We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Zambrano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is a way of life for me. I risked moving from Florida to LA without any connections or jobs lined up, and a faint idea of what I’m doing. Quite honestly, I’m still making this up as a go along, since I’m a firm believer of forging your life and career on my own terms. I can easily sacrifice my dignity, and join the rat race, clawing for an “opportunity” to work for minimum wage, and get treated like a lesser person, with someone dangling the prospect of one day moving up. However, I refuse to do that, and, while it’s a longer marathon, I’m building up a network of individuals who I enjoy working with, and have grown to be friends with many of them.
With that being said, I encourage all of your readers, who have career aspirations, specifically in the entertainment industry, to never compromise your dignity. Yes, some old school folks may tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before moving up, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health for that. You’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, so no doubt you gotta hustle (I’m still hustling to this day), but make sure your time in the trenches actually amounts to something, and NOT polishing someone’s shoes, going up on their roof to clean the gutters, or 4:00 airport trips.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been a movie goer all of my life, and it’s something I do by myself to this day, something I’ve done since I was 13 years old. With that, listening to soundtracks non-stop was always a must. My tastes range from depressing and disturbing (Requiem for a Dream, Joker) to a strong affinity for the classics (Vertigo), bittersweet romance flicks without a satisfying resolution (Like Crazy), and of course, action flicks that have a unique flavor to them (Tenet, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Man of Steel). Outside of movies, my influences dive deep into the 2000’s emo realm (My Chemical Romance, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park, Panic! At the Disco).
With all these influences growing up, my approach to being a composer is tapping into the darkness that I’ve been so fascinated by all these years, and saying “I hate everything about this, but, I still love it” for every piece of music I write.
On the technical side of things, I try to create as many custom sounds as possible. You’d be surprised what you’d find on the side of an LA street! One time, I found a toy piano, and made my first virtual instrument out of it. On another occasion, I found a perfectly intact tom drum abandoned, so I took that down into my parking garage, recorded it, and loaded it onto my computer program, thus my first drum virtual instrument. There are many other occasions where I did random stuff, but it’s satisfying, and also fun.
I’m the absolute WORST at trying to explain the nooks and crannies of everything (leave that to other composers who would better explain that part), I just do my thing, and if I like what I”m doing, fate grabs my hand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Everyone who has visited from out of town almost ALWAYS wants to go to the Walk of Fame, so that’s gotta be the first thing. If a band I like is playing, I’d take them to a concert at the Whisky a Go Go, then dinner at the Rainbow bar and grill.
Since I’m a hiking junkie, I like to explore nature a lot. My go-to trail is Wildwood Canyon, cause it never fails to give a good workout. But other spots are the Glendale park, Eaton Canyon, Temescal.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my parents back home in Florida. We may have our philosophical differences on life, but at the end of the day, their knowledge and wisdom helped me become the independent and self-sustainable person I am today!
I’d also like to shoutout to my cousin Luisa, who acted as my main family away from my main family ever since I landed in LA five years ago. She’s been there from the start of the LA journey, and while we don’t talk everyday, I know she has my back.
I’ve never really had a main mentor in my journey as a composer, just taking bits and pieces of knowledge where I can find it, and kind go molding my own unique path. Basically, I’m making this up as I go, so getting on the phone, calling my dad every now and then has really been an important part of keeping me on track.