Time to read : 7 minutes

In today’s interview, I’m having the pleasure to talk with a young inspired, and award-winning composer Ben Stanbridge! Thank you Ben for having time for this chat! It’s a pleasure having you!

For my opening question, I would love to ask you if you could tell us when did all of this started? What was your first instrument that you learned?

I first started out playing the drums when I was 10. This was my passion for many years. Playing in two bands and achieving grade 8 at 16. Though around the age of 16 I started to enjoy playing the piano and began composing on Cubase in school. During 16-18 I started to listen to a lot more film soundtracks and fell in love with the drama! I then enjoyed attempting to recreate a similar vibe on the computer. In 2016 I got into Leeds College Of Music doing Jazz Drums though decided to change last minute to the production course as there was more attention on composing.

What does your typical work week look like?

I usually spend mornings working on any film projects I’ve got on or library pieces. Later in the day, I tend to spend time experimenting or working on my second album.

Do you remember your first ever music score that you made? How did it felt like when listening?

Yes. It was for a student film called Alice. I wrote it when I was in my second year of University aged 20. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the session and score.. though I remember being proud of it!

What was a moment in your life that changed your way of composing?

There are so many. Every lecture at Uni where we deciphered famous film scores was very eye-opening and inspirational. I would always write down chord progressions and interesting intervals then after the lecture go to a piano and experiment with them. Though one moment that sticks out for me is when I listened to ‘Said and Done’ by Nils Frahm when I was in a vulnerable state. It had a deeply captivating and almost meditative sense to it that conveyed powerful emotion which really resonated with me.

Who is your biggest influence/support in your musical career?

My Tutor at College was a big influencer and gave me confidence in my work which was hugely important as I didn’t come from a particularly musical background. There are so many composers that have influenced me over the years, I’d say the main names are Alexandre Desplat, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore, Olafur Arnolds, Marco Beltrami, Hans Zimmer, A Winged Victory for The Sullen, Nils Frahm, Michael Price, Steven Price and James Horner. Though this list could be tripled!

Regarding the previous question, do you have a composer that would be an honor to work with? And if so, why?

All the above. But probably one that I feel I would connect most with a composer like Olafur Arnolds and Michael Price due to their emotional, atmospheric and personal quality in their music and how they balance Film and TV work with their own personal music releases.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

The music I create that resonates with me most has a very emotional and moving drive but also dramatic and uplifting quality with sometimes electronic elements. I always try to find
interesting harmonic movements and experiment with sounds to help create a unique combination.

Before all the covid restrictions, what was your favorite concert that you’ve been to?

Probably Nils Frahm All Melody Concert at Cambridge. Truly awe-inspiring.

Do you plan on having a tour on your own?:)

If my second album is a success, then yeah!

I was wondering, is there a song that you love to play more often than others?

Not particularly, I always try to move around with the music that I listen to.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Let the music breathe. Though simple it has always stuck with me.

And while asking that, can you tell me also what advice would you give to your younger self?

Spend time in areas that you are not so confident in. For example, I wish I focused more on working with live musicians and mixing earlier in my career.

In your musical career, you made such a wonderful soundtrack
for movies…from drama to sci-fi. Is there a project that you’re most proud of?

Thank you! Hard to say.. But I think my score for Rebecca Kings 2019 film Contenders is one I’ve very proud of. Firstly, because it was a very enjoyable experience working with Rebecca who I can now say is a great friend. But mainly the story allowed me to create a score full of mystery, emotion, and longing but with a sci-fi edge which really resonates with me on a more personal level as it’s music that my soul wants to create.

How many versions do you usually make before making the ‘right score’?

Usually takes around 3 different versions but then there are many edits on the final version to get it just right.

How challenging is to be a movie/tv composer? What are the main factors to be a successful artist in this crowd of talents?

I would say very challenging. Because it’s not just about the music, it’s about personality,business planning, being in the right place and at the right time, networking and constantly gaining vital experience that can get you to that next level. The main factors I’d say are having a clear direction for yourself and what area of the industry you want to break into and creating a business plan that will help you get there.

What were the worst days in your musical career?

It’s a close tie between bad feedback and the days when I don’t have any projects on the go or coming up soon. Though usually, that means I can work more on my own music so I think bad feedback just wins.

What’s your favorite instrument, and which one is your least favorite? Curious about that one!

I’d say the piano is my favorite to play, listen to and write in. Though I do love the Cello and am planning to start learning soon.. just need to buy a cello..

What do you do when you lose inspiration or don’t know where to start? Do you have some kind of a ritual?

Go for a walk and try and listen to music that’s similar to what I’m trying to create.
Usually works. Or if it’s more serious, have a few days off and get that natural inspiration and energy back.

What do you think is your greatest strength or superpower that not many composers have or didn’t master?

I don’t think I can answer this yet as I still feel I have a lot to master in my career. Definitely don’t have a superpower!

What are your top 5 favorite VST plugins? (piano,strings?)
I don’t really have standouts but the 5 libraries I use most are ..

– Olafur Arnolds Chamber Evolutions

– WESTWOOD Untamed Series.

– East West Orchestra

– TAL-U-No synth

– Omnisphere

And last question… as a composer, what is your definition of success? Is it the fan base, projects, or something else?

To simply be able to create and be paid to write music that truly resonates with you and to work with great professionals, be it filmmakers, musicians, or fellow composers. That has always been and continues to be my main aim.

That would be all from me! Thank you once again for taking time for this wonderful interview! And before we wrap this all up, is there anything you’d like to tell us at the end of our interview? (new projects, albums, etc.)

I have two very exciting feature films in the pipeline that I’ll be working on towards the end of this year as well as working on my second Album which is a huge personal passion project so I am taking my time with as I rushed my first album Glimpses which hasn’t aged well to my ears unfortunately. Though I am happy to say it is sounding awesome!

You can check out Ben’s work here!