BWW Interview: Composer Guillaume Roussel Talks Composing for SYFY's HAPPY!
Composer, Guillaume Roussel spoke with us about his work on SYFY's HAPPY! and how he got into music. Check out he had to say below.
Tell us a bit about your background, how did you get into music?
That journey started very early at the age 5. My grandfather was a composer in Columbia, so I naturally fell into composing at a young age. He wrote symphonies back in the 50s. After studying music and touring I always wanted to go back to composing, which I had been doing since I was 11. Composing to picture has always been my main motivation in life. I studied in various classic music schools. And, I went to 2 jazz schools, one in Paris called CIM and one close to Paris called Didier Lockwood's school.
What made you decide to pursue composing as a career?
I just couldn't see myself doing anything else. I had done some advertisements when I was 16, but I got my first real gig when I was 24. It was a TV movie for a major French primetime network. Since then I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of projects such as TV series like CBS' Ransom, feature films like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Smurfs, Three Days to Kill starring Kevin Costner. I've also been able to meet a lot of people including Hans Zimmer, whom invited me to join his team in Los Angeles. Every time I score a project, I enjoy it more and more.
Your latest project is the upcoming second season of SYFY's Happy!, how did you get involved with that project?
I got a call from my agent saying the producer and showrunner were looking for a composer who likes to mix rock, jazz, and other genres, and is a bit crazy. So I thought that could be a good fit for me. When I first looked at the show, I thought it was totally unique and new. I knew I could definitely have fun with the music.
Where did you pull inspiration from for your score for that series?
My personal influences are more from a classic world, and music with synthesizers. The showrunner really likes music from the 70s, so he wanted something along those lines with an edge. Generally speaking, more sounds and orchestrations inspired Jerry Goldsmith, or some groove like Motown and some glam rock like Bowie.
The show has actors and an animated unicorn named Happy. How do you add personality to the animated character through your score?
The Happy character has very distinctive music. He is more orchestral music. I treat him like a traditional animated character, like if he was in an animated movie.
Did you use any unique instruments or sounds in your score?
I would say what is unique about the score for Happy! is the combination. It is very unusual to mix drums and contemporary music, horror and orchestra. The showrunner, Brian Taylor, is a musician, so we had him play a few cues. He's a really good guitar player, so that was a lot of fun.
Do you have a favorite genre you like to compose for best?
Not really. I actually dislike doing the same thing over and over. So if I have the opportunity to do something different, I always welcome that.
You've had experience working in both the American and European industries. What do you find are the biggest differences between the two in terms of composing for film and television?
There are 3 differences. One is the budget, which is a lot bigger in America. Two, in the U.S. there is a lot more people involved on a project and each person has a specific job, compared to France where there is a lot less people involved and everyone is multitasking. Three, the sound of the voice is so different, the music is impacted. American language is high pitched compared to France, which is a lot lower pitched. The music in France has to be more discrete and low because of the tone of the voice.
Is there one person you'd love to collaborate with that you haven't had a chance to yet?
There are so many. A good storyteller is most important to me.
When you're not composing, what do you enjoy doing?
Sleeping lol. I do compose a lot. Family time. I love going to movies, but I am currently really behind because I've been so busy lately.
Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing music as a career, like anything you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Listen to as much advice as you can from different people. Creating music, no matter what, is the most important. The music is what drives one's careers. An encounter without music, will lead nowhere. So you always need to have music to share when you meet people.
Where can people find your music?
Photo Credit: Courtesy Of Guillaume Roussel