I'm excited to announce the launch of a new production music label, Evolution Media Music, that I've been working hard to establish along with its founder, composer/conductor Tolga Kashif.
Delivering a wide-ranging catalogue of the highest quality music, carefully crafted by a large roster of writers - including yours truly - who live and breathe music-to-picture, we provide filmmakers, broadcasters and advertisers with production music with heart.
Our music is distributed in the UK by BMG, and by other leading publishers such as Sony/ATV, Sonoton, Big Bang and Fuzz, and Aux, covering 40+ territories across the globe from Germany to Brazil, Norway to New Zealand, Poland to the Philippines...
We released our first 10 albums over the summer, and the next 8 have swiftly followed to take us up to the start of a promising 2017.
As well as composing tracks, I'm production manager for the label and curate the content, from briefing stage through to final release, along with a small but passionate and growing production and executive team.
It's a great pleasure to see our music being used by broadcasters far and wide, with some great syncs coming in already, from BBC and ITV promo slots closer to home to Warner Brothers theatrical Trailers as far afield as South Korea. What I love about the production music world is the interesting places the music ends up cropping up!
Hear the music by clicking the artwork below, or visit our site for full information and licensing enquiries.
Directed by the brilliantly talented Stephanie Blakey, the teaser is a paper animation parody of an old showbiz newsreel announcing the film's release, and called for a 50s Hollywood style jazzy orchestral track to help give it that brassy glamour.
It was great fun to write, and I'm probably even more excited about the film's release than I was before...! You can watch the teaser below.
Just after 2016 broke, I headed up to Watercolour Music Studios in the Highlands for a week of guitar recording wth singer Ruth Keggin, double bassist Vanessa Hutchinson, and wooden flute and concertina player Eoghan O'Ceannabhain. It was Ruth's second album 'Turrys' and a real pleasure to make music again in such beautiful surroundings.
Watercolour is a residential studio by the shores of Loch Linnhe and in the shadow of Ben Nevis, so it is a fantastically peaceful place to really immerse yourself in the creative process. The recording went without a hitch in the hands of maestro engineer Nick Turner, and because this time the album included a few original tunes of mine it was a particular pleasure to bring them to life.
When the recordings were done, after a day putting the first mixes together (and playing in the snow...), we headed down to Glasgow to play at the mighty Celtic Connections festival. It's the biggest musical event in a city which positively pumps with musical vibrancy, particularly in the traditional and folk circles, so it was a real honour to play a show at the National Piping Centre to a full house. We shared the bill with a fantastic French-Canadian band, Les Poules a Colin, whose album has been in my headphones ever since.
The next day we played a live spot for a shoot of the BBC programme, 'Seirm', which showcases acts from Celtic Connections. The setting was atmospheric bar the Hillhead Bookclub, and we spent the evening relishing the beautiful music from the other acts Kathleen MacInnes, Brian Finnegan, Dermot Byrne and Mike Vass, Blue Rose Code and Siobhan Wilson, and feeling blessed to be involved. The episode will be broadcast on BBC Alba in September 2016.
Not a bad musical start to the year!
On 18th September I was once again fortunate enough to be gigging with Aon Teanga, at the Isle of Man launch gig for their debut album.
With the name meaning 'One Tongue', they are a new vocal project that brings together the three fantastic voices of: Ruth Keggin, a singer passionate about Manx Gaelic language and song (voice, piano); Mary Ann Kennedy, respected Scottish musician and BBC broadcaster (voice, clarsach); and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, a musician from a Connemara sean nós dynasty in the West of Ireland (voice, concertina).
Myself and double-bassist Vanessa McWilliam joined them and Ultan O'Brien (viola), who tours with them regularly.
Aon Teanga re-unites three strands of Gaelic language and song - Scottish, Irish and Manx. At one time, these were a single tongue, and while there have been many moves to re-establish Scottish-Irish links in recent times, there has never been – until now – a project that unites the three Gaelic traditions.
The group has some really beautiful new arrangements of traditional songs, and contemporary folk compositions.
This gig came hot off the back of their Scottish tour, which they embarked upon just after I guitared for them at Festival Interceltique Lorient in France in August.
I was delighted to have been hired specifically to make the journey to the beautiful Isle of Man to join them again, in what turned out to be a successful launch, with a packed house and many an album sold. It was a fantastic vibe onstage with a wonderful audience and good craic had. I particularly enjoyed accompanying Mary Ann in a solo puirt à beul ('mouth music') set of fast and rhythmic traditional singing.
Visit www.aonteanga.com for more info. Can't recommend them enough - I feel blessed to play with such consummate musicians!
I've recently completed the score for 'The Sea-Tranced Isle', a short animation directed by Effie Pappa, London-based Greek director and all-round animation wizard.
The film is produced by Vassilis Kroustallis (of Be There! Corfu Animation Festival) and the Municipal Theatre of Corfu, where there will also be the premiere of a short stage production of the same material.
It's a story with a lot of dreamlike qualities and I had a ball writing this expressive score, and encorporating a few Greek and folky flavours into the themes, similarly to Effie's previous film that I worked on, My Stuffed Granny. You can listen to an excerpt here -
Part of my contractual obligation was to record in Corfu using local musicians - I wasn't complaining!
I flew out and on 10th September we had two sessions at Polytechno in Corfu Town, engineered by Nikos Massaras - first with a small string group, and secondly a solo flautist.
It'd been a while since I'd run a session and it was great fun getting to wave my arms about again, but much more so to hear real bows and real breath from the wonderful musos bringing the music to life. I can't wait to see the finished film.
After we were done, besides knuckling down to edit and choose takes, I had a bit of free time in which I was treated to local knowledge and recommendations courtesy of Vassilis, hanging out and being shown valiantly around the sights and sounds, tavernas and museums of old Corfu Town.
It's a tough job but someone's got to do it...
Ded Good Music, a label of EMI Production Music, has just released the album Epic Hybrid Action which myself and a small team of composers and engineers have written and produced.
It features powerful, cinematic hybrid rock/orchestral action cues and trailer music, and is available globally for licensing and sync.
Stoked that the lead track Rebellion is my composition - you can listen to it and the whole album, including underscore mixes, shorter edits and stings, on EMI's player here. After a while fervently on the boil in production, it is a great pleasure to see it released alongside tracks from very talented writers including composer/conductor and exec of our team, Tolga Kashif (The Queen Symphony, The Genesis Suite). It's great to hear that dark and brutal riff out there in the wild...
This is one of many Production Music projects that I've been working on for a while, so a few other releases should be hitting cyberspace 'shelves' in the not-too-distant future.
Europe's largest (and most fun) folk music festival, Festival Interceltique in Lorient, Brittany, took place between 7 - 16 August 2015, and this year I was delighted to be there playing guitar with two groups.
Ruth Keggin is a fantastic voice - a singer passionate about Manx Gaelic language and song - and a good friend who I regularly collaborate with. As part of her band, I enjoyed playing in venues large and small, formal and informal, throughout the week. A highlight of our festival was coming 2nd place in the band competition, the Trophee Loic Raison, in which 16 bands compete, and watching all of the other brilliant Manx performers who put on stunning shows. There are also whispers on the wind that we might record a 2nd album in early 2016, which I'm very much looking forward to... Watch this 'ere space, as they say.
I was also very happy to join Aon Teanga (pictured) for their gig in Lorient's Grand Théâtre. With the name meaning 'One Tongue', they are a new vocal project that brings Ruth Keggin together with respected Scottish musician and BBC broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin – a singer and musician from a Connemara sean nós dynasty in the West of Ireland. At one time, the Gaelic language was a single tongue, uniting folk across Sruth na Maoile and the Irish Sea. While there have been many moves to re-establish Scottish-Irish links in recent times, there has never been – until now – a project that unites the three Gaelic traditions. The group does just this, with some really beautiful new arrangements.
Visit their websites in the links above, and check out these videos of Ruth's below, featuring myself on Che Guitara, and Vanessa Hutchinson on Count Basie...
Absolutely delighted that the Royal Television Society Awards nominations for Side By Side (Best Postgraduate Factual) and Secret Studio (Best Postgraduate Comedy & Entertainment) have turned into wins for both!
The awards were announced at a ceremony at the BFI Southbank yesterday, chaired by director of Sky Entertainment channels Stuart Murphy, and hosted by comedian Romesh Ranganathan.
I'd taken the day out and gone along, enticed by the prospect of a free lunch and bar (they know how to hook us creatives!), more for the craic and to see some old faces than in much hope of success - especialy knowing the quality of the competition, much of which came from very talented friends and fellow NFTS alumni.
So it was a real pleasure to hear the decisions, and I'm so happy for the teams - led by Jack Warrender (director/producer, Side By Side) and Sipho Sondiyazi and James Spokoini (director and producer respectively, Secret Studio). Both projects were a trememdous honour to contribute music to.
It was a lovely but slightly surreal afternoon, particularly when early on, out of the blue Adam Buxton and a Sky crew came and had a chat to a group of us about our nominations - an interview which will probably never make it to air after I was a little too dumbstruck to offer anything remotely approaching a TV-worthy answer...!
Also, since Jack couldn't be there, it was left to myself, Manuela Lupini and Adam Layland (Side By Side editor & sound designer respectively, both beaming in the photo above) to represent and take to the stage in receipt of that award - and to face the photoshoot afterwards. We reckon it went ok... Let's just say we're more used to being behind the cameras!
As well as Best Doc, I'm delighted that Side By Side also won the individual craft award for best Editing - a very deserved win for Manuela and Jack.
The two films are to be aired on Sky Arts along with the other nominees.
I've just found out that two of my films are nominated for Royal Television Society Awards! Over the moon for the filmmakers and all the teams involved in:
Side By Side (nominated in the Postgraduate Factual category), and
Secret Studio (Postgraduate Comedy & Entertainment).
These two films couldn't be more different. One is a touching and genuine observational documentary, giving an insight into the lives of the staff and students at a live-in community school for young people with special needs. The other is a lively and entertaining pilot for a shiny-floor gameshow with a twist.
I'm delighted that both have been recognised by the RTS, and so grateful that I'm able to contribute music to such a variety of content. The awards, chaired by the Director of Sky Entertainment Channels, celebrate the best in student television from across the UK. The two films will also be aired on Sky One or Sky Two along with the other nominees.
In other awards news, I'm delighted that My Stuffed Granny's success continues around the globe - the animation has picked up two more gongs since I last posted on here:
BEST ANIMATED SHORT at London Independent Film Festival
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE at Tokyo Anime Film Festival
This brings the film's award count up to eight so far. An amazing testimony to the talent of director Effie Pappa and everyone involved - I'm humbled to have been a part of it. Check out the trailer below to see what the fuss is about!
I'm happy to announce the publication of three tracks of mine on a new production music release through West One Music.
The album features a variety of aspirational, emotive and haunting piano led atmospheres for space, science, technology, discovery, lifestyle and human drama.
It was an absolute pleasure to write tracks for it alongside some other very talented writers including composer Tolga Kashif (The Queen Symphony, The Genesis Suite). Piano Atmospheres is available globally for licensing and sync and you can view and listen to the full tracks and underscore mixes here.
It was a particular pleasure to hear my three studio tracks come to life with the help of strings performed by Sinfonietta Cracovia and piano performed by Simon Chamberlain, whose beautiful playing can be heard on the soundtracks for many films including Black Swan, Love Actually, and Looking For Eric.
Watch this space for further production music releases coming up - I've been busy!
This April, My folk collective Nish As Rish were fortunate enough to play a two week tour of Nordland in north Norway. Hired as part of a government initiative called Den Kulturelle Skolesekken (The Cultural Schoolbag), we were invited to give concerts to sixth form students all across the stunning Arctic regions of the Lofoten Islands and Vesterålen.
Nish As Rish, with whom I play guitar and compose, is a collective of five musicians from across the British Isles with a wide variety of musical backgrounds. We perform a mixture of original and traditional tunes and arrangements that draw Manx, Scottish, Irish and English folk music together but with a changing sound-world, which incorporates threads of many influences.
We kicked off the tour with a public gig in Stamsund where we were pleased to receive a standing ovation - so far so good! As for the school gigs, we were delighted with the enthusiastic response we had from the students and teachers we met, and had a great time both performing our music for them and getting to know some of them (and sometimes have a jam) after the gigs - Karl even picked up a bespoke new design on his bodhrán, drawn by an art student in Narvik!
Two more public dates in Sortland and Bodø took our gig count up to 16, and when we weren't performing or driving in our Nishmobile through ridiculously beautiful scenery to our next venue, we took the opportunity to go out galavanting in said ridiculously beautiful scenery. Hence the number of photos I couldn't help but include in this story...
It was a brilliant experience to bring our music to Norway and a real pleasure to debut some of my new tunes. The highlight of the tour for me though was probably watching Karl attempting to draw himself, and cry laughing at his own handiwork.
I'm delighted that What Happens After Six is kicking off its 2015 run with an appearance in competition at Glasgow Short Film Festival. It's a nice fitting homecoming for the film, which is set and rooted in Glasgow itself.
It's screening as part of the Scottish Competition 4: Soulmates at the CCA on Sunday 15th March at 3.15pm. You can get tickets here. Check out the trailer below.
I'm delighted to say that Canuck Black made the top ten shotlist for BAFTA nomination this year.
It's a fantastic achievement for director Rebecca Archer and the whole team to have made it that far, and for the film to have been recognised by BAFTA as being one of the year's best short animations. It was certainly a pleasure to write some jazz flute for.
Bring on the next film!
I was recently commissioned by Unit 9 Films to write the score for a promotional film, in support of Oxfam's 'Even it Up' campaign, which highlights the shocking inequality of the world we live in. You can watch the film above.
I recently completed the score for the documentary 'Lost in Transition' (SDI Productions, d. Jack Warrender), to be broadcast on STV in February 2015.
About the Glasgow First Bus lost property team, the film follows Jean - the 'guardian angel of lost belongings' - and her young apprentice Kirsty, as they scrutinize each item and follow the clues to try and reunite people with their lost possessions. The film looks to the human stories that lie behind each object, giving an insight into what Glasgow is today at a cultural, moral and contemporary level.
As an observational doc, it needed a careful approach to well-chosen moments of supportive music - a simple and sensitive score which was a pleasure to deliver.
Good things happen in Greece!
At Be There! Corfu Animation Festival, two short films that I scored have both just come away with an award - BEST GRADUATION FILM for Canuck Black (d. Rebecca Archer), and BEST GREEK GRADUATION FILM for My Stuffed Granny (d. Effie Pappa). I'm thrilled that they are being responded to so well. Both films have been enjoying a good festival tour, with My Stuffed Granny already having picked up BEST BRITISH ANIMATION at Edinburgh IFF, BEST INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION at Montreal World FF, and BEST STUDENT FILM at Animasyros.
The pair have also now been selected for the competitive shorts programme at the oscar-qualifying St Louis International Film Festival - competing with each other once more! Good luck to both...
Exciting times for My Stuffed Granny - the animated short that I musicked for, directed by Effie Pappa, has just won BEST STUDENT FILM at Animasyros festival, Greece! It was hailed as 'a professionally-made student film with excellent technique, that deals with optimism giving a message of hope for the crisis now facing Greece'.
This is the film's third international award, having previously won BEST BRITISH ANIMATION at Edinburgh Internation Film Festival and BEST INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION at Montreal World Film Festival. I'm honoured that Granny is doing well as she tours the globe - Effie and the rest of the crew deserve every success.
Side By Side is nominated for a Grierson Award in the Sky Atlantic BEST STUDENT DOCUMENTARY Category! These prestigious awards celebrate docs that demonstrate integrity, creativity and originality. Having been shortlisted last month, it's now down to the final 4. Well done and good luck to director Jack Warrender - I'm proud to have made a musical contribution to this genuine and touching film.
I'm delighted to have been re-comissioned for a second series of Altitude Education's PipPop Learning, a programme of animations and games designed to engage and support primary school learning outside the classroom.
This series focuses on basic maths, so I might even learn something...
It's also selected for several upcoming festivals (Animage Brazil, Athens IFF, Bradford AF, Animasyros, 3D Wire Spain, Stop-Trik Slovenia, Kerry FF Ireland, Be There! Corfu, LIAF London, and Stop Motion Montreal).
This continues a run of great times for our Greek family, having already won BEST BRITISH ANIMATION at Edinburgh International Film Festival, and appeared at others including Annecy, Brazil's Anima Mundi, and Rhode Island.
I'm dead chuffed that her tour is going well and that people are hearing my score to this beautiful animation all over the world...!
I'm honoured that my guitaring was heard on the BBC Radio 2 folk show, 20th August 2014. The track was 'Fin As Oshin', a traditional Manx gaelic song from the brilliant Ruth Keggin's debut album 'Sheear', which I co-arranged and strummed on. Many thanks to Rad for giving it a play! Check out a video of the song above.
It was a great pleasure to play once more at Europe's biggest and most vibrant folk festival, Festival Interceltique Lorient 2014, in Brittany in August, as part of the Ruth Keggin Quartet. It was my third year as an artist there and it's always such a buzz.
Highlights included sharing a gig with the amazing Julie Fowlis and Mary Black to an audience of 2,000, as well as taking 3rd place in the Trophee Loic Raison, the annual competition for new bands in which 16 bands compete. Not to mention getting to see a whole bunch of amazing musicians, and have tunes with some of them into the wee hours... Above is a snippet of our performance alongside the mighty Fowlis and Black (We're at 1'30'').
The stop-motion film that I scored, directed by Effie Pappa, was officially selected in competition with around 22 other films, and managed to win the hearts and votes of the audience with its sweet and comical - if slightly macabre - story of a young girl's childlike hope for better times in the Greek economic crisis.
On 26 June I had the honour of heading to BBC Radio 3 with singer Ruth Keggin and double bassist Vanessa Hutchinson, to record some live tracks and an interview with Ruth, which was broadcast on Ian McMillan's show The Verb, 27 June.
Download the podcast here while it lasts!
Tracks from Ruth's album, with guitaring and co-arrangements by yours truly, have also enjoyed some nice airplay over the past months - on BBC 6Music on Cerys Matthews' show back in April, and other Radio 3 outings on Late Junction with Max Reinhardt and World on 3 with Mary Ann Kennedy.
I've been commissioned to work on a 26-part animated series for children's App game, PipPop Learning.
More info can be found at -
I graduated with my MA in Composing from the National Film and Television School at the end of February.
All of our graduation fictions, animations, documentaries, games and TV shows were screened for industry and guests at the BFI Southbank over three days, and a stellar lineup of film royalty - Ken Loach, Paul Greengrass and Tessa Ross - all offered words of praise and wisdom at the final ceremony.
So happy to have gotten to know and work with all these ridiculously, ridiculously talented people over the two years. Congrats to all!
Show dates were in Peel, Belfast, and a mad pub gig in Donegal, along with a live session on Radio Na Gaeltachta. A pleasure to work with such a bunch of wonderful musicians!
Short film 'Pink and Blue' (competition title '6 Feet Under') has won Film Four's 2013 FrightFest Short Cuts competition! Read about it on Movie Mogul here.
Directed by Weronika Tofilska, the horror-comedy short that I scored and wrote an original song for was described by the judges as 'the perfect short film'.
Check it out above.
I've been working on arrangements with the brilliant folk singer Ruth Keggin, along with double bass player Vanessa Hutchinson, and recently all the planning came together when I played guitar with them for the sessions for 'Sheear', Ruth's debut album.
A week of blissful recording work up at the fantastic Watercolour Music in the highlands of Scotland, on the edge of Loch Linnhe in the shadow of Ben Nevis, was most definitely worth the long drive up from Manchester and the short ferry trip across the loch!
We're really looking forward to touring the album when the mixing and mastering are finished in early 2014.
I've been awarded the Musicians' Union Scholarship for one of just four places on the 2012-14 Composing for film MA at the National Film and Television School.
Delighted to have made it past all the selection stages and actually got in!
Bring on lots and lots and lots of composing for original short films - I've got an intense two years ahead, probably won't have much chance to come up for air...
The photo is of a Steinbeck edit machine we had to work on in our first workshop at the NFTS - definitely designed to test us! You think very carefully about sound and picture when you have to literally cut and wind the reels of tape. Immense respect for the film editors of yore.
Folk music collective Nish As Rish, with whom I play guitar and compose, have won the Trophee Loic Raison for best new group at Europe's largest folk and trad music festival - Festival Interceltique Lorient 2011! There's a BBC article here.
As well as our own original tunes, we play new arrangements of traditional music from across the British Isles (largely the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland), and with two band members hailing from the Isle of Man, we were proud to be representing the Manx in the competition.
We were up against 15 other bands over the course of the competition gigs, as well as playing many other shows throughout the week. The whole shebang was an amazing experience for us all, and it was a particular thrill to perform some of my new tunes to such fantastic crowds.