Welcome back to composer spotlight, the blog series where we talk with composers across the globe to discuss their creative practice. In this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with UK-based composer Darryl John Hannan. Darryl combines his classical background with prog-rock elements that is seeing him become a rising force in the world of music for film and television. Read on below to discover the interview!
How did you get into writing music for film?
I have always wanted to be a musician ever since I first picked up an electric guitar aged twelve. However, it was discovering Danny Elfman’s score for Batman that made me want to be a film composer. I was drawn to how the music made me feel. The bombastic orchestra was like a rock band on steroids! I love how you can say so much on a subtextual level while accompanying the visuals. I never looked back after that!
How would you describe your creative process?
I love to be prepared so I start by writing pages and pages of notes about the film. Things about the character arcs, the mood of the film, key themes and how I can make the music reflect and enhance them. I create a strong foundation to draw from to ensure the music stays on mission. I like to use a lot of electronics and ambiences within my scores so next I create textures and sounds that create the sonic world of the film. Over these, I then layer more traditional harmonies and acoustic instrumentation and melodies, tweaking the balance to fit the needs of the film. If I have time, I write a suite to draw from once I get the picture.
Darryl composing music in his studio.
Is there a project you have worked on that has been particularly important in your development as a composer?
I’ve been very fortunate to work on so many fantastic projects with such talented peers so far in my career. I would have to say working on feature film “Kept Boy” with director George Bamber (of Pitch Perfect and Men in Black II acclaim) was a big moment in my development. I had a short deadline of just 4 weeks to write over 80 minutes of music as well as manage the infusion of music from folk band Stolen Horse into the score. This included arranging and blending their pre existing songs with my score on a number of the cues. It’s something I hadn’t had to contend with before and I had to learn a lot on the job. It was a baptism of fire for me for sure but I’m really proud of what we created together!
Do you think it's important for composers to have their own signature style?
Personally, I think it’s an inevitable part of any artists growth if you allow your voice to come through. As you become more experienced I believe your own style naturally shines through in the way you like to do things. Turning this into your calling card can be very beneficial for a composer. Don’t try to be the next Hans Zimmer, be the next you!
What advice would you have for composers who are just starting out?
The best advice I can give is probably around mindset. You’ve likely got a long journey ahead of you and it’s going to be full of rejection and setbacks. Training yourself to see every “failure” as an opportunity to learn and grow is vital to not giving up. Thick skin will get you far. Keep plugging away and you’ll get there in the end!
That concludes this edition of composer spotlight. If you want to hear more from Darryl then you can follow him via the links below:
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