Using Experience As a Teacher: An interview with Marmoset artist, The Earth and Arrow

We sat down with Rob Casmay (The Earth and Arrow) and talked about his experience transitioning into his life as a full-time composer. From building physical objects as a carpenter, he moved to building beautiful soundscapes as a songwriter. His story is an amazing one.

Rob's music stays with you and never lets go. Using lush electronic and acoustic textures, his own brand of instrumental music captures cinematic imagery. This music will move you. Enjoy.

M: Who are you and what do you do in the world?

RC: I am a musician under the moniker “The Earth and Arrow.” I balance film, composing and songwriting with being a carpenter.  I’ve come to realize that both occupations are very similar, in that the attention to detail is paramount.  An uneven reveal on a windowsill or a kick drum that’s out of time is the result of blatant carelessness. 

M: What was the first instrument you picked up?

RC: I was around 15 when my friend John across the street started playing guitar. A few months later, I ended up getting a squire bass starter kit. I played along to the video that came with it and remember how difficult it was, but it was the first thing I never wanted to give up on.

M: What was the first band you played in?

RC: [My friend] John and I found a drummer and a singer to form the band “Joint Chief’s of Staff.” It was a punk band, so of course it was full of teen angst and anti government. We had no clue what we were doing but it was fun and that’s all we cared about. 

M: How did you get into composing?

RC: Six years ago I was just starting to record songs on my own. One day my friend Matt asked if I would score a short film he was just finishing up. That concept was way out of my comfort zone, but I eventually gave in. He said “I’ll be going on vacation for a week, see what you come up with.” It was like being thrown in the deep end to see if I could swim. It was through his persistence and belief in me that I now have scored several of his projects along with other films.

M: What does a day in the life of a working musician look like?

RC: When I’m not working on film scores, I’m composing specifically for Marmoset licensing and find myself completely obsessed over ideas I had started the night before. What if I build more here? Is the atmosphere I’ve created too loud? Does the guitar tone fit the mood? And so on. It’s a delicate process that beats me up every bit of the way, but I love it

M: When do you know when a track is completed?

RC: The question to end all questions. I rarely start a track knowing the direction it’s going to take. Some of my tracks have a beginning and a build to a few measures of screaming guitars. If done right, I feel this “constant building” song structure can be very powerful, especially for film. Bottom line is the track is complete when I feel I’m forcing too much out of the idea.

M: What's the first sentence in a letter you'd write to a composer just starting out?

RC: The best teacher is experience.

M: What's coming up for you?

RC: I am currently looking into sound design and mastering classes but aside from that, there are a few film projects on the horizon that will be sure to challenge and propel me forward as a composer.

Posted on February 19, 2016 and filed under Music.