Tell us about your background
I studied piano at Paris Conservatory and then studied MMus in Piano Performance at the RSAMD.
I’m from Paris and I’m currently working as a composer/orchestrator in Los Angeles.
I realised my style was cinematic and decided to pursue a career in film music. At that time there weren’t any film music courses available at the Conservatoire, so I went to the capital of film music, Los Angeles to look for training.
I had two choices: USC and UCLA. I applied to UCLA because the campus was so amazing, and the head of the music department welcomed me while I visited. I was accepted into the Ph.D. programme for film music. That’s how I got on track to Hollywood and then went on to work with Hans Zimmer.
I’ve worked on movies including Boss Baby, Dunkirk, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Kung Fu Panda 3. I also orchestrated BBC’s Blue Planet II, Big Cat, and National Geographic’s Princess Diana documentary, Diana: in her own words.
What was it like studying in Glasgow?
I loved studying in Scotland. I went to RSAMD because I read it ranked first in music that year. It was very exciting to spend an entire year in Glasgow.
I made great friends that I still keep in touch with. Chris Baxter is a great pianist and friend that really made my stay at the RSAMD feel like home. Chris performed one of the pieces I wrote for him recently.
Besides the great friends I made, I had fantastic piano teachers that really shaped me into who I am today.
Describe a typical day
Covid brought big changes and normalised working from home. I invested in a lot of equipment and can now deliver most of my work from my home office instead of going to the studios.
I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, to better cope with my workload. Since the Covid lockdowns, I’ve kept up the good habit of doing twenty minutes of physical training at home every day. I intend to continue because we musicians lack exercise, working in closed spaces like rehearsal rooms or studios. I’ve noticed that when I exercise, it stimulates my creativity and gives me energy for the whole day.
How did your time at RCS prepare you for the world of work?
RCS gave me confidence, so that I could recognise myself as a musician. I found an incredibly supportive and positive environment there. I never imagined I could play Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in its entirety. That’s the piece I played at the Concerto Competition and people came up to me and said they really enjoyed my performance.
Beyond that, I really liked that there was a drama department, with so many plays performed by student actors. I believe that the different artistic disciplines should inspire each other. I remember when I had a masterclass with Rostropovitch (I was on the piano accompanying a cellist), he encouraged all the music students to immerse themselves in other art forms. We can’t isolate music and bury our heads in the sand and ignore the environment. Music is part of human culture and is therefore intrinsically linked to everything else in life.
When I orchestrate, my performing training kicks in, and I know how musicians will react in live performance or in the recording studio. Thanks to my RSAMD training, I know how performing artists think. I always have them in mind, whether I orchestrate for others or compose for myself. An orchestrator should know how musicians respond to score marking.
I’m currently exploring new horizons towards more abstract and artistic projects. I’ve just orchestrated a sound installation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. I would be honoured to collaborate with RCS in the future, be it concert music or theatrical performance.
What has been the most memorable moment from your career so far?
The most memorable moment for me was the first time I saw my name credited on a big screen. It was at the premiere of Boss Baby by Dreamworks. I went with friends and family to see it again at the cinema and we stayed until the end for the credits to see my name on the silver screen!
Any final points or words of wisdom?
There’s a French phrase that comes to mind whenever I encounter difficulties in life. “C’est la vie” means “it’s just life”, or as we say in English, “it happens”. “C’est la vie” is what we say when random things happen that could either be roadblocks or little bumps on the road.
It may sound like a cliché, but it’s very insightful. It reflects the fact that life is full of surprises, not all good and not all bad. When bad things happen, we don’t have to blame ourselves, or spend time worrying about it, rather, we should focus on solving the issues and moving forward.
However, “C’est la vie” does not exonerate us from being responsible for our own actions, but simply encourages us to accept what happens to us, for better or for worse. We can then stand up and concentrate, and overcome those situations, without putting more burden on ourselves.
So, enjoy the good things in life and overcome the bad ones!