In Soundation’s STORY series, we catch up with music creators and learn their secrets to success. This time we had the pleasure of meeting Jennie Löfgren — Swedish film music composer, songwriter, music producer, and former pop star. Recently, she released her first instrumental solo album ‘Dreamology’.
Where did your journey start and how did you get into the film music industry?
I come from a family with a lot of music. My father was a musician, so music has always been a part of my life. I started playing the piano at a very young age, I don’t even remember when. Later I started singing and later I became an artist. I wrote some songs that became hits and made some money. With that money, I bought my first studio. That’s where I felt most at home. I worked a lot behind writing songs for other artists and doing production. That led me to an opportunity where I could be a part of writing film music. It was the chance that I had been waiting for for my entire life. I dreamed about doing film music but for some reason, I never saw it as an opportunity. Maybe because you don’t see that many women writing film music, even today. I just saw these old men with beards, they were film music composers. It felt so far away. Once I got to try it and I got the chance it was really like coming home for me.
What’s the difference between writing pop songs and film scores?
A pop song has a certain structure. With film music, it’s not like that. You have to watch what’s going on in the movie and you have to adjust to that. A scene might start happy and hopeful and then all of a sudden something goes wrong and it becomes sad, you have to follow that. It’s not a concept like with songs, it has a certain way and there’s a lot of melodies. With film music, you have a theme but the melody of the theme isn’t there all the time. It’s more like layers of chords and moods and stuff like that.
What instruments do you use?
I play piano, a little bit of guitar, drums, flute, and I sing, so I have an understanding of different instruments but piano is my favorite when it comes to composing. I think every composer wants to use the orchestra but it’s not always the case that you can because it costs a lot. But I always use real instruments. Some human has to play on everything that I do. I like the mix. Even if I do record a real orchestra, I will still put some bass synthesizer or something underneath it just to make it really fat. I don’t think there has to be any rules about that. You can just go with your own instinct.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I don’t rely on inspiration anymore. I think that’s something you might do in the beginning. You sit under a moon and you wait for some inspiration. If I have a few days to write the entire episode of a TV show, it’s impossible for me to wait for inspiration. Just go into the studio and start working. That’s how I get inspired. You always come up with a little thing and that leads to the next thing. So I never wait for inspiration.
What are the tricks to evoke emotions through music?
The trick to evoke emotion is different from time to time. You can’t have one trick that will work because it totally depends on the scene you’re working with. Sometimes you have to go with the emotion of a scene and sometimes you have to go against it. You have to try and you have to play with it, because you will feel when it’s there.
How does one go from producing or writing “regular songs” to film music?
A really good thing to do when you’re learning how to write film music is to find a clip that you like with two actors talking, no music. Download it and write something to that part. First, you try to make it scary, then you try to make it happy, and then you try to make it sad. Just see how you can work with the mood of the music and still make it work with the actors talking at the same time.
What’s your advice for aspiring film score composers?
Sometimes when I meet people that want to write film music and they want to show me something that they’ve done, they tend to go into the style of John Williams’ ‘Star Wars’. That’s very rare that you get to work with that kind of music. I’ve never had the chance to make music like a big Star Wars movie. It’s not that common and it’s not that modern even. Try to do something that sounds like you. What are you about? What do you do the best? Try to find what’s unique in you instead of being a copycat, that tries to sound like Star Wars.
where do you get your jobs?
I think most of my jobs come through contacts. Sometimes I mail people that I admire and write “I want to work with you”. I write to them every year until they’re so fed up with me that they actually work with me. That has happened! If I like someone, just go ahead, just make contact. You’ve got nothing to lose really!