Ilan Eshkeri is an award-winning composer, songwriter, producer and conductor with a multitude of projects to his name, including collaborations with rock musicians, conducting the choral symphonic suite Reliquary at a Burberry fashion show, and most recently, composing the dark classical instrumentation that accompanies the London backdrop of popular television series Informer.
“I seek work with people I feel like I’m going to have an inspirational or happy collaboration with, where I’m going to have a creative experience. Fortunately, now I’m in a position to choose,” Eshkeri says.
Eshkeri’s first paid composing gig was for a cheap English TV show, Young, Gifted and Broke—which he was, and it got him his first royalty check. But his first serious job was scoring the docudrama Colosseum: Rome’s Arena of Death, with the help of a glowing, “over-the-top” written recommendation from the late composer and Eshkeri’s mentor, Michael Kamen. That letter is framed today on Eshkeri’s studio wall.
“The biggest challenge is getting a gig. God knows how you get gigs in life,” he says. The next hardest challenge? Getting started. For that, Eshkeri has a self-deprecating practice that helps him through: “You’re sitting in front of 88 black and white notes. That’s terrifying. But I always think to myself, can I write something completely amazing by six this afternoon when I need to finish? No. But can I write something average by 6? By removing the pressure with that silly thought game, suddenly I’m free to begin.”
Eshkeri has also composed two ballets, Symbiosis and Narcissus and Echo, which have allowed him an unusual amount of creative freedom in the media composing world. “With ballet, the music comes first,” he says. “But in the end, they’re similar in that you’re collaborating with a creative mind. When you’re a film composer, your job is to tell stories. That’s the most important thing.” •