Shie Rozow

Composer and music editor

Author

About

Born in Israel, composer and music editor Shie Rozow has taken a different path than most leading him to work on major international blockbusters including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man 2. Following his military service Shie earned a partial scholarship to Berklee College of Music where he completed his 4 year degree in just 5 semesters (“being broke is a great incentive” he explained). Following his graduation Shie moved to Los Angeles where he worked as Composer, Music Supervisor, and Music Editor at Alan Ett Music Group (now part of Spirit Music Group) where he was responsible for over 650 hours of television music for series including Intimate portrait, Biography, Hystory’s mysteries, and Modern marvels. 2 years later Shie embarked on a freelance career. He started out as assistant music editor helping on such films as Training day and About Schmidt, eventually becoming an in-demand music editor himself on films including Charlie and the chocolate factory, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Hustle & flow. He has earned 15 Golden Reel Award nominations (winning twice) for his work in film & TV. His scoring credits include John Singleton’s series Rebel, along with several indie features and documentaries such as #followfriday, Captain Hagen’s Bed & Breakfast, Dear mr. president and the award-winning indie feature Jasmine. Shie has also composed for the concert hall, music libraries, short films and has written additional music for major feature films and TV shows including the hit series Desperate Housewives. He released his first album of concert music, Musical Fantasy, on 4Tay records in 2016.

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Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

At the risk of sounding trite, music is everything to me. It’s the air I breathe. It’s everywhere. I don’t see the world so much as I hear it as music, sometimes beautiful, sometimes grating, but I really hear music in just about everything.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I saw a quote once that said, “Music is what feelings sound like.” I don’t know who said it, but it speaks to me. Music can do everything from mirroring our feelings to lifting our spirits to transporting us to impossible places, so in that sense music is absolutely about fantasy.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I suspect a frustrated amateur musician. When I considered where to go to school veterinary school was a consideration as was computer programming, but as much as I love animals and as much as I have a very technical side to my brain, neither really called to me. I don’t see being a musician as a choice, it’s just who I am and so it became obvious that I have to pursue it professionally.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

Not at all. I live in Los Angeles where there is a vibrant music scene, so perhaps my experience is skewed by having access to so much around me. But I see really innovative programs, for example the Mount Wilson Observatory have a concert series where various chamber ensembles play inside the telescope dome. It’s such a cool and unique experience. I’ve been to concerts at art galleries, and libraries and private homes. Furthermore, I see film-scoring as the evolution of classical music to some degree – it’s basically today’s opera in a way. I see concerts featuring film music and there’s even the Krakow Film Music Festival, which celebrates film music in concert. I think if we’re open to new venues and experiences the sky’s the limit.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I think if we look historically, classical music wasn’t so much “classical” as it was the music of the time before we had the ability to record music and experience in any other way that in a live setting. As music evolved and pop music came into prominence, classical music was often seen as serious or aloof, a bit stuffy and old, and It appealed to an older, more serious audience that has some level of a musical education (whether formal or not). But now I see people doing interesting things making classical music more fun and informal. I think it’s transforming to just another interesting genre alongside pop, hip-hop, rock & roll and so on. It’s becoming more accessible, which I think is great.

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

I think of people like Andre Rieu and his concerts that invite the audience to relax, sing along, and have fun with the music. I think of The Piano Guys. I thin of the Calder Quartet. I think of concerts like I mentioned above at unusual venues. I think of orchestras that include film-scores within their programming, or even play scores live to picture in open-air venues like the Hollywood Bowl. I think of people like you, Anna, who make YouTube videos and put things out using the power of the Internet to directly reach an audience.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? What’s the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I think any musician who wants to make an impact needs to find a way to distinguish him or herself. They need to not only find their voice, but also what makes them stick out from the crowd. Being a fantastic isn’t enough, you need to bring something else to your art that distinguishes you and makes people want to see/hear you and follow you and become your fan. For me it comes down to being genuine and true to myself. When I write concert music I don’t really worry about anything other than pleasing myself and creating something I’m proud of, whether it’s mainstream or not. I think if the music is genuine people will respond to it, so for me it’s all about being true to myself and doing the best I can.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

I have two young children and they hear me work on music all the time. They’ll come into my studio and bluntly say – I like this, or I don’t like it. But by exposing them to all sorts of music young, they are open to it and interested and I’ve taken my 9 year old to solo recitals, chamber concerts and orchestral concerts and he really enjoys it. So exposing our own kids, nephews, and nieces is a start. Also, finding ways to incorporate classical music into things they are interested in is great – my kids love to try things, so going to an event where they’re exposed to classical music and then get to try playing different instruments excites them. For me growing up I was exposed to tons of classical music in cartoons, and we don’t really do that anymore, perhaps we can do that again? I think it’s all about finding ways to make it accessible.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

For me it all starts with an idea. Sometimes I’m driving in the car and a melody will pop in my head, so I record it into my phone and then when I have time to write I’ll play it back and if it still speaks to me I’ll start writing. Sometimes it’s not a musical idea, but a conceptual idea – I want to write a piece for such and such instrument or ensemble and I want to explore such and such ideas. Sometimes it’s about opportunity, I have a very good friend who is an incredible pianist and his wife is a wonderful flautist, so I wrote a piece for flute and piano for them because it’s fun and they’ll play it.When I recorded my album, Musical Fantasy, I worked with the Lyris Quartet and Luke Maurer, the violist is incredible. I’ve always like viola so I asked him if I could write a piece for him and he agreed, so that led me to do that and it ended up on the album. So it really all starts with an idea, but as you can see ideas can come in many forms and from many directions. Once I write a piece and I’m happy, I’ll consult with my musician friends and have them look through it to identify any playability issues. I’ve learned that often composers do things that can be uncomfortable to play or difficult for no reason other than they aren’t experts at a particular instrument, and sometimes very minor changes can turn something from awkward to very comfortable to play. So if I can make changes that don’t take away or meaningfully change the intent of the music in order to make a piece more playable I will do those rewrites and tweaks. And then it goes out into the world and one of my favorite things is hearing how different players interpret the same piece. I try to give just enough direction on the page to make my intention clear, while leaving enough room for a player to make the performance his or her own. I may not always love every choice a player or ensemble might make for a section or a phrase, but I always love being surprised at how they interpret the piece and breathe life to it in their own way. I find that exhilarating. I would hate to be so specific and rigid with my music that no matter who performed a piece the result would be practically the same. I love the variety of leaving room for personal interpretation by the performers.I don’t think I have a favorite piece; usually the last thing I wrote is my favorite, until I write the next. Hopefully I learn from every writing experience and get better and better. I certainly try. That said, I think Esmé’s Moon is one of my favorites. It pays tribute to two film composers I admire (Alan Silvestri & John Williams), the piece is very personal to me and I’m quite fond of the melody.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

I love it. I think music is transformative and evocative and so it can really be paired with anything. Music and science, music and food, music and dance, or experimental art. The only limit to pairing music with other things is our imagination.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Listen to something – anything, and if it speaks to you, find out who wrote it and listen to more pieces by that composer, you’ll probably like those, too. And then find out who their contemporaries were and listen to their music and this way you can expand your audio palette and discover new things. When I was a kid Hooked on Classics was released. Louis Clark strung together famous melodies from lots of pieces, added a drum machine beat behind it and recorded it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a hit at the time and I heard lots of melodies I wasn’t necessarily familiar with. The liner notes indicated every piece that was used, so I went and found recordings of the full pieces from which he pulled these melodies. I started with my favorite melodies and expanded from there. Within a couple of years I had listened to the complete original versions of every single piece from which he had pulled melodies.Another fun way to discover music is to go on Spotify or iTunes or Pandora or wherever you listen to music and follow someone else’s playlist, or randomly pick stuff. I’ve discovered tons of great music this way – classical, new contemporary concert music and other genres, too.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

We are certainly living in a consumption-based world, and if you want to be heard you need to find a way to have people consume your product. I’m very fortunate that I have a great career as a composer and music editor for film & TV and that’s how I make a living, so I don’t need to make a living from my concert world. This gives me the freedom to just do what I want, when I want without worrying about anything other than writing what I want. As I said earlier I try to be genuine and authentic and true to myself and I think people respond to that. But generally speaking I don’t think music is a typical supply and demand product – if you offer something people want, there will always be a demand. It’s not like a car where once you have a car you’re not going to get another, people love new music and if what you’re creating speaks to them they will keep consuming it as long as you keep creating it.

Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?

I honestly don’t. Once the music is written it’s out of my hands, it’s in the hand of the musicians who play it. Honestly I’m more concerned with pleasing myself and making music musicians want to play because if I’m happy with my work it means it’s genuine, and so the musicians will probably respond to it and bring it to life and therefore the audience will likely respond and enjoy it. But music is subjective, and how different players interpret a piece is very personal and magical, and how the audience receives it is also personal to them. Once a work is written and out in the world it takes on a life of its own. I very much hope the listeners have a great experience and that the music moves them, but I don’t dare expect anything from them. I feel like I owe the audience an enjoyable experience, they don’t owe me anything. Therefore I have no expectations of my listeners, I hope I can earn their respect and meet or exceed their expectations.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I have a couple of independent movies coming up. I just started on one, and the other should be coming up soon. I have an idea for a solo cello piece I want to work on, as well as something for English Horn. I like writing for instruments that don’t have a ton of solo or featured repertoire. I have an idea for another string quartet, which is quite experimental and hope to find some time to work on that in the next few months. I recently finished a choral work that I’d love to hear performed. And I have countless ideas recorded on my phone that I will revisit as time allows.