We had the good fortune of connecting with Dara Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dara, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m a rock climber, not a base jumper. I mean, literally I’m neither, but as far as risks go – while I greatly admire those who risk it all, live in their car and become the Tyler Perrys of the world – just about all of my risks in my career were calculated. I try to live in the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” mentality and gather as many skills and connections along the way as I possibly can. Every year of my career has been the best year of my career so far and that’s all I can ask for in my opinion. My biggest pure “risk” was probably getting myself into a hundred + thousand dollars worth of student debt to go to grad school. Did I feel that what I learned was worth the exorbitant (getting more exorbitant with interest) price tag that I’m still paying? Probably not. Did I make connections that changed the course of my career and life? Yes. Exactly one – but one is all it took and it was far from immediate. From graduation on it might seem like every big step I’ve taken since has been a big risk from the outside (moving across the country without a job in hand, later leaving my full time apprenticeship to strike out on my own) but each risk was calculated. I always stepped out with an eye on the next rung of the ladder and I was happy to take every step along the way because there’s always something I learn or someone I meet on one rung that helps me on the next one. I learned to cherish growth and therefore never looked to skip any steps – intern to part-time assistant to full-time assistant to score producing and additional music to co-scoring to full time self-employed composer. I’m not saying any of it was easy or filled with its own inherit risks, but I’ve always believed that hard work and a good attitude can get you far in life and so far I haven’t been let down.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love finding different ways to use and process instruments to get a different kind of sound of them, whether is banging on the back of a charango and scraping fingernails across a cello and running it through a guitar amp or pitching the sound of a swing set or sneaker squeak. I also love placing little easter eggs within the score that connects characters, moments, or emotional motifs, even if I’m the only one who knows they’re there. Film and TV music provides a huge sandbox to play in and my favorite thing is when the filmmakers like to play in it with me and come along for the ride to tell the musical component of their stories. I love to bond with people and I think that comes across in my work in storytelling and my working style. As referenced in some of my other answers I came to where I am today by cherishing each step, making friends, and working very hard with a high level of detail. Of course it wasn’t easy – it takes a vast amount of effort and time and each steps brings its own neurosis and psychological challenges and pitfalls but the love for the medium and the people is what always makes it worth it. Most recently I’ve been honored to score the Netflix series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, the Michael Shannon thriller Echo Boomers, and the Kristen Wiig Lionsgate comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar.
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?
Well, even before the corona lockdowns, I must say that I’ve been a bit of a hermit and didn’t explore the city as much as I wish I did now that I’m sequestered at home. Even though I’ve been here for almost 8 years I’m still shamefully terrible at LA geography and meet many neighborhood names with “where is that?”. That said, I’m now on my third vastly different LA neighborhood and there are a few places I loved going within my narrow radius. – Cole’s in DTLA – specifically their speakeasy in the back with fancy old timey drinks and a 20s jazz trio – LA Live Regal 4DX – an immersive movie-going experience, now with alcohol! – AngelCity Brewery – good beer, fun times – Comedy and Magic Club in Redondo Beach – big time names with a small town vibe – Redondo Beach Riviera Village – my home for 5 years and I loved it – Magic Castle – A castle in the middle of Hollywood? Yes, please. Suspending disbelief isn’t just for the magic tricks, I also get to dress up and pretend to be in another world! 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?
Behind every career is a slew of helpful hands, little boosts, and amazing people and there are so many that have helped me along the way. I can start with Alex Bornstein, an amazing composer and friend and my past NYU classmate that introduced me to Chris Lennertz whose tutelage I grew under for six years. Then I’d add in the other amazing music executives, editors, and supervisors I met during those years, like Chris Brooks, Dan DiPrima, Chris Newlin, Julia Michels, Joel C High, Jason Markey and more who always championed me and became dear friends. The Society of Composers and Lyricists who gave me my first admin job in LA, my kick-ass agent, Sarah Kovacs and the wonderful humans at Kraft Engel Management, the life-changing experience I had at the Sundance Composers Lab, BMI, the nurturing communities of the Composers Diversity Collective and the Alliance of Women Film Composers, and of course my family. The list goes on and on, but I can’t appreciate any of these people enough for opening their arms, hearts, and knowledge to me.
Main – Brandon Baker 01 – JC Olivera 02 – Nicolas Putnam 03 – Sheri Determan 04 – Brandon Baker 05 – Brandon Baker