From Violinist To Composer, Ros Gilman Has Travelled The World With His Talents

Photo provided by Ros Gilman. All Rights Reserved

Ros Gilman is an award-winning composer, conductor, music producer and musician, educated at the University of Music, Vienna and the Royal College of Music, London as well as Music Business School, London. Gilman’s music has received millions of streams on music streaming services and repeated support from radio (BBC 4 Radio, BBC 3 Classic Radio, NDR Kultur Radio, Germany). As a former concert violinist, Ros performed on national TV and radio (ABC, Kanal 1, O1) and as a conductor has worked with the Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra, the Prague Metropolitan Orchestra and others. Ros is the founder and managing director of London-based record label, Guiro Music Ltd.

Photo provided by Ros Gilman. All Rights Reserved

Digital Beat Magazine:
Hi Ros, thank you for your time. Can you tell us a bit about the creative process of being a composer?

Ros Gilman:
Yes, of course. I write film music on one side, and standalone music for release on the other. My music is released through my London-based record label Guiro Music.

When I write standalone music, often what happens first is that there is some sort of idea, either a melody or a rhythm or perhaps just a colour or a word that comes to me. Then, I start adding and developing this idea. In the end, the entire composition is born from one seed – the short original idea – and things organically grow from there. There are certain techniques that you learn to use as a composer in order to develop this seed and to – hopefully – make it grow into a large, beautiful tree.

With film, on the other hand, it’s slightly different: there is also the initial musical idea, but that idea is very much influenced – for me at least – by the images, the film. I sometimes get my ideas from what I’m seeing on screen. The structure, the edit of the film, also influences the composition. You follow the storyline, the action, and the edit of the film.

Oftentimes, composers get on rather late in the filmmaking process. Even though the pressure of deadlines is often looming, the fact that we can see the film in quite an advanced stage, can actually be a good thing as everything – from colour correction to special effects – can influence the process of writing music.

DBM:
Who’s been your biggest influence?

Ros Gilman:
I think my influences have changed over the years. I grew up surrounded by classical music. I started playing the violin and the piano at a very early age and grew up listening to Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms. While at university as a concert violin student I suffered a hand injury and had to, unfortunately, leave the world of violin behind. It was the music of the great John Williams who, back then, brought me into the world of film music. I’ve always loved the music of John Williams – the scores to Jurassic Park, ET, or Schindler’s list (just to name a few) are all amazing.

Today there are many excellent film composers whose music I really enjoy. John Powell, who wrote the music to Shrek, the Bourne films, and How to Train your Dragon, is one of them. Another great composer is Henry Jackman, who scored Wreck-It Ralth, Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji – The Next Level, and many other great films. There are several other composers whose work I really enjoy.

DBM:
You mentioned your hand injury and it interrupting a violin career, how do you think your career would’ve changed or been different if that had never happened?

Ros Gilman:
The injury happened just when my violin career was about to take off. I studied in Vienna, Austria, where – with three other colleagues of mine – I founded a string quartet: the Fidelio Quartet, named after Beethoven’s only opera. My hand injury happened just after we had toured Australia and Japan, and played on national radio and national television (ABC Australia, Kanal 1 Bulgaria, ORF Austria). Having to give up the violin was particularly difficult for me, and the fact that things were finally starting to take off didn’t make it any easier. As I could not give up my life in music but was no longer able to perform, I turned to composing and conducting instead. Combining my love for music with my love for film, led me to become a modern-day film composer.

I would, of course, be curious to find out where my career as a violinist would have taken me today.

DBM:
You were at Comic-Con a couple of months ago, as a part of the Sunday Film Club panel. What brought you to do that? How did you meet them, and why did you decide that you wanted to come to Comic-Con to give out the advice that you did?

Ros Gilman:
This was actually our second time at MCM London Comic-Con – we held a panel during the last edition, in October last year. It’s a fantastic platform and a great opportunity to inspire young creatives. These young people are perhaps rather at the start of their career, or only just considering embarking on the journey of becoming a filmmaker or musician. I myself enjoy going to panels as speakers often share great insights. I always found that there was something that I was able to learn from attending expert panels. Now that I have the opportunity to share some of the knowledge that I have acquired over the years, or perhaps even inspire someone who’s only at the beginning of their journey, I’m very happy to do so.

DBM:
At Comic-Con you were giving out lots of advice and you just said about the panels that you’ve been to. So what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Ros Gilman:
[laughter] What’s the best piece of advice I’ve been given? That is one tough question; I’m going to actually have to think about this one. What’s the best piece of advice I’ve been given? Hmm.

There were so many little bits and pieces that I’ve taken away on various occasions over the years that I’m struggling to think of something off the top of my head. But I could say what advice I would give today: I believe that on one hand, it’s important to learn the craft and to keep practising and studying. On the other hand, I feel that it’s important to understand the business aspect – I did also speak about this during the MCM panel – because the film industry, just like the music industry, is an industry, a business. And as creators, if we want to be serious about our careers and want to try and make a living from music or film, I believe it’s essential to understand the basics of business. Just being a great creative might not be quite enough to succeed.

DBM:
You mentioned earlier about playing in Vienna and you’ve collaborated and played with so many people, brands and companies all over the world. Is there any country or person that stood out to you the most?

Ros Gilman:
Hmm, yes, that’s a fair question. I remember being in Japan, which was very exciting. I feel that in Japan there’s great respect and love for classical music. When we toured Japan with my string quartet, they really treated us like pop stars. It was quite a unique experience. The hours that we spent signing autographs and taking photos with fans, or even people coming up and asking if it was okay to shake my hand… that was quite unbelievable. This love for classical music in Japan was really wonderful for us as classical musicians.

DBM:
With Covid and everything, you’ve probably not been able to travel and play in other countries and everything. How has the film and music industry changed for yourself and the people around you?

Ros Gilman:
Yes, obviously the pandemic was a very difficult time for everybody, and especially for performing artists. Perhaps even more so than for me as a composer and music producer. That said, we did have difficulties finding a recording space for example. During the pandemic, I was finishing a film score which we were supposed to record with a large 75-piece symphony orchestra. But finding a recording space where we would be allowed to record with so many musicians, was a real challenge. Each country had different regulations but most did not allow for such a large number of musicians to record simultaneously in one studio. Finally, after quite a bit of searching, we eventually managed to record in Prague.

There were, however, also some positives which have emerged from the pandemic: one such positive being that fact that people seem to be more open to working online than ever before. I can see that – even with restrictions now lifted – I’m taking many more Zoom meetings than before the pandemic, which not only saves time, but makes certain situations possible, which might perhaps not be possible before. Look, even the interview we’re doing right now is online, even though we both live in London. Of course, some meetings were already happening online pre-pandemic, but I feel that people were still hesitant to a degree. Today, this has basically become the norm. Even though face-to-face is still irreplaceable, the fact that everybody is much more used to online, seems to have made things more accessible. You can now truly work with anyone, anywhere.

I’ll give you an example: in the middle of the pandemic, I composed and produced the music for the HBO original show ‘Folklore’. Director Billy Christian was based in Indonesia and I was in London. But it didn’t make a difference whether he was in Indonesia or in say Brighton. We would have discussed everything via Zoom anyway, as there was simply no other way. The lockdown had made it impossible for us to communicate otherwise. So yes, it was of course difficult in certain aspects, but other aspects, like the way we work for example, might have experience a positive change. At least in my view.

DBM:
You are a part of an animated short film due to be released later this year. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Ros Gilman:
Absolutely. The film is called ‘The Last Cloudweaver’ and is one of two animated films that I have recently finished the score for. I’m not sure which one will come out first, but I think it might be ‘The Last Cloudweaver’. The film is produced by London-based production company Dragonbee Animation Studio and I believe is our fourth collaboration with Anna from Dragonbee, who I greatly enjoy working with. The film is a very ambitious short about a girl and her dragon friend. It’s a beautiful story in which a girl learns to weave. I don’t want to give away too much, but hopefully the film is going to come out this year and then the readers can catch it online. We recorded this score with a large symphony orchestra as well. It was great fun to work on and is a wonderful film to watch.

DBM:
Do you have any hobbies outside of music and composing?

Ros Gilman:
Yes, I do. I like to go to the gym, I like to run, and I like cooking as well. I cook quite a bit and am quite the foodie actually, mainly plant-based. I also feel that these hobbies give me time to reflect, which oftentimes interweaves with my work. So while I’m cooking or running, I might get an interesting idea and then, ah, a new musical theme is born!

DBM:
Thank you for your time, do you have anything to say to the readers?

Ros Gilman:
I’d love to, if I may, make the readers aware of my upcoming single called ‘Magical Voyage’ which comes out on the 29th of July on all streaming platforms. It’s a cinematic piece for large symphony orchestra and is for those who enjoy the sound of cinematic music or love film soundtracks.

Find more from Ros:
Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify | Website

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Born and raised in London, I have always had a passion for photography. From a young age I have borrowed my parents cameras to go off on my own photography adventures. After many years of 'hand-me-downs' and borrowing of my parents cameras I was lucky enough to receive a 'wish' from a charity called Starlight who gave me an amazing camera. This pushed me into enjoying and learning about photography more. My love of music combined with my love of photography and entered me into the world of concert photography, which is now my main area of focus. It's such a great feeling to be able to capture a moment of pure joy between the crowd and artist which can't be found outside of gigs. I love capturing that moment, the emotion, the power and the energy that surrounds the event. There is just something about the raw rush and power of a gig that always pulls me back for more.