist’s score for Assassination Nation, Jed Kurzel, and many more I’m forgetting right now! I loved what Ludwig Göransson did on Tenet and Black Panther as well, and am really looking forward to hearing what he comes up with next.
I also get a ton of inspiration from musical artists. I’ve been listening to a lot of Odesza, Bonobo, Tycho, Young Magic, Circa Survive, Purity Ring, Banks, The Jezabels, and The Joy Formidable recently.
Do you have any experience with mentors? If so, do you recommend them for up and coming musicians?
Absolutely! I’d say there’s always something to learn from mentors, and also from your peers and collaborators. Though I’ve only done a little bit of work as an “assistant”, and never anything full-time, it’s hugely inspiring and valuable to work with and learn from mentors. When I decided I needed to put all my proverbial eggs in the film scoring basket, back in my early 20s, I reached out to a few successful Canadian film composers, including Andrew Lockington.
He is one of the most genuine, nicest people I know, and the fact that he took time out of his insanely busy schedule to have a coffee with me is another testament to that. I was a little down from my lack of success in the performing industry at the time, and meeting with him was incredibly inspiring – here was someone who was very successful, writing epic scores for blockbuster Hollywood films, and he seemed very happy and humble, rather than stressed and frustrated from the pressure, and without even a hint of the ego that I’d expect from someone at his level. That alone was monumental.
I think it gave me newfound hope and inspiration that I was going down the right path. He also gave me some amazing advice, and told me to reach out to composers currently working on television shows, as they’d be working with really tight schedules and likely to need more help. Though he didn’t have any work for me at the time, we’ve stayed in touch and some assisting opportunities have come up over the years. I’ve done a little bit of research for him on a few of his projects as well as assisting with score preparation, which is basically taking his finished scores and making sure all the individual parts are ready to go for the live musicians when they go to record the score.
It was actually because of Andrew’s suggestion to reach out to TV composers that I connected with Tom Third. Tom is another awesome Canadian composer, and he was just as generous with his time and advice. I happened to catch him at a good time and ended up doing a bit of music editing work for him for the last episode of the TV show Played that he was working on at the time, as well as performing some guitar for him on a show he was pitching on. That was a really exciting opportunity for me, and I learned quite a bit even though it was a short gig. We’ve stayed in touch, and I’d definitely consider him a good friend of mine and someone I look up to.
When I first started working at Grayson Matthews, Ryan McLarnon really taught me a lot and helped ease me into the process of working on a full fledged TV show with a tight schedule. Even though we were technically co-workers, I learned so much from him and would consider him a mentor of mine, as well as a really great friend.
I’m really grateful that I can still reach out to Ryan, Tom and Andrew when I need some advice, and they’ve been incredibly supportive throughout my career. Having a mentor is especially beneficial when you’re just starting out, as it can kick start your career and be a way to learn really quickly, but it’s still very beneficial when you’re farther down the line, as there’s always more to learn, and the experiences of those who have walked the path in front of you are a great way to gain some perspective on where you’re heading yourself.
How did you get involved with Eat Wheaties?
I actually got to work on Eat Wheaties! because my friend Rob Melamed recommended me on it and had worked with Scott before on his previous project The Calling. He wasn’t able to take on Eat Wheaties! at the time, so he sent me the rough cut to watch and asked me if I’d be interested, and that he’d get me in touch with Scott.
I loved the film, the heartfelt message, the fantastic cast, and thought it’d be an amazing opportunity, so I jumped on it. Scott and I had a call that same day and we hit it off right away. I wrote a few themes over the next couple of days that I sent to him as well as David Phillips, the co-producer, and Daniel Webb, an executive producer on the film. They liked what I did, and I got the gig after that!
What was your experience like composing Eat Wheaties?
I loved it! Collaborating with Scott was a great experience. I’ve definitely had great working relationships with directors in the past, but this was one of my first projects where I really felt that we were crafting the score together from the ground up. Scott made me feel comfortable to really be creative and just try things out, and I never felt that if I sent him something that was a work in progress, a little wild, or not perfectly polished, that he’d question my abilities as a composer.
He really understands the creative process. We would chat every day about different approaches to scenes and what’s happening with the characters and in the story. Once we were feeling good about a group of scenes or cues, we’d send them off to the producers and have them weigh in – they had some great insights and suggestions, and really helped influence the sound of the score. David actually happened to be in town a couple of times during the music writing process, as he’s also from the Toronto area, so he was able to visit my studio and we had the opportunity to sit down and work through a few of the scenes and cues in person (this was pre-COVID).
Though there were many long days, with little to no time off during the main bulk of the writing process, I was really excited to be working on the film, took each challenge as an opportunity to create something better, and had a really positive experience overall.
How do you determine the sound of a film and what kind of instruments you want to use in a score?
The first thing I usually do is think about what we are trying to achieve with the score. What’s the story we’re trying to tell with the music? What’s the general mood and aesthetic of the film? Music can colour so much of the experience, and we want to make sure we’re using the right colours, and telling the right part of the story. The director will have a lot of the answers to these questions, or at least be able to guide the process as we narrow in on the answers, so the first and most important thing is to have those conversations, and to keep having them as the process unfolds.
With Eat Wheaties!, some of my first ideas were of using outcast instruments, or instruments that would sound a little bit “off” to musically represent Sid and his well meaning but awkward personality. I tried strumming the violin instead of bowing it, playing guitar parts on the banjo, and thought my beginner clarinet and trumpet playing would have a natural awkwardness to it that might work well.
Though those sounds ended up being a bit too quirky for most of the film, it actually worked really well in the cue where Sid looks himself up online after he gets fired. It created a really raw unstable emotional sound, and it hardly changed from the very first version I wrote, which is also where the main theme came from that shows up in different forms throughout the film.
Scott had a great suggestion right at the beginning of the scoring process about using a melody that plays something pleasing, but just keeps coming in at the wrong or unexpected times, to create tension, much like Sid does. That really kicked off some great ideas for me and also led to using chords that should normally feel pleasing, but because of their placement in the key are actually a little tense or dissonant.
We knew we wanted to have a musical element of tension in the score, especially in the first third of the film, to represent Sid “crossing the line”, and also to symbolize the darker side of social media that pulls Sid in and derails his life. I created various synthesizer patches, and though we did keep a few of them in the final score, it felt a bit too dark and electronic to use as a base for this particular film. While listening to a variety of musical references, and really analyzing our preferences, I came to the realization that the sounds we were after weren’t actually synthesizers, but guitar pedal effects.
I went out and rented a whole bunch of pedals (which of course I now own!), and started playing around, trying to come up with unusual and unique sounds that could add great textures to other parts of the score. Right away Scott and the others thought we were on the right track, and we ran with it. Using guitar pedals to create synthesizer-like sounds made them feel more organic and grounded than synthesizers, but edgier and more unusual than acoustic instruments. I made the choice to use a Wurlitzer as one of the lead instruments because it felt like a more electronic, and unusual version of a piano.
It also had a bit of a retro sensibility, which felt right for Sid, who was in a way stuck in the past. We used piano later in the film, to represent Sid becoming more comfortable with his natural self, rather than seeking external validation from social media and those around him.
How does the Eat Wheaties! score compare to past projects of yours?
The score for Eat Wheaties! definitely has its own unique sound from other scores I’ve done. That’s not to say I haven’t written a quirky score, or a score with guitars, or ever used guitar pedals for pads and textures, but the combination of all those elements, and how they were used together is what makes it unique in its own way. I think I worked a lot more “out of the box” on this score than I’ve done on some of my previous scores – meaning I specifically tried to create sounds outside of my computer, in this case using guitar pedals and recording my amp.
There was one particular sound I made that I really liked which was especially unique to this project, which was by running a frozen guitar tone on the Game Changer Plus Pedal through a Tremolo, to make a pulsing sequencer-type sound, into a Fuzz Distortion, and a Harmonizer, and changing the Harmonizer shift knob in real time to create melodies. It actually formed the basis for the cue titled “Softball Catharsis”, which is when Sid becomes motivated to get his life back together.
When composing a film score, what’s your favorite part of the process?
I really love the magic that happens on screen when a cue really clicks with a scene. The music takes on a much bigger meaning than it did alone, and the picture comes alive. It’s hard to explain, but it almost feels like I’m there interacting with the characters and story while I’m working on the music, I guess it’s because what I do directly affects how everything feels as it unfolds on screen, and that’s a really cool, and unusual experience.
It’s also really exciting when you get an idea to try something different, or try new instruments you haven’t played before, or create new sounds, which Scott was always really encouraging of. Collaborating with a great director that you click with definitely has a huge impact on the overall process and experience.
Most composers focus on creating a score with a traditional orchestra. Why do you choose to include non-conventional instruments in your pieces?
I love the orchestra, it’s got an incredibly rich, vast and cinematic sound that can be used in so many different ways. I think that’s a large part of why it’s still so commonly used today and also why I still tend to incorporate it in many of my scores, but there’s something that really excites me about non-conventional instruments and scoring approaches. There’s so many different styles of music and various instruments that exist in the world, and so much potential in sound design, synthesis and digital sonic manipulation that really open things up to limitless sonic possibilities.
As a creator, it’s really exciting to be able to use all of these elements at your disposal to try and design something unique. You’re not just writing the chords, melodies and rhythms, but also crafting the sounds themselves – it’s a whole other layer. You can play the exact same composition with a different set of instruments and it will sound very different and have a completely different character.
I think those tonal characteristics are a huge element and asset in finding the sonic voice of a film, and I prefer not to limit myself when searching for the sounds that might work best for a project. Sometimes though, a traditional orchestra is exactly what’s needed for a particular film, and at the end of the day, being unique just for the sake of it should never be more important than doing what’s best for the film and the story.
What do you hope audiences take away after watching Eat Wheaties?
I hope that people can empathize with Sid in some way and really see that he’s a sweet, kind hearted individual who’s just trying his best to connect in whatever way he can. It’s disheartening that his attempts to engage with people is what eventually ends up pushing them away. He doesn’t have the best social skills (or social media skills!) and tends to put his foot in his mouth a lot. He tries a little too hard and says a little too much, but ultimately he’s coming from a good place.
There are definitely people who say the wrong thing and are coming from the wrong place, but sometimes it can be hard to tell, especially since we’re often so quick to judge others. I think at its heart, this film is both about learning to accept yourself and stop trying to find acceptance from the people around you, and also a reminder of the impact kindness can make on someone’s life. It’s so easy to judge each other without really knowing each other, so I hope at the end of the day people remember that it’s really hard to know where someone is coming from, what they’re going through in their life, and what their intentions are without really giving them a chance and getting to know them.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to be working on more narrative Film and TV, taking on more projects like Eat Wheaties!, continuing to grow, and being challenged creatively. I’ve been working on a solo album for a while now, so it’d be great to see that released in the next five years, haha! I’m also saving up for a down payment on a house, so if I could own a place of my own five years from now, that would also be amazing! I’ve been spending more time out in L.A. before COVID hit, and would love to do more work out there, so that’s something else that’s on the five year goal trajectory.
If any musician could compose the soundtrack of your life, who would you choose and why?
I think I have to go with my gut on this one and pick the band Explosions in the Sky. I absolutely love their music and have been a fan for a very long time. I actually haven’t watched any of the films they’ve scored (I need to get on that!), so I’m strictly basing this answer off of their albums. Their music is incredibly moving, really cinematic, as post rock often is, and it deeply resonates with me.
Though a film composer might perhaps be able to bring in a wider range of scoring approaches, styles and nuances for a broader range of life experiences, I just somehow feel like Explosions in the Sky is right… they just fit my vibe. Maybe listening to their albums throughout my life made it feel like they’re already composing the soundtrack to it? Haha.
What advice do you have for up and coming musicians?
I feel like there’s so much I want to share! But I know I shouldn’t ramble on too much haha, so if anyone wants advice and wants to reach out, don’t hesitate! If I had to pick two things that I think are the biggest pieces of advice I could give, first I’d offer the quote “stop comparing your work in progress with everyone else’s show reel”. I forget where I read this quote, but it deeply resonated with me.
It really clicked for me when I watched Hans Zimmer’s masterclass where he said that even he feels intimidated by the “blank canvas” that comes with a new project, and even he has to try a few ideas out in order to find what really works. I remember he mentioned having to redo that beautiful scene in Gladiator where Maximus is walking through the field near the end some 10 times or so. When I heard that it blew my mind! It never even occurred to me prior to that point that he had tried anything different for that scene, I only knew that one final version, and I thought that’s what he intended it to be all along.
It’s so easy to get frustrated with yourself when you start working on a piece of music for a scene, or just on its own, and feel like your idea isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean you’re not talented, it just means you have to try a few more times. It’s so important to learn that making mistakes is just part of the work. The creative process needs to be free and experimental, you can’t judge yourself too harshly or you’ll just stifle it. Try stuff out and if it doesn’t work it’s fine, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around, you can keep trying. And same goes for your career in general, if you didn’t write the best score on your first film, that’s fine, you live and you learn, the next one will be better!
Don’t give up – keep going. That actually brings me to my second biggest piece of advice which is keep at it and enjoy the process! I don’t think you’ll ever feel that you’ve made it, even as you get more and more success you’ll still be focused on where you want to go rather than where you are, so know that if you keep at it, you’ll get there eventually, and just make the most of the journey and the process, which is what will lead up your best work anyways!
What has been your biggest success and failure to date?
Oh man! That’s a really tough question. Eat Wheaties! is a pretty big success for me! I never thought I’d work on a Tony Hale film with such a star-studded cast. So many of the actors in this film are actors I’ve watched in other films and shows over recent years, which feels a little surreal when I step back and really think about it. It’s also been pretty awesome seeing billboards up for the film around Toronto – I’ve never had that experience for a project I’ve worked on before! So that feels like a huge success. Working on a few worldwide recognizable TV shows, including one for Disney, has been another amazing success as well! But ultimately, I’d say making my living writing music to picture is my biggest success to date. A composer friend of mine said it best recently, everything else really is just “icing on the cake”.
In terms of my biggest failure, that’s pretty hard to say! I don’t really have many regrets thankfully and consider myself pretty lucky overall. Every mistake is a learning opportunity and I truly believe if I didn’t make some of the mistakes I did along the way, I wouldn’t have ended up where I did, so I don’t really see anything truly as a failure. Luckily I haven’t had any major crash and burn situations, and I think that’s in part to taking it one step at a time and taking on bigger projects and responsibilities as my skills and experience developed, and having a great support network around me.
I think perhaps one of my biggest failures may be not having had the best work-life balance. I’ve sacrificed so many life experiences for my career and in turn missed out on certain opportunities. I’ve definitely travelled less than many people I know, which is something I always looked forward to, and I’m really feeling that now that travel is much more complicated. I definitely spent less time with friends as well. Though I think in a way it was necessary for me to have that type of focus to get to where I am, I’m trying to find a good work-life balance now and make sure I take time to do the things that are important to me where and when I can, while still putting in all the hours and hard work required in this career.
How has COVID affected your work load and do you think your job will eventually return to normal?
Overall I’m grateful to be able to say I’ve been very lucky! I know COVID has really affected a lot of people in really tough ways, such as losing their jobs, loved ones, or dealing with long term health-related issues as a result. Though we have friends and family that dealt with COVID first hand, including my girlfriend’s mother and brother, we’re incredibly lucky to say everyone’s safe and healthy. For me on a personal level, I’m a huge introvert, and have been working freelance from home full time for many years before COVID hit.
When this all first happened I was almost joking that everyone else is being forced to experience my normal lifestyle. A big portion of my work has been in advertising recently, and that did slow down during the first round of shut downs, when companies probably weren’t sure what was going to happen to the economy and whether they should advertise or save their money, but I did have a good amount of savings thankfully so I wasn’t too concerned. I took that time to work on some of my own side projects, including a solo album, as well as recording and creating new sounds and virtual instruments.
After a couple of months though, things started picking up, and the original writing jobs started to stream in again so I’ve been surprisingly busy. I’d say on that front it’s already returned to normal, and I’m very lucky to still have steady work coming in. The work I do is already mostly remote, but I do miss the in person aspect of having a director or producer over to my studio. I think we live in an incredible time though where we have the ability to connect to each other in real time over the internet via video. If this had happened 30, or 40 years ago, it would be a completely different experience.
The long format world of film and television has definitely been affected from what I hear, but people are resilient and are finding ways to keep creating content. I’ve learned about some of the extensive COVID protocols film sets are implementing in order to keep everyone safe, including regular testing, wearing masks, reduced crew on set, sanitizing, as well as dedicated COVID experts on set to monitor safety and protocols. Though it’s definitely slowed things down, especially for the more independent productions, it already seems to be returning to normal, and I’m fairly hopeful for the industry.
What’s next on the docket for you?
Currently I’ve been pretty busy promoting Eat Wheaties!, and am working on putting together the soundtrack which we’re planning to release soon! I’ll definitely update you when we have a release date set. Aside from that, I’m looking forward to taking a short break, most likely a stay-cation because of the situation with COVID up here. Also looking forward to doing a bit more work on my solo electronic album which has been in the works for a little while now, and that’s the plan until the next big project comes in!