Tag Archives: Women Composers

Kid Moxie Spotlight: Celebrating Women Composers

Elena Charbila is an established actor, composer, producer and recording artist under her moniker “Kid Moxie.”

Kid Moxie’s music has been featured in numerous indie films, television shows and commercials, including a national Victoria’s Secret ad campaign. She collaborated with renowned Twin Peaks composer, Angelo Badalementi, recording a new version of “Mysteries of Love.” Entertainment Weekly called her a “cinematic popstar” and Vice described her sound as “eerie, celestial, odd and exquisite.”

She collaborated with 2019 Palm D’Or award winner and Greek director Vasilis Kekatos for Greek Vogue Magazine’s video campaign Gucci Resort 2020, starring model Winnie Harlow, and five mini-movies for the perfume line KORRES – all five scored by Kid Moxie.

Recently, Kid Moxie pulled double duty both acting in and scoring the music for Not to Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk, soundtrack released on Lakeshore Records. Her music video “Big in Japan,” from the soundtrack, premiered in Under the Radar, in which they called it a “dreamy, palpable neo-noir vibe.” Apple Music picked the soundtrack as one of its top 10 soundtrack recommendations.

Last year, Kid Moxie wrote and performed three of the original tracks for CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, released by Lakeshore Records. The soundtrack topped the iTunes soundtrack charts at number one.

We caught up with Kid Moxie to talk about her recent projects and what’s coming up next for this multi-talented artist.


SSM: You stated in an interview with Under the Radar that you began playing music when you were young. Can you speak a little bit about what pulled you in the direction of composing?

KM: It’s hard to trace exactly the why and the how as I started with classical piano at the age of 4 but at some point, while still in elementary school, I remember getting a lot of joy from combining my own notes instead of reading what was in front of me. I was probably also rebelling against the very structured and demanding way that I was being taught at the time. Perhaps it was my way of feeling “in control” of the instrument. I still feel the need of that kind of control. Composing your own music gives one a sense of freedom that feels invaluable to me.


SSM: You have such a unique and new-wave sound! Who are the artists or albums that inspire you in your music?

KM: Thanks! I love artists from all kinds of genres as long as their music creates an atmosphere I want to “live in”. I really like Burial, Grimes, Bjork, The Cure, Clint Mansell, Electric Youth, Trentemoller.

Some of my most cherished soundtracks that influence my sound are Blade Runner (Vangelis), Drive (Cliff Martinez), Twin Peaks (Angelo Badalamenti) and Three Colours: Blue (Zbignew Preisner).

SSM: You created the moniker Kid Moxie. How did you decide to create such an interesting and cool name?

KM: I wanted something that would sound playful and gender-less so Kid Moxie felt appropriate in that way.


SSM: Your tracks for the Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack are awesome! Can you talk about collaborating on ‘Follow the White Crow,’ ‘Flying Heads’ and Simple Pleasures’ and the instruments you used?

KM: Cyberpunk was such a beast of a project and I was writing stuff at the time without knowing whether they would make the game or not. It was really fun for me to explore dark/industrial techno which is something I hadn’t really delved into in the past. I used both soft synths (I am a big lover of Arturia) and analogue instruments such as Moog Mother to create throbbing bass lines and Dreadbox Erebus for some of the drone sounds and screechy leads.


SSM: What do you have coming up next that we should know about?

KM: My next album titled “Better Than Electric” is due to come out later this year and I’m also writing the score for a film shooting in Greece that I’m really excited about.

Follow Kid Moxie on Instagram and listen below.

Soundtrack Available Now: [Listen]

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Ronit Kirchman Spotlight: Celebrating Women Composers

Ronit Kirchman is a composer expanding the frontiers of film and television music. She is recognized in the press as “an extremely original voice” with “a virtuoso touch” and “a truly unique force in the entertainment industry.”

Ronit is perhaps best known for her innovative, genre-bending score for The Sinner — the acclaimed Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated anthology series executive produced by Jessica Biel, which is slated to premiere its fourth season in 2021.

Ronit’s score for The Sinner was named one of IndieWire’s Best TV Scores of 2020. Her other recent projects include the feature film Evil Eye (Amazon Studios / Blumhouse), for which she received a Hollywood Music in Media Award; and the episodic series Limetown on Peacock TV (based on the hit podcast of the same name). She has released several soundtrack albums with Lakeshore Records.

The recipient of multiple awards from the Sundance Institute and BMI, Ronit is a prolific songwriter, music producer, conductor, violinist, multi-instrumentalist, and singer. She also composes original scores for theater, dance, multimedia installations, and the concert stage. Ronit has performed and recorded internationally in a range of contexts including free improvisation, classical, live electronica, rock, pop, jazz, world, blues and country. She is a poet, author and visual artist.

We reached out to Ronit to discuss her recent projects and what’s next for this multi-talented artist.


SSM: What inspires you to work on a film or television project? Are there particular topics that you are drawn to more?

RK: I’m most inspired to score a film or tv series when the creative team has a meaningful perspective, curiosity, intelligence, and a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration. A lot of times, it’s the answers to “who will my creative partners will be?”, and “how are we are going to tell the story?” that get me excited about a project – even more than the “what” of the story’s subject or genre – because the “who” and “how” most fundamentally define the journey we’re going to go on. That begins with the script and the framework built by the writer, and naturally extends into the scoring process.

I love working with directors and producers who are interested in discovering what music can do in their story, and who are eager to find an original, impactful musical and sonic approach for their film. In terms of the content that I’m drawn to, it often depends on what I’ve last worked on! I like to take on a variety of stories, so that I can keep things changing and give myself a chance to explore different aspects of myself as a person and an artist. Each story also tends to emphasize different aspects of composing and technique, and variety in the content keeps me flexible and awake to new possibilities.


SSM: Is there a particular genre that you find more challenging to craft music for? 

RK: Each genre area presents its own challenges, which create opportunities and catalysts for new ideas and structural invention. Sometimes the most challenging (and enjoyable!) projects are those that shift tone quickly, or encompass a range of tones. I find dark comedy very appealing and interesting, because you have to get people on board with a certain tone, and then keep them immersed in the story even when the tone changes drastically.

The music creates permission and a context within which to feel deeply, or to laugh, or to feel fear or horror, often in complex juxtaposition. You get to go deep and play things in an unexpected way but you have to be very nimble to get it right.


SSM: You are a poet, author, visual artist among many other talents. How do you see the relationship between composing music and your other vast visual artistic talents?

RK: What we make is very much a reflection of how we perceive and imagine. My experience is definitely synesthetic when I’m creating something. When I’m composing, for example, and I imagine a sonic texture or melodic gesture, it often comes with a dynamic sense of color, space, and movement as well. It’s not a one-to-one correspondence of meaning, but there’s a multi-sensory conversation in my mind as I articulate my ideas. And in my artwork, I often investigate questions of scale, motion, and iteration that have very musical qualities as well.

When I score a film, I feel like all of my creative avenues are activated through storytelling. The story world is a unique microcosm of human experience. So it’s really how everything comes together – the characters’ journeys, the visual language, the sound and music – that generates your experience of it in the audience. Approaching composition from that integrated, holistic point of view allows me to find the musical voice for each project that brings it to life.

SSM: Evil Eye is about the pressures that women can sometimes face to get married and how that can play out with falling for the wrong person. The music is quietly haunting and beautiful. Can you speak a little bit about your creative process with creating the score?

RK: There’s a wonderful, complex mother-daughter relationship at the heart of Evil Eye. Usha and Pallavi share a lot of love and connection, as well as a generational push-and-pull over tradition, custom, fear, faith, and family secrets.

Their story also illuminates the bigger picture of what you might call collective karma, and social structures that evolve through the individual experiences of many generations. As a composer, there was a lot I could relate to in giving voice to both women’s experiences and exploring the full emotional range. It starts out in a very lyrical space, escalates into outright horror, and still offers room for contemplation.


SSM: What’s coming up next for you that we should know about? 

RK: I’m looking forward to an exciting fourth season of The Sinner, which is going into production again this spring. Since it’s an anthology series, I have a chance to reimagine the musical palette and create a lot of new material and themes for the show each season. The new episodes will premiere later this year on USA. I’m also in music production mode, mixing an album for a friend and composing new music for a future release. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!



Kate Simko Spotlight: Celebrating Women Composers

Kate Simko 2021 - photo credit: Rui Pignatelli

Photo credit: Rui Pignatelli.

Kate Simko is a London-based composer and electronic music producer. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she attended Northwestern University’s music school and is formally trained in classical piano and jazz.


Simko interned in Los Angeles on feature films while her electronic music career simultaneously began to soar. Her 2011 house track ‘Go On Then’ appeared on the Beatport Top 10 Deep House Chart.


Simko moved to London where she completed a master’s degree in composition for screen at the Royal College Music. She created the London Electronic Orchestra while in attendance. The LEO has performed worldwide and released a self-titled vinyl album to much critical acclaim.


Simko’s recent film and television projects include the 2017 LA Film Festival premiere 20 Weeks; PBS Sacred Journey; PBS Independent Lens We Believe in Dinosaurs, soundtrack released in 2019 by Lakeshore Records; and the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival premiere Underplayed, soundtrack released today by Lakeshore Records!


We reached out to Simko to discuss her start in music and her recent project, Underplayed.


SSM: You stated in a previous interview that you became interested in house music while you were in college at Northwestern University. Can you speak into why that genre of music first caught your attention?

KS: I first got into house music as a teen going to underground raves in Chicago and the Midwest. It was a really exciting time in Chicago for house music, as well as post rock combining electronics with rock instruments (bands like Tortoise, the Sea and Cake, etc. on Thrill Jockey).

I was always was more naturally drawn to electronic beats, and loved how it was mainly music without words like classical music. At Northwestern I took over as the head of dance and hip hop music at the radio station, and that’s when I first started DJing on the radio and went from being a fan of the music to a DJ and couple years down the line releasing my own records.


SSM: You attended the Royal College of Music in London, England, to study composition for screen. What was it about film scoring that pulled you in that direction?

KS: Ever since I started learning how to produce music I wanted to score for film. I studied Music Technology at Northwestern and my final graduation portfolio project was to self-teach myself Pro Tools and score a student film. A couple years later a film faculty member requested me to score my first feature film, The Atom Smashers. It was an amazing experience, and also made me realize my limitations as a composer. I moved to London to learn how to properly write for orchestra and take things up a level.


SSM: Underplayed explores the gender and ethnic disparities within the electronic music scene by interviewing some of the genre’s female pioneers and next-generation artists. How did you come to score this film?

KS: Gabe McDonough (at MAS in Los Angeles), who I’ve known for almost 20 years from Chicago days, contacted me to do this score. We’ve kept in touch and he knew I had a background in electronic music and scoring so put me forward to score a demo scene.


SSM: Can you speak about the conversations you and the director, Stacey Lee, had with how to incorporate a score in a documentary about electronic music, featuring such talents as Rezz, Alison Wonderland and Tokimonsta?

KS: The first conversations with Stacey had to do with creating a score that sat comfortably next to the various niches of electronic music in the film. We didn’t want the score to fit into a genre box, but instead weave in and out of the artists’ sounds.  It was a lot of fun to score this film, and underscore the experiences of female DJ’s and producers that I could genuinely relate to. All of the artists in the film are so inspiring!


SSM: While in the UK, you created the innovative classical-electronic, all-female led ensemble London Electronic Orchestra, which has performed all over the world. How did the LEO come into conception?

KS: When I was getting my masters at the RCM,  my composition professor, Howard Davidson, encouraged me to incorporate orchestral instruments into my sound as an electronic producer. To be honest, I expected to set aside electronic music during my masters  and focus on classical composition. Instead, I was able to combine these two passions into one, which is how LEO was created.

In March 2014, I did a concert in the Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music, alongside a 25-piece student orchestra. The 300-capacity concert sold out and a London-based management company contacted me after that show and helped me bring LEO into the real world. Looking back it was all pretty surreal and happened quickly.


SSM: You have had such a phenomenal career from DJing in clubs, creating an orchestra to scoring feature films. Who are the artists that are currently inspiring you?

KS: Ah thank you.  It’s been such a strange and challenging year, but one perk has been more time to listen to music at home.   I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz music.  Classic albums from artists like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver etc. Also London-based jazz artist Nubya Garcia, Kelly Lee Owens, Acid Pauli, oneohtrix point never, Jayda G, and Jamie XX.


SSM: What’s coming up next for you?

KS: Currently I’m finishing an orchestral-electronic album with Jamie Jones, and starting a new solo album.  I’ve just joined the faculty of Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music, teaching 1-1 composition to masters students.  Excited for all of these projects and can’t wait for the next film score to come in either.


Follow Kate on Instagram and listen to the Underplayed soundtrack below!

Underplayed Soundtrack Available Now: [Download/Listen]


Spotlight On Women Composers For Women’s Equality Day


For Women’s Equality Day, we are shining an extra spotlight on Women Composers!  Why?  Although this day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote, we take this opportunity to feature just a sample of the talented film and television composers who exist and deserve a seat at the table in the soundtrack world.

Continue reading Spotlight On Women Composers For Women’s Equality Day

Emmy Nominee Kathryn Bostic Spotlight: Celebrating Women Composers

Acclaimed composer and singer/songwriter Kathryn Bostic has spent her career creating compelling scores for some of the most lauded projects of stage and screen. Recently, she composed the music for Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, for which she earned a 2020 Primetime Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Music Composition.

Bostic previously scored Ava DuVernay’s 2012 Sundance-winner Middle of Nowhere, Justin Simien’s award-winning movie Dear White People and Chinonye Chukwu’s 2019 Sundance Grand Jury-winner Clemency.

She was the first African-American woman to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® and served as vice president of the Alliance for Women Film Composers from 2016 to 2018.

We reached out to Bostic to discuss her recent Emmy nomination and the role musicians play in today’s ever-changing world!


SSM: I want to congratulate you on your 2020 Emmy nomination for Toni Morrison: The Pieces I am! For the film, you performed your Oscar 2020 Shortlist original song ‘High Above the Water.’ For the film Clemency, you performed your original song ’Slow Train.’ What importance do you put on including an original song when creating a score? Is it something that you go into the project thinking about or does it develop naturally? 

KB: It happened organically and was a “gift” because I don’t assume that, because I’m writing the score for a film, I also will be writing songs for it as well. In both films I was asked to write the songs to maintain the tone and sonic palette that I had created in the score. There are some of my vocal textures in both scores so the songwriting and performing was an extension of that.


SSM: You spoke in a previous interview about the director and producer, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, and editor, Johanna Giebelhaus, giving you free rein with creating the score. Can you speak about the level of importance this type of trust goes into the creative process for composers? 

KB: Trust is extremely important because it frees up inhibitions that might obstruct the flow of the collaborative process. Ultimately the director needs to feel assured that they are going to get a score that will be effective and powerful to further enhance and define their film. This requires a lot of trust and communication because the process can be full of a lot of twists and turns before the right tone and sound for the film are developed.

So there has to be a trust in this unfolding and sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to find this, so trust is imperative. We found the tone immediately with the Toni Morrison film because we were all operating on a very high level of reverence, openness and divination in the amazing energy field of Toni Morrison!  I mean, she is a force so all you have to do is tap into that and you strike gold!


SSM: How much of that freedom lent to crafting an organic score for this documentary? 

KB: The entire score and song were crafted from that place of freedom. Once the director and producers saw and heard how my sketches and themes were simpatico with what they needed, they trusted the unfolding of that and gave me a lot of room to experience and create this. The  music “wrote itself” as a result.



SSM: You grew up in a musical home. Is there a specific moment that made you decide to craft a career in composing? 

KB: Music was and is always about storytelling and for me the way in which it made me feel growing up and experiencing this in my home while my mother practiced piano and composed had an impact on me on a sensory level. I don’t know that I ever actually formalized my appreciation for writing music by calling it “composing”, I just always enjoyed the places listening to music and writing music would take me. So I think it was a  natural fit that I compose and perform music.


SSM: I’ve heard you speak about the importance of authenticity. How do you remain true to yourself as a woman working in a male-dominated field?

KB: I’ve always focused on the craft, the gift of being able to create music. My authenticity is in that creativity and that’s what resonates with people I collaborate with. I am starting to see more women composers and more racial diversity in hiring but there’s still a long way to go.

The talent and resources are certainly available. The perception and action have to shift to reflect a much more truthful and universal outreach that reflects ALL people, not just recycle constructed narratives that maintain the status quo.


SSM: You have been the recipient of many honors, including the Sundance Fellowship for Film Scoring, BMI Conducting Fellowship, Sundance/Skywalker Documentary Film Scoring and hosted Masterclasses for Columbia University and the Chicago Film Office. What importance do you place on seasoned composers sharing their knowledge to burgeoning students of film scoring? 

KB: I think it’s really important to share what I can that may inspire someone to stay the course with whatever they are passionate about. That’s essentially what I’ve been doing as a film composer , a singer, a creator of music. I think it’s important to share with students that everyone’s path is different insofar as how they achieve success in their career, and that life is not linear, it is an unfolding of experiences and choices.

So there’s a practical overview I like to share as well as a philosophical one. When I was a student it was invaluable to hear from successful musicians and composers who were on the leading edge of their craft as well as down to earth, who had the same vulnerability as I might have and hear how they worked through these moments.


SSM: Recently, you wrote and performed ‘Safely Home,’ which is a beautiful song of encouragement and hope. What part do you think musicians play with healing during times of uncertainty? 

KB: Thank you, I wrote that song when I needed to feel that way, so that song “wrote itself” as well. Music touches people and the emotional connection is visceral and powerful. You can hear a piece of music and not know or understand the language it’s being performed in or the instruments that are playing but you can be moved in ways that can immediately change and heal your mind and mood.

Musicians are the ambassadors of the heart and soul. What an incredible gift!! It truly is a universal language. Music has been and continues to be a great teacher and force in my life.

Soundtrack Available Now: [Download/Listen]