Industry Profile: Yoav Goren
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Yoav Goren President, Immediate Music; and CEO, Imperativa Records.
Israeli-born American Yoav Goren may be one of the most unknown--but most heard--musicians and composers of our time.
And he prefers it that way.
The 51-year-old’s specialty is creating soundtrack and trailer music for films and television campaigns.
Launched in 1993 by Goren and his partner Jeffrey Fayman, Los Angeles-based Immediate Music is Hollywood’s leading suppliers of cinematic music for feature film trailers.
Immediate Music offers customized original scoring not only for film trailers, but also for product advertising, television underscores, and video games. The company catalog consists of over 2,000 tracks created specifically for inclusion within major motion picture trailers, television promos, and commercial advertising campaigns.
Immediate Music has produced, scored, and licensed music for more than 7,000 film trailers and TV spots, including the creation and licensing of music for such blockbuster film franchises as “Harry Potter,” “Spiderman,” “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” “The Chronicles Of Narnia,” “The Da Vinci Code,” and “X-Men” as well as for such films as “After Earth,” “Oblivion,” “Iron Man 3,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Argo,” “Avatar,” “Toy Story 3,” “Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” “The Hobbit,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
In 2007, Goren earned an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Music Composition in a Sports Program" for his work on NBC's “20th Torino Winter Olympic Games.”
Born in Israel, and raised in New York City, Goren first studied piano as a youngster. He went on to earn a BA in film and television production from New York University. After touring with several rock bands, he settled in Los Angeles where he met Fayman while working at a music store.
Today, Goren works daily at Immediate Music’s studio facilities with regular forays to concert halls and studios worldwide to produce exceptional orchestral tracks and recordings.
Founded in 2006, Immediate affiliated label, Imperativa Records, releases rarely available trailer music, including by the partners’ symphonic rock band Globus which launched in 2006.
Who hires you to provide music for film trailers?
Some of the studios in town, Disney, Paramount, and Universal. A lot of the hiring, though, goes through the ad agencies that they have hired to produce their (the studio’s) marketing campaigns. The trailers are produced for the studios by a few dozen trailer houses here in LA. They are tasked with putting a trailer or a TV spot campaign together, and they search for music to support those campaigns. Most of the time where they find it is in catalogs like ours where the music has already been done, and they pop it in.
They use these musical tracks for both TV and movie theatre campaigns?
The trailers are the big deal in the motion picture advertising industry because they are the first kind of buzz about a movie. You can even break it down further. The first marketing piece is called the teaser. And the teaser trailer for some of the big tent-pole films will come out sometimes a year before the movie comes out.
And they are very short.
They are very short. They are about a minute or so. Often times, they have footage that is solely created for that teaser because the filming, perhaps, has not yet begun. The same goes for music. The music for these teasers and trailers often has to be a certain style that will sell tickets. So people will go and see the movie. Even if they wanted to use the music from the movie they can’t because it hasn’t been created.
An early teaser for something like Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” might be a short clip with the ground moving with an accompanying graphic.
Right. It literally is a teaser. So even with “Godzilla,” you won’t even see the lizard. It is something ethereal, spooky or mysterious. Just being able to drop the brand into the ocean of culture that we have here, and to have it float for about a year or so. Then they (film studios) start putting out theatrical trailers which are full length.
How long are theatrical trailers? About 2 1/2 minutes?
About 2 1/2 minutes is the normal length. They just won’t do one. When I started out, they just did one theatrical trailer. Now there could be three or four theatrical trailers. In addition, there’s a TV campaign that runs a few weeks leading up to the release of the film. And for the bigger movies there could be 10 or 12 TV spots created.
Each one is different?
Each one is different.
Some might use the same music in different forms.
Some of them, yes, but some of them are distinctly different because they are going for a different demographic. So, if there’s a love interest in “Godzilla” they (motion picture advertisers) will play to the female demographic with different kind of music in it. I’m kidding.
Immediate Music was launched in 1993 with just yourself and your partner, Jeffrey Fayman. What staff do you have now?
Immediate Music now does have a composer and an engineer in-house, and we have a creative director who oversees our releases and talks to our clients. There are a couple of assistants, and a financial person.
Where is Immediate Music’s office located?
The office is in LA (in Pacific Palisades). Our address is in Santa Monica, but that’s just a mail drop, basically.
When you write do you work at the office or at home?
I write at my studio in Pacific Palisades. I have a grand piano, a keyboard that controls four or five computers with massive (music) libraries on it, and I have an SSL board that I mix on as well. It’s a very cool studio.
Would you be recording demos or full-scale master tracks there?
Full masters a lot of them. It (the studio) is built to do full masters. It’s a studio. We have a recording room here as well. We can get musicians in here. It’s my dream come true.
What characteristics go into a trailer for movie theatres? That it be cinematic? Bigger than life with an emotional attachment for the audience?
Absolutely. Generally the trailer is segmented into three acts. Act one, you (as a composer and producer) are a bit more on the minimalist side. You don’t want to give anything away. You sort of want to set the tone of what the film is about or what the trailer is about. Then, obviously, you can take a left (turn). More often than not, you will progress from that in Act 2 where there’s a lot of the drama, and the conflict starts getting shown. A lot more of the emotional aspect of it (the trailer) starts creeping in. By the third act, they (motion picture advertisers) generally just want you to be bigger, and to be over the top. As big and as boisterous as you can. Not necessarily loud but….
Dramatic. Not overly sappy dramatic. It’s a fine line. Getting that without sounding corny or clichéd. Sounding genuine. A genuinely emotional reaction is what they are going for depending, of course, on the kind of film that it is. With (the film series) “Transformers,” you can expect a lot of clanging, noise and driving strings and brass, and big percussion. But with other things, like (Terrence Malick’s 2011 experimental drama film) “The Tree of Life” kind of stuff, you have a different approach.
If a film advertising agency hires you for the theatrical trailer will you have any interaction with the music supervisor overseeing the music for the film?
Absolutely not. The production of the film, and the marketing of the film is handled differently. The marketing is handled by the studios. I’d say that over the past 20 years that we’ve interacted with a director of the film, maybe, four or five times. They may get involved with the marketing, but it’s often so segregated that it is just the marketing team taking over, and it’s totally different.
The studio’s attitude likely is, “You’ve made the film, now let us handle the marketing.” As well, the director has usually gone onto their next film.
Exactly. When we did the trailer for “Mission Impossible” Tom Cruise was actually involved. Will Smith was involved with the “After Earth” campaign as well. We don’t talk to them (the stars) directly, but we do get feedback. It (discussion) goes back and forth until they nail something down.
Do the advertising agencies also handle non-film advertising?
Yeah, but these are specialized advertising agencies. Over the years, they have branched out a little bit. Some are doing ads, but the studios like dealing with folks who are really focused on their business, and know it well. A lot of producers at these trailers houses have been there for as long as I have been here. They have developed strong relationships with the studios. It’s a trust thing. It’s about loyalty and trust. It is kind of a small circle of several dozen professionals that deal with this, and they are quite good at it. A lot of these marketing executives are also going from to job to job. If you have a $200 million movie that doesn’t do well, that’s a problem.
Decades ago, film trailers often used a snippet of music that imitated what was in the film or what was happening on the current pop chart. Do you still get, “Can you make your music sound that music?”
When I came into this business a little over 20 years, the norm was that a film by Fox coming out--as way of example--if they wanted a big sounding soundtrack to support their marketing, the first place that they would look was to other Fox film soundtracks that might support that. It was in-house, and they could probably easier license that. In lieu of that, if they went outside, they’d contact other studios who had put out their soundtracks if they wanted to use a soundtrack cue from a competing studio. That was very often done. They would license it, and put it in. Sometimes the license was not forthcoming, and if they were on the soundstage mixing, and they couldn’t get clearance, we would get the call. They would say, “We have this ‘temped’ in. Can you do something overnight that sounds like it?” That’s actually how, my partner Jeffrey Fayman and I built our business. We built our business by being to be very musically creative with getting things to sound like John Williams or Elmer Bernstein or Ennio Morricone--in their style--but doing it for a lot less money than the license would be, and doing it quickly.
Did anyone ever suggest that the likeness came too close?
We have never had that issue. Incredible because sometimes the agencies really push you to get closer because they have something that we call “temp love.”
The attitude is, “I love it, and I don’t want to change it?”
That’s right, and we have to replace it. “What are you doing to me?” That’s what we always fought against, and that actually led us to pursue a different business approach where we said, “Let us create original compositions that are ‘trailer cues’ that they can drop in without having us break our necks to kind of copy something or make it sound like somebody else or be in the style of somebody. Let’s make it sound in our style, and bank on the fact that it is cinematic, and it’s useful in marketing, and let them just license it from us.”
That’s’ what your Immediate Music’s catalog is.
And that’s what our catalog is. Immediate Music really started out as a custom scoring house, and we evolved into something that pleases us more creatively; which is that we imagine what a trailer would be like, and we write the music for it, and then give it to these clients of ours who cut it in (the trailer), and license it from us.
What was the most requested music the agencies wanted covered?
We used to get a lot of (requests for) “Carmina Burana”--(Carl) Orff--because in those days the publisher was notoriously tight-fisted about licensing it for certain things. Actually, that whole genre, and the unavailability of “Carmina Burana” launched the idea for us to produce a whole bunch of music in that style which we did in 2003. We put out our release “Themes For Orchestra and Choir.” It was just distributed to our motion picture clients and it was quite a large hit. Basically, about three dozens clients got that release, but it was quite successful because all of a sudden there was a plethora of orchestral and choir music that was affordable to license, and had been built for trailers.
[Between 1935 and 1936, German composer Carl Orff composed music called “Carmina Burana” for 24 of the poems of the “Carmina Burana” manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts primarily dating back to the 11th and 12th century. The poems were written by students, and clergy for scholars, universities and theologians when the Latin idiom was the lingua franca (bridge language) across Europe.]
Immediate Music has a library catalog of 2,000 tracks available?
Yes, the track count is about 2,000 which is not that much when you think about it.
So many companies today have created their own instrumental music catalogs for advertising as well as film and television use.
Absolutely. I started Immediate Music in 1993 with the focus of providing music for the motion picture advertising industry. So the catalog is very much geared toward that. It really hasn’t strayed from its original intent.
With the numerous libraries available, and with musicians creating libraries in their own home studios, it has become a very competitive field. But I have noticed that much of the instrumental music libraries become dated quite quickly.
Yeah, that’s a great point. The library business has really mushroomed over, I would say, the last decade; especially with the advent of technology enabling people to create masters in their bedroom. But the style of music that is pursued in a lot of these libraries is very much what’s trendy and what’s now. Going back to your point of, “Let me make something that sounds like Rhianna or Coldplay etc.” where it is an exercise in copying more than original creativity. We find that a lot of that material does get dated very quickly. In the type of music that we focus on is, I would say, evergreen because it’s orchestral, and the orchestra has been around for what 300 or 400 years? It’s a proven and permanent language in the film process.
As opposed to a rhythmic-styled track.
Or dubstep (electronic dance music). Those are less proven over time. Also with choral music being so tied in for centuries and centuries in our musical heritage, the instrumentations are very accessible to a lot of people. You can mix it up a little bit. We modernize it a bit to incorporate electronics and synthesizer to have more of a modern edge to it
Which you can always further update.
Exactly. We have been told that our music is timeless because it lives in more of the orchestral world.
With the music production catalog, clients can license music without your actual involvement in the creation of the trailer.
Actually, most of our business is licensing these days. It’s really about shifting the focus for us. Creating the best music that we can unhampered by playing to a picture that gets revised 35 times. That, by the end of the day, sometimes our original piece is Frankensteined together. Where we now have the time to create our own music, put as much resources into that as we want, and then editors and music supervisors at the trailer houses put it into their product, and the studio then calls us to license the material. So most of our “work” in trailers is now being done through the sync licensing of our original material to the studios.
You met your partner Jeffrey working in a music store in Santa Monica?
I did. He came in kind of bewildered about how to use his sampler. He saw that I knew how, and he hired me to give him some lessons to do that. I had developed quite a side business of technology consultant. He hired me for a bunch of lessons. We became friends and we discovered that we both like the same kind of music which is soundtrack music.
He had worked with Robert Fripp.
Yeah. I think he also played with members of Yes as well. He had dabbled in music for trailers in the ‘80s through Samuel Goldwyn who hired him to do a couple of trailers. He told me about this business and said, “Let’s try t get into it again because there seems to be some good opportunities there and maybe a stepping stone toward a film scoring career.
[Immediate Music co-founder Jeffrey Fayman has worked as a composer within the film and television advertising world since 1987. He has also collaborated and produced several recordings with various artists, including Robert Fripp, Maynard Keenan, John Wetton, Steve Roach, and Peter Banks of Yes.]
For several years at Immediate Music, you and Jeff worked without staff?
There was no staff for 12 or 13 years. We wrote and then for out big projects we went to studios in Seattle, London, and LA to record our big orchestral pieces. But effectively, we were just working at home. We really don’t write together anymore. We do it separately now. We also started hiring other composers to fill out the catalog a little more to answer the demands for styles that we weren’t as fluent with. As the business grew, you have to take on staff for that.
Your first theatrical trailer was for “Carlito's Way?”
That’s correct. “Carlito's Way” was our first trailer in 1993. It also was, coincidentally, the first time I’d ever worked with an orchestra.
Did the experience scare you?
A little bit, yeah, especially because the recording date was 72 hours after I started writing it, and I did not sleep for three days.
How big was the orchestra?
I think that it was about a 50 piece orchestra. It was not that big comparatively to what we work with these days.
Did you record on one of the big Hollywood soundstages?
Oh no. It was in a horrible sound studio in LA. I don’t even remember the name. I think that they are out of business now. I was so green. We went through a studio referral service, and they found us a room. I didn’t even think to ask if it was suited for our 50 piece orchestra. How does an orchestra sound in there? We got there, and it was just like a box. It was just horrible. The client from Universal was there, and we were just sweating bullets.
Trying to look like you knew what you were doing.
Exactly. First time in front of an orchestra. Mixed feelings of extreme anxiety but also excitement because of hearing my music being played by an orchestra for the first time. It was strange. Fast forward 10 years, and the “Spiderman 2” license was a piece that came of our “Themes For Orchestra and Choir” CD that we had put out.
The music placement that turned the film industry on its head about what you were doing with music wasn’t specifically recorded for the trailer?
No, it wasn’t done specifically. It was a license. It was greatly featured in the last 45 seconds of the trailer. That ushered in kind of a new era for us where we really went all out with our productions, and tried to sound better than soundtracks basically. We worked with all of the A-list musicians, and engineers. Took a year to complete a record. Put a lot of money in to it. And we enjoyed the creative freedom, and flexibility that kind of release afforded us.
Big investments without always knowing the outcomes.
Yeah. It’s a hit or miss thing. Sometimes the simplest kind of compositions that took me literally 30 minutes to write—obviously the production side takes a lot longer—could license over 100 times, and it has. I’ve had compositions like that license like that for many different films. Then you work your guts out on a piece that you are passionate about, and that you think it’s great, and crickets. Nobody licenses it. But, regarding the process of writing, and creating stuff like that and realizing a great recording from that, it’s still rewarding. It would be nice that it licenses, but not all of them do. But that’s okay. As long as some of them do, and you can keep the lights on and keep doing then that’s a bonus.
When your first “Trailerhead” album “Immediate” was released, there really were no commercial releases available of theatrical film trailer music other than composer John Beal’s “Coming Attractions” compilations,
John was the first composer who put out trailer music in a commercial form on a CD. That was part of the inspiration for us to establish our own label (Imperativa Records), and put out our music to the public well.
You waited a long time to do that. Until 2006.
Yes. There was a lot of interest in our music after the “Spiderman 2” campaign. For a number of years people were writing in saying, “Can I download this? Can I buy it? Please let me have it.” Because of our business model we didn’t want to dilute our (catalog) base. The studios still thought of us as kind of a semi-exclusive provider of them.
They don’t want a piece of music that everyone else has.
Exactly. That was the thinking then. They thought, “This is only for us. Once it starts getting out, it’s not as special anymore.” For a few years, we fought it (having commercial releases) but people started somehow finding our music online through, I guess, interns at these trailer houses taking the music and uploading it. Peer-to-peer (file sharing) was fairly strong on our material with all of these BitTorrent sites, Pirate Bay and others. We fought it with take down notices, and what not but over the years that (P2P) has eroded with the changing landscape.
Obviously, you had a change of heart about making your music available commercially.
The realization came to me in 2006 that, “Wait a minute, I’m really proud of the music that I’m producing and only 50 or 60 marketing executives in the world get to hear.” So part of my motivation to put this was that as an artist I wanted to share this music because I was proud of it, and I thought that it would move people….
C’mon, it was the ego of a composer writing in a small room. You want people to hear what you do.
(Laughing) Yeah, I need to be loved. But I was so used to acceptance coming in the form of licensing revenue. That was enough for awhile because the lifestyle was not as pressured. It was kind of flowing because of that. But then the pressure that came from the public side as the internet grew, and trailers were the norm on the internet. people kind of recognized our names. We never did any marketing outwardly and, all of a sudden, we had this pretty big fan base, and they all wanted our music.
That led to the development of the “Trailerhead” series?
Yes, it was the development of the “Trailerhead” series. The first “Trailerhead” (“Immediate”) came out in 2008. That was sort of an expanded version of some of the trailer cues such as had appeared in “Spiderman” etc. on an album format. I expanded out library pieces of a minute and a half or two minutes to four and five minutes. Did additional recording and editing, of course. Just a different look at the genre to make it more legitimate. It’s kind of this epic music genre. And put it out without any kind of fanfare at all. No publicity or anything and it just spread on its.
How many “Trailerhead” recordings are there?
There are four “Trailerheads” now. The new one came out May 27th (2014)“called “Trailerhead Nu Epiq.”
You were born in Israel. At what age did you come to America?
At the age of four. I was born Tel Aviv. We came (to America) in 1966 because my dad had a job offer. He was working at a travel agency, and they were going to open up a branch in New York. He knew English very well so they sent him there for year. He was just dying to get out of Israel because he felt it was provincial.
At the time Israel was facing growing tensions that led to the Six-Day War in June, 1967. A rough time to be an Israeli or an Arab.
Israel was always rough. He was in the military reserves. In Israel, it’s difficult because you get called (to serve in the military). There was constant conflict, and you had to serve.
An Israeli had to do military service.
Up until the age of 50. He was glad to get out. He was business-oriented, and he wanted to establish his own business. When we got to New York, he knew that was the place to be. So much to my mom’s protests, we stayed there for quite awhile.
How big of a family?
Two others. Three kids.
What part of New York did you live in?
We lived in Queens when I grew up in an area called Kew Gardens Hills. We didn’t start there but we ended up there. I went to a Jewish day school. Half the day was Jewish studies, the other half was academic subjects like math and sciences. That was up until 9th grade, and then went to a big high school, Jamaica High School (at the corner of 167th Street and Gothic Drive).
You weren’t raised as an Orthodox Jew?
Not at all. We are a secular family but from my mom it was important for us to retain the ‘Israeliness’. So we spoke Hebrew in the house. I still speak Hebrew fluently. We used to go back every summer to Israel, and spend time with our families. So that the Israel part of me has never left me, really
Another American kid being a kibbutz volunteer in Israel in the summer?
Yeah, but I liked it. When you are a teenager in a kibbutz, it’s all about the girls you know. You never see your parents because it’s segregated on a kibbutz. The parents sleep in their own quarters.
At that point you were likely considered the Jewish American, the fancy guy.
(Laughing) It would have worked out if I wasn’t so shy.
You began playing piano at an early age?
About 7. I was pretty good at it too. My piano teacher was Paul Simon’s teacher as well. She was really excited about my potential, but I let her down by quitting about age 12. I had done a bunch of recitals, and she spoke to my mom and said, “This kid is going to go far. Let me have him to work with more intensely.” By that time I was really tired of Bach and Mozart. I wanted to play the Beatles, and to get into a band, and all that. So I quit. But I did keep playing on my own.
Growing up. were you intrigued by such ground-breaking ‘60s soundtracks as “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Doctor Zhivago?”
I did because my dad had bought an album in the mid to late ‘60s called “Soundstage Spectacular.” It featured themes of big movies like “Lawrence of Arabia” etc. After that I started buying soundtrack LPs of “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Doctor Zhivago,” and “Planet of the Apes” which was one of my favorite ones leading to “Stars Wars” and stuff like that. I was very much inspired by guys like Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone who is my idol, and John Barry who is one of my favorites as well. That kind of charted the course for me in my style of melodic orchestral writing.
You then break your mother’s heart. You don’t become a dentist. You go to New York University where you earn a BA in film and television production.
That‘s right (laughing) but my parents were very supportive. It’s not common but they very supportive of that, and very supportive of my musical career as well. I went on the road when I was 19.
You were in several bands.
Yeah. As a teenager. When New Wave started happening, I was a big proponent of that because it was all that kind of Brit pop, and I’m very much into that.
You had a synthesizer by that point.
Oh yeah. That was my passion. By that time synths were my passion. I remember I saw this keyboard player in another band with a Moog synthesizer, and it had flashing lights. He hit a button and a new sound came up. I was like, “I’ve gotta have that.” Then he told me, “Well, it’s $5,000.” I said, “Okay that is what I’m going to work towards.”
Did you get it?
What kind of rock bands were you in?
I was mostly in cover bands that played parties and nightclubs in New York, and then in Pennsylvania.
Did you like the road?
I liked the road when I was 19. it was great. It was fantastic, actually. And I really cut my teeth on performing and life, really. You are thrown into it pretty heavy there. Girls and experimenting with all kinds of substances. Kinda getting out there for the first time.
You meet the human element called the club owner.
Worse than that you meet the human element called the band manager. He was a really old school guy. He was really old, and he was really old school. I’m talking about in the 1980s. So he went back to the big band era. He was, for the lack of a better word, a shyster. He just put a bunch of kids together and took advantage of us. But we didn’t care. We were just happy to live life. That band was called the Rock Idols. Our main show was impersonating rock idols. And you had to learn how to imitate them. I’m pretty good at that. I was able to imitate Elton John, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and John Lennon. It was a fun gig.
Elton John used to do cover recordings for “Chartbusters,” a budget-priced compilation series between 1969 and 1970 before he became better known.
A lot of artists coming up, you’ve got to do what you can. If it has anything to do with music, we will jump on it. It beats flipping burgers.
Weren’t you also writing for cue libraries in Los Angeles?
Yeah, I started writing for libraries in the day when libraries were not a good thing.
Most music publishers then had cue libraries.
Yeah, and they were all on LP. They used to call it canned music which tells you what they thought about it. But it was an opportunity for me as a young composer to cut my teeth a little bit, and to work with the technology that existed in those days. It was all original compositions. You got a brief from the library director saying that they wanted this to sound like this. Not any specific (song) but just sort of the feel. “Give me a calypso piece with a steel drum and a melody in it. That was basically it.
Those tracks were primarily used as instrumental beds for radio and TV commercials.
In those days, and even today, the library paid me $700 to write a piece of music. This was late ‘80s, and early ‘90s. It just shows you that music has just not kept up in terms of valuation because that’s about what they pay these days.
How did you get to Los Angeles?
I had been working at Sam Ash Music in New York, selling keyboards and recording software. The MIDI software that had just came out. I was really into that. A lot of people came to me (for advice), and I got a lot of customers. One of those customers turned me onto a singer who was moving out to LA that needed a band. The band he wanted was one guy with a bunch of computers. I was totally into that. He told me that he was a big singer in Iran. When he was a teenager, he was kind of like a Paul Anka kind of star in Iran. Now he’s coming to LA, and he’s going to re-connect with a large Iranian community there and be a big star again.
I’ll bet that didn’t happen
It was winter in the mid-80s in New York. A horrible winter. I hate winters in New York. I was working at Sam Ash for a couple of years now. A lot of famous people and artists came in all the time. I remember the Def Leppard guys were in there once. The Tangerine Dream guys were in there once. Usually with the stars, the manager snapped them up, and didn’t let the little guys talk to them. They always went into the backroom there.
But I will tell you a cool story about a star that I did meet at a music store when I moved out to LA. I got work in small store called Merrills Music in Santa Monica on 4th Street before there was the promenade on 3rd. It was a mom and pop store. This was in the early ‘90s, and I met Leonard Cohen there. He came in. He was into these keyboards that kind of played themselves where you choose a rhythm and it generates a bass line and you hit a chord. He was really into the Technics keyboards that the division of Panasonic used to put out. He loved those. He used to come in, and buy one every year. The new one that came out. And I was his guy. He saw that I knew what I was doing with this stuff, the computers, and all of that kind of stuff, and I ended up working with him on an album (“The Future” released in 1992).
That is my rock star story.
You saw Leonard write songs at his house?
Yeah. Well, he percolates on songs for what could be 10 years. The songs that we worked on were in various stages. Some he had just started, and some were old songs that he wanted to arrange in a certain way. He takes his time, and he finishes it (a song) when it’s right to finish it. I learned a lot from that process. That you can’t rush things that you feel instinctively that are not ready to go out. You have to feel good about it. Only based on your criteria. Nobody else’s criteria as an artist. That was very valuable. I really valued my time with Leonard. I used to come in, and he’d make me breakfast. He loves making people food.
You only worked with Leonard on the one album?
Yeah, that was basically it. We did end up hooking up a few years later. He had another project, but that didn’t end up going anywhere. I am bad at keeping in touch with people too. And, by that time, I had gotten into my own business and writing. A big part of me is someone who just wants to close the door, shut the world out, and do my music. By that time, I also had family too, and we do move on.
Today, you also perform with the band Globus.
Yes, Globus is another artist project of mine. The genre is what I call epic rock. What I've done is written or taken some of my existing orchestral/choral compositions, lengthened them, added rock instrumentation, wrote song lyrics and recorded vocals. Mixing cinematic score with songs, in a song format, for a bigger than life listening experience.
[Globus' song "Orchard Of Mines" peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot Singles chart in 2009, and was subsequently covered by Asia on their album “Phoenix.”]
Are the two Globus albums available commercially?
Yes, Globus is on Imperativa Records distributed worldwide.
How did Globus develop?
In 2005, I wanted to bring out to a broader public the style of music that I'd been writing for 15 years, which can be described as epic trailer music. But I wanted to put it into a recognizable song format, and at the same time, give homage to artists that have had a profound influence on me over the years - Beatles, ELO, Queen, Pink Floyd etc. I wanted to produce a uniquely-styled album of songs that people had not heard before. By expanding instrumental compositions into lyrically based songs, it also gave me another creative outlet to provide text to the colors of the orchestrations.
Globus launched with a concert at Wembley Grand Hall in 2006, complete with full orchestra and choir. We repeated similar concerts in LA and New York. We then started playing out in clubs in Los Angeles, and are now in the studio recording the third album.
Do you still enjoy watching a film?
Can you watch a film without thinking you’d do something differently musically?
No. I’m always behind the scenes. It’s tough. I do love those films where I do get lost. I relish seeing a film where they trick me.
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.
He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide.”
Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.