Friday, October 21, 2016

5 Questions for an Eagle Rock composer of quirky tunes for commercials, video games and film

Composer Silas Hite | Photo courtesy Silas Hite

By Marni Epstein

You probably listen to Silas Hite’s music every day, you just don’t know it. The Eagle Rock composer – who plays twelve instruments (if not more) – crafts the soundtrack of commercials, video games, and films. It’s not the side of the music business we often hear much about, but its unconventionality is a perfect fit for Hite  and his quirky compositions. Frankly, it runs in the family, Hite got his start composing at his uncle’s (Mike Mothersbaugh of DEVO and “Whip It” fame) studio. After learning the tricks of trade there, he struck out on his own five years ago scoring various projects, and has also added artist and illustrator to his resume in that time.

Hite’s latest project, the score for a film entitled “Discussion Questions,” even has him exhibiting at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art’s Whitney Biennial – a showcase for emerging artists.

What instruments do you play?
I play lots of instruments with varying degrees of proficiency: drum set, guitar, mandolin, bass, keyboards, congas, bongos, timbales, and most percussion, really. I am decent on a handful of others. The hardest instrument I have ever studied is the accordion. It is so complex I am astounded that it was ever a common household instrument.

What commercial are you most proud of?
I’ve had the privilege of scoring some great spots for Apple, Chevy, Burger King, McDonalds and many others, but my favorite is probably a Martini & Rossi commercial that only aired in Europe, titled “El Toro”. It starred George Clooney and was apparently a big hit over there. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez, who I hold in high regard not only as a director but also a talented musician and composer. I felt that the music had to be perfect or he would just score it himself!

Have you ever created your own score of an already existing movie for fun?
No, I don’t have that much free time [Laughs]! But that does sound fun. I would probably pick a Paul Thomas Anderson film or a Wes Anderson film. They always have fantastic scores, but it is more about the stylized worlds they create that would be fun to try and compliment and re-imagine musically.

Is there a difference, creatively scoring a movie vs. a commercial vs. a video game?
Definitely. First of all, the function of the music is very different. For example, a video game track might be five minutes long and has to be interesting but not too interesting in case the player ends up being stuck on that level for a long time. You don’t want them to hate the music after hearing it fifty times in a row! In contrast, a commercial may have to be catchy enough to instantly burrow into your brain after a single thirty-second listen.

Where or how does creative inspiration typically strike?
Usually when I pick up a new instrument I am hit with a sense of new possibilities that I would call inspiration. Travel can be very inspiring, probably because it affords a macro perspective on my life and creative pursuits. It pulls my nose out of the paper or computer. Hearing new music, seeing a great film, or discovering a new artist that blows my mind also inspires me and makes me want to create something as great as what I just witnessed. It’s almost competitive, but not really. It’s more like I want to inspire that person as much as they inspired me.

Five Questions poses the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Want to know more about people in your neighborhood? Send suggestions  to [email protected]

Marni Epstein Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.

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