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Composer Interview - Guy Gross


My name is Guy Giora Reuben Gross

I'm aged 53.  No really I am.  No, I don’t die my hair!!

I work at Church Street Studios.  My second home.  (Actually my first)

I've been composing for screen for almost 40 years!!!!  Thanks mostly to good ol’ nepotism.

Professionally, I'm also a “also” ??.  I’m not even professionally a composer.  Never finished my degree.

I studied music at... and qualified with a….  Well… Conservatorium High School.  And only one semester of B-Mus and the Conservatorium.  Felt they were churning out grant applicators.  Not artistic communicators.

I'm also a qualified... Nope.  Nothing.

Something people don't know about me is I can turn my tongue around 360 degrees while it’s out!!  And I speak Hebrew having been born in Israel.

My musical journey involved listening ad nauseam to West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein), Variations in a Theme by Thomas Talis (Vaughan Williams) and singing Bach

The instrument I'm best at is piano.  As long as we’re in C major or C Minor.

I also play fretless bass ukulele.

I'm best known for my score(s) to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

A score I'm proud of but received little recognition is Frauds. The Priscilla director's first feature.  There’s a pirate version online.

The score I wish I wrote is Bram Stoker's Dracula because it’s just so damn good. By Wojciech Kilar.

The film I wish I scored is The Red Balloon.  Made 10 years before I was born. It’s just so beautiful.  

If I wasn't me, the composer I'd love to be is Bach.  He is the source of all that is good.

My composing style is made up as I go along. And very limited by my damn clumsy fingers.

My favourite sample libraries are my oldest ones.  The ones that I got as audio CD’s and had to sample myself.  Still my go-to flute, strings and a few other things.

My must have plug­in is Altiverb.  When too much verb is never enough.

My most memorable recording experience is conducting a 100 piece Sydney Symphony for the Farscape Mini series.  I had to keep pinching myself.    

All my scores seem to include Bachian harmony somewhere.  Actually doesn’t everyone’s?

My workflow is typically Roll picture, and improvise.

I compose using Digital Performer.

My screen composing income is supplemented by being Chief Rector at Church Street Studios. A most spiritually profitable venture.

The person(s) and/or institution that helped me get to where I am now is

  1. Singing in the Conservatorium Choral for solidifying my voice leading and counterpoint skills. 

  2. The old Film Australia for hours of corporate film scoring as training in my 20’s and a chance meeting eventually leading to me scoring Priscilla. 

  3. Elana Chernin-Kats who transcribed my first serious composition which won me a composing competition which enabled me to study composition full time. 

  4. The late great Simon Leadley who’s infectious enthusiasm and problem solving brain was a constant companion through my 20’s and 30’s.

If I wasn't a screen composer I'd probably be a toy maker.  I love tinkering in the shed making things.

The things I love about my job is making people laugh and cry.  And working around other great creative humans at Church Street.

The things I dislike about my job is Clueless clients.

My favourite piece of technology is an AM radio.  

My favourite piece of non film­score music is just the classic greats.  Four Seasons, Stravinsky Ballets, Anything by J. S. Bach.  

To relax I drive up to my sisters house in Mullumbimby and find a spot for my hammock. (see pic)  

A day wouldn't be complete without take away food.  My only serious vice.  Pizza or Burger anyone?  Just call.  

The last concert I went to was SSO doing Star Wars.  Was actually incredible.  So rock solid and tight. Such genius simplicity in the writing and orchestrations.

A book that resonated with me was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  

A message to my fellow composers would be give up.  There’s too many of us.  But if you must… Don’t take criticisms personally.  Don’t forget they were never really your notes.  You borrowed them from Bach in the first place. 

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