NAME: Los Angeles-based Vlad Berkhemer
WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As a composer, most of my day-to-day activities revolve around reading and dissecting briefs, then translating that into music that’s custom written to picture. All that entails maintaining relationships with music houses and musicians, chatting with producers about direction, receiving and sharing feedback and juggling time zone differences with international relationships.
In addition, there is learning through listening – keeping up to date with soundtracks, trends, and evolving genres.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The speed in which things have to be written, mixed, mastered and delivered, and revised on the fly. That, and the amount of times you end up going back to the drawing board as directions can drastically change last minute, no matter how close you’ve come to executing someone’s vision up to that point. It can be daunting but also rewarding going from unexpected turns to final approval on something everyone feels excited about.
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
Apple’s Logic Pro, a MacBook Pro, an Apollo interface — and anything that makes noise.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Getting to write in a variety of styles, collaborating with a wide range of vocalists and players. Bringing someone’s vision to life and winning the gig (smiles).
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Last minute cut changes.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
The end of the day, right before you send off a mix knowing you’ve got something solid.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d still aim to be involved with film in one way or another.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I grew up in a family of classical musicians, and I don’t think I ever imagined a path outside of music.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
It’s a mixed bag: the UK series Borderline is a show I’m proud to be a part of (Season 1 is currently available on Netflix).
A series of Toyota spots really pushed me to explore some genres I don’t get to typically work in.
There was an orchestral spot for Ihop that had a romantic lush orchestral arrangement, which I don’t get to do as often as I’d like, along with a variety of cues for several reality TV shows.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I’ve recently done a co-write with indie artist Jay Som, which was a blast to do.
It was also great to score a Mercedes Benz spot with John Hamm on VO.
I’m particularly proud of a Gatorade project where I was asked to do my own cinematic arrangement of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.” It was for a short film about Serena Williams and her few-days-old newborn, which felt special to be a part of. I have a few more co-writes lined up with talented singers without any particular pre-determined direction in mind, which is sometimes a much-needed refresher.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Hard drives, my Martin guitar and my AKG 414.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Hike! Play drums, catch a show at the Comedy Store, not using the nice blender I just got.