We had the good fortune of connecting with Charlie Malcolm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charlie, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
I think the most important lesson that I learned so far is that people simply do not believe in you. And while that may sound cynical, I really find it freeing once I accept it. If people don’t believe in you, there’s no one you’re letting down! Hollywood has a bad habit of making you prove them wrong; work twice as hard just to catch its eye. And it can be disheartening and exhausting constantly juggling your day job, your dream job, and your side projects. But you must speak up for yourself, assert your value, and know your worth; because even if you have a mentor, the person that’s going to get you the farthest is you. (cheesy, but true).
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a biracial, gay kid who grew up in the South; I was gifted a wonderfully multifaceted view of the world. Growing up with a Black Jamaican mother and a white Southern dad allowed me to develop an approach to music that would combine African diasporic sounds with classical orchestral instruments. I first found my passion for melody attending acapella church every Sunday, hearing the meshing of voices into a singular harmony (or sometimes cacophony). I loved making up jingles and songs, to the point that my parents gave me a tape recorder to keep track. I believe the construction of a hymn highlights how contrasting themes can join together to create a spiritual experience and I see this also in film scoring. In a recent project, Statuette: A New Musical; I sought to elevate the opposing viewpoints of the main characters by meshing a full orchestra with synthetic instruments and beats. Professionally, the route I took to get here was unconventional to say the least. The extent of my musical training was a few violin lessons when I was twelve, and even then, I wasn’t very good. I never learned how to read music, but I had a great ear for pitch. So I would say one of the biggest challenges early on was overcoming technical proficiency to make music. But even I could sit in front of a piano and hit keys one by one until it sounded like the note in my head. So I did! And slowly I learned a thing or two with the help of tons of YouTube tutorials and Logic Pro. Mind you, I did all of this while working my day job in the film industry, some days working on set and some days working in the editing suite. One lesson I learned that I think everyone should know is that it is okay to be pursuing multiple career paths. It can be difficult to climb the various ladders in Hollywood, so if you have multiple talents, explore them all! There is so much pressure to conform to one career path, but realistically people tend to have a few careers in their life. And don’t let your imposter syndrome get the best of you! If I could make music without knowing how to read it, imagine what you could do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s a few staple places. I like to go to Home Restaurant in Los Feliz for a brunch atmosphere, walk around the Americana and window shop, go to Brand Park in Glendale to lounge in the quiet afternoon, maybe pop in their historic library for a bit, and then go to Pine and Crane in Silverlake for a long line that will hopefully lead to dinner. Depending on the day, I can see us going to the Getty and getting lost for hours in the endless exhibits, or to the Pantages and see a show, or maybe catch one of the many improv shows my friends are in!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been composing music behind closed doors for nearly a decade. I was afraid that because I didn’t have a formal music education that my efforts weren’t considered good enough to share. But as I composed for personal projects and favors, the validation and encouragement I received bolstered my confidence and I now can proudly call myself a composer and share my music openly. I’d like to shoutout my good friend Gabrielle Ruiz, who challenged me and, technically, commissioned me to create a few songs for our church–one of which about Juneteenth, really reached a lot of people and impacted them in a profound way. If I’m allowed to give a second shout out, I’d also love to give more press to the brilliant songwriting/composing team Barlow & Bear. Their recent rise to internet fame writing Bridgerton the Musical completely inspired me to dig my heels into the craft and learn more. Their transparency and openness make the world of musical theater so much more inclusive, and I can’t wait to see what doors they’ll continue to open.
Other: Here’s a link to my most recent track that I was able to record with Gabrielle Ruiz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggvb9ubEm0U