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Six Strings With...Imran Ahmad

I have been holding onto this interview for sometime now, mostly because I found out we at "Howlin' Wolf Records were going to officially release the score "THE DEAD". So I an honored to able to bring it to you now.. thank you to Mr. Ahmad for being cool and bringing us a great score.
-Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]

How did you get started in the field of music and how did that lead you to composing?
Imran Ahmad: I’ve been making music from a very young age.  My initial influences came via my parents from listening to popular and classical Indian music.  This early exposure to different sounds and styles between East and West cultivated my interest in music.  As I became older I began to pay attention to music used in film.  I was intrigued by the landscape of sounds and dynamics used.  The use and structure of a piece of music evolves based on a film’s narrative.  Also to compose for film it is necessary to understand the nature of filmmaking as a collaborative endeavor.  I was excited by the challenges involved in creating music for film that led me to composing.

What are you working on now currently and what have you completed [Highlights]?
Imran Ahmad: I am currently working on writing music for a feature length ‘audiodrama’ called ‘Lot No. 249’ based on the short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Last year I formed a company called 4Dio with two other creative friends of mine.  We produce audiodramas that are scripted stories produced with professional actors and film quality music and sound design.  As musical creatives we are passionate about sound, and so our aim is to create a rich immerse audio experience with which the audience can invoke their imagination whilst listening to these stories on their iPad, iPhone or any other mobile device – check it out!  I’m very excited about this venture and it has been a big highlight for me this year.  I am also very much inspired by the magic created by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre on the Air productions from the 1930s that dramatized classic stories and thrilled audiences by becoming part of the creative act.  We want to reawaken the imaginative potential of audiodramas.  A recent highlight has been composing for the audiodrama, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I’ve really enjoyed working on this project, as it’s a beautiful and mysterious tale of being lost at sea on a ghost ship.

In your circle of composers who do work with and what is the best part of your contributions?
Imran Ahmad: As a composer I usually work on my own.  However, I am always collaborating with other musicians especially when I need to record live instruments.  I love working with musicians from different parts of the world as I find these encounters invaluable learning experiences about different cultures, values and beliefs.  Music is such a beautiful way of connecting with people from all backgrounds.  I recently worked with a Gambian musician who plays the ‘kora’ (an ancient African stringed instrument) who is descended from 74 generations of kora players!  I enjoy experimenting with musicians and recording their sounds, and then using the sounds to create layers of emotion within a music score.

Who inspires you musically and who do you listen to?
Imran Ahmad: There are so many influences!  The first film I went to see in the cinema was The Return of the Jedi!  So naturally I have always been inspired by the music of John Williams.  I am also inspired by Bernard Herrmann and Maurice Jarre, and classical composers such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Sergei Rachmaninov.  My other influences come from Indian classical music and indigenous folk songs.

Out of all your released work, which gives you the best feeling of accomplishment?
Imran Ahmad: To date, the release of the soundtrack to ‘The Dead’ has been really exciting.  It’s currently available as a download on iTunes and Amazon and the film recently went to no. 1 in the US horror charts for DVD and Blu-ray.  The film is a zombie road-trip set mainly in the wilderness of Burkina Faso in West Africa.  It has been beautifully shot on 35mm film.  I think with this film a new visual and cultural texture has been added to the familiar vernacular of the zombie genre.  I was able to add a very earthy and spiritual vibe to the music that is incongruous to what you would normally expect from a horror film.  There are a lot of vocals, flutes and African percussion!  Also I am really excited about releasing a limited edition CD of The Dead soundtrack later this year.

Walk us throughout a typical day?
Imran Ahmad: No day is typically the same.  It can involve any aspect from preparing to write for a music project through to final mix and delivery of the music cues.  The most enjoyable aspect is developing the musical themes and sounds for the story of the film or audiodrama.  The most typical thing I do every day is to have an enjoyable coffee break!


DEZMOND said...

loved this insight into a musician's life!

Unknown said...

Cool interview!

Thanks for the comment on my site btw, much appreciated!