Paul Mottram

15 December 2008

Paul Mottram is an immensley talented composer who also writes websites! Find out more...

Paul Mottram and Andrew Sunnucks


Paul has been given more than his fair share of talents. He is a marathon runner, a mathematician, a computer programmer (he wrote the original Audio Network website), he is a violinist, a pianist and of course, an immensely diverse composer who can turn his hand to almost any style.

The composer

Paul would acknowledge that his particular strengths lie in writing and arranging for live acoustic ensembles and he has built himself a reputation as a first class contemporary classical composer. From his formidable academic background (Cambridge University, Royal College of Music and Guildhall) he has developed his skills as an orchestrator and arranger on films like Chaplin, Shirley Valentine and Rain Man and from there he quickly became one of the most accomplished composers for film and television in the industry.

History

Paul and Andrew Sunnucks, Audio Network’s creative director, have worked together and been great friends since 1989. Together they did hundreds of projects throughout the nineties and Paul was one of the very first to become involved with Audio Network when the company was set up in 2001. “The fact that we knew each other so well and he had so many complementary skills made him an obvious choice for us” says Andrew. 

Since the early days, Paul has built an impressive portfolio of tracks with the company and has recently composed a number of orchestral tracks all of which have been recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and many have had choirs and cathedral organs thrown on for good measure. All of these new works are being mixed in 5.1 to give the full cinematic effect.

For instance

Check out the diversity of Paul’s writing, from the cinematic full symphonic feel of Fields of Honour to the exquisite pastoral strings of Morning Dew and the intricate vocal close harmony of The Sundance Singers to the jaunty whistling of Sideways Like a Crab. “It’s great to be able to work in so many idioms,” says Paul “very few composers get the opportunity to work with the best orchestras and players available and Audio Network’s commitment to recording with live musicians makes the compositional process hugely rewarding.”

“Audio Network is like a family,” he says “with their community of composers there are opportunities to collaborate with people who have completely different backgrounds”, it was one of these partnerships with Gareth Johnson which led to extraordinarily powerful tracks like The Dirt and Inferno. Neither one of the composers would ever have written either of those tracks alone, but together they created something that was completely unique and original.

Paul enjoys the constant challenge of producing great media music without compromising the ‘stand alone’ musical values of his work, as he says – ‘it must sit beautifully with film but also be  equally at home as something one would listen to with pleasure on your ipod’      

Find out more about Paul Mottram and listen to his music 
 

Q&A

What was your most embarrassing faux pas? Half-hearing and pointing out an error in a take of an orchestral piece by Larry Rosenthal in a film music session at Abbey Road, but naming an instrument that wasn’t playing as the culprit, much to the amusement of the orchestra.

What is your greatest/favourite claim to fame?
I may possibly be the fastest professional composer to have completed the London Marathon (2:46), although that was a few years ago. Don’t tell me if I’m not though.
Which album do you air guitar/drum/keyboard to? Lenny Kravitz ‘My Mama Said’ – actually it’s really just the song of that name, not the whole album
Any musical guilty pleasures? Catchy low-brow pop, whether it’s Spice Girls or whatever. Not really that guilty actually, I just think a good melody is a good melody, whatever the lyrics and the emotional weight of the song.
Who would play you in a movie? People have very occasionally stopped me in supermarkets to say I look like Cliff Richard (as he did in the 60’s of course!), but actually I’d go for Colin Firth as it seems like he can do no wrong according to at least half of the population.
Which composer or band would you bring back from the dead? Gustav Mahler. I’d love to know how he’d have finished his 10th symphony if he’d had time and what he would have done in the 11th.
What is your greatest extravagance? Having four children!
Any words of wisdom you would like to offer or have received? As a composer there’s no replacement for a great set of ears, both to analyse and conceive music with. Also be organised and tenacious, it’s hard to make a success of a career in media music without those two qualities. 
Any hidden talents? I’m quite hot on athletics stats, but that truly is a talent to remain hidden!
What/who would you put in Room 101? Much of the music written by academic process (ie cerebal patterns/systems on the printed page), rather than that conceived primarily by the ear.
Your top 5 musical works of all time or today are? Bernstein - West Side Story
Mahler – Symphony No. 6
Prokofiev – Romeo and Juliet
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
What's behind you? The window, it stops me looking out of it and getting distracted from getting on with stuff. 
If you could be reincarnated, who would you come back as? If it was as a musician it would Leonard Bernstein, but I’d be very tempted to come back with the physical ability to win an Olympic athletics medal. So say someone like Steve Ovett.

What inspires you?
The adrenaline produced by an impending deadline and the thrill of hearing one’s music played by great musicians.
If you weren't writing music for a living what would you be doing? Writing software. I do a certain amount anyway and I find the cerebal process quite similar and satisfying.
Do you ever hear a complete piece of music in your head before writing it/ recording it? Not really. On a good day, composing can almost seem to be like discovering something that is in the subconscious already and so the music almost writes itself.

Do you download or buy music on CD?
I still like the feel of a CD in your hand with the artwork etc. It somehow seems more satisfying.
Other than family, what one thing would you rescue if your house was on fire?
Probably my scores or my violin.

What question have you always wanted someone to ask you, and what would be your answer?
Would you be happy to be described as the new John Williams?
Yes, very!

 


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