A Q&A with Composer Micaela Carballo

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  1. Born in Argentina, you developed a musical interest at a very young age. Can you talk about your path to becoming a composer, and what inspired you to get into film and media music? 

    I was born in a small town where I only had access to piano classes, which I did study since the age of six. I am the only musician in my family and I really wasn’t aware of the possibility of studying music as a professional career. Thanks to the guidance of a teacher, I moved to La Plata, Argentina, about 4 hours from my small town, so I could formally study composition at the University of La Plata (a public and free University). The degree in Composition was focused on contemporary music. Before finishing my studies I began composing for independent plays which is where I discovered my passion for telling stories through music and it was not until when I watched the last Harry Potter movie in the cinema when I realized I wanted to be a film composer. With this epiphany the problem now was how to go about learning this craft since there weren’t any options to study film music in my country. I began to researching online about schools where I can study film music, and most importantly to me, scholarships for Latin American people. I was very fortunate to learn about the Fundacion Carolina scholarship which I was awarded go to study film music in ESMUC in Barcelona, Spain. Thanks to that, I began my career in media music.

  2. It’s every composer’s dream to work at Abbey Road Studios in London, and you just mixed the music for a feature there- La Inmensidad! What was this experience like?

    For the last two years I was studying at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London while simultaneously composing for the Argentine feature film La Inmensidad, which I recorded at Belle Shenkman Studios. When I was about to start the mixing process, the RCM began a collaboration with Abbey Road Institute where I was lucky to be in contact with Lucas Jordan, who was finishing his mixing program at Abbey Road where we spent three days mixing the music for the film. I later learned that this was only the second Argentinian movie to be worked on at Abbey Road, which of course is even more special to me.   

  3. You recently composed music for Marvel’s I Am Groot Live in Concert the Tito Puente 100 centennial in Puerto Rico. How did you get involved in this project and what were some of the challenges it presented? 

    The conductor and producer for this show, Angel Velez, brought me on as head arranger for this show celebrating the iconic Tito Puente and one of Puente’s hits Ran Kan Kan is used in Marvel’s I am Groot series and Angel and director Kirsten Lepore wanted to add this as a live version but it needed a rescore as well as new arrangement of Ran Kan Kan which we performed live to film Tito Puente, Jr. and the Puerto Rico Philharmonic. It was a very unique experience, because before I began the rescore I had the chance to meet Kirsten in person and talk with her about the fun story she created along with her ideas of the music. It was a fun challenge, especially to do with only one rehearsal!

  4. Can you talk about your scoring process working on Jaguar Spirit, a documentary you scored for the Discovery Channel – what influenced your creative choices for this film? How do you approach documentaries as opposed to narrative films?  

    Jaguar was a special project to work on because I could relate to the story of an unspoken conflict that is a narrative that is sadly all too common in Latin America and I wanted to be part of telling this story, made more special working with a Latin American crew. Whether documentary or narrative film, I think they are mostly the same, but with a documentary it’s usually an emotional topic which helps me diving deeper into feelings. Also, with voice over so common in documentaries it forces me to really be careful how and when I write so it adds to the emotion of the story. For this story I decided to approach the music as two characters, the beautiful and peaceful landscapes contrasted with the violent reality of the story of the jaguar. I was inspired by this contrast of beauty and darkness and I explored using various instruments, sounds and rhythms from Latin America including using different flutes and small guitars like the charango to create my palette. It’s an important story that needs to be shared with the world and I hope my small part helps the story be well received by the audiences. 

  5. What tips do you have for those who wish to follow in your footsteps?  

    Find people that inspire you, don’t compare yourself with others, being different is a powerful thing. Ask for help, study, travel, be humble, be yourself. Don’t lose hope, stay curious. Listen to the people that you admire. And the most difficult for me, learn how to do business and how to sell your music. 

    Interview by Nami Melumad

    Check out the AWFC Directory for Micaela Carballo.

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