It’s always marvellous to come across an artist who’s making great waves in the industry through sheer talent, creativity and absolute professionalism. Edward Abela is one of those rare gems. His latest album, Chronicles, went straight to Number 1 in the Malta iTunes album chart, and he is currently preparing for concerts in Soho and Malta, where he will be showcasing his work in the Nu Classical movement. We had a chat with the musician to get an insight on how this all began.
What is your earliest memory of playing an instrument?
Growing up, my mother had insisted that my siblings and I had a good upbringing in music, mainly in piano. I had my first proper lesson at the age of 6. I do remember struggling with the scores my teacher used to give me. This was mainly due to the fact that my hands decided to experiment away from the usual lesson books.
What or when was the moment you realised music was to be your vocation?
I mainly went to university to advance my theory in piano and guitar – an instrument which I fell in love with quite easily. One day, my lecturer challenged us with an assignment to score music for two cuts of video taken from famous films. If my memory serves me well, one of them was Lost in Translation. Surprisingly, not only was it a real joy to do, but it also opened my eyes to the bigger picture. Being able to play in a band is great and all. I mean, what kind of musician would not enjoy such a privilege? But the music written for film, if done right, can really affect the viewer in so many ways, sometimes without them even knowing. Plus the chance to have an orchestra manned by incredible players at my fingertips was always a dream of mine.
What inspires your composition?
It honestly depends on what the score is for. I’m lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in a range of different genres with people who have very different ideas of what constitutes as music. When it’s a film or a TV show, I usually get given a brief of what the director would want to convey and a copy of the script, to understand what the theme needs. A favourite has to be Belonging. It’s about a young Austrian boy who loses his family in WW2 and gets relocated to another family in Portugal. The film relies heavily on the score to convey what the characters are experiencing due to the fact that there is a language barrier between them.
If you had to come up with your dream line up for a concert, who would be on the list?
I’ve been asked this a few times and I’ll always give the same line up. Ludovico Einaudi, Thomas Newman, John Williams and Jon Powell. These are the composers that inspire me to think deeply on the way music is written, be it from a minimal piano score, all the way to an academy award winning film score. I’ve been lucky enough to see Einaudi live. Seriously, go and watch him. The rest are still on my bucket list.
You create scores for film and TV. Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process in the collaboration?
Every director I’ve worked with has a different mantra to the way they operate their productions. Most times, I’m given free reign on the musical side, as they would have approached me for the style I’m known for. On other occasions, they tend to be quite particular on what they want the score to convey, which sometimes leads to late night phone calls and revisions till 2a.m.
What has so far been the greatest challenge in your career so far?
Starting my own business has been a huge learning curve this year. Growing up, I never imagined myself as a director of my own company. I’d worked in big studios before but I never felt that I was given the freedom to do my own thing. Since starting Endless Melodies with my business partner, Ashley Lukas, we’ve gone from strength to strength. Within a matter of a few months, we’ve gotten an album signed with Warner Chappell and already we’ve been tasked with providing them with two more by the end of this year. The business is less then a year old and already we’ve been invited to the Cannes Film Festival where a film I scored was nominated. We have a number of great projects planned in the pipeline so what can I say…. Watch this space.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
The only advice I would give is to never give up. It can be very daunting sometimes. There will always be people who say you will never succeed or that music isn’t a career. I’ve proven them wrong, and if you love what you do enough and are prepared to make sacrifices, you can too.