Category Archives: Music

Composer Vincent L. Pratte Uses Music to Communicate Abstract Emotions

Vincent L. Pratte
      Composer Vincent L. Pratte shot by Marie-Ève Labadie

Canadian born film composer Vincent L. Pratte creates dynamic and thematically rich film scores that will enthrall any audience with their musical diversity and depth.

A musician who began scoring orchestra pieces in high school, Pratte is a composer who doesn’t mind going outside his comfort zones and trying new and unique methodologies. In college Pratte came to the conclusion that, “music and especially composition was not monolithic, and that there was room to do whatever he could imagine”.

Pratte believes that in films, the music is there to add emotional, dramatic or narrative layers to a scene, but not to overwhelm it. It is through this meticulous and complex process that Vincent L. Pratte is able to stand apart from other film composers as someone whose music is truly original and highly sought after.

Pratte says, “I do try to pay attention to things beyond the narrative, like editing choices, camera angles, and lighting… In the end, I think that those elements will have an impact on my musical choices as well.”

Demon Gate, a horror film revolving around demonic possession, beautifully demonstrates Pratte’s style of composition. The film’s score showcases an open ended musical structure that features a wide array of musical styles to achieve a deeply dramatic tone. Pratte is a composer who feels a film’s score can make the viewer feel visceral in ways that the visual medium cannot– a point that is driven home by the haunting score found in Demon Gate.

The film Eleanora: The Forgotten Princess, which is a cross between a musical, a period piece and a fantasy film, features a riveting score by Pratte that serves as an exploration of the character’s inner motivations. This super natural tale of revenge and jealousy sports a composition that embodies the weight of a much larger thematic piece without overwhelming the narrative.

“Although we often tend to think of film music in terms of dramatic end epic themes, so much of the work of a film composer is actually about how to subtly complement a scene,” admits Pratte.

Pratte’s score for Foos Your Daddy, a coming of age comedy, creates a brilliant texture reminiscent of large-scale gladiator-style films, which perfectly accompanies the film’s “absurdist touch,” as Pratte puts it. In the film, which was directed by Luke Patton, a father and son indulge in one last foosball game before the son heads off to college. Pratte’s score is a testament to his brilliance as a composer who fully understands how to create music that sets the tone for each scene.

As the film progresses the intensity of the score expands exponentially. Whereas the film starts out with a “coming-of-age… indie rock vibe,” as the foosball match unfolds the composer uses music to create an air of high stakes, big action, and emotional transitions.

Pratte has composed for a lengthy list of films across virtually every genre, but he admits that his favorite medium to compose for is animation because of the freedom and intensity it allows.

His poetically melodic score for Eloise, Little Dreamer gave the tale of a young girl, who is separated from her sister in the big city, a multi-layered emotional resonance. The film was most recently awarded the Best International Animated Film at the New York International Film Festival.

John Doe, the animated story of a detective lost in a case he is unable to solve, features another strong score by Pratte, with the film’s lack of dialog making the score integral to providing the narrative for the twisted tale.

Although Vincent Pratte still enjoys composing orchestra pieces, his passion for blending the abstract nature of music with the more concrete artistic medium of film, is by all accounts his true calling. A film composer who, like a magician, has many tricks up his sleeve, Pratte is a dynamic musical talent whose compositions augment any project to which they are attached.

Guitarist Jonas Blomqvist Impresses Fans of Every Genre

Superfix
Jonas Blomqvist, guitarist for Bhavana Reddy, Superfix, & Second Nature

Sweden, home of some of the most talented classical musicians such as Wilhelm Stenhammar has also birthed many of the most recognizable names in heavy metal, electronic and pop today, including The Knife, The Cardigans, In Flames, Peter Bjorn and John, The Hives, José González, Fever Ray and others.

Among these talented musicians is Jonas Blomqvist, the highly skilled guitarist from the bands Everwhere, Superfix, Bhavana Reddy, Rachelle and The Rising, Suns of Defiance and the recently established rock group Second Nature, which is slated to release their self-titled debut album later this year.

A true prodigy, Jonas found his talents at an early age, mastering the trombone, piano and drums at age 9. With a classical pianist for a father, music seems to be encoded in Jonas’s DNA. He recalls, “My parents played music for me while I was still in my mother’s belly by putting headphones on it.”

Upon discovering his innate talents on guitar at 14, the now highly sought after musician found the instrument that would later become his fated tool for expression.

”I have been playing guitar for 14 years now and during this time have been most influenced by the music of Guthrie Govan, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman,” says Blomqvist. “ I have played a variety of instruments and can use all of these experiences on the guitar and with the people I play with.”

For someone as well-versed in music as he is, it is not surprising that his skill in the art form extend beyond his ability to simply play instruments with precision, for he is an accomplished songwriter as well.

His creative expertise in the realm of songwriting is proven by the recent success as the co-writer of renowned artist Bhavana Reddy’s hit single “Smells Like Rain,” which made it to the top 1% (out of 19,000) in the International Songwriting Competition last year.

After being raised in Stockholm, Sweden in the late 1980’s and 90’s Jonas left for the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. The melting pot of cultural influences present in the Los Angeles music industry is now his home and incubator for a multitude of new projects and collaborations.

Some of Blomqvist’s most recent success has been with supercharged alternative rock band Superfix, led by KoRn’s Kalen Chase. This past year the group released their debut album “Never Change.”

Jonas’s aptitude for playing heaving hitting fast-paced guitar riffs is recognized throughout the album. Last year Superfix released the music video for their hit song “Invasion,” which you can check out below. Jonas carries the song with an impressive and mesmerizing riff that is impossible to miss.

This musician brings the same head banging high-energy to the video that he is known for on stage. Acclaimed for his mesmerizing stage presence, and his ability to play virtually any style of music, Jonas has also been tapped to lend his talents to an impressive range of bands and solo artists including Elaine DaSilva, Flymore, Sarah Edan, Ayin Aleph, Urvah Kahn, Only on Tuesdays and many more. He was even asked to perform on the CBS Studios lot with the CBS Band in Studio City, California in 2013.

As of February 2015 Jonas is ‘fresh off the boat’ from a 10 date tour in India with world-renowned Indian singer and Kuchipudi dancer Bhavana Reddy. Together they started the year busily promoting Bhavana’s debut album “Tangled in Emotions,” which you can check out at: http://iamreddy.bandcamp.com/

The diversity that this young musician has shown puts him in league with the greats. Keep your eyes and ears open for Jonas’ next release through his personal commercial rock project ‘Second Nature’.

Sofar so good: Estefania Sequeira on the best-kept secret music movement

Ever wonder what it’s like to be one of the behind-the-scenes people in one of the most behind-the-scenes movements happening today?

Estefania Sequeira happens to be one of those very cool people. For the past few years now, Sequeira, an editor for film and music videos, has helped shape Sofar Sounds, an underground music event that’s spreading at the speed of, well, sound.

Sofar Sounds
      Estefania Sequeira capture the magic of a Sofar Sounds’ event

The movement’s formula is basic, but brilliant. Sofar Sounds brings together a group of people in a small space, for example someone’s backyard, living room or even a desolate barn out in the sticks, where attendees share the similar desire to listen to really, really good live music.

Whether it’s the result of social media and its lack of human contact, the quick and cheap downloadable tracks of our time that leave people craving real raw sound, or all those packed festivals that went on for days and days and days— for music lovers, Sofar Sounds is a grassroots breath of fresh air that offers the close-knit community experience that has been so hard to find in the modern age.

For those who have missed the global phenomenon to date, this isn’t your catchy Groupon gimmick. The story of how Sofar Sounds started is repeated just about every time the name is mentioned. This lends even more to its lore, which goes like this:

Sofar Sounds began in London in 2009, when three friends—Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander—went to a pub to hear Friendly Fires, a band whose debut album the year before had cast them into success. But when these three music-loving friends got the chance to hear the amazing band—it was in front of an awful crowd.

Recalling that night, Sofar Sounds founder Rafe Offer, who is actually a Chicago native, tells the Wall Street Journal, “Rocky, Dave and I all could not believe that this superb band was playing their hearts out and yet half the room was busy talking about other things, fondling phones or clanging drinks.”

Of the guys, Dave Alexander was, himself, a musician, who invited a few friends over to his London flat to try out some of his new songs. The atmosphere at that event was so markedly different, and better, than the night at the pub that these guys decided to host another one just like it.

It didn’t take long for their idea to take off—and land overseas. One of the first major cities to latch on was San Francisco, where film editor Estefania Sequeira, a life-long music lover who earned her BFA in Motion Pictures and Television, helped firmly implement Sofar Sounds in the US.

Already making music videos, Estefania’s editing skills and knowledge of the area’s music culture made her the perfect person to translate the founders’ idea—which, remember, is meant to introduce good music beautifully.

In a way Estefania Sequeira jumpstarted Sofar Sounds SF using her background in editing to shoot and cut videos of the group’s events, among other things. “I’ve worn many different hats, as I’ve been very involved from the beginning stages,” Sequeira explains. “I was there in San Francisco when it was first starting out. I was the video production supervisor, as well as a videographer and editor. In Vancouver I took more of a leading role and managed the whole event while also being very involved in the video production.”

In addition to the San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada branches, she has also participated in some events in Costa Rica. Definitely a labor of love, Sofar Sounds requires a lot of amazing people to make these secret music events happen. Money has never been a big issue as the events are financed by attendee donations, which pay the production staff, including great talents like Estefania Sequeira, and also covers the cost of the beer, wine, and refreshments served.

Using cell phones and other recording devices is usually discouraged during the gigs, so having someone like Sequeira, a trained videographer and editor, there to record the acts and putting out excellent quality videos of Sofar concerts is incredible. Those videos will be the only chance most people ever get to see these gigs, since the number invited to attend is so low.

However, even though Sofar Sounds’ attendees are hand picked, it’s worth the effort and so much fun to try and gain acceptance. First go onto the Sofar Sounds website and sign up for the newsletter. Pick a city (again, with the popularity there’s bound to be one nearby) and fill out a brief survey. Yes, survey—to determine if you’ll be selected to attend.

The locations are kept secret until hours before. Even the performers’ names are not usually disclosed. For those invited to attend, they arrive and are guaranteed an unforgettable music experience. For those performing, it’s a chance to gain new fans as well as make contacts with other musicians. Sofar is about really cool people, like Estefania Sequeira, who love good music and want to hear it, rather than watch a mass of phone screens float in the darkness of a crowded club.

Sofar Sounds
                                       One of Sofar Sounds’ events in San Francisco shot by Estefania Sequeira

Half-Korean and half-Costa Rican, Estefania describes how the movement is universal at its core. She says, “I think people love how global it is. How you can experience the same event in different parts of the world. Also, both the musicians and the guests relate to the respect for music that Sofar Sounds represents.”

So what once was known as “Songs from a Room” has morphed into Sofar Sounds. And what once was a room in a London flat has grown into a worldwide movement.

Sequeira, who continues to also work full-time on her documentary films and music video projects as well as with the movement, says Sofar should never lose its essence, the closeness to the music and to others.

“People love Sofar Sounds because of how intimate it is and because of the music you’re able to discover through it,” she says. “It will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a truly special community to be a part of.”

Director Jacob Lundgaard Andersen Continues to Amaze

Jacob Lundgaard Andersen
Director Jacob Lundgaard Andersen

Originally from Jutland, the main peninsula of Denmark, Jacob Lundgaard Andersen is a director whose talent knows no bounds. After obtaining his undergraduate degree from the European Film College in Denmark, Andersen went on to be one of 28 directors invited each year to attend the American Film Institute Conservatory program where he received his master’s degree.

Earlier on in his career, Andersen worked with multi-award winning directors Thomas Vinterberg (Submarino, The Hunt, Metallica: The Day That Never Comes), and Nikolaj Arcel (Royal Affair, King’s Game, Truth About Men). While working as Vinterberg’s 2nd AD on the film Submarino, Andersen says, “Through intimate moments driving to and from set and as a collaborator directing his background [Thomas] taught me many valuable things, always wrapped in an anecdote. But what I learned most from just shadowing him was observing how he navigated the obstacles of the production in ways that were least compromising to his vision.”

Submarino, which received 8 awards and has been nominated for 19 others at film festivals around the world, reveals the dark subject matter of a dysfunctional family plagued by loss and substance abuse. The film puts Vinterberg’s fearless approach to cinema on display, a characteristic we also see in Andersen’s films. Andersen also worked alongside Nikolaj Arcel on the historical drama film A Royal Affair, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film as well as an Academy Award and several others.

Jacob Lundgaard Andersen first gained international exposure after embarking on the “This is War” World Tour with 30 Seconds to Mars, a rock band fronted by Oscar Award winning actor and multi-talented musician Jared Leto. While on tour with the band, which has received a Billboard Music Award as well as 84 other awards, Andersen worked as a videographer, shooting and editing tour footage of 30 Seconds to Mars while also helping to create several music videos and documentaries.

Jared Leto
Jared Leto on tour with his band 30 Seconds to Mars shot by Jacob Lundgaard Andersen

His successful work on the tour led him to begin working with Grammy Award winning musician Raphael Saadiq on Saadiq’s “Stone Rollin” Tour.

About his work with Saadiq, Andersen says, “I worked as a one-man-production and even though the scope was smaller, the creative responsibility was much greater and ended with me directing two tour-music videos for him. I am still collaborating with Raphael today.”

All of these projects marked the very beginning of Andersen’s career, an incredible feat considering the high profile of the artists with which he collaborated, but not all that surprising when looking at the extraordinary talent Andersen has shown through his work. In 2013 Andersen wrote, directed and produced the music video “As Long As You Watch My Heart” for Danish musician Penny Police. Andersen’s video went into heavy rotation on MTV U, which reaches an audience of 9 million, when Penny Police was chosen as one of several artists to compete for the Freshman Award, an award voted on by viewers that they won. The video was also an Official Selection at the Rahway Film Festival, and garnered Andersen the award for Best Music Video at the 2014 HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles. A stop motion video, “As Long As You Watch My Heart” follows a ball of yarn traveling through nature and space. Andersen created the visually captivating video using animation, miniature models and puppetry.

Jacob Lundgaard Andersen is extremely gifted. Not only is he an incredible director with a unique vision, but he is passionate about learning every aspect of what goes into the creation of a film as well.

He says, “I love movies and every element that goes into making them and as a director you get to be involved with each of the specialized departments and learn everything from technical camera, VFX and sound things to very emotional and human experiences that comes from working with writers, actors and people management in general.”

The great lengths Andersen has gone to in order to become knowledgeable about every technical aspect of filmmaking in addition to the creative side, has put him leagues ahead of most directors and adds to his ability to bring his vision to life with each project. A perfect example of Andersen’s vast skillset, the films’ Be Here Now and Dustland showcase his creativity as a director, writer, and producer. If you’d like to find out more about Jacob Lundgaard Anderson’s work you can check out his website http://jacoblandersen.com/ and watch his video for Penny Police below!

Composer Spotlight: Alex Redfern!

Composer Alex Redfern
Composer Alex Redfern

UK born composer Alex Redfern is a master of blending music and visuals for film and television. Alex Redfern is known throughout the international entertainment industry for having created emotive scores for the films Happy Face and Tumbleweed: A True Story, as well as for contributing to the music departments of Walt Disney Picture’s upcoming feature Cinderella, which stars two-time Oscar Award winner Cate Blanchett, James Franco’s Holy Land, Penguin Trek, Larson’s Field, and many others.

The young yet highly skilled composer is currently working on Sisterhood of the Red Garter 3D, as well as the film Varanasi, which stars Adil Hussain from Life of Pi.  Directed by Richard Connew, the film Sisterhood of the Red Garter 3D is a UK comedy film that is scheduled to be released next year. A feature film about a mysterious cult set in Northern England, the film stars Brian Woodward from Peaky Blinders, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Theory of Everything and Hollows Wood 3D.

Redfern admits, “it’s fun writing for comedy, but you have to be delicate with the timing to make sure it has the right effect.” He adds that the music in the film ”is a cross between light-hearted and dark, and mysterious. It is mostly orchestral, but it has a few surprises thrown in.”

One aspect of Alex Redfern’s career that sets him apart from other composers is his incredible ability to bring diversity to all of his musical creations, something audience will notice in his other upcoming project Varanasi, where he is working as the film’s orchestrator. According to Redfern the film is “a dark thriller set in the holy city of Varanasi in India. It uses orchestral and Indian instruments together.”

Alex Redfern was also a key contributor to the music department on Mark Marchillo’s film The Curse of The Un-kissable Kid. A comedic and whimsical coming of age tale, The Curse of The Un-kissable Kid follows a young boy named Josh, played by William Leon from the hit television shows True Blood, New Girl and Modern Family, who finds himself in a sticky situation after taking a potion from a fortune teller at a local carnival without reading the fine print. After swallowing the potion Josh realizes that the bottle says it will make him disappear if he doesn’t find true love’s kiss within 24 hours. In an effort to keep from dissolving into nothingness, the desperate teen sets up a kissing booth and soon finds himself in a passionate lip-lock with a boy named Clark, played by Christopher Bones from the shows One Life to Live and My Name Is Earl. Redfern used his musical talents to heighten the fantastical elements of the film with his subtle orchestration of instruments.

A truly talented composer, there is no doubt on anyone’s mind that audiences around the world will be seeing, or rather hearing, a whole lot more of Redfern’s musical creations for many years to come. Be sure to check out the video below to see Alex Redfern conducting one of his original compositions “Riding Out West” with a 47-piece orchestra at Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers Studio in Los Angeles.

Saxophonist Gianni Vancini’s New Album Helps Audiences Get Their Groove On!

Gianni Vancini
Saxophonist Gianni Vancini

World-class saxophonist and touring musician Gianni Vancini has touched the hearts of audiences around the globe with his sweet and soulful sound.

Earlier this year Gianni Vancini released his sophomore solo album entitled Get Your Groove On, which garnered a huge response in both the U.S. and Italy. Pre-releasing the first single from the album, also entitled “Get Your Groove On”, Vancini knew the album would be a surefire success after the single was rated on The Smooth Jazz Network’s top 20 charts for the week of September 28, 2013.

With track listings like “Didn’t You Promise” featuring Selina Albright, and “Thinking About You” featuring American jazz musician Terry Wollman whose recent single “Mandela” spent five months on Billboard’s Top 20 reaching No. 1 on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 and No. 4 on the Billboard charts, Get Your Groove On gives audiences that mix of smooth jazz and R&B that Vancini is known for.

Accompanying Gianni Vancini’s masterful abilities on the saxophone, the album includes a long list of collaborations from internationally renowned artists like bassist Alex Al who spent the last decade as Michael Jackson’s bassist and keyboardist, guitarist Sheldon Reynolds of The Commodores and Earth, Wind, and Fire, keyboardist Greg Manning who is a three-time certified platinum producer for Universal Music Switzerland, and drummer Ricky Lawson who passed away last year and was known for his work with Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton.

Get Your Groove On serves as a testament to Gianni Vancini’s versatility as a musician with the overall album commingling elements of funk and pop alongside his classic jazz and R&B sound.

Over the course of his career, Vancini has developed a dedicated international fan following with audiences all over the world regularly turning to his music for an infusion of spark n’ step that helps them get their groove on.

While some of his most notable international performances include famous venues such as Sanremo, Italy’s Ariston Theater and Rome’s Il Gran Teatro, Gianni Vancini notes the Olympia in Paris, and the Casino Rama in Toronto, as his favorites.

“I love the Olympia for what it represents, and because it means that I am in Paris, a city I can help but love, and the Casino Rama because it has the most amazing acoustics,” explained Vancini.

The Olympia is known for showcasing the word’s top musicians, including Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Björk, The Jackson 5, and many more household names.