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Composer Interview: Caitlin Yeo

1. My name is...Caitlin Yeo

2. I work from.... Home at the moment. I have been working from Church st Studios since 2017, however, with the devastating effects of Coronavirus, and my 14-year-old son now schooling from home, I have had to move my studio home. It’s weird. I spent the first 14 years of my career working in the tiniest of rooms, a little cave at the back of my garage, where I could touch the ceiling. Through this time, I learn to be brilliant at juggling my home life and my composer’s life. And yet, now, being back home, I have forgotten it all, and I have to re-learn those skills again. Add to that the current pandemic, and it is a recipe for procrastination baking big time!

3. I've been composing for screen for... 17 years. However, I have only been composing full time for screen for 3 years. Before that I substituted my screen composing wage with teaching music part time. Indeed, AC/DC was not wrong when they sung “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll”.

4. I studied music at.... Sydney University (BA) where I learnt a love of 20th century composition and ethnomusicology. After this I went on to study Screen Composition at AFTRS at the old Macquarie campus. It was AFTRS first year with Martin Armiger as head of Screen Music, and John Haeny as head of sound. Two legends. I am forever grateful for that education, and feel certain I would not be the composer I am today without it. Something people don't know about me is.....that I am a twin. We are fraternal, and born 5 minutes apart. I’m older, and 10 centimetres taller. My sister lives in the inner west, like me, and we are very close. She is definitely the smart and successful one and has kept her age much better than I!

5. My musical journey involved... playing and touring with post-modern rock band Freudian Trip (amongst others) in the 90s, performing in Javanese gamelan ensemble Grup Kyai Kebo Giro, squeezing the accordion in gypsy trio Accelerando, and writing music for community theatre. Such great times, and such a different life.

6. The instrument I'm best at is... probably the flute, though I play piano the most, and love, love, love the accordion, despite how hard it is to play well.

7. I'm best known for my score(s) to...The Rocket, The Butterfly Tree and Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.

8. My composing style is....organic, earthy, simple, open and emotional. 9. My favourite sample libraries are....the ones I have made myself. They are dirty, overly simple, and a big part of my sound.

10. My workflow is typically....immersive and organised.

11. I compose using...pencil and manuscript, piano, Digital Performer, and my ears.

12. If I wasn't a screen composer I'd probably be a pastry chef or chocolatier because I love baking, and I love delicious food, and I love feeding people.

13. The things I love about my job is....all the creative aspects of writing for film from conception to creation. Imagining the idea, hearing it in my head, writing it on manuscript, sketching it up in Performer, refining it, recording it, and mixing it. It’s about the whole creative journey and hearing the film come alive. It really is very satisfying when it all comes together.

14. The things I dislike about my job is....reading emails. I am not a big fan of email. I much prefer to have a chat on the phone. That said, I understand it is a necessary part of the job and most of my business is done via email.

15. My favourite piece of technology is...Digital Performer because of the CHUNKS!! The ability to have multiple timelines, and videos in one session! That is a golden thing for long form film and TV.

16. My favourite piece of non film-score music is...anything by Debussy. I so love Debussy’s sense of harmony and melody.

17. My favourite film is....The Shawshank Redemption. I have a rule, that every time it is on TV, I stop whatever I am doing and watch it. It is also the first film that I heard Thomas Newman’s music in. The Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, the film is based on is also fantastic. There are so many reasons to love this film. Another favourite film of mine is My Brilliant Career.

18. To relax I.... either bake or go for walks along the river. I should probably do both of these activities more often. Life is too short, and I should elevate the act of relaxation further up the priority list of my life activities.

19. A message to my fellow composers would be....do what you love and love what you do. Believe in yourself, and always be kind and compassionate to those you are working with, especially yourself. Everyone’s path is different, so go out there and enjoy carving your own. Trust your instincts, as these are powerful indicators of what is right for your journey. And lastly, reach out regularly and chat to your fellow composers. Our craft and industry will inevitably grow if we advocate for each other and look after each others interests.

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