Rupert Parkes, known as Photek, is a three-time consecutive Grammy nominee, record producer, film and TV composer and electronic music DJ. His work dates back to the late ’90s and most recently involves scoring the hit ABC television drama series How to Get Away With Murder. Photek described the script as “page-turning” and he immediately heard the music for it in his head. “Everything I needed to write the score was written on the page,” he says.
For this project, the British-born Photek only has two to three days to create about 30 minutes of music for each episode––a rush that does not intimidate him, he says. “Not to say you’re not nervous, ‘How am I going to get this music done in 38 hours?’ but you do know that if you just keep moving and throwing ideas out there, you’ll always come up with something.
“Just make sure you’re never sitting there listening to a loop,” he advises young composers.
By starting with small, independent film gigs, Photek learned several crucial lessons about working with directors, and one is that the film—not his music––is the focus of the project. He also says composers will learn their boundaries may be broader than they think. “I think the learning curve was a Universal movie called Dreamland. I learned I was a lot more versatile than I thought. It’s a challenge to make music outside your original genre, nerve-wracking. That can be intimidating. You have to say, ‘Yeah, no problem, I can make that happen,’ and figure it out. That’s a lot of fun and inspiring when you get it right,” he says.
“Just don’t complain,” the composer warns. “You’re part of a team. Directors are particular about their music. I’ve learned you have to be very upbeat and positive and have a can-do attitude. It’s cheesy, but it’s the most important skill you can have.”
For more information, visit photek.fm.