We had the good fortune of connecting with Marina Ortega Mira and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marina, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am from Spain and studied music in a conservatory there. It was pretty classical-oriented, but I was more of a singer-songwriter, so I was always trying to merge the two worlds. I studied lyrical singing and piano and then moved to Barcelona for my music composition bachelors. I think that made a huge impact on my development as a composer. I was introduced to music styles I was not even aware existed, it opened my mind in a lot of ways and planted the seeds of my values as a creator today.
I don’t have family members related to the music world. My parents work as public officers, but they showed me how creativity can be applied in all aspects of life. My mother may not sing a tune, but she has given me some of the best musical ideas I have heard of. She taught me how to build bridges between different disciplines and get inspiration from them. That made a big difference in terms of how I write music to picture, where I get the ideas from, and my focus on symbolism.
Probably that’s why I went to law school and engaged in different academic activities as well. I am very focused on music and narrative, but I also love learning about what seem to be unrelated topics to apply them to the music I make. With an Erasmus scholarship, I spent a year in Helsinki and got involved in projects related to music and artificial intelligence. That opened my mind again to a new palette of tools. I wrote my final thesis about that and earned a Fulbright scholarship to study in the Screen Scoring program at USC.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
During my career, I have gotten involved in many different musical backgrounds. I ended up focusing on how to reconcile quite opposite ways of musical thinking. That has shaped my creative process and therefore my personal voice as well.
But what has made the biggest impact in my sound is a hearing condition that I suffer from called hyperacusis. It is a disorder in the way I perceive sound, and it makes everyday sounds very difficult to tolerate. Everything seems too loud, especially when it is high-pitched. It became my biggest obstacle because at its initial stage I could not even listen to music properly. It forced me to reinvent my writing process, but also made me very aware of the influence of sound and timbre in a score. Since then, I have been focusing a lot on music production and sound design, especially when it involves playing with vocals.
I still keep a strong background as a singer and songwriter. In film projects, scores and songs are mostly separate entities, so I love having the chance of writing and performing a song to picture and then generating the whole score out of that song. It transforms the narrative so much. That´s something you cannot do when there is a song placement and an original score living in separate worlds.
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?
Santa Monica pier would be one of my top places to go for sure. It is always so vibrant and full of things to do. The Griffith Observatory is also a wonderful experience and has amazing views of the city (and the sky!). Also the LACMA and the Getty Museum. And of course Disneyland, the star wars area cannot be more immersive, especially Oga´s Cantina.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely my parents and all my mentors in Spain and Finland, together with the fantastic teachers at USC who taught me so much in such little time. Also my former roommate and filmmaker Gülnigar, she is a constant source of encouragement. And, honestly, all my friends here and back home deserve huge recognition for their neverending support.
Aurora Macià Molina Matthew O’Connor Christian Amonson Monika Mia