With music influencing the film in Trailer Music II, Lynette Chong interviews composer Nicholas Buc in this feature of Minds behind the Magic to find out more about his life in New York, the challenges, learnings and goals in the next couple of years.
Introducing composer, Nicholas Buc
*Lynette: Nicholas – you have been based in New York for almost 2 years now – and we imagine it must have been life-changing. What has been the most memorable opportunities/achievements since moving abroad?
*Nicholas: It has most certainly been life changing! Since being awarded the Brian May Scholarship (named after the great Australian screen composer), I’ve had the opportunity to focus intensely on the art and craft of film music, something very close to my heart. For the past 10 years, I’ve been working out in the field as a musician in the Australian scene, hence to go back and study was a strange feeling, but extremely rewarding on a personal level.
However, something I’ve found even more rewarding is the networking opportunities that have come with the move overseas. It’s been fantastic for raising my profile, making new connections and meeting some of my heroes in person (Howard Shore, Alan Silvestri and David Newman to name a few legendary film composers!).
*L: On the flip side – what has been your key challenges and learnings?
*N: As much as it pains us to think about it, musicians these days are living, breathing businesses and they have to be business savvy to survive. Connections are everything, especially in the film world. One of the hardest things with moving overseas has been integrating into a brand new music community. New York is a big place and it’s essentially like starting again. I am fortunate to have a wonderful network of musicians around Australia who know me and my work, but in the US I’m a new face so the only thing I have to fall back on is my reputation from back home.
Also, as much as I love New York, I get the sense that Los Angeles is really the place to be for film and TV scoring. It is the hub of that entire scene, so sooner or later I’ll probably have to make the move over to the West Coast.
*L: What we love about your music is that is so immediately evocative, approachable and engaging – that lends itself very easily to driving imagination, but has a strong sense of classical rigour behind it. Between writing original film scores, and building a reputation as the go-to conductor for orchestral staging of live movie screenings – where does your heart lie? What are you actively pursuing in the next couple of years?
*N: It’s an interesting question, as the two activities are at both extremes of the spectrum. Composing is extremely personal, intimate and solitary, a process that gives no feedback and asks you to challenge your own sense of musicality and creativity. At the other end, conducting is my only real performance outlet and is about as collaborative as music gets. I get to work with top shelf musicians and every musical decision is immediate with constant live feedback. They are opposites, but extremely complementary at the same time. Being a composer informs my conducting, helping to understand the creative process on an intrinsic level in order to bring it to life. And when I compose, I always imagine it from the conductor’s viewpoint - how would this be conducted, played, or interpreted by real musicians? They form the perfect balance of music in my life and I am extremely content doing both.
As for the future, I have a hard time saying no to projects, so I usually go where the work is! But despite being pulled all around the globe on conducting gigs, composing is still my first love and it’s something I’ll be actively pursuing with guns blazing.
Catch the premiere of Nicholas Buc's next work, Trailer Music II for piano trio, at Melbourne Music Week!
Trailer Music II - 12 & 13 Nov 2016, 8pm.