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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, composer Riwal talks about his career and the musical inspiration behind his latest film project, Translations.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed film composer Riwal about his life and career, what inspires his music, and the creative process behind his latest film project, Translations.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am a composer and pianist from France based between North America and Europe.
When did you first WANT to write film music?
I think upon watching the Dark Knight back in 2008 I started to get a sense that a big part of my appreciation of a film depends on the score.
What training or lessons did you take to get work in the film industry?
I first got composition lessons at the Bill Evans Piano Academy in Paris. It was mostly for piano or small jazz ensemble. Later I was fortunate to study classical composition at Santa Monica College in California and Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
What was the first film you scored?
The Movie « Translations » directed by Keith Wilhelm Kopp
What was the latest film you scored?
I am currently working on another independent film that will hopefully enter the festival circuit later on.
Focusing on your latest project, what is the plot of Translations and how did it impact your musical choices?
The movie Translations is about an agoraphobic Welsh translator who reunites with her deceased brother’s best friend. It is an intimate drama set in the U.K. It was shot in Bath for the most part and Wales in the midst of the pandemic.
I actually have been to Wales and Bath a few times as a kid and teenager and spend some summers in the English countryside so the setting felt somewhat familiar.
The movie is shot in black and white and is mostly featuring the performance of the two leads Kate Morgan Jones and Alan Emrys.
My main concern was to not interfere between the interactions of the two main characters and be a distraction. I tried to convey a sense of quiet intimacy in the lighter scenes and burgeoning dread and unease at times. The main instruments used are an upright piano coupled with a muted harp, some synths pads and light percussions. I do have a recurring theme used in different places played by the piano.
How long did it take you to score Translations?
For « Translations » I believe I started in February of 2021 and it took roughly a month. I wrote some additional cues in 2022 as well.
What were your biggest challenges with Translations?
During the scoring process I was back in France due to the pandemic and only had access to a « reduced » studio space. I had to write the score with limited tools. It was my first time writing for a feature film so staying organized and on top of the whole score was the biggest challenge.
What film composers have inspired you the most?
I often go back to Jonny Greenwood « Phantom Thread » and « The Master » scores but I don’t think there is a film composer who has not been inspired by John Williams music.
What film score inspires you the most?
In « recent » years I loved the score of « Under the Silverlake » by Disasterpeace. Also Daniel Hart score for « Green
Knight » was incredible .
What is your favorite piece of music you’ve recorded, and what do you love about it?
Recently I released a piece called « Imaginary Exits ». It was recorded between Toronto, London and Los Angeles. It’s a fairly short instrumental piece that I recorded with friends of mine. I am working toward an E.P and being able to work with friends that are also great musicians has been very fulfilling.
What instruments do you play?
My principal instrument is the piano. I also play some guitar, synths and keyboards whenever is needed.
Do you release other music, or stick to film scores?
I addition of scoring for visual media I also released some singles of my own music. It’s mostly piano based instrumental music. It is more experimental and allows me to be a bit more adventurous in regards to form and style. I also like to contribute to other people projects in different capacities, as a musician, arranger or orchestrator.
Is your music available to the public, and where can people listen to it?
Yes, You can find some of my music on all the streaming services (Apple/Itunes, Spotify,Amazon music, Tidal etc…) and my Bandcamp page.
Are your friends and family supportive of your music career?
Yes thankfully, most of my friends are musicians or creatives themselves so it is mutual.
What’s something you never expected about writing a film score? What have you learned that surprised you?
I learned a lot about perspective. Looking at anything repetitively ,especially in a long format like feature film, can cloud your judgment . Being able to look at the « whole picture » and contextualize is crucial.
Have you had any experiences that really stand out because of your work in music?
In 2022 I entered a scoring competition by Spitfire Audio. I was very fortunate to be one of the 4 « runners up » out of 4000 entries. Since then I have been able to connect with a lot of people and draw a bit more attention to my work.
Do you have any future film work lined up or are you available to book?
I am working on several projects at the moment but I am always looking to meet people to collaborate and exchange
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to write film music?
This might sound obvious but watching a lot of movies (in theater if possible) and listening to the score in context rather than just soundtrack albums. Also in a more practical way, look out for free stuff. There are a lot of resources available for free (plugins, tutorial, interviews etc…)
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely. Looking forward to the next one.
Pop all your music, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Apple Music/itunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/riwal/1519539239?l=fr
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