We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather & Leah Stewart & Finkelstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather & Leah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting our composing business happened quite naturally. We are both established singer-songwriters and had worked with each other off and on over the years, having met at the Malibu Music Awards back in 2011. This included a U.S. tour together and being in a successful musical comedy act. Leah was writing a theme song for a talk show and asked for my input. We quickly realized how much we trusted each other’s instincts and the flow of creating together. Our creative process was also so much quicker, as we are a constant sounding board for one another. There is such a severe lack of female composers in TV and Film we immediately put the word out that we were a female duo for hire. This led to scoring our first indie feature, writing theme songs for three internet TV shows, a music supervising gig and signing with a music placement company. It became pretty obvious we needed to start an official business at this point!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets us apart as composers is that we are women, in a mostly male-dominated composing world. Secondly, we work as a team whereas many composers work solo. This tends to be very beneficial for quick turnaround times as we act as a constant sounding board for one another in our collaborations. And as they say, two heads are better than one. In addition to that, we happen to be uniquely attuned to the nuance of human emotion due to our backgrounds in mental health, comedy, extensive world-traveling and sales. We also love people and collaborating with others! We are most proud that when someone asks us to compose something like, let’s say, “1960s hold music in space”, we can absolutely do that! When we nail a request like this for a client, it’s the most satisfying thing on the planet. As with any artistic field, the journey to get here has been speckled with weird day jobs, moves across the country, countless unpaid gigs, many disappointments and crazy highs. It’s been both easy and hard but either way it’s irrelevant, when you have to do it because it is who you are and what you do. The lessons we’ve learned are, it’s about the long game and remembering to celebrate all your wins no matter how small. You cannot be consumed by the one gig you did not land. Keep moving forward, on to the next. Also, “exposure” does not pay your rent. We want people to know that we are really good at what we do and so honored to be able to do it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First of all, let’s make pretend there is no pandemic. Once you get the usual out of the way for first timers, walk of fame, Santa Monica Pier and the like, here are a few things we LOVE to do with out-of-towners and with each other: Wine-tasting in Malibu at Rosenthal Baked Potato for live jazz A night at The Magic Castle Movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Drive to the Angeles Crest Forest Yamashiro’s for the city view Casa Vega for margarita’s Paddle-boarding in Marina Del Rey Hiking in Runyon Canyon or Verdugo or any of the beautiful hikes in LA Local Peasant for make your own Bloody Mary’s Hollywood Improv for a night of comedy Hotel Café for some indie music
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We could list so many people who have influenced our journey and pursuit as composers. Our families, our friends and countless others who helped pave our way. But we would like to dedicate this ShoutOut to our friend and colleague, Karen Volpe, who tragically passed in 2019. She was a multi-hyphenate talent and possibly the hardest worker in show business and her motto was to “always be producing”. We take that with us every single day.
Instagram: @heatherstewart AND @lfinkelstein
Twitter: @heatherstewart AND @ljfinkelstein