A Q&A with Composer & Pianist Nomi Abadi

  1. Youve been keeping busy in 2021, scoring 10 projects varying between short films, video games and features. Tell us more about those projects and how you enjoyed writing music for different genres and visions.

    Yes! I’ve been fortunate to have been able to stay productive in the pandemic. One of the wonderful aspects of this new normal is that the world has seemingly gotten smaller. About half of the projects I worked on in 2021 were brand new connections formed through social media while the other half were projects that I discussed with the directors for months, or years. I had the pleasure of scoring my first feature film, Sebastian, starring Darius McCrary (who played Eddie in Family Matters, a show I watched religiously in the 90s). I also wrote additional music for another feature film, Super Turnt, co-wrote for Apple Solitaire, was a guest artist on Satanic Planet’s debut album where I co-wrote the song “Devil In Me” with Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Misfits), and scored six short films. There was definitely a darker tone to the majority of the projects I worked on in 2021. One of the most meaningful jobs was having the privilege of scoring the official trailer for Aaliyah’s music release by Blackground Records after 25 years. With R Kelly’s sentencing happening at the same time, it was very emotional. It felt like the best parts of the 90s and early 2000s came to visit me in the pandemic and make some things right. A profound year of healing, in spite of global illness.

  2. You have invented the NORY instrument and are going full production this year towards 2023. What are your goals and mission for NORY and how is it being received so far? Especially that youre also working on a full album on your instrument.

    I’m equally excited for and freaking out about NORY®, which is probably why I love it so much. I originally made the instrument for myself–it didn’t occur to me when I patented it that someone else would actually want one. Embarking on the journey into production has been an extremely challenging and daunting road, but also so much fun, in a way that goes very well with being a composer, I feel. I have a lot of new NORY® content I’m working on, too, including an album and some videos that I can’t wait to share. I don’t know which thing I’m up to that the kid in me is more excited about.

  3. How has working on a Grammy nominated album in 2019 for “Good Vibes”, String Theory’s single album that youve been part of, influenced your work and attitude afterwards? Any future album plans and collaborations?

    It’s all in the title–good vibes all around! When I saw the album got nominated that morning, I think I jumped five feet out of bed. I remember feeling so much love pouring out of everything–my dresser, the walls, my cat. And then I saw we were nominated with Michelle Obama for her audiobook, and the love from the universe confirmed its existence right then and there when it put me right back in my place. I learned that no matter where I go and what I accomplish, there will always be a Michelle Obama. I tried to tweet John Waters (a fellow nominee in our same category) that we got nominated alongside Michelle Obama, but he never responded. I’m extremely proud of that album. We recorded 22 songs in 3 days which we released across two albums. “The Los Angeles Suite” recently debuted, which features an array of incredible singers, such as vōx and Grayson. We have plans to record a third album, but will have to wait for the world to open back up as most of String Theory’s members are in Sweden and Berlin. As for my attitude, I’m not sure much changed for me internally, except the reassurance that working hard and never giving up brings unexpected gifts.

  4. Congrats on being sponsored by Emergence Audio and being approached by Van Magazine to write an op-ed essay about growing up as a classical piano prodigy. You also teach piano and voice, in addition to your scoring job. How do you manage your time between all those activities and tasks, running an instrument company and finding balance in life as well?

    Thank you! I think how I do this is that I don’t believe in moderation: I believe in taking everything to the fullest extent that I feel like taking it, which is usually pretty far. I keep a very strict schedule and genuinely enjoy everything I do, even on the worst days. I also come from four generations of piano teachers (my grandma taught Tom Waits), so teaching is in my blood. I believe in sharing knowledge with anyone who has true character and is willing to listen and put in the work. My students help hold me accountable, I’m perceived as a role model for them. As for finding time for everything, the excessive practice I did as a child prodigy probably helped my bandwidth as an adult, as I already had put 10,000 hours into the piano by the time I was 10. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of energy for some reason, but I also believe in balance and not overworking myself. I was delighted when Van Magazine asked me to write for them, because I’ve been slowly burning through an autobiography on the complexities of growing up as a child navigating adult pressures at a job I’ve had since age 5. That being said, it has been quite a cathartic trip coming back to classical piano during Covid after a 22-year hiatus. I’ve quelled some of those painful flashbacks with NORY® solos.

  5. How would you describe your musical voice and sound? What is your dream goal in your scoring career?

    Even as a child pianist, I knew in my heart I was going to become a composer. I realized that, as with a shortage of legendary female classical pianists, there weren’t enough women making music for screen. That was the first challenge that drew me to composing as a little girl composing suites to Monet paintings. I’m grateful to finally be at a point where it makes sense to make composing the center of my life. My ultimate-ultimate composing dream would be to make my own movies and score them. There is a calling I feel in my musical voice that feels like it has something important to say.

    Interview by Ghiya Rushidat

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