Lovsin is a documentary short produced by Duncan McDowall, who I had met through a friend at a film screening. The subject is Louis Lovsin, otherwise known as Montreal Piano (on Rachel/Clark). This repair shop is a Montreal institution!


Cruz de Luz

I am really lucky to know Diego Briceno-Orduz, Columbian-born filmmaker, documentary specialist, now residing in Montréal. I met him because I taught his daughter piano, and I asked if he was looking for someone to do the score for "El Rastro de Camilo". He  had found a composer already but asked that I re-arrange "Cruz de Luz" by Daniel Viglietti. The song is famous in Columbia, but because the film updates the story of Camilo Torres, he wanted a new version..

The film "El Rastro de Camillo" (The Path of Camillo) was scheduled to broadcast on Senal Columbia in February 2016, prime-time, at a period in which the country was changing, and ready to re-consider the story of a controversial figure Camilo Torres, who was accused of being a Guerilla and whose story was obscured for political reasons.

I developed 2 versions of the song for the film, one with solo piano and voice, the other with a full rock instrumental and vocal harmony backing.  Some people have told me that the latter sounds like "Hotel California!"

I was equally lucky to get Isis Giraldo (another Columbian artist who performs under the name "Chiquita Magic") to sing this. And- she did it on the day before she was to go to Columbia! You can listen to the version in the film here, played during the credits with a drone shot over the city. I love the lyrics. The last line is very touching and inspired me to highlight its meaning musically. Diego later told me that while he showed the film in numerous venues in Columbia, the last line brought tears to the eyes of the audience.


Days of Eva

So, my friend Marc is an incredible thinker, artist, conversationalist, with impeccable taste. He also has a knack for bringing people together. That, and Montreal is a small place! So, one day he introduced me to an upright bassist bassist and we all jammed together a bit in Marc's loft space. She told us that she was going into the Mel Oppenheim School of Cinema. Around a year later, she got word that I had been doing some music production for film, and she put me in touch with a fellow student Vincent Réné-Lortie, who was in post-production for "Days of Eva," a sci-fi short. This was a pretty unique film, I was later told, because the school had not seen anything sci-fi in a long time. Under the surface of the obviously limited budget, I saw vision in his work, which inspired me to get into the cracks of the film, aiming for a sound-design-y approach. He had clear ideas of what he wanted and where. He was inspired by "Ex-Machina." Anyway, it all came together rather quickly. We did two spotting sessions, and a few edits and voilà we had a score.

I think it really came together when Vid Cousins did the audio post-production. The film did really well... amazingly well for Vincent's first film, and it was nominated for three awards at the school's own film fest, among them sound., and was featured in les Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Quebecois.

Silvia dans les Vagues

I was fortunate to get this unique project by Giovana Olmos. The film deals with the subject of gender transformation, death, and family dynamics and challenges narratives in the understanding of gender. It also used a great deal of underwater photography. A lot of bold images, colour, rich in symbolism. Giovana approached me with the reference of Simon and Garfunkel's El Condor Pasa (1970), which at first sounded to me like a dozen mandolins playing simultaneously in a village square, and then an additional guitar over dubbed on top drenched in reverb. I was like: "how am I going to re-produce this?"

Then I remembered that my Screen Composer's Guild Mentor Nicholas Schnier had a mandolin-like instrument called the Charango. So I guessed I could reproduce the ensemble effect through overdubbing. First, though, I would have to write the music using virtual instruments, get approval, then record.

We went through many iterations and finally settled on a final version with orchestral bass-section, felted piano, guitar, charango, and an organ pad to fill in some harmony. This score had somewhat of a classic approach to it in the sense that I composed a theme and used fragments of it all over. You can hear the complete theme in two different arrangements.

I called Réné Portillo to help me out with the score and he did a great job playing all the stringed instruments.

When I got to the end of the session I ran into a problem because despite our best efforts we could not get that sustained stream of sound out of the Charango. Dave Duong, the sound designer had been able to simulate it with guitar overdubs, but the Charango, no. I could try the guitar - it could be close, but not really. So I'll be honest I was in a panic. I needed something that sounded like a village square full of Charangos. So I typed "Charango ensemble" into Google and lo and behold, Spitfire Audio had such a thing! It sounded EXACTLY like what I wanted. Like, EXACTLY.

Here's the solo guitar version:

Boris: Portrait of an Artist

Disclaimer: I never finished this project. Due to a last minute change by the executive producer, the score went to Nina Simone's friend and Musical Director Al Shackman. However, team I worked with was very enthusiastic about my score, so I am sharing it!

For this I was inspired by the abstraction in the subject's art, and the period in which he became known, the sixties. They wanted a jazz score, influenced by Mel Tormés version of "Comin' Home Baby" as well as Nina Simone, whom the artist knew and whose portrait he painted.The film also contained some Thelonious Monk drum breaks, tightly edited to picture. So I borrowed the go-go beat from "Comin Home..." and brought some 60's jazz abstraction to it, à la Miles Davis, as well as film score elements that bring out the visuals.


For the rest of the film we went with a beat-poet jazz style bass and drum accompaniment, but not restricted to the period. We used some Afro-Brazilian elements as well as contemporary jazz.

Despite great enthusiasm for the score, the concept was shelved as the producers worked out an arrangement with Al Shackman, Nina Simone's Guitarist and Musical Director of three decades).

Math Expressions Games

Ok so a friend put me in the running for this project at Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt here in Montreal. I submitted a demo, and got the contract to do music and sound design for this set of children's math learning games.

I met with the design team and I was quite surprised to see that the contract said that I could not use any samples from any libraries at all. Which was weird. So you would think that I would just go ahead and create every single sound and record every instrument live. And if I were a brilliant percussionist and sound designer and foley person, then yes, I would have done that. Instead, we clarified the contract! Ha

So once that was cleared up, I worked with the design team to get references that might work across several different concepts for this game including a play on/ play off song for game play and a menu theme. Finally settling on a percussion-based piece that could be used for both the game intros and the game menu. Then came the win and lose jingles, then the sound fx.


Thing Explainer

On the heels of Math Expressions Games, HMH contacted me to work on an animation project based on Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe. Randall Munroe who used to work at NASA, and is now a best-selling author and cartoonist. His concept is to use a paired down vocabulary of 1000 words to describe phenomena such as planets, the growth of organisms, use of fire, etc... Animator André Navarre to animate the drawings from Thing Explainer.


The music here had to be cute to match the look and feel of the animations. One of the producers selected a tempo...  120bpm and provided some references. Then I started to write to picture, collaborating with the producer by e-mail and file-exchange. The trick here was to develop simple melodies and meaningful chord changes, while having the flexibility to swap out / shorten / lengthen sections. As one piece of music was used for 4 videos per subject, I had to edit the music for different lengths... by sometimes as much as 20seconds...


Hectarium is a brain-child of Creator / Director Diego Briceno-Orduz. It deals with farming, land-use, agriculture, and expresses the challenges that we face as a humanity.

This is the first interactive-media project I have been involved with. Basically, I was asked to score 11 short films, plus a trailer. The films help you to understand the different options that you have as a user. I concentrated on creating short effective pieces. I did not score anything for the interactive interface, although there was some talk of it, for which I created a loop. The project was also released as a short film and is slated for release as a feature length documentary.

This concept was put together by a couple of teams. The film side was Makila.tv. The application technology side was Pliab. Diego went to the Banff Centre for innovative media technology to develop the interface side. I happened to be passing through on my way to Kelowna, so I was able to meet him there. We visited the centre then went out for dinner.

A few months later it was crunch time. I worked with Jesse Freeston who was in charge of editing, and I was lucky to get sound recordist and mix engineer Réné Portillo to record Cuatro (an instrument native to Columbia and Venezuela) for two of the episodes. That was super cool.



This film came to me by way of a friend, who invited me to a BBQ where I had a chance to meet director Axel Laramée for the first time. He had just completed an edit for this short film, and he had some tracks from a couple of artists (Strand of Oaks and Ian Kelly), but he wanted more music to highlight certain feelings and aspects of the story. So he described the story to me: a cottage, a couple, a brother, a melée of emotions, the folly of youth, a lake, a dog, swimming across the lake to an island, a betrayal. I'm paraphrasing here, obviously. I was like: "sounds cool, I'd love to see it."

One aspect of Axel's vision was that he wanted the earthy folksy cottage elements to morph into a subtle distorted synth sound to represent the pending emotional turmoil lurking in the story. We referred to it as "the monster."

So, I was able to pull the background elements of the first cue (synth woodwinds) forward in the mix, and by modulating an analogue bass, get them to overpower the acoustic guitar to end the scene.

So this score was really all about bridging the sonic ground between the two songs, and realizing "the monster."



Who am I?

I am a Montreal-based composer producer coming from a background in jazz. I studied English Literature and Philosophy at McGill University, but could not stay away from the piano, so I transferred into the music faculty. There I became steeped in a rich history of composition, arranging, and improvisation with amazing mentors.

My musical voice comes from my  experience. I blend acoustic and electric, scoring and studio production, as well as written and improvised. I go after a sound that conveys an emotion, a meaning. There are many paths to get there.

While playing keyboards full time professionally, I had the honour of opening for Herbie Hancock, Trombone Shorty, and playing keyboards for Jacob Lusk (American idol) and Soul legend Dorothy Moore. I also recorded with incredible artists from Europe (Trio Résistances) and the USA: singer Emma Frank, and drummer Dylan Fusillo from Antibalas). And I had an important mentor in the lineage of jazz with Mike Longo in New York, which expanded my understanding of jazz.

In late 2015, I embarked on a new challenge.  I mentored with film / tv composer Nicholas Schnier in Hamilton and got my first scoring gigs with Makila film collective here in Montreal. Since then I have received commissions from the CBC, HMH, and collaborated with many creators and producers. Gritty, creative, collaborative, a problem-solver ever willing to find solutions, and to always aim high. That is who I am.