We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Forsgren and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, why did you pursue a creative career?
It’s quite simple, really. While my mind was set on a career as a concert pianist from the age of 10, I quickly realized that practicing piano 8 hours a day wasn’t fulfilling for me. It lacked the creativity and variety I craved, and it didn’t help that I found myself dreading it each day. A few years passed, and I started to consider quitting music all together as I couldn’t find the right path for me. That is, until I went to see the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. It sounds cliché, but that movie really did change my life- I couldn’t believe the impact the underscore had on me. I left the movie theater with a huge smile on my face, knowing I had discovered another possible career within the music world: Film music.

After countless hours writing music and receiving my degree in composition from UCLA, I found myself living in Los Angeles writing additional music on hit TV series and blockbuster movies. But, I still had yet to find my own true voice: to write from the head and the heart, as they say, not from my fingers. I thought back to that visit to the movie theater that had inspired so much for me, and came back to my true mission with this work- to provide that inspiration and impact for someone else, the way that movie score had for me. The challenges of telling a story with sound, whether it be through orchestral or synthetic means, continue to push me forward in finding my unique voice while complementing a director’s vision. I firmly believe a film score is what truly makes us feel something as we watch, and has the power to highlight and bring forward the deeper impact of any story. That’s why I pursue a creative career.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a film composer, it’s my job to enhance a story on screen with music. The goal is that the viewer does not even recognize there is music playing behind any given scene, as it is meant to evoke emotion without being obvious. Our subconscious mind takes sound effects, dialogue and music, and pairs all of this with the picture instinctively to deliver a singular powerful experience to the brain. Occasionally, though, there are moments when music can take the foreground of a scene, and it is in these moments that it is imperative to convey the proper emotion and impact. A good example of this is the very last scene of the movie ‘Titanic,’ where present-day Rose dreams her way back to see Jack standing at the top of the stairs with everyone looking on and applauding. This is a 2+ minute scene with no dialogue, and James Horner, the composer on this film, creates maximum impact by enhancing the main musical theme present throughout the movie, drawing upon all of the emotions the viewer has experienced thus far.

It is moments like this that make us truly appreciate the music in a film, and that keep me excited about being in this field and continuing to grow as an artist.

In a field comprised of countless talented musicians, each with their own idiosyncrasies and sounds, it can become difficult to set oneself apart with a unique sound or process. But, I like to think that my background helps to set me apart in how I create and think about a score for each new project. Growing up in Sweden, I find myself most influenced by other cultures, and try to highlight that in my work. I’ll begin each project by looking at it as a blank canvas, a space to experiment, bring in the cultural sounds from where a story may be based, and create organic sounds in accordance with a director’s vision. I love any opportunity to learn about a new place, people, piece of history, or genre when taking on a new project, and use that knowledge to inform the music I write. I’m especially proud of a new project that releases soon on Netflix, a political thriller series based in Israel and Oslo, which references real-life events. The combination of the two cultures and exploring their respective sounds was fascinating to me, and I feel that each unique identity came through on the final score. I cannot wait for people to experience the series and get a taste of each culture through the music we created.

I truly believe that life is about the journey, not the destination – and the journey toward anything worthwhile will never be easy. But, that is what makes it all worth it. Following my dreams of film composition began for me by making the big move to America from Sweden, not fully fluent in English and knowing nothing about LA or Hollywood. It was hard at first, being so far from family, trying to find my place and my people, but I continued to remind myself of my goal and the impact I hoped to make, and that kept me focused on overcoming any challenge put in front of me. Everything else has seemed easy compared to that first leap I took at age 20, when put in perspective, and I’ve learned to never let pride or fear of embarrassment keep me from asking for help along the way. I would have never found my first job, never connected to some of the greatest mentors in the business, never gotten to where I am today, without reaching out for help. This business is full of incredible, supportive people lifting each other up, and I will never forget that no one gets here alone – so hope to be a mentor myself someday and bring other young composers up with me along the way.

I feel grateful to be where I am today, but it did not come without struggles. As an immigrant to America, that was a huge challenge in itself. There were many times that I felt like giving up, but was always brought back to my original goal and vision to keep going. I mostly want the world to experience the impact of my music, the same way I am constantly impacted by amazing scores each day. My journey has inspired my unique voice and sound, and I hope to continue to build upon that to influence audiences far and wide, highlight different cultures, and make great music for years to come.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
You really can’t go wrong with a day in Santa Monica, especially if they haven’t been to LA much. I often find myself taking visitors for a stroll on the pier – maybe even a ride on the ferris wheel!- and the beach before hitting up places like the Bungalow or the ONYX rooftop bar.

I’d definitely spend a day with them doing tourist-y things, to get that out of the way. That may involve a hike to the Hollywood sign or up to Griffith Observatory, and a drive through the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills for the celebrity side of things. We’d spend a day on the west side, walking downtown El Segundo, stopping at a favorite of mine- Brewport Taphouse – or even going to the rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin in Venice. You can’t beat those views!

As I just recently moved to San Pedro with my fiancé, I’d love to show them around our great downtown here and do some of our local favorite things- grab a beer at Brouwerij West, walk along the marina, and maybe even tour the Battleship Iowa. We’d then have to head over to Long Beach and explore the Queen Mary, walk up and down 2nd street for food and drinks, and check out Naples Island in Long Beach as well.
I’m constantly discovering new and fun things to do here in LA, so the possibilities are endless!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who have supported and pushed me to become a better composer. I would not be where I am today without the guidance and support of Bruce Broughton, everyone at Sonic Fuel Studios, Blake Neely, Joe Lisanti and Sherri Chung. These incredible people and composers have gone out their way to help steer me in the right direction and have given me opportunities I could only have dreamed of when I first moved to Los Angeles.

Website: https://www.chrisforsgren.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.forsgren.33/

Other: https://rcrft.co/reel/ChrisForsgren/listen

Image Credits
Hojoon Kim Salvador Ochoa Elisa Rice

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