Nicolas Arnaud is a young French composer and multi-instrumentalist focusing mainly on music for film, TV shows, advertisements, video games and other audiovisual media. After receiving classical piano and guitar training in France he has moved to London, where he graduated from music technology in 2011. His unique, contemporary cinematic approach has allowed him to cooperate on a variety of film projects; using his versatile skills to embrace different styles and genres.
His music style is characterised by emotional intensity, yet it has a distinctive dreamy quality. Expressive percussions, unusual sounds and unexpected rhythmical changes are all parts of his trade mark. Technically brilliant, Nicolas often uses classical piano and strings, as well as progressive rock guitar and electronic sounds. The mood of his compositions varies from existential sadness, suspense and horror in drama to sheer playful happiness of children’s music.
Why did you choose making music for film and media opposing to e.g. being in a band?
Being in a band is not as varied; most bands usually choose a style and stick to it in order to fulfil the fans’ expectations. What I like to do is experiment – and making music for movies forces you to do just that – to go out of your comfort zone and explore new styles and genres. I also like to work by myself and make the score as good as it can be
What makes composing music for film special?
I would say it is the unique relationship between the music and what is actually happening on the screen. As a musician, you want your work to be heard, but you have to understand, that the music is only one element of the narrative. The main focus should be on the story. The music is only here to help telling that story – whether it is to express emotions, or suggest something.
Tell us about your work process.
Before I start composing I try to listen to other soundtracks or similar genre to put myself in the right mood. I also record myself whistling any ideas of melody or themes. That’s also the time when I may choose the instruments I will use. I like the first demo I send to the director to be quite advanced already, so they can get a close idea of the final result.
You made music for the film The Shooting of Barry Miller, which was premiered last year on a film festival Dances with Films in Los Angeles. Do you cooperate with many American filmmakers?
Surprisingly yes. That’s the power of the internet. You don’t need to move to Los Angeles in order to work on an American film. The best is when the director, who already has some kind of idea how the music should sound, contacts me at an early stage. I like to see the script, or the rough cut to get the feel of the movie.
As a composer you must perceive music differently than a laic fan; what kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
That can be really varied. I would like to mention 3 people that I admire.
Alexandre Desplat, a French composer, whose first success was a comic song in the 80ties and is now scoring big budget movies.
Vladimir Cosma, who was classically educated and has scored classic French comedies for decades. He is very gifted in making catchy melodies with grandiose orchestration.
Trent Reznor, who comes from rock music and has recently composed electronic soundtracks to films The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Social Network.
What would you like to say to aspiring filmmakers?
Original music score can add a lot of value to your film production, especially if you are not completely satisfied with your visuals – getting the right composer and right music can really make a difference. Try to think how your favourite movie would look without its score to understand the importance of soundtrack.
For more info visit http://www.nicolasarnaud.com/