Episode 18

Sherri Chung talks about the service industry of mixing creativity with commerce

Personal stories of inspiration from professional composers, songwriters and musicians.

In this episode, Gareth chats with composer Sherri Chung about attending San Diego Comic Con, being self-driven and the service industry of mixing creativity with commerce.

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Host: Gareth Davies

Produced by The Sound Boutique

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Transcript
Gareth:

Welcome to the music room.

Gareth:

At this time in the music room.

Sherri:

And so it turns out I was good at it.

Sherri:

And I, I say that I'm not jumping ahead in time, but I do want to say this

Sherri:

just so that your listeners don't think that I'm some sort of arrogant person.

Sherri:

I was very talented for my age.

Sherri:

And then my age caught up with my talent . So

Gareth:

Welcome to the Music Room, the podcast where I chat with composers,

Gareth:

songwriters and musicians about their musical careers before going back in time

Gareth:

to find out how it all began for them.

Gareth:

I hope you're doing well and having a brilliant week.

Gareth:

What are you working on?

Gareth:

Come and join in the discussions in the Music Room Facebook a

Gareth:

friendly bunch and it's a lovely supportive atmosphere in there.

Gareth:

Like a musical comfort blanket or something.

Gareth:

The link along with all the other links is in the show notes.

Gareth:

In this episode, I'll be chatting with composer Sherry

Gareth:

Chung, an LA based composer who has a real variety of credits.

Gareth:

We chatted about all sorts, from attending San Diego Comic Con,

Gareth:

her recent series, Gremlin Secrets of the Mogwai, and much more.

Gareth:

And hang around, because Sherry leaves a brilliant item and

Gareth:

some very to the point advice.

Gareth:

I'll let you find that out for yourself.

Gareth:

But before that, music stories.

Gareth:

So first up, a little bit of news about me.

Gareth:

I have a new EP out, it's called And Breathe.

Gareth:

And it's for piano and strings, and it's out on most digital download

Gareth:

stores slash streaming platforms.

Gareth:

After writing for a kid's animated series for a year, it felt quite cathartic

Gareth:

to write without brief once again, and just create for the joy of it.

Gareth:

I recommend it, actually, if you haven't done that for a while.

Gareth:

Next up, every Monday morning, I ask the lovely Music Room Community group

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on Facebook, what's new with them?

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So last Monday, let's see.

Gareth:

Mike, bought myself a mandolin and a banjo, so we'll be having some

Gareth:

fun with those on upcoming tracks.

Gareth:

Nice.

Gareth:

Rod, new single out today.

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Rod referring there to his band Too Much Perspective and the single South

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Coast Highway, which is a fun listen.

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Some Beach Boys esque summery goodness in there.

Gareth:

Broly, have to score six episodes in ten days.

Gareth:

It happens that way sometimes, doesn't it?

Gareth:

Good luck, Broly.

Gareth:

Helen, I'm working my final day in music publishing before going

Gareth:

back to full time composing.

Gareth:

Uh, do I have a clapping effect?

Gareth:

Big day.

Gareth:

That's brilliant news.

Gareth:

Good luck with the composing, Helen.

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David says, Just about to embark on what I sincerely hope will be the

Gareth:

final intense week on this damn album.

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And then next week I'll get to hang with our wonderful Janet Overfield as a reward.

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A lovely day at the coast.

Gareth:

That's lovely, isn't it?

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Music roomers hanging out together.

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Miriam, an album that's been in the works for nearly three years is finally

Gareth:

being released this week, or next.

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It's my first album recorded with live strings, about that.

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Another round of applause.

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Great stuff, Miriam.

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Marco, starting today, adding keyboard parts to my guitarist

Gareth:

mate Fabio's new album, 13 Tunes.

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It is going to be good fun.

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No doubt.

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Good luck with that, Marco.

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And finally, Dan.

Gareth:

Today has been all about artwork for future releases.

Gareth:

I loved doing the arty bit.

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Even played with AI to generate some elements, which was fun.

Gareth:

Little known fact, isn't it?

Gareth:

Lots of artists and composers also do everything else.

Gareth:

They're the producer.

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They're the master.

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They're the cover art designers.

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They are the marketers.

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So...

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Good luck with that, Dan.

Gareth:

And thank you, Music Roomers.

Gareth:

You are the best.

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I hope your week is going wonderfully well.

Gareth:

Award winning composer Sherry Chung is a composer for film and television.

Gareth:

Her music transcends genre and fuses inspirations both traditional

Gareth:

and emerging in support of filmmakers visions worldwide.

Gareth:

Sherry currently composes the scores for Kung Fu for CW, HBO Max Amblin's

Gareth:

upcoming animated series Gremlins Secrets of the Mogwai, and most recently

Gareth:

the upcoming Netflix feature film Happiness for Beginners and NBC's Found.

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airing this autumn.

Gareth:

Frequently recognised for her other television credits including the CW

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network series Batwoman and Riverdale, NBC's Blindspot and Ava DuVernay's

Gareth:

limited series The Red Line, She's also scored numerous feature films,

Gareth:

documentaries, and commercials.

Gareth:

Recent film credits include Warner Brothers Studios, Nancy Drew, and The

Gareth:

Hidden Staircase, and The Lost Husband.

Gareth:

The Latter garnered her a Society of Composers and Lyricist nomination for

Gareth:

best score for an independent studio film.

Gareth:

An active member of the film music industry.

Gareth:

Sherry also serves as a Governor of the Music Branch of the Television Academy.

Gareth:

Got all that?

Gareth:

Let's catch up with Sherry to find out more.

Gareth:

Sherry Chung, composer.

Gareth:

Welcome to the music room.

Sherri:

Thank you so much, Gareth.

Sherri:

It's awesome to be here.

Gareth:

You're in LA and we managed the time difference somehow.

Gareth:

How are you today?

Gareth:

How is LA today?

Sherri:

I'm very well.

Sherri:

The weather is fantastic.

Sherri:

It's wonderful.

Sherri:

It's not too hot.

Sherri:

It's not too anything.

Sherri:

Uh, we've had a little bit of overcast lap yesterday.

Sherri:

So we're all kind of Ready to stick with summertime, but

Sherri:

it's, uh, I'm doing very well.

Sherri:

Thank

Gareth:

Uh, good.

Gareth:

Have you just been to San Diego comic con?

Gareth:

Did I see that on your socials?

Sherri:

Yes, I did a couple of panels there.

Sherri:

I forget the names of them, but one of them, we had a bunch of

Gareth:

tell you if you like.

Sherri:

Oh, amazing.

Sherri:

Let's let's remind my

Gareth:

Well, one of them, um, the fan favorites behind the scenes

Gareth:

of popular film and TV shows.

Gareth:

Was that one?

Sherri:

that was one.

Sherri:

Yes.

Sherri:

That sounds familiar.

Sherri:

It was another one.

Sherri:

I forget.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

I don't know that.

Sherri:

Yes.

Sherri:

No, I, I was, I believe that one was, uh, a number of different crafts.

Sherri:

So I was the only composer, but there were some V F X people, some sound,

Sherri:

you know, just like sound effects.

Sherri:

Uh, there was a, um, a costume designer and then there was a, I don't think they

Sherri:

like to be called dub mixers, but, sound mixers, I think is how is the proper way

Sherri:

in any case, but yeah So that that was a that was a great one and they really

Sherri:

great shows and just it's kind of nice to be on a panel With other crafts other

Sherri:

professions good way to just kind of riff off each other I'm like, oh, I never

Sherri:

I never knew that that was the process in in that show or the process of you

Sherri:

know the costume designers that kind of thing and then the other panel was was

Sherri:

composers of various Shows and films.

Sherri:

So that, that was also very fun.

Sherri:

And they were, they were great turnouts, you know, especially given, you know, that

Sherri:

there was not a studio representation, there was not a actor or celebrity

Sherri:

representation that the turnout for the fans was actually still quite good.

Gareth:

Yeah, in my experience, I don't tend to, mix a lot with

Gareth:

other people on productions.

Gareth:

Uh, it tends to be the composer's way, doesn't it?

Gareth:

You're, you spend a lot of time in isolation doing what you do.

Gareth:

So that must be nice to be on stage with other people from

Gareth:

other parts of the production.

Gareth:

it makes you realize what a jigsaw is a production.

Gareth:

Doesn't it?

Sherri:

It's, it's, yeah, it's a pretty remarkable thing.

Sherri:

I mean, it's, I, I've been thinking about this.

Sherri:

I'm like, You know, there's for me, there's like a couple of

Sherri:

wonders of like, you know, life.

Sherri:

One of them is like our, our postal system.

Sherri:

How the heck does that work?

Sherri:

I'm like, wow, how does that work?

Sherri:

And then, and then honestly, just making the making of what I would

Sherri:

consider a successful television show or a movie like so many components

Sherri:

have to be just to get it made.

Sherri:

Sure.

Sherri:

But to make it good to make it something that audiences really enjoy

Sherri:

or to make it something that float, you know, rises to the top, you know,

Sherri:

is, and it's just, it's remarkable.

Sherri:

Everything kind of has to be flawless.

Sherri:

And it's, and so it is kind of nice to talk about that with

Sherri:

other, the other professions and the other crafts on the project.

Gareth:

The last couple of years I've been, well, I like to call,

Gareth:

um, in fact, what I've been credited as a stunt performer on a drama.

Gareth:

It's totally, totally not the right term, but, um, I was hired to,

Gareth:

play the piano for the lead actor, you know, in, in certain shots.

Gareth:

So, you know, capture my hands.

Gareth:

and do that.

Gareth:

And just standing there on set, and just watching these 40 people in on the set,

Gareth:

all doing just waiting for the setup and to sit down and get on with it.

Gareth:

And everyone's there to do one thing.

Gareth:

You know, it's just super focused and never fails to, amaze me.

Sherri:

And they sit around waiting and waiting and waiting to do that one thing.

Sherri:

And it's like, it's.

Sherri:

It's some of the most boring.

Sherri:

I mean, I've also, I've also been on just a couple of sets before,

Sherri:

and it's, it's really remarkable how relatively not exciting it seems to be.

Sherri:

Granted, I haven't really, you know, even when I've been a participant, I'm

Sherri:

like, oh my gosh, this is, no wonder everybody brings a book, or they're,

Sherri:

you know, on their phones or something, because you're just sitting there waiting

Gareth:

Yeah.

Sherri:

for a long time, you

Gareth:

They're hired for one thing and one thing only, and that's how it works.

Gareth:

Amazing.

Gareth:

Um, anyway, I mentioned.

Gareth:

Gremlins in your introduction.

Gareth:

What differences have you found in writing for animation to writing for live action?

Sherri:

So I have Gremlins.

Sherri:

Is my only, animation to date.

Sherri:

I, I, when I was in grad school, I did a lot of sort of experimental animation.

Sherri:

That was hugely fun.

Sherri:

Um, but this is obviously a very different kind of animation.

Sherri:

So in my one experience, I would say that the, the style of music

Sherri:

I'm getting, you know, I was getting to do was totally different.

Sherri:

I mean, it was orchestral, which not all animation music necessarily is.

Sherri:

But in this case, it was fully orchestral.

Sherri:

But yeah, I, I found that there's a lot of there's a lot of similarities like

Sherri:

like sometimes like the ask of music the the the need for music like like

Sherri:

the job the function of music can often be the same but in animation i have

Sherri:

found that oftentimes like hey we need this to kind of complete the circuit

Sherri:

of the storytelling so it's like you know there's not a lot of walla in the

Sherri:

background there's not a lot of so it's like hey we're gonna want some of that

Sherri:

or you know we're gonna want some of that music to Help sell this or help

Sherri:

tell the story in, not a new way, but I mean, I, I hate to repeat myself,

Sherri:

but kind of like in a way that again, it's kind of completing the circuit

Sherri:

and it's, um, there seems to be a lot more, um, you know, packed in there

Sherri:

in terms of like the function, you know, a lot of times I feel like with

Sherri:

live action, you know, especially if there, there's comedy and there's this

Sherri:

and there's that, and it's like, you know, that you, you, there's so much

Sherri:

facial expression that happens on an actor or an actress in live action.

Sherri:

And there's so much more.

Sherri:

There can be so much background, you know, it can be so much more

Sherri:

visually, um, busy, I guess.

Sherri:

And so sometimes it's like, Hey, stay outta the way the

Sherri:

actors were taking care of it.

Sherri:

Stay outta the way.

Sherri:

You can just really hang back, um, You really just need you

Sherri:

when there's like a fight scene.

Sherri:

You know, kind of thing.

Sherri:

Um, but with, you know, with animation especially, let's say in the first

Sherri:

episode of Gremlins, um, you know, there's this whole, basically we're

Sherri:

figuring out how Gizmo got from his, you know, Valley of Jade paradise to

Sherri:

this harsh, you know, terrible human world out in the, in the big bad.

Sherri:

You know, and it's, and it's, it's from a bird.

Sherri:

This hawk comes down and just like, and it just scoops, but in order to create

Sherri:

the mayhem, it's like the music had to do a lot more, to kind of show the terror

Sherri:

and the, you know, the adventure of him flying on this bird, I mean, there's, in

Sherri:

some cases, there's a lot more suspension of disbelief, um, that I have found in,

Sherri:

in animation, and there's a lot more turning on a dime, you know, it doesn't

Sherri:

have to be that way, and again, not all animation is like this, but my experience

Sherri:

on this one was, some things I played through, and sometimes I was like, oh,

Sherri:

we really need to really do a sharp turn here, and that doesn't, I, I don't, I

Sherri:

feel like when that happens in, and so that might have been really helpful.

Sherri:

Live action that can turn out to be a little cheesy, you know, unless that's

Sherri:

like the way it's trying to go It's trying to be sort of a bit more campy.

Sherri:

But in general, yeah I that that's not really asked of me or if the music, you

Sherri:

know, you know in a live action setting.

Gareth:

My, um, one big direction for the last animated series I did was

Gareth:

highlight the wonk, you know, it's leaning into those moments and just

Gareth:

like you say, it's propping it up, supporting it in any way you can really.

Sherri:

Yeah, and it's also something interesting about it to that at least

Sherri:

my experience on this one is that the creators and showrunners were so So

Sherri:

excited for anything that for any of my ideas and and I think we're just really

Sherri:

open to to all of that and I think that's kind of a newer experience, but I think

Sherri:

there's also a reason for that because they know what they're making They're

Sherri:

making this fictitious species, you know in a legendary, you know franchise kind

Sherri:

of thing and there's a I just feel like kind of anything goes, you know, I mean

Sherri:

within within certain parameters Once we had established those parameters anything

Sherri:

kind of goes in that world and I feel like in live action You know a lot of

Sherri:

times the notes that I get are just like we don't really want to manipulate the

Sherri:

audience the audience signed up to be taken on a journey to be manipulated.

Sherri:

There's this sort of unspoken agreement that I think an audience has when they

Sherri:

go and they start a show or sit down on their couch or go to a theater.

Sherri:

They're like, lie to me.

Sherri:

I want to be I want to be lied to.

Sherri:

I want to be manipulated, you know, and I know I mean that in a genuine way,

Sherri:

not a, not a, you know, negative way.

Sherri:

So I've never, I've never experienced that in the, in the three years

Sherri:

that I worked on the show, I never experienced that on Gremlins.

Sherri:

And no one says, well, we don't really want to push the audience too far.

Sherri:

And like, what?

Sherri:

They're like, no, go for it.

Sherri:

It needs to be scarier.

Sherri:

It needs to be funnier.

Sherri:

It needs to be bigger and more adventurous.

Sherri:

And so it's, uh, yeah, it's interesting.

Sherri:

Absolutely.

Gareth:

though, isn't it to, to have a production who want to hear your ideas,

Gareth:

who are open to it and to actually.

Gareth:

Let you do your job.

Gareth:

You know, you've been hired to do a certain thing.

Gareth:

So, um, that's really nice to hear.

Gareth:

Really nice to hear.

Gareth:

Okay, well, we're up to date.

Gareth:

Are you ready to go back in time?

Sherri:

Yes, let's go back in time.

Gareth:

I wonder what a Mogwai going back in time would sound like.

Sherri:

Lots of high pitched screaming.

Sherri:

And

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

okay.

Gareth:

Here we are back in time.

Gareth:

Now I know you studied music composition and theory at Jacksonville university in

Gareth:

Florida, but I'd like to go back further to your first experiences of music.

Gareth:

What can you remember of first experiencing music?

Sherri:

I was, I don't remember like the exact age that I like first

Sherri:

started, you know, feeling all the feels about music, but I remember

Sherri:

that age five, four or five, I was convinced that I wanted piano lessons.

Sherri:

And we did have, We did have a little, you know, a little upright piano in our house

Sherri:

and my mom played a bit, you know, she was not, um, you know, did not boast herself

Sherri:

to be a pianist or anything, but she could certainly play the chords and get by.

Sherri:

And I did grow up in the, you know, with a lot of church in my, in my life.

Sherri:

So there was a lot of going to church and hearing music in that way.

Sherri:

But I, I wouldn't say that my parents were musicians.

Sherri:

I don't have one of those stories.

Sherri:

Oh yeah, I grew up around music and all that kind of thing.

Sherri:

But I, I did in, in the, in church, but I remember I.

Sherri:

I just, I wanted to play the piano.

Sherri:

I'm like, I want to figure this thing out.

Sherri:

I just feel like that's, that's the thing for me.

Sherri:

And so I, I asked them for lessons, I think around four and I think my mom

Sherri:

was, you know, I think a lot of parents are like, Oh, that's nice, honey.

Sherri:

You know, like, well, we'll talk about that, you know, because, because they

Sherri:

always think I'm going to dump all this money into this kid who says

Sherri:

that they want to be a ballerina.

Sherri:

And then, you know, thousands of dollars later, they're like,

Sherri:

man, I don't want to do that.

Sherri:

You know, but I kept asking, I kept asking.

Sherri:

She's like, okay, well, let's do it.

Sherri:

And so I.

Sherri:

I think there was a, there was a piano, there was a music teacher in my elementary

Sherri:

school was like, well, yeah, let's, I'll show her a few things and see.

Sherri:

And, you know, we took up a little book, some of the things, and she's

Sherri:

like, oh, you really want to do this.

Sherri:

And so it turns out I was good at it.

Sherri:

And I, I say that I'm not jumping ahead in time, but I do want to say this

Sherri:

just so that your listeners don't think that I'm some sort of arrogant person.

Sherri:

I was very talented for my age.

Sherri:

And then my age caught up with my talent . So I, you know what I'm saying?

Sherri:

I was by no means a prodigy, but I was very talented and I was, I was

Sherri:

progressing very fast and it was like, oh wow, she's really good.

Sherri:

And, and, and like I said, and then probably in about high school-ish

Sherri:

college, it was like, yeah, my talent had caught up with, sorry, my age,

Sherri:

had caught up with my talent and I was not, Especially getting to college.

Sherri:

I was not at all the most impressive thing.

Sherri:

And that wasn't my major.

Sherri:

That wasn't my calling in any case, but all this to say, I was doing very well.

Sherri:

Bless my parents hearts.

Sherri:

They did not ask me to stop practicing at six in the morning.

Sherri:

Cause I, that's what I would get up and go play my little.

Sherri:

And, um, and then, and then shortly after that, it turned into very

Sherri:

much into classical training because like that, because that had the most

Sherri:

technique and that, that kind of thing.

Sherri:

So, so that, and, and then of course the, you know, the great thing

Sherri:

about church, I guess, is that you get your, you get an opportunity

Sherri:

to, to share your gifts, you know?

Sherri:

So, and then in talent shows, we did those and things in school.

Sherri:

Um, and so the, lessons became more and more serious as each

Sherri:

piano teacher was like, okay, cool.

Sherri:

Well, I have taken her as long, as far as I can go, she should really go to

Sherri:

this person or that person or something.

Sherri:

But that was, that was like my, those are my first kind of kind of beginnings of,

Sherri:

of music and, and I was one of those kids that wanted to do piano and wanted to.

Sherri:

Do that and learn that and study that and so my parents were

Sherri:

able to make that happen for me.

Sherri:

I

Gareth:

Fantastic.

Gareth:

You mentioned, Church and piano lessons.

Gareth:

And I assume that they all kind of ran parallel.

Gareth:

You're, you're performing things in church groups.

Gareth:

You're, learning the piano.

Gareth:

You're going through the grades.

Gareth:

Doing your scales and practicing.

Gareth:

Were you good at practicing?

Gareth:

I have a lot of guests who say they hated practice and they'll practice

Gareth:

20 minutes before the lessons.

Gareth:

And

Sherri:

loved it.

Sherri:

I was super serious about it.

Sherri:

I was one of those.

Sherri:

I just, I loved it.

Sherri:

I wanted to play all the time.

Sherri:

I want, I mean, there were definitely things that I found difficult,

Sherri:

you know, at the very beginning.

Sherri:

It's like reading, you know, reading music, getting faster at sight reading.

Sherri:

I was actually never quite very fast sight reading and that was frustrating

Sherri:

because I, you know, but the playing and the studying, the practicing

Sherri:

a hundred percent, that was me.

Sherri:

I thought for a while that I wanted to be a classical.

Sherri:

And then I had a really bad experience performing one time and I just

Sherri:

blanked and I could never get it back and it threw me for a loop.

Sherri:

But I think more than that or sort of parallel to that was I realized I

Sherri:

liked performing but not classically.

Sherri:

I loved the classical training because I loved the technique of it.

Sherri:

But I was also, you know, getting more into the creative

Sherri:

side, like I was also singing.

Sherri:

I hesitate to call myself a singer, but I do sing.

Sherri:

And so, and I had also sang in all the choirs and even in school choruses.

Sherri:

Um, but I realized, because I also accompanied.

Sherri:

for a lot of people.

Sherri:

Even in seventh grade, I was starting to accompany the school

Sherri:

choirs and I found that way more exciting than the actual performing

Sherri:

because it was a performance, right?

Sherri:

Because you're, you were performing with the, with the groups, you know, but it

Sherri:

was like a different kind of spotlight.

Sherri:

It was a different kind of spotlight.

Sherri:

And I kind of, I enjoyed that much better.

Sherri:

There's also kind of more pop music.

Sherri:

It was, you know, like whatever, whatever your, your school

Sherri:

choirs are going to sing.

Sherri:

It's not, it's not, you know, Bach and Mozart.

Sherri:

And I, and I love those as well, but it was, you know,

Sherri:

it was a little more exciting.

Sherri:

And then, and then around that same time, I would just start singing and

Sherri:

using my voice as another instrument.

Sherri:

I, I would write some lyrics and write some songs, but I.

Sherri:

And it's honestly, it's a tool that I use now in my writing where I'm like, I've got

Sherri:

a whole rhythm section in my left hand, you know, I've got a whole rhythm section

Sherri:

and in my right hand now can be, now can be chord, can be chordal and it, or it can

Sherri:

be, you know, adding to the whole rhythm.

Sherri:

And then my voice could be a separate instrument entirely, even if it's not

Sherri:

a song that I'm writing, even if it's just creating because I'm trying to

Sherri:

do, you know, something orchestral or something instrumental only.

Sherri:

So it's like I use.

Sherri:

You know, I haven't quite figured out how to get my foot in the, in the, in

Sherri:

the, or the elbows, but I definitely am using voice to do a lot of this.

Sherri:

So, um, but, so that, that was kind of for me, uh, in my mind, more of a

Sherri:

transition of how I'm like, I don't think this classical thing is for me.

Sherri:

And I think, you know, I think it's more just, but, but yeah,

Sherri:

I got, super creative about it.

Sherri:

And I, I, I kind of went more towards that.

Sherri:

So,

Gareth:

Nice.

Gareth:

So going back to that for a second, you've to this day, if you're

Gareth:

figuring something out for, uh, an orchestra will kind of designate a

Gareth:

hand for rhythm designate and for

Sherri:

yeah,

Gareth:

cool.

Gareth:

That's a very interesting technique.

Sherri:

It's, it's interesting and I, and I have to say, I will share with the

Sherri:

listeners too that obviously can read music and I grew up reading music and

Sherri:

I do read and this is the great thing about being a pianist is you learn both

Sherri:

clefts, you know, where a lot of people just learn the one, I mean, there's

Sherri:

actually, as we know, more clefts than just treble and bass, but I was learning

Sherri:

those clefts simultaneously and then I, because I did go to school for composition

Sherri:

and theory, and even long before that, I was nerding out, I was taking all the

Sherri:

theory classes, and I went to all the music camps, and the band camps, and

Sherri:

the church band camps, and, you know, taking, conducting, and all of those

Sherri:

things, and score reading, so I was learning all that before I got to college.

Sherri:

But even in college, you know, and, and, and back then I had to be pencil and

Sherri:

paper because the school that I was going to at the time was just getting into the

Sherri:

notation software programs and logic.

Sherri:

We were just getting into it.

Sherri:

It weren't quite advanced.

Sherri:

I was part of like the, you know, the, the legacy program, you know, where

Sherri:

you're, you're starting all those things the first time or had I gone to.

Sherri:

Some of the other schools that I'd gotten into, like Berkeley and Boston,

Sherri:

which I did get into, I was like, Oh, I couldn't go because of finances, but

Sherri:

they were already well on top of that.

Sherri:

So I, the reason I'm saying this is because I was so

Sherri:

slow with pencil and paper.

Sherri:

I was so slow with it because I was like, you know, it's like learning

Sherri:

how to write while learning.

Sherri:

My brain was working faster than what I could notate.

Sherri:

And I found that very frustrating.

Sherri:

And so I was like, screw it.

Sherri:

I'm going to just, I'm just going to memorize it, you know, I'm going to

Sherri:

make my own little notation chicken scratch, um, or get one of those

Sherri:

little digital recorders and just record it with my voice over it.

Sherri:

And then I would play the recording back and sing and play on top of that

Sherri:

and try to get like another recorder to kind of, you know, I mean, so it was,

Sherri:

but my, my point is, is like, I think I used it all as a tool because I found

Sherri:

my current, abilities and what was it?

Sherri:

And availabilities of notating my ideas or representing my ideas

Sherri:

to be incredibly frustrating.

Sherri:

And I couldn't, I couldn't keep all my ideas in my head because I'm writing

Sherri:

for a larger group or an orchestra or I'm trying to at the time, you know,

Sherri:

and it was just, you know, so finally when the technology that was available

Sherri:

to me really caught up in my abilities.

Sherri:

I was like, Oh, this is great.

Sherri:

But I still use it as a, again, I read music, but I still use my ear and my hands

Sherri:

and my voice to just to write in layers.

Sherri:

Um, it's very interesting.

Gareth:

I wonder how many people in the composer community would agree that,

Gareth:

you know, having a door for instance, where you can just open a new session,

Gareth:

new track, bang, record, rather than sit there with a pencil and paper.

Gareth:

Um, I know I prefer to just play, you know, work it out that way.

Sherri:

Yeah.

Gareth:

think about it, maybe play for a while and then just hit record.

Gareth:

Hmm.

Sherri:

Oh, that's, that's what I, you know what, I don't know how

Sherri:

many of your listeners use Logic, but what I, what I discovered about

Sherri:

Logic, yep, was the Capture Record.

Sherri:

That blew my mind.

Sherri:

That changed everything for me because I'm not.

Sherri:

My performances are different.

Sherri:

My performance because I, I don't perform as much anymore, but in terms

Sherri:

of band or singer songwriter stuff, it's a different kind of performance.

Sherri:

I am not a recording musician.

Sherri:

You know, when that red light goes on, I freak out, but the real studio musicians,

Sherri:

when that red light goes on, they slay, you know, like they, they're like, yes,

Sherri:

this is my thing, but I'm not that person.

Sherri:

So when I discovered that I could play something in Logic, and now with the

Sherri:

newer version, you don't even have to it doesn't even have to be playing.

Sherri:

The cursor doesn't even have to be moving.

Sherri:

You could just play something, capture, record, and it just captured

Sherri:

everything you just did for like, even because you were noodling around.

Sherri:

So sometimes I do just play it, and I'm just like, noodle, noodle,

Sherri:

noodle, and I'm like, ugh, this is all crap, it's all crap.

Sherri:

Hey, there was a little nugget there in something.

Sherri:

Okay, we'll get it, we'll get it.

Sherri:

Capture, record, but that way the pressure...

Sherri:

of the red light, you know, the pressure of like, that's, it's all gone.

Sherri:

So anyway, that just blew my mind.

Sherri:

So if any of your listeners are like that, where it's like, you

Sherri:

just want to play, capture record.

Gareth:

I discovered, well, someone mentioned that.

Gareth:

In fact, it was Tristan Noon.

Gareth:

If you're listening to this, Tristan is an orchestrator in the London studios.

Gareth:

and he said about it and I had exactly the same reaction of

Gareth:

where's this been all my life and just in the last six months or so.

Gareth:

Um, so yeah, couldn't agree more.

Gareth:

It's a fantastic tool.

Sherri:

I'm very excited for you.

Sherri:

If you've just discovered it, I'm very excited for you.

Sherri:

And all your listeners out there, like seriously, guys, the best thing ever.

Gareth:

yes.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Well, it's something that I started using the moment I . heard about it and I've

Gareth:

not stopped using it since, you know, it's just, how else would you record now?

Gareth:

There we go.

Gareth:

And there's your, there's your piece of advice, right?

Sherri:

my item.

Sherri:

You're welcome.

Gareth:

Well, hopefully we'll get a bonus piece of advice as well.

Gareth:

Um, you mentioned in your teenage years, your age caught up with your

Gareth:

talent, and you were getting into choirs and bands and things like this.

Gareth:

Were there any influential people like teachers or anyone who

Gareth:

were encouraging you to do this?

Gareth:

Or was it just, your own, uh, self driving as you've done since you were four or

Gareth:

five, that you just sought this stuff out?

Gareth:

How did that go?

Sherri:

Yeah, I mean, I will admit to your point that there's a lot of

Sherri:

my, there's a lot of just who I am.

Sherri:

It's very self driven, you know, and I don't see that in a way

Sherri:

of like, here's how good I am.

Sherri:

I say that like, oh, thank, thank goodness.

Sherri:

I got that trait.

Sherri:

You know, like, like really, because I don't work for that.

Sherri:

That's just like, that engine is just going.

Sherri:

I mean, sometimes it's like, it's time to, it's time to call it off.

Sherri:

Meditation has been very helpful for me these days.

Sherri:

But I definitely had some people who were, who were encouraging and,

Sherri:

there was, it was actually, it was actually part of the church, but it

Sherri:

was part of like the larger sort of regional church thing, if you will.

Sherri:

I, I was involved in a lot of those, those sort of, these.

Sherri:

You know, smaller churchy things.

Sherri:

But then there were like these bigger church camps and they were all music.

Sherri:

And, there was one guy in particular, one director, if you will, not,

Sherri:

not a picture director, but just like a music director in general.

Sherri:

That was just, I felt like he could kept, see, he kept

Sherri:

seeing what I was trying to do.

Sherri:

He kept, again, I, I used the word very, very humbly, but

Sherri:

he kept seeing the talent.

Sherri:

He kept seeing the drive, and he was like, you should really

Sherri:

consider taking this course, like taking this conducting course.

Sherri:

You should really consider taking this.

Sherri:

And, and, you know, and it was always like, Really?

Sherri:

I mean, I don't really think I'm like a leader in that kind of way.

Sherri:

He even said, I think you'd be really great at leading the kitty chorus, the

Sherri:

little girls chorus, you know, something this, this week at, at band camp.

Sherri:

Well, I don't know about that.

Sherri:

I don't even like kids, you know?

Sherri:

So, I mean, it was one of those things where.

Sherri:

You know, it was just like, yeah, it just, it takes somebody with that

Sherri:

bird's eye view to say, I know you don't think that, but you're equipped.

Sherri:

You're ready to learn that.

Sherri:

So I would say that he was very, very pivotal in getting me more involved in

Sherri:

not just music, but music professions and music crafts, leading a chorus,

Sherri:

a choir, conducting a band or an orchestra, um, being a leader of

Sherri:

any way, in any way, shape, or form.

Sherri:

And honestly, that was, I realize now.

Sherri:

You know, and you know, because you do this as well.

Sherri:

And if any of your listeners in this industry, in this film

Sherri:

music industry, it's so much more than just writing the music.

Sherri:

There is a leadership aspect.

Sherri:

There is a, you know, like, you gotta drive this train.

Sherri:

Like, this, this plane needs flying.

Sherri:

And, and there needs to be somebody who is, even if I'm wrong, you

Sherri:

gotta be confident about it.

Sherri:

So, so it was interesting to me that it was, after that point, it

Sherri:

wasn't necessarily about the music that I was creating or the music

Sherri:

that I was, Playing or learning, but it was about, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sherri:

Now that you know how to read, now that you can play, what

Sherri:

are we gonna do with that?

Sherri:

And then, and something beyond just playing in a group, which is, which

Sherri:

by the way, I think I'm so glad that I got group playing as well, because

Sherri:

as we know, it's so much about it.

Sherri:

We're working together, working as a team, and there's something

Sherri:

incredible about making music, live music with other musicians.

Sherri:

It's, it's

Gareth:

For sure.

Gareth:

Yes.

Gareth:

A previous guest of mine, Segun Akinola, he described it as

Gareth:

being the head of a department.

Gareth:

You know, you, you're not just hired as the composer, you're hired

Gareth:

as the person who organizes the music, not just the notes, but you

Gareth:

know, the whole thing, isn't it?

Gareth:

You have your team around you.

Gareth:

So, um, yeah, I thought that was a, a very good way of, describing it.

Gareth:

So Sherry.

Gareth:

I ask all of my guests to leave an item and a piece of advice in

Gareth:

the music room for others to find.

Gareth:

What item, and I don't know anything about this by the way, so I'm really intrigued.

Gareth:

What item would you like to leave?

Sherri:

There's a book.

Sherri:

It's probably very outdated, and I think it's exactly a reason that it should be.

Sherri:

Read and explored and cover to cover called on the track

Gareth:

Ooh.

Sherri:

by Fred Carlin

Gareth:

Okay.

Sherri:

So I read this book When I was in Florida trying to figure out how the hell

Sherri:

to get myself to Los Angeles How the heck I was gonna learn the things I felt so

Sherri:

far removed like Jacksonville, Florida.

Sherri:

What is that even right?

Sherri:

How so far removed I didn't know the things I had graduated my I did my

Sherri:

I done my undergrad in composition theory and I was looking online

Sherri:

for I want to go to grad school.

Sherri:

I want to I want how do I do this?

Sherri:

And I came upon all this, like, reading literature and the things you can, like,

Sherri:

workshops you might be able to apply for.

Sherri:

And this is back in 2000, like, one or two or three or something like that.

Sherri:

I don't know.

Sherri:

It's one of those years.

Sherri:

And I came upon this book and it was, and somebody said,

Sherri:

you should read On the Track.

Sherri:

And it's complete with pictures and people and, photocopies of

Sherri:

old click track, like old click.

Sherri:

Track, like the book, like the click book, like, you know, before we were

Sherri:

generating click through our computers and I mean, it wasn't as, I think

Sherri:

it was, it was a tiny bit dated at only a tiny bit dated back then.

Sherri:

So now how many ever years later, it's going to be incredibly outdated.

Sherri:

And I think it's really important for people, composers getting into this

Sherri:

industry to learn from, because you're learning your history and you're learning

Sherri:

the foundation and you're learning all the things that come before you.

Sherri:

And I don't just mean like all the battles that were fought and won on your behalf.

Sherri:

So you could have these.

Sherri:

Which I do think there's some of that in there, but I think that there's

Sherri:

something important about learning the craft because I feel like I'm a composer

Sherri:

first then I'm a film composer film and TV composer because I feel like that is

Sherri:

a completely separate craft entirely.

Sherri:

And people who are amazing at writing concert music are not necessarily going

Sherri:

to be able to work within the parameters of what film and television composing

Sherri:

is deadlines, budget constraints.

Sherri:

Um.

Sherri:

Assholes.

Sherri:

You know what I'm saying?

Sherri:

You know, and, and, and, getting notes in the last minute.

Sherri:

Somebody saying, I don't like that.

Sherri:

I just don't like it.

Sherri:

Do you have any specific notes about what you don't like?

Sherri:

No, I just, I just, I don't, I don't like it.

Sherri:

Or saying, hey, I really want it to sound like that composer or that score.

Sherri:

There's all kinds of things that...

Sherri:

Have nothing to do with the writing of music.

Sherri:

And I feel like, in this book, it's focusing on that.

Sherri:

It's focusing on the actual craft of, of not just the, of the logistics.

Sherri:

The logistics of writing in our field and, and dealing with things.

Sherri:

And I just, I just think it's good to know.

Sherri:

I think it's really good.

Sherri:

And I think the more you know, the better it makes you, you know, just

Sherri:

in terms of a leader, in terms of the, of that head of department.

Sherri:

So on the track.

Sherri:

And there's some other people credited in there as well.

Sherri:

And you get lots of great quotes and, and some throwback pictures and photos

Sherri:

and everything, but that, that, and that book excited me because I have, again,

Sherri:

I'm sitting there in Jacksonville, Florida in, in middle of, you know, the,

Sherri:

the, the furthest place that I can think of maybe from, from, from being out

Sherri:

here and not just geography wise, but just mindset, how will I ever do that?

Sherri:

And, and that, but that book gave me a lot of.

Sherri:

and, and hope.

Sherri:

Just if anything is it made me feel like, Oh, I'm, I'm like a

Sherri:

part of this because I'm learning about this and that's so cool.

Sherri:

Uh, so that, that would be the item that I am leaving.

Gareth:

That's fabulous.

Gareth:

I'm going to seek that out myself.

Gareth:

Actually, have a little look.

Gareth:

What advice would you like to leave in the music room?

Sherri:

I've got, I've got two and they're kind of the same thing.

Sherri:

They're really short.

Sherri:

They're little, little sound bites.

Gareth:

Okay.

Sherri:

I've always been told you're supposed to have a

Sherri:

couple of sound bites ready.

Sherri:

It's not as effective when you tell everybody that there's sound bites.

Sherri:

Um, one of them is do the work, don't be a jerk.

Sherri:

And it's, kind of like the same as the, my other one, which is show

Sherri:

up and shut up, you know, like, it's it's a difficult industry.

Sherri:

It's a difficult industry.

Sherri:

Do the work you're not being, you're not well.

Sherri:

And I, and I say this with respect.

Sherri:

So, so please understand for all your listeners, I'm just talking about my

Sherri:

experience in the industry, which has been, you know, it's runs the gamut, but

Sherri:

it's been largely very, very positive that most of the time you're not being.

Sherri:

Put down not being put down in the way that you think you are It's not

Sherri:

because of how you identify or because you're maybe because maybe your

Sherri:

music isn't you know, he's wonderful.

Sherri:

It's amazing you shouldn't take it personally And by the way

Sherri:

in the events that you should say take something personally.

Sherri:

I think you'll know those as well You know, but in the grand scheme of

Sherri:

things, it's it should not you should not take it personally So just so do the

Sherri:

work do the work and don't be a jerk.

Sherri:

No one wants to be stuck in the trenches with an asshole.

Sherri:

You know what I'm saying?

Sherri:

The job is too hard.

Sherri:

And the job of your director or your producer or your showrunner is infinitely.

Sherri:

I shouldn't say more complex than our job.

Sherri:

And that's, I don't think that's accurate to say, but I, but I will say that their

Sherri:

job is incredibly complex and they're the heads of all the departments.

Sherri:

So it's like, if you can do your job, don't be a jerk.

Sherri:

And that goes for the people that work for you on your team.

Sherri:

Um, same thing as like showing up, which is just show up and, and, you

Sherri:

know, mouth closed, learn something, you know, ears open, learn something.

Sherri:

Um, you know, come from a place of curiosity.

Sherri:

Anyway, it's, it's very long winded, but it's all kind of like,

Gareth:

Well, no, I think they're very concise, actually, those

Gareth:

bits of advice and it's, you know, it's, I think it's related to time.

Gareth:

No one's got time to be, unpacking all these things.

Gareth:

It's get to the resolution and, and get it done, like you say.

Gareth:

There's another thing related to that, which is about notes.

Gareth:

Notes can be quite terrifying when you're new to the kind of process.

Gareth:

But actually notes are fabulous.

Gareth:

They get you there so much quicker.

Gareth:

If you, if you can just have a few notes back to say exactly what you want,

Gareth:

exactly what you mean, it's just really helpful around because ultimately you're

Gareth:

all working towards the same thing.

Sherri:

true, but, I mean, you're right.

Sherri:

Like, no, it is terrifying because we're not, because what we're

Sherri:

doing doesn't live on a shelf.

Sherri:

What we're doing is coming from here.

Sherri:

It's coming from our hearts.

Sherri:

It's coming from our experiences.

Sherri:

Sometimes it's just, you know, sometimes we're not always feeling it.

Sherri:

It doesn't have to be the greatest piece of music you've ever written.

Sherri:

It just has to work.

Sherri:

It doesn't have to be the best idea.

Sherri:

It's just got to be.

Sherri:

You know, it's got to be an idea that works, you know, and and but it's hard

Sherri:

because we're putting ourselves out there And and when somebody says that's

Sherri:

not working for me It's really I would say it's also some some type of advice

Sherri:

as well that try to separate The music from your self worth, you know, it's

Sherri:

like okay, the music doesn't work.

Sherri:

It doesn't mean You don't you're not working like you're not You're this isn't

Sherri:

you know, but there are times there are times where it's like, you know What I

Sherri:

think I think we're not on the same page and I think Maybe it is time to like part

Sherri:

ways, but again, that's not a reflection of your self worth You know, it's this

Sherri:

is it's a service industry and we are mixing art and commerce Art and business

Sherri:

and that's that's that is automatically, you know a match made in hell.

Sherri:

I mean

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Creativity and, uh, yeah.

Gareth:

Capitalism.

Sherri:

Exactly.

Sherri:

It's, it's, you know, it's, it's difficult, but, but it is a service

Sherri:

industry and there's a lot at stake.

Sherri:

There's a lot of money at stake for, for, you know, even if we don't feel it.

Sherri:

There's a lot

Gareth:

it speaks to, you know, what you said about not taking it personally.

Gareth:

You know, more often than not, it's not the music doesn't work.

Gareth:

It just doesn't work for the scene.

Sherri:

yes.

Gareth:

so it's, it's not a reflection on your ability as a composer.

Gareth:

It's, just getting the scene, right.

Gareth:

Getting the tone of the scene, right.

Gareth:

Getting the pace of the scene, right.

Gareth:

Whatever it is.

Sherri:

It's, it's true.

Sherri:

And I, I agree with you that sometimes notes are especially, I, the notes

Sherri:

that I enjoy the most are the ones that I'm just like, it unlocks something

Sherri:

in a scene that I just didn't know was going to, was going to be a thing.

Sherri:

Like, you know, like, wow, that's, that's a great direction where I did not know

Sherri:

that it was going to be, I didn't, I didn't realize that was the scene that we

Sherri:

were, that was the underlying, underlying root of what we were trying to get at.

Sherri:

You know, it was just, um, so I think those are, I think notes are, are.

Sherri:

Kind of great.

Sherri:

I mean, I still hate them, but

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

And it's when people go, um, no, I don't think the scene is working.

Gareth:

Try it this way.

Gareth:

And you go.

Gareth:

Damn, they're right.

Sherri:

you know And it's equally upsetting when it's like they're so wrong.

Sherri:

They are so wrong Right my my way was the right time the first

Sherri:

time but but you know what?

Sherri:

I will say this sometimes the best best time is about to let it go You

Sherri:

know what if they thought that the scene was fire They thought something

Sherri:

was funny, and I thought it was more serious, and if they're hearing funny.

Sherri:

It's funny Just let it go.

Sherri:

It's funny.

Sherri:

You're not, you are never going to convince them, you know, you,

Sherri:

you can, I've had some success when I say, this is amazing.

Sherri:

Can I just, I just wanted to let you know my approach to let you know what

Sherri:

my thought process was that you can, you know, steer me in a better direction.

Sherri:

And there have been times where I've done that.

Sherri:

And they're like, Oh, Actually, now that you say that, that makes a lot of sense.

Sherri:

Let's hear that again.

Sherri:

Let's watch that again.

Sherri:

I totally agree with you.

Sherri:

Let's go with that.

Sherri:

And there's been times where we do that and they're like, I totally see your

Sherri:

point, but I still want to do this.

Sherri:

Great.

Sherri:

Thank you so much for hearing me, for listening to me.

Sherri:

Thank you for making this a conversation and not just like

Sherri:

a dictatorship kind of thing.

Sherri:

So those,

Gareth:

Yes, you're right.

Gareth:

And that's the best relationship, isn't it?

Gareth:

Where, uh, you know, both sides are open to ideas and change.

Gareth:

Yeah, very much.

Gareth:

Uh, you're listening to composers, therapy podcast.

Sherri:

so I think we do need that actually.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

But there we go.

Gareth:

That comes full circle to, uh, do the work.

Gareth:

Don't be a jerk.

Gareth:

Definitely going in the music room.

Gareth:

Uh, Sherry, it has been enjoyed chatting with you.

Gareth:

Thank you for joining me in the music room.

Sherri:

Thank you so much, Gareth.

Sherri:

I really appreciate it.

Gareth:

Thanks for listening to the Music Room podcast today.

Gareth:

If you'd like to know more about the show or the community that surrounds

Gareth:

it, head to music room.community.

About the Podcast

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The Music Room
Personal stories of inspiration from professional composers, songwriters and musicians.

About your host

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Gareth Davies

Audio creator of music, podcasts, tales and rhymes. Toad & Friends (Warner Bros. Discovery) arriving in 2023.

Gareth is also the creator of The Music Room community, podcast and newsletter.

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Thank you to the wonderful listeners who have chosen to support this podcast.

With your continued support, we reinvest into the show and continue to make the best content that we can, whilst putting more time and effort into growing the audience to reach and help more people.
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Danny Brown $5
Saw your excellent post on Facebook, and happy to become a supporter!
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Anonymous £1
Thanks for making this podcast! I appreciate all the advice and useful items that guests leave, it’s helped me think about how I go about things.