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

Hi Mathieu, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?

Growing up in South of France, you could say I was the artist of the family. My first instruments were pencils. Like many kids, I loved drawing, painting, getting lost in the creative moment. I also enjoyed music but that was never something I thought I could ever do. My parents couldn’t afford to have my grandad’s violin repaired and for me to take lessons that the idea of learning an instrument went quickly out of the window. But the attraction was always there. Art was cheaper I guess!

Quickly I acquired art skills and many people around me remarked that I was good at it. I was also naturally determined and knew that this meant something to me. A few years later, I attended high school in Nîmes, France with a specialty in Applied Arts. There, I blossomed creatively learning graphic design, architecture, fine art and more. I also picked up a guitar and sang, and found that people liked it. I applied the same determination and had the same attraction for music that I did for art.

Fast forward a few years and a few experiences later, and it’s all come together in my career as an artist-composer. Being creative is the most natural thing for human beings, the freest state to be in and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop doing it!
In my work, I find a real connection between my abstract art and my music, the two feed into each other and when I score a film, the picture and the storytelling feed me creatively.

This is the one type of career that I can do for the rest of my life without ever running out of steam, inspiration or determination. Any other career (and I’ve worked in many dead-end jobs in my life) filled me with dread, anxiety, boredom and I never got any of this in my creative career. So I’ll keep doing it!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

When you are self-employed, there is always lots to do: for me, if I’m not scoring to picture, I will be composing new pieces, promoting my albums online, recording, writing scores, mixing etc.. If I have some time to myself, I will paint new pictures and promote etc…

As I mentioned before, art and music go hand in hand in my work. I have a background in Applied Arts and when I score a film or a show, my music becomes ‘applied’, I’m like a designer. Whereas when I compose my solo music releases, I ‘act’ in a similar way to the abstract painter that I am: going on creative adventures, exploring where music will take me.

My film and TV career has been atypical. Along the way, I scored film, TV shows, documentaries, Comedy, Children’s TV, Drama and anything in between. I’ve also worked closely with celebrities and I’ve had tracks synced to successful Netflix shows without me having watched them!
This variety of ‘hats’ to wear has enabled me to meet lots of amazing people and to have fun along the way too. Being self-employed is never plain sailing and I’ve had my fair share of ‘quiet moments’ as many of us do. However, I never stopped working, never stopped composing or painting, or being creative. My determination and the way I live my life is totally suited to this type of career; balancing very busy moments with quiet ones, feeling elated or tired after a big job.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt along the way is to trust your instinct, to believe in yourself 100% and to not listen to your own doubts or that voice that makes you question things unnecessarily, also to go with your natural flow. Sometimes you move fast, sometimes you need time for you.

Along the way, I also found my composing ‘voice’, my style if you want. This isn’t set in stone as I continue to learn and grow but it’s ‘things’ that I do musically that make it what it is. My overall approach is that I rarely start from music theory. I start with a feeling, an emotion, a ‘vision’, a ‘let’s go down that route and see what happens’ approach. The results are often distinctive, maybe unusual to the listener, elegant and at the same the aim is to offer musical paintings to my listener. My brand and my story is this: I create open-minded musical pictures, sonic moments that allow the listener to engage their imagination and find what they want in it. And when I score a film, my music comments and adds another dimension to the narrative, also with an open mind.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Having only just relocated to Los Angeles from Europe, I don’t know a huge amount about the city yet. But this isn’t my first time, and there definitely are some favourites. What I love about Los Angeles is how laid back and diverse it all is.

Santa Monica and Venice canals are two places I love going back to visit.

My current home is in Silver Lake and I love how close it is to the Hollywood hills and Griffith Observatory. The view from up there is fantastic!

To satisfy my Korean food cravings, I always head to Koreatown. There, the Korean supermarkets offer a great selection of produce and the restaurants are also incredible.

Mexican and latin American food is also regularly on the cards, and my favourite spots are food trucks!

Echo Park lake is also a favourite area. The whole vibe is great and the lake is a gorgeous spot to unwind with a coffee and a friend.

Other places of interest I’ve yet to visit: Stahl house, Ennis House and Charles and Ray Eames house.

Little Tokyo: fantastic and fun area for anything Japanese, including great food!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to all the fantastic people I’ve worked with over the years. These are professionals in their fields and they have been kind enough to recommend me to other creatives: Matt Yocum, Jacob Kirby, Hal Cantor, Rob Hyde. I’d also like to send a shoutout to the incredible musicians I’ve recorded with on many occasions. These super talented individuals make my music come alive, they understand my creative direction and they inject their own soul playing on my music: Marie Awadis, Violeta Vicci, Tristan Horne, Stefano Matteucci, Joe Martone, Ben Fairey, Josh Doughty. Lastly, I have been heavily inspired by the mind-blowing music and life of past artists such as: Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Marvin Gaye, Sarah Vaughan, Michel Legrand, Stephane Grappelli amongst many others…

Website: www.mathieukarsenti.com

Instagram: mathieukarsenti

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathieukarsenti

Twitter: mathieukarsenti

Facebook: mathieukarsenti

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mathieukarsentimusic

Other: Art portfolio: www.mathieukarsentiart.com

Image Credits
Mathieu Karsenti session, conducting photo: Vins Blake Portraits 2 and 3: George Eyo

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