Get to know Marmoset Composer, Graham Barton

Meet Marmoset's Studio Zen Master and Staff Composer, Graham Barton.

Driven by the insatiable curiosity to discover how things work, Graham has picked up an insurmountable skill set over the course of his time as a composer -- and it all starts with his deep-rooted love of music. With tastes ranging from Katy Perry to Metallica, Graham finds beauty in every genre -- there's always something to learn and love. Graham's ability to hop on any instrument and get the job done makes him savvy in the studio. His care and attention to detail is one of the first things we always love about Graham's work, as he treats every project like a craftsman, diving into what a composition needs on an individual level. Graham's deep well of knowledge has landed him on projects for Facebook, Old Spice and Best Buy, providing something unique and special into the mix.

Now without further ado, here is Graham in his own words.

M: What is your guiding philosophy as a composer?

GB: While every song may not be the world’s most influencing piece, nor the most self-important work of art ever, I still treat every composing opportunity as if it’ll cost me my career… seriously. With that kinda motivation, there’s no limit to the tricks one can pull from their sleeves in order to take the cake. Always aiming for a better product than the last, this kind of self competition also guides a lot of my personal output and perseverance.

M: What does a successful collaboration of music + film look like?

GB: Replay value, through and through. Whether it’s a personal collaboration or a Youtube gem I’ve stumbled on, the success is totally defined by how many times I find myself watching and rewatching.

M: How did you get into producing?

GB: As a kid, producing music was something I never knew existed. I understood that every musician in a band had their role. I saw pictures of Metallica recording in studios, and I understood that grownups somehow magically crafted songs. But it wasn’t until my teen years that I saw producing as a culmination of all those creative elements I came to know and aspire to. I dove heavily into guitar from a young age, which gave way to discovering theory, and eventually opened the doors to composition and arrangement. The days of Napster, Cool Edit Pro 2.2 and Fruity Loops 3 sparked the flame in exploring a whole world of new sounds and music that’s only grown stronger as my career has taken shape.

M: What's your favorite soundtrack and why?

GB: The Nightmare Before Christmas (Danny Elfman). It was the first movie I ever saw in theaters and I swear I’ve watched it about six times a year since it came out on VHS in 1994. From start the finish, song to song, character to audience, the emotional dynamic is off the charts and the musical complexity is out of control. It’s a true masterpiece. Special shout out to Twin Peaks (Angelo Badalamenti) and Full Metal Jacket (Vivian Kubrick).

M: What's one thing you'd recommend to a filmmaker when they approach a soundtrack?

GB: Edit musically. It’s probably the most oxymoronic recommendation ever, but editing and music are both technical art forms in their own right, and can easily be married. It all goes back to the idea of a successful collaboration -- the same way a vibrant and dynamic song can create the foundation for a tight visual edit, the rhythmic love put into an edit can almost write the music then and there. It’s definitely a two way street, so with the right amount of forethought given to the visual and musical elements, the end result will be that much better.

M: What's one thing you'd tell a producer just starting out?

GB: Be a sponge -- great music isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Learn from it, emulate it, and channel it to make your music the best it can be. Practice variety -- while it totally rules to put your strong foot forward and slay at a style/genre you enjoy best, there are an endless amount of performance, composition, and production techniques to explore in music you may not typically listen to. If you’re making a demo reel, set a goal for it to run the gamut and watch your understanding of music grow. Seek a mentor -- learning a lot from books and interwebs is common (and you should definitely do this all the time), but nurturing relationships with those who can offer you an opportunity to challenge, grow, and deepen your passion is a rare treasure.

M: What's been one of your favorite projects to work on?

GB: Furby BOOM. HANDS DOWN. At the time, it was totally surreal having the opportunity to write the theme song for what would be the revamp for one of my generation’s most outrageous toys. Being a toy/cartoon/pop culture/nostalgia lover, this was a blast.

Posted on February 26, 2016 and filed under Music.