Nicole Russin-McFarland is an incredible multi-talented person. She’s a film director, music composer, journalist, model and more! During her tender youth art was coursing in her veins. She spent her childhood studying classical music and today she’s well prepared as to pleasantly surprise everybody with her art. Last year, the world first heard her compositions with the release of The Eyes of Old Texas soundtrack, so if you want to discover more about Nicole and her interesting life please read this interview.
1 – You’re very well known for your classical music compositions. Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
I love all kinds of film scores, whether they are traditional (Hans Zimmer) or experimental (The Social Network by Trent Reznor). Because none of us are ever perfect, you can never stop learning. Sometimes, I’ll listen to a particular century of classical music on the radio. It just depends. When I was in school and taking lessons, I had to play Rachmaninoff a lot, so I’m kind of sick of his work! LOL! Though I now love working with crazy chromatics, which I have a lot of saved up on themes I want to use.
2 – Tell us a little about your composing style/method.
I love chromatics for some reason. Also lately, when I’ve been doing themes for a particular film project goal I have in mind and doing really rough drafts, I’ve been fascinated by themes that start and end on the same note. Of course, because our first movie uses “The Eyes of Texas” – that’s how it’s called The Eyes of Old Texas, for the old song – I didn’t have much room to play with. But on the track “I Know What to Do,” I proudly made it really evil with lots of brass. Usually, the song is this really sweet and happy school theme song. I’m glad I got to make it angry for once.
3 – What’s your favorite and least favorite movie soundtrack?
I just love Gladiator’s score. It was one of the first ones I bought, and ironically, with an Eminem album and I want to say Christina Aguilera. That goes to show you how eclectic I am. Some of it almost sounds like it could’ve been out of a 1940’s or 1950’s drama. And then we have that really amazing theme that isn’t really in the movie a lot but plays when Maximus just confronted Commodus in the arena. When you remember a theme that much, you know someone’s done an outstanding job. I mention Hans Zimmer at times, so let’s have some backstory on him. Remember Pharrell doing both of the Despicable Me soundtracks? Pharrell actually did more than the “Happy” tune. He did a lot of the music, and Hans Zimmer was his boss on those films.
Alexandre Desplat is pretty much the other standard gentleman when it comes to great film scores. I advise people to check him out.
As far as least favorite film score, I don’t like those generic scores that fade into the background you usually hear on romantic comedies. Or any comedy. Throw in random clarinet here because Ryan Reynolds needs to break up. Stuff like that. A good score makes you remember the music as much as the movie.
4 – Have you only made soundtracks for animated/cartoon films? Why you love this movie genre so much?
No. Animation just happens to be what we are starting out with. I as a film director want to eventually branch out of that to doing both animation and live action. I have a lot of ideas, but due to the way filmmaking works, you don’t one day come out with your masterpiece as your first film. Nobody will watch it. You need to be established first – and that’s why I chose animation with my film’s co-executive producer because we both love animation, but at the moment, we also both have side occupations we’re trying to work on. He’s a celebrity chef and NYC restauranteur in addition to being a rocker. His rock band was the first professionally touring metal band in China. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the books side of Lucky Pineapple Books + Films heavily established so I can have a bigger staff of people running things in the near future while I work on my movies. And, I’m currently animating this film…MYSELF. I have a lot to take on before I move onto scoring live action.
5 – Did you feel ready to call yourself a music composer after the release of ‘The Eyes of Old Texas’ soundtrack?
Of course! You are a composer when you release your first work to the world professionally. I would’ve loved to have called myself a composer when I was 11 to 12 though. Technically, I enjoyed composing then, and some of the themes I want to use in my future film scores are from that time period of my life. When you write a good theme, or at least a theme that sticks in your head for that long, it’s all how you do the rest. You really only need the theme. What you do with it can range from any kind of sound or emotion. You’ll see this a lot if you look at some of your favorite films. Indiana Jones is a great example of this my teacher made us study for our homework assignment. I guess unlike everyone else, I was paying attention in class! We had to play that and see how the same theme changes. The other day, I rematched the movies on TV as they had a marathon and I saw, “Yeah! That’s true!” The theme shifts around the whole movie beautifully, but it’s the same theme. You do so much with a simple basic theme.
6 – Are you currently working on a new movie soundtrack? Please let us know something fresh about it.
I have things saved on my computer and iPad I want to work with, but because I’m not done yet with finishing The Eyes of Old Texas – in both the animation process which is hard, and in how we’ve recently filmed backgrounds locally in Peru, Argentina, Chile, and are hitting Brazil – I want to focus on finishing the movie for now. As I said, the main importance is completing the themes, anyway. When the time comes to use them, I will be fine as I have the basics down.
7 – What do you love most about what you are currently doing?
My mind gets really bored by knowing what will happen next. For my mind to be happy, I have to train it like I’m doing puzzles. What that means is I have zero tolerance for doing the same thing over and over again. Of course, making a movie and composing classical music does involve some repetition, but nowhere near what most “regular” jobs involve.
For example, journalism I did not related to food or cinema. When I wrote about divorce and depressing relationship articles ages ago for one place I did journalism for, I hated it. Not only was it so awful to interview people about depressing subject matter, it felt like the same thing nonstop. I really wasn’t using my brain. I was sitting there taking notes and rewriting what people said about horrible things happening to them. Later on, I did this again, but the subject changed to stuff like, “Someone wants to take away my apartment.” Or people suing someone. I currently once in a while do food or film related journalism, at least interviewing someone in fashion, but because those people talk more about positive topics and creativity involved, and often business, I’m more interested. So not all journalism is bad and deadly.
8 – Have you ever being criticised for being a female music composer?
I’ve never had criticism about my gender with the job, but I have dealt with lots of sexist comments. I always explain it like this to people. When a young boy says he wants to direct movies, people give him a camera and how to book. When a girl says the same thing, they ask her to be an actress. Which is what happened to me all the time from 11 up to 27 until I, for lack of a better gesture, began speaking my mind when people told me to do. I’m not opposed to acting. If ever Will Ferrell called me up to be in Zoolander 3, I would love it. I love being funny and telling jokes. But acting is a choice someone makes. People often are really disrespectful when you express your interest in making movies or composing music. They ask you, “Why?” But men or young boys don’t get the why question. And, the other thing is, when I say what I want to film or compose, people have other suggestions for me. A women’s themed film CAN be good, like In Her Shoes, or it could be a disaster like most of them out there. And that’s what people generally, especially women, suggest I make. As far as music, women also like soft, dainty songs that don’t really have any particular strengths. Yet, I don’t.
9 – Which music composers or film directors would you like to collaborate with?
As far as music composers, James Horner died, so I can’t really collaborate with him. With my first soundtrack, we blended Brian Tsao’s rock music into chunks of it. I’d love to do that again with him forever…collaborate on film and music and see it sell big like a John Williams score! Or something putting classical over a shocking genre, like country or rap. Weird stuff like that always sounds good because it’s like how this horrible sounding fusion cuisine item on the menu may taste delicious! Being adventurous is the way to go! With film directors, I’m open to anybody who is serious about their work and blending music into it. The person doesn’t have to be famous. They can be an up and comer who’s made a few movies but wants to be the new Tim Burton, for example, and has that drive. Pedro Almodovar could be a fun gentleman to compose for though. He really uses music a lot in his work. And his work is crazy. I love that he defies standard genres. I’d say any DreamWorks cartoon too. I would jump for joy and dance in my room if DreamWorks Animation hired me to direct cartoons and compose the scores for them. I love Shrek so much and How to Train Your Dragon. The attitude!
10 – What are your future plans for 2016?
I want to do anything in my power in 2016 to make Lucky Pineapple Books + Films a force to reckon with. Everyone has to start from somewhere. And as I cannot rub in enough about my love of working for the “next Steven Spielberg” or whoever that “next” is, I hope people will see how I feel… when they look at me. Our culture is weird because we want all our actors to look unnaturally young and/or not to work with anyone over 30 for roles written for women in their 30s and 40s as Anne Hathaway has discussed, but we cling on the established film directors and composers. I love the guy, but honestly, at some point John Williams will no longer be with us. Nor with our favorite film directors. What do we have left? People who don’t know what to do anymore because most of their film directors of this generation 40 years old and under are taking the initiative of going on their own like these film directors did when they were young. It’s hard. I’m not denying that. But I’d love to establish myself on my company in that demeanor people had when they ran out and made the biggest movies they could at age 20-25. We don’t have that anymore. Nowadays, people lack drive.
More To Discover: Additional Insights Into Rubayne’s EP ‘Connections’
Don’t miss out on rising artist Rubayne’s new EP ‘Connections,’ a blend of genres he calls Bass Pop exploring the ups and downs of love. With a special live performance airing on February 24th and music videos planned, it’s an EP not to be missed. Read the interview to learn more.
1 — What is the main theme you explore in your new EP ‘Connections’?
The EP is a set of eclectic love stories that are connected to each other. Throughout the EP, you will discover the feeling of falling in love, being in love, and holding on to love in the toughest time.
2 — Is there any special meaning behind its title?
There are multiple. Firstly, the titles of the songs relate to each other. In addition, I made a stronger connection with my music by involving myself in the songwriting as well.
3 — Did you collaborate with other artists or producers on this project?
Yes. There are a couple of great singers involved with ‘Connections’! Some new, some I do know from the start. I must give credit and big ups to Romy Dya, Yunnee, EthanUno, and Ansaly for their amazing work.
4 — How did you go about crafting the overall sound and style?
The approach for creating ‘Connections’ was different in comparison to my regular creative approach. With each project, I first focused on selecting a main instrument that would characterize the song. Unattainable has the guitar, “Connections” has the bass, and “In Love Tonight” has the piano. After the main instrument and its melody, I would carve out the full production.
I had not, but I focused on having a blend of genres that I and the love theme associate with. I would say this blend of genres can be best described as Bass Pop.
6 — Is there a particular track on the EP that you have a special connection with?
Nope! They are equally special to me and as they complement each other, I feel that I have a special connection with the project as a whole.
7 — Are there any things you wish you had done differently?
When it comes to the EP, there’s nothing I wish I had done differently.
8 — In what ways do you think your songs will resonate with listeners?
I think this project, as well as other songs I have made, encourages its listeners to open up and acknowledge their feelings. I hope my music provides the listeners with a better understanding of themselves.
9 — Have you ever considered creating a music video for any of these news tracks?
I did! I feel like each of the songs has a visual story to tell. However, I have prepared something special for this EP which is visually pleasing as well.
10 — Is there anything else you would like to share about the EP that we haven’t covered in this interview?
To celebrate the release of ‘Connections,’ I recorded a live performance of the EP with all the vocalists and an amazing guitarist (Rob). It will air on February 24th and you can get notified here.
CONNECT WITH RUBAYNE NOW!
Discovering Lucii’s Musical Journey And Her New Song “Narcissist”
In this exclusive interview, Lucii shares more about her journey as a musician, the meaning and inspiration behind her new single “Narcissist,” and her plans for the future, including incorporating a live band into her performances and releasing a new album.
1 — How did you first become interested in music and what led you to pursue it as a career?
So I always sang and made songs on guitar as I was growing up but never thought I was good enough. I went to a rave at 17 and really loved it so I started DJing and producing and started to use my vocals on my tracks and it turned into a career!
2 — As a member of the LGBTQ community, how do you feel your identity influences your songs?
I feel like Idk I just write songs about girls, but I think cause I’m female writing about a female gives this extra sparkle of divine femininity.
3 — How do you aim to use your artistic platform to uplift and inspire others in the community?
I just want to make people feel something, music is a form of expression sometimes easier than talking. Mac Miller helped so much with my mental health and I just wanna be that to someone. Make people not feel alone, especially the LGBTQ community.
4 — Please tell us more about the meaning and inspiration behind your new single “Narcissist.”
I was in therapy and was describing this person to my therapist and she said (her name is Andrea and I shout her out in the song) “well that person sounds like a Narcissist” I NEVER heard of that word in my life so I started writing that night “you’re a Narcissist says my therapist” and that’s how it came about. I just wanted an angry song about a Narcissist so I made it.
Probably “thank god for Andrea I should send the bill to ya for all the times I’m in the chair wondering how I got here” Andrea is my therapist and I just think that’s a BA.
6 — How has your experience been as an electronic music producer and how has that influenced your shift into the Pop genre?
I feel like it influenced my Pop music a lot because I want my songs to have energy even if they’re sad, I want that emotional wave rollercoaster to feel like dance music gives.
7 — Are you planning to incorporate a live band into your performances?
YES!! I cannot wait to start playing with my band. I can’t wait to be closer to my audience and just play my songs, that is my dream and I can’t wait to do that soon hehe.
Details on the upcoming album will be announced soon.
9 — What message would you like to send to aspiring LGBTQ musicians looking to break into the industry?
I would say just fucking go for it we NEED you. Look at fletcher she is breaking boundaries right now she is a full-on amazing Pop star and watching her grow has just been so inspiring and made me realize I can do this, I can make the move from being a DJ to being a live performance act.
10 — How do you see your music evolving in the future?
I see myself going through eras, I really love how Taylor Swift each of her albums feel like a chapter to read from ‘1989’ to ‘REPUTATION’ and OMG ‘Folklore.’ All of them are AMAZING but I just want to give that feeling with every one of my albums, as you listen to it and you’re transported back in time to a feeling.
CONNECT WITH LUCII NOW!
Exploring An Experimental Album With XENOBYT — Interview
Are you a fan of electronic music with a hint of nostalgia and horror? Look no further, as XENOBYT‘s new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ is exactly what you’ve been searching for. In this exclusive interview, the up-and-coming artist gives you an inside look at the inspiration and creative process behind his original work.
1 — How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
I try to make music that people can vibe to. Something you can put on and get lost in while driving or doing something mundane. There is something fascinating about using a synthesizer, which for a long time was considered the sound of the future, but using it to make music that reminds us of the past. I like to think that if you like Horror and synth music and enjoy the groove of the song over the technicality of what’s played, you would enjoy what I am trying to do here.
2 — Which artists are you most influenced by?
When I was younger, I was a huge Metalhead, but my dad was a big tech geek and loved messing around with a synthesizer and listened to a lot of Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. So I had an early appreciation for it. I was big into Horror movies and really dug the soundtracks that John Carpenter was doing, and Brad Fiedel’s Terminator 2 soundtrack was another of my favorites. But I didn’t decide to start making this kind of music until I heard Carpenter Brut and Perturbator for the first time.
3 — What drew you to the experimental genre and what sets it apart from other electronic music styles?
I went to college for sound design, so I love taking a sound that people are familiar with and messing with it to make something completely new. And I try to incorporate that into my music in ways that aren’t done very often. Classifying yourself as experimental kind of takes the chains off and resets expectations of what your fans expect to hear when they listen to your music.
4 — What inspired the title of your new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’?
Usually, I come up with a simple horror theme for an album before I even start writing the songs for it. The last album, New Retro Witch, was about witchcraft and this album was about malevolent spirits. The concept of getting hired for a certain time to caretake a haunted mansion resonated with me and the things I had going on in my life at the time. I was facing a lot of old trauma I had buried and this concept paralleled with what I was dealing with in my own head, so I based the title of the album around that idea.
5 — How does this material differ from your previous works?
I wanted this album to be heavier than my last album from the start. I wanted to incorporate more Rock and Metal vibes into it but keep some of the same beauty and melancholy that I really liked about New Retro Witch.
Because of the more personal nature of this album, I didn’t really do any big collaborations on it, which is something I normally try to do.
6 — How long did it take you to complete this project?
I started working on this album in the Spring of 2021 and had 9 songs written for this album by the end of summer, but I wasn’t happy with it and scrapped all but 3 songs. I kind of fell into an artistic rut after that and sat on it until February of 2022 and wrote, mixed, and mastered the remainder of the album over the spring and summer.
7 — Could you tell us where ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ was recorded?
I have my own recording studio here in Austin and I did all of the writing, mixing, and mastering for this album there.
8 — How did you approach the design of the artwork?
During that artistic rut I had mentioned earlier, I got really enthralled in AI Art Generation and went as far as learning how to and coding my own AI Art Generator. I made a bunch of stuff with it that actually helped inspire me to finish the album. While I am a big fan of collaborating with other artists, I was really proud of the fact I made this art-making machine and how it helped me get back on my grind. I wanted to showcase what it was capable of with this release.
“Deluge,” because there is a sad and dark story behind it. I suffer from depression and PTSD and had a bit of a mental breakdown last summer. That song was created live while I was in the midst of that breakdown. I felt like I was drowning, and I wanted the song to sound like I felt. But I also wrote the song I wanted to hear to feel better, and it worked. I still put it on when I am feeling depressed, and it still makes me feel better.
10 — Are you open to collaborations? If so, what are the requirements?
Absolutely! I am always open to collaborating with other artists. My only requirement is ensuring proper credit is given to everyone involved.