Lakeshore Records recently spoke with Tony Morales, the Emmy-nominated film composer who scored In Your Eyes, the new Joss Whedon movie directed by Brin Hill. Currently working on the new Lifetime TV Movie, Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs, he took a moment to talk working on In Your Eyes and how he views music making. A New Hamphire native, he moved to L.A. right after graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in order to attend USC’s Advanced Studies in Film Scoring program. Morales found his calling while at Berklee when he was inspired by film scoring greats like Bernard Herrmann (Vertigo) and Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen).
What was it like working on In Your Eyes?
I had worked with Brin Hill before on his feature debut, Ball Don’t Lie (2008). We have developed a great trust in our working relationship since then. For In Your Eyes, we decided on using orchestral and electronic instruments to best support the story. My approach then was to combine live strings, hand percussion and solo voice with electronic beds and processing. The scene I wrote was “It’s Snowing.” From there, ideas started to happen and the process was up and running.
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Do you identify yourself as a composer or musician?
I am a composer first but still a musician. When I finished my education, some of my first work came as a guitar player on film and tv sessions. The guitar is an instrument I use quite often in my composing work.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I admire many film composers working today: Alexandre Desplat (The Tree of Life) and John Powell (Jumper, Fair Game) to name a few. I’ve had the pleasure of working with John Debney (Walk of Shame, Draft Day), Brian Tyler (Transformer: Prime) and Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia) over the years. I’d be interested in collaborating with a song writer on a film score; I feel their sensibilities could inspire a different perspective for me when it comes to writing for film. [Editor’s note: Together with John Debney, Morales co-composed the hit History Channel mini-series, Hatfields & McCoys.]
What’s your favorite instrument?
It changes all the time but right now, it’s the Bajo Sexto – it’s a 12-string acoustic bass guitar, mostly heard in Mariachi music. It’s like a heavy metal bass guitar. Really rumbly.
What do you think about orchestral music and processed electronic music criss-crossing platforms?
I’m all for it: music is music. Music in film is there to support the story. I’ve been involved with both. I got my start writing music for commercials — there’s a lot of pop music requests in that realm of work. A couple of years ago Eddie Vedder wrote a bunch of songs for Into The Wild that I really enjoyed just as much as I love a Thomas Newman (Skyfall, Wall-E) score.
You have been nominated for just about every music award, what does that feel like?
I love what I do and am thankful to even have the opportunity to do it!
In your years composing, what were some surprises or lessons you’ve learned that helped make you who you are now?
There’s definitely more to this career than the creative side. Relationships are very important. It’s important to be able to collaborate and listen, to be able to accept ideas; to be someone that people can be comfortable with. People want to work with people they like; people they trust. Things can get stressful and intense so those relationships really help.
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