In the world of classically trained composers, Max Richter is the one garnering plenty of praise for melding neo-classical music with the indie genre. It's no wonder that HBO reached out to Richter for one of the network's biggest new series, The Leftovers. Luckily for series creator Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, he accepted the gig and has added a special level of darkness and confusing through his work.
In an exclusive interview with Max, we learned how he got into the world of music to film and scoring pictures, what he's working on next, and what advice he has for those trying to make it in the music world.
How did you get into composing for TV and Film? I know outside of that, you're a classical composer as well.
Basically, I started in the classical music world, also making records with my own stuff. Filmmakers, over the years, started to use things from the records in Film and TV. Then, sort of organically, people just started to ask me to do things. Up to this point it's been cinema, really. This is the first TV thing I've done. It's been very fun, actually.
How much creative freedom do you have?
There's a lot of freedom in this show. Everything we do is collaborative. There are always conversations about things. But I'd say, the creative team on this show, Damon and Pete and everyone involved, are just really good at their jobs. It's just an absolute A team all the way through. That sort of process of getting to something we can all agree on and be happy with is amazingly painless. It's just really good fun.
Are you working on any other TV shows (besides The Leftovers) or Films right now?
No. My other big project is a ballet, which is coming to London next May. Aside from that, I am working on a record. A solo album.
You're considered one of the most influential, modern day composers. You've spearheaded this movement of neo-classical composition into this indie music world. How does that make you feel? Is that pressure when you're working on projects?
I never really think about things like that because I think that would be paralyzing. I definitely try to follow the music where it goes, you know? Keep faith with that. Try to kind of be the best version of me in that project. I almost feel, honestly, that I write music and I make a living. That's an incredible thing to happen, you know? After that, it's all good - it's all bonus after that!
Are there any artists in or outside the world of classical or neo-classical that you're excited about currently?
There's a bunch, aren't there? There's like a load of people who've been around who, you know, you sort of connect the two worlds. Someone like Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, the Bedroom Community guys ... There's a lot of it going on in New York; Things like Wordless Music Project. Even Sufjan Stevens who's really outside, but it's like a written down music ... There's a lot, actually. They sit in two worlds. They have a sort of "emphatical" note, universe, inside of them. But they also have this indie, art-rock, post-thing as well.
I think it's a really interesting time, in that way. Really, those categories are almost disappearing. I think that's good. People are listening to things without worrying too much about whether they are listening to something the way it should be allowed to be listened to. I think it is more democratic now.
Do you have any advice for up-in-coming composers that could be following your work?
I think the thing for all musicians is to just try to figure out what your own voice is. Because that's the only thing you've got that no one else has got. That's the Holy Grail, trying to make that happen. It can take a long time, years and years and years. But that's the sort of project. Try to figure that out and just do that. [Laughing] That's my sort of basic plan. That'll be my tip.