This week we got the opportunity to talk to Silas Hite, the composer for the Netflix Original Series; Chef’s Table. Silas Hite is an Emmy winning composer currently living and working from his studio in Los Angeles. He has scored many commercials for clients such as Apple, McDonalds, and Chevy, earning him an Emmy, a Cannes Gold Lion, a Grand Effie Award and Adweek’s Spot of the Year. He’s contributed memorable music to some of the top selling video games of the past ten years such as The Sims 2, Skate 3 and The Simpsons. He has scored and co-scored many blockbuster and independent films such as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. His scores and original songs routinely play in television shows around the world, from kids shows like Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! and Disney’s Dance-A-Lot Robot, to adult shows such as Blue Mountain State and Duck Dynasty. His music has played in such venerable institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as the The Whitney Biennial.
Hello Silas! It’s a real pleasure to talk with you. For those who still don’t know you could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your musical background?
Thanks, it’s a pleasure to be here. My name is Silas Hite and I am composer. I’ve spent the last 12 years scoring films, tv shows, commercials, and video games. I also record albums and create visual artwork.
I’ve just built a brand-new studio in Los Angeles and I am fortunate enough to work from home. Before becoming a freelance composer, I was an in-house composer at my uncle Mark Mothersbaugh’s (Devo) studio, where I learned the art and business of scoring. Before that I was baking in the Arizona sun and educating myself on the beauty of border cuisine in Tucson, Arizona where I attended The U of A and studied art, music and business.
What led you to composition?
I like making stuff up! Writing and recording music is probably the most interesting thing in the world to me. Having visual stimulus, like a film to react to, leads me in new creative directions. The visual provides the spark.
Besides being a composer you are also a great illustrator. When did you start drawing?
Thank you. I started drawing when I was a little kid. I grew up in a very small town where there was not a lot entertainment so I spent many, many hours drawing with my best friend Louis. He was a few years older and much better than I was, so I really pushed myself to try and draw at his level.
Does your music influence your artwork?
Yes, I do think my music influences my art, but I think making art influences my music more. My ideas about musical form and composition are heavily influenced by what I perceive the piece of music to look like, visually. It is tough to put into words, but I also have theories about a certain percentages of randomness or chaos that must be present in a piece of music or art to make it really stand out. To me art and music are the same thing. Its only when they get to the commodification level that they start to differ.
What do you feel is your greatest achievement so far?
Hmm, that is a humbling question. Winning awards is always a nice surprise, but working for myself and being able to pay my bills with my creativity is my greatest achievement in my mind. I am incredibly grateful that people care about my ideas enough to pay for them. Having my music play in places like the Museum of Modern Art in NYC or The Whitney Museum was also thrilling. Being featured in Juxtapoz magazine was a true honor.
Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement on Chef’s table, the Netflix Original Series about the best chef’s in the world? Did you get a lot of creative freedom?
I scored the majority of the “Chef’s Table” series but I must give credit to ScoreAScore and the handful of other composers that were involved. Because there were multiple episodes were being finished at the same time, and there was so much music needed at once, it really helped having more people involved. As far as creative freedom, I felt I had that, but fairly quickly it became clear that the music was all going to be classical or at least influenced by the fantastic orchestral pieces that were licensed for the show. I was very excited to work with the small ensemble, classical palette. Rarely do I get the opportunity to record live string players and write such elegant and beautiful music.
You produced an amazing score for “chef’s table”. Was is challenging to translate the chef’s life story into music?
Challenging? No. There was so much creativity, struggle, and visual stimuli to feed off of, I was very inspired. I really felt that I had to create great music to reflect the imaginative dishes and tremendous lives that were jumping off the screen. Plus, the way “Chef’s Table” is filmed is a feast onto itself! Visually, the whole series is such a treat to watch.
Did you relate to any of the chef’s in “chef’s table”, if so, what chef did you relate to the most considering the fact that they are artists like yourself?
Ben Shewry of Attica really struck a chord with me. We both grew up in extremely rural places, came from very supportive parents, and have both worked so hard to become successful, sacrificing quality time with ones we have loved. Fortunately like Ben, I’ve seen the folly of that path and learned to achieve a bit more balance between work and home life. Both of us have continued on to create better art as a result.
What are you excited about for the future?
Space cars, hover boards, and the day I can write music using only my brain. I want to imagine it and sculpt it with my thoughts rather than a buggy computer.
Final question, what’s your favourite place to eat?
That depends on the time of day. For breakfast, the Juevos de Los Angelitos (with machaca) at Cacao in Eagle Rock is mind-bending. Their coffee is top-notch as well. For any other time of day, the al pastor tacos at La Estrella always cure what ails me. If like them with salsa verde and fresh lime juice squeezed on them. I prefer their truck that parks at a gas station in Eagle Rock on Colorado Blvd. That’s my happy place.
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