You might not have heard his name, but chances are you’ve heard Ash’s music. His work for television has screened nationally and internationally—some fifty programs or series including Who Do You Think You Are (Australian series), Jandamarra’s War, Comic Book Heroes, Desert War, Yagan, Singapore 1942, Murdoch, Leaky Boat, Jack the Ripper: Prime Suspect, SAS: The Search for Warriors, Death of the Megabeasts, The Secret History of Eurovision, Time Trackers, Desperately Seeking Doctors and The Australian Wine Revolution.
He has also composed and produced scores for a string of award-winning short films, as well as several features, and is well known for his work in the Perth theatre scene.
Ash’s name appeared in yesterday’s announcement of the 2013 AACTA (AFI) Award nominees, for the documentary Desert War—his third AACTA nomination. He has received multiple nominations for WA Screen Awards, and APRA/Australian Guild of Screen Composers awards, recently winning a WA Screen Award for Best Original Music (longform) for Jandamarra’s War. He has also been the recipient of a WA Screen Award (Excellence in Craft—Music Composition) for Gallipoli Submarine, an Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award (Best Music, Short Film) for Iron Bird and a WA Screen Award (Best Score) for the short film Boxing Day.
Ash is one of the busiest people I know, and I’m delighted he’s taken time to talk about some of the things he loves.
3 things I love about what I do
1. It’s easy to take for granted the freedom that my occupation affords me. My wife always says, ‘You have such a good life, being able to get up whenever you want’, which is true, but of course it doesn’t take into account that when I have deadlines (which is regularly) every day of the week becomes a work day!
2. One of my favourite parts of the process is making final changes. I’ve gone through the procrastination while trying to start, the potential stress of first feedback, and the few/many notes and changes following that. Now it’s time to take it in as a whole, tweak what I need to, and cross off the final couple of notes that mean the director and producers are happy. It’s also bittersweet, as it might be one of the last times I have to listen to a score that I’ve spent quite a lot of time on before it disappears into the annals of projects past.
3. Hearing a score or song performed by musicians or singers is also a huge buzz. It doesn’t happen often for me, as I usually create my scores on a computer (augmented by some soloists), but the times that it does are spine-tingling. A couple of highlights are: the excitement of hearing some jazz band arrangements I’d done for the opening of the State Theatre Centre of WA, the raw power of the horns as it all came together as I’d heard in my head; and the satisfaction of hearing some songs I’d written for an independent musical sung for the first time and fitting the vocal ranges of the chorus and soloists perfectly.
3 places I’d like to visit or revisit
1. I’ve always said that I must visit Africa before I die. I’ve been to Egypt, but the vastness, the dramatic contrasts in landscape, and the diverse peoples in the southern half of Africa captivate me. Whether it’s South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia—anywhere where there is nature and animals appeals to me immensely.
2. There is something about nature that gives me energy and peace, and mountains in particular make me feel as close to some form of spirituality as anything I’ve experienced. I tend to tire quickly in cities, but have plenty of hiking energy when in nature. I adore Switzerland, but I haven’t visited North America yet. Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or anywhere in the Canadian Rockies or wilds would fill me with awe.
3. My wife was born in Japan and I’ve visited Japan twice. I have so much more to explore. A land of such dramatic contrasts in every conceivable way, a country and people that are endlessly fascinating, strange and beautiful. And the food is the best food in the world!
3 favourite film composers
1. This is a hard one, as I love so many, but Star Wars has to be in the top three. It brought orchestral scores back into favour in Hollywood, its themes are the most memorable of any movie in history and every single note John Williams composed is masterful and inspiring.
2. American Beauty affected me deeply as a movie and a score. I adore Thomas Newman’s music. The way he used the piano, marimba, percussion and ethnic string instruments created a score as unique as it was influential. This score cannot be mistaken for any other, and added another dimension to an already excellent film. It is modern film scoring at its finest.
3. Jon Brion’s score for P.T. Anderson’s film Punch Drunk Love is another one that impressed me because of its sheer creativity. Anderson’s unique style in this quirky film needed a quirky score, and the mixture of percussive textures, harmonium, and electronic and orchestral elements was the perfect complement. It impressed me so much that it influenced my own score for my first indie feature film.
You can find out more about Ash’s work on the following sites:
Website The Music of Ash Gibson Greig