Interview with composer Renan Javier Cabrera

Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia but mainly grew up in Richmond. When I was a kid watching movies I was always listening intently to the original scores and I would be humming the themes constantly. I knew at that time that if I was watching a movie scored by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, I was in for something special. I have wanted to compose film music ever since. My parents initially bought a piano just for decoration when I was the around the age of 6. I began to play and fell in love with the piano so my mom enrolled me in some lessons. I hated lessons as I played mainly by ear and was frustrated learning how to sight read so I quit. I continued to compose and found my best teachers were John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Shigeru Umebayashi and so on. Listening and studying to their music were my so called homework assignments. Although I regret not having gone through the conventional route of studying music, I feel just constantly listening to my musical idols was the biggest influencer in continuing to compose - and never seeing it as "work".
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
Although I would consider myself still in the “start-up” phase, I would advise others to just keep making music, and don’t throw any ideas out! Record and recycle! A theme or motif that you think is garbage now may provide useful later.
Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?
I have never been one for performing. That is why I like the process of film music as the composer is in the background, a mad scientist in his own laboratory so to speak. I can compose, make mistakes during the production process, and in the end, I am the only one listening. That, and I am a lousy performer. I would rather create in the background and let the final track speak for itself.
Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?
I am currently working with: M-Audio Axiom 61 keyboard, KRK Rokit 5 monitors, iMac 27”, Logic Pro, using the following Virtual Instruments: EastWest Cloud Library, Hollywood Strings, Rev by Output, Project Sam Brass. I am planning to upgrade my VST collection by starting with Spitfire Audio's libraries - they sound amazing.
Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
When I was first composing my own music and putting it out on SoundCloud I found there was barely any traffic coming through. That is when I tried composing music for upcoming big-budget films once their first teaser trailers came out. I wanted to provide my own sound for what I believed the score should or could sound like, just based on the teaser images. Some would comment believing it was the real music for the film (even though I stated it was not). Some would state they liked my interpretation more than the original composer and some outrightly hated it. Anything that elicits a discussion definitely helps promotion wise. Once I put those out, I found a lot of traffic coming my way. I would then use those tracks to help direct listeners to my other original compositions.
Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?
I recently saw Hans Zimmer live in Los Angeles and he blew me away. You could just feel pure musical energy radiating from all the performers. It would be awesome to be a part of something like that. However, I would love to just be a fly on the wall in one of my favourite composers’ studios and just watch the way they work.
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
Although I had taken a break from composing, I just got a new piano which has jump started the creativity and I have found myself composing non-stop. I plan on recording some solo piano pieces. As much as I love messing around with virtual instrument libraries and electronic sounds, there is nothing better than playing the beast itself.
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
I'm sure like a lot of other start up musicians - my regular day job.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in the next year or so?
More solo piano pieces / fleshing out more of the themes found in my "Testament" series / more live recordings / and hopefully some collaborations
Exposed Vocals: Any Shout-outs?
To my wife Christina, the only one that has to actually deal with the composition process.