French composer and multi-instrumentalist, David Grumel dabbles in everything from epic orchestral music to playful pop. With the release of his latest single, “Say Hello” his work offers listeners an uplifting escape, a lighthearted and reflective song that transcribes how a silver lining would feel like.
Read on to learn more about Grumel’s music compositions and his experience with making music for commercial use.
Marmoset: Can you paint us a picture of how you began making music?
Grumel: I have a fairly unusual musical background, having studied classical piano, then very early on amplified music with a first gourd instrument at 11 years old. I recorded my first song at 14 and then did a short course in sound engineering. After that I spent a lot of years with different groups, in studios and concerts, with not a lot of success. Then at 31 I signed my first record deal with Universal Music and French independent label Naïve, for my first solo album. From then on I started being able to live from making music. I set up a recording studio La Song Factory with my friend Jérémy Rassat and started making music for film, TV and commercials.
M: How would you describe your musical style?
Grumel: It’s an artisanal kind of bespoke pop music, in the broad sense of the word. I’m as comfortable also doing electro, classical, folk, jazz or minimalistic solo piano. That's what I like, the eclecticism. It's always hard to define what you do instinctively. I am always guided by the emotion I feel when creating, as long as its sincere.
M: As a composer, it seems like you've worked on everything project under the sun — from film to TV shows to advertising campaigns. Can you offer a sneak peek into what your creative or technical process looks like?
Grumel: I’ve been lucky enough to work on a vast spectrum of projects, but I always treat every piece of music I make as a unique prototype — nothing is ever a given.
In terms of process it’s pure chaos at first, that’s the beauty. I explore every road, testing, changing, moving parts around, it’s by no means an exact science! The most important thing is to keep the process instinctive and non-technical. Staying true to my what I feel, nothing else. It's like putting pieces of a puzzle together, but without the instructions.
Then usually after a few hours a direction comes through, a color and a structure. From that moment on a clear idea of where I want to take a piece of music becomes apparent. I almost always work alone, so it’s that initial solitary process that gives birth to something universal that you can share with so many people that makes it so interesting.
"To compose is to remember music that has never been written." — R. Schumann
M: What's a project that you're particularly proud to have been involved in?
Grumel: I support an association by the name of 7th Continent since it’s beginning. It raises awareness and works on the growing problem of plastics in our oceans. I worked on the music for their film, which you can see here —
Grumel: Musically, I think my solo work is what I’m most proud of. But of course I’m proud of any piece I feel I’ve successfully finished, whether solo or in collaboration.
I just finished working on the production of the second album of a Tahitian artist called Vaiteani and I had such a great time. I get real joy out of helping the artist complete their vision and getting them to their happy place because you then see it so clearly in the end result, it's fantastic. It creates very intimate bonds. The loyalty and rapport I have built up with many artists, composers and collaborators over the years also makes me very proud.
And of course when someone listens to and loves your music, that makes you happy and proud. Often it's the last project I worked on that seems the most successful to me because it means I’m still growing as an artist and that’s always a good thing, so I guess it’s a mix of all that.
M: Your single, "Say Hello" comes out today. Can listeners expect more music like this from you?
Grumel: I’m really excited about “Say Hello”, it’s already received a very warm welcome from the music industry and my peers. I collaborated with my good friend Neeskens on this, his voice just seems to blend in so well to the musical landscapes I like to create.
You can check out another track we worked on together called Back Into the Light here. I’m always excited about sharing new music, it’s like revealing different parts of yourself every time. I always like to mix it up, keep myself and listeners on their toes, so I can’t say for sure if there’ll be more songs like this, it’s really an organic process for me each time which starts with a feeling. Although I suppose there is always a trademark sound in there somewhere, something that defines you sonically as an artist.
M: As someone who crosses over between all different kinds of projects, what's something you'd pass along to other aspiring artists looking to break into composing for film, TV and commercials?
Grumel: The only advice I could give is true for any aspiring musician: stay true to yourself and your artistic integrity in order to preserve who you are as an artist and your unique sound. Develop and nurture your craft obsessively, be passionate, be generous, have an opinion and be curious, fail a lot, never give up and good things will come… maybe!