Fire Films recently collaborated with singer/songwriter/composer Finn Bennet to produce some original music for our animated educational video series for the Law Library of Victoria.
Working with a composer on a project like this exponentially elevates the final product by giving it a true authenticity and a personal touch.
Sure, stock music has its place in the video production landscape, but by supporting local artists and showcasing their talents, we can make our productions even more engaging and meaningful.
We had a chat to Finn about his music:
When did you start playing and what got you into music?
Both my parents are musicians/music teachers so I've been playing music forever. A couple of times a year we'd go to these folk music camps, which is where I got my passion for songwriting I think. I took up trombone at the start of high school and ended up going to uni with it (improv at VCA), but it was in singing, songwriting, and playing ukulele where I really felt at home.
How would you describe your music?
The sound I really love at the moment (and the past few years) is a combination of simple, lyrical melodies and vocal harmonies with lush textures created with plucked strings, mallet percussion etc. I've worked on quite a few different types of projects the past few years though, (ads, games, tv etc.) in addition to my own songwriting projects, so I have to be a bit of a genre chameleon.
What are some of your influences?
My main inspirations are Sufjan Stevens (especially for his melody/harmony stuff) and Sigor Ros (especially for their textural, soundscapey stuff). I've also drawn inspiration from artists like Laura Mvula, Rufus Wainwright , Bon Iver, and Dirty Projectors-as well as from musician friends here in Melbourne.
How did you get into composing for film/video?
I always liked the idea of composing for film and that kind of thing. About three years ago, a couple of friends from uni and I decided to give it a shot. We'd all done a little bit before then, but not much. We made a little composing business called Echo Shop and started out with things like ads, branding stuff, and a bit of tv. Later we ended up moving more into video games. Lately though it's made more sense for us to start working more on our own, though we still work together sometimes.
What's your setup for recording?
Up until a few months ago my setup was a midi keyboard plugged into my computer and a single mic sitting in the top draw of my desk. Now I've upgraded to a mic stand (fancy, I know). It's a very simple setup but I recorded my album on it, and I've used it for a bunch of commercial stuff, and it's always worked for what I need it to do.
Inspiration is a hard thing to pin down, where do you find yours?
It's difficult to say exactly, but I think I get most of my ideas from just messing around on instruments (usually piano, ukulele, or guitar) until I hear something I like. This can sometimes take months when I'm just writing songs for myself. Obviously the process is expedited by deadlines when I'm composing for other people, which can actually be quite liberating. Of course I also find inspiration in listening to music, even sometimes when it's not music I like. There might just be that one phrase or whatever that really strikes me.
How did you find working with Fire Films and what was your process for the Law Library job?
I loved working with Fire Films. Both Jimmy and Corinne were super nice and easy to work and communicate with, and I think we were all on the same page with what we were aiming to achieve. In terms of process: I started out by writing and recording a track to one of the videos. I used this, and one other track I wrote later, as a base which I could then rearrange and edit to work with the other videos. Sometimes the changes were minor-just adjusting the end chords to fit different timings and adding in some new flourishes or another instrument to play the melody. Other times I would make more major changes like writing a new main melody.
What's next for you?
I released my album a few months ago, so I haven't made any major plans for what's next just yet. I have started writing songs again though, so I'm sure something will happen eventually. Once the COVID stuff calms down a bit more I might start to think about getting a band together to perform my stuff live as well. For the moment I'm aiming to keep writing, and doing more composing work as I go.
Plug your new album.
My new album is called Only Breathing. I started working on it in 2017 when I realised I hadn't released any of my own music since 2011. I set out to make the album a personal one. I'm a pretty private person, and that fear of revealing myself had previously lead to overly ambiguous lyrics that were often about nothing at all. Only Breathing ended up being a snapshot of these past few years, centred around a house I was renting in Clifton Hill.
Finn's debut album 'Only Breathing' is available for purchase via Band Camp here.
Traditionally, educational content has been quite dry, but with our innovative screen capture techniques and Finn's unique and beautiful music, watching the videos is a pleasure.
Thanks for working with us Finn. Let's do it again soon.