30 Jun A Veteran Production Music Composer, Simon Jomphe Lepine
We caught up with composer Simon Jomphe Lepine about his career in music, key influences & the composition process.
Melodie: Hey Simon, so nice to chat with you today, thank you for joining me!
Simon: Hey Selin, I’m always happy to chat with you guys, especially when it’s about music. Thank you for thinking of me for this interview.
Let’s first go back in time a little then. How did you first get started in music?
I was 20 years old when I first considered writing music. I started playing around with keyboards with a program called Fruity Loops (version 3.0 back then, now they are up to 20.0!). Initially, it was a desire to create music for artists to sing on and bring my creation to life. Now I’m 38 and almost entirely in production music – it’s been an amazing journey since day 1!
And is it true that you taught yourself how to play the piano when you were 8?
Yes, that’s right! It was my father who planted the early seeds of my interest in the piano, which then grew into a deep passion for music. He taught me two pieces and I took it from there, teaching myself more and more pieces that I had heard here and there. I never learned how to read (or compose) music though – instead, I memorised the pieces on the keys, without actually reading the notes. Teaching yourself how to play an instrument takes dedication and practice, but like most things in life, if you do it every single day, you eventually get to your goal.
Completely agree! What was the first album you bought?
That’s a great question actually – I can’t quite remember but it was definitely a cassette (showing my age again!). I’m going to go with Black Sunday by Cypress Hill – it’s a good one.
You said you’re writing entirely production music now. How did you first start writing music for picture then?
It was 10 years ago. Although back then I was mostly focused on creating music for established artists to sing on, I started writing music for local TV and advertising on the side. After that, I was in a period of transition for a while, and for 2 years now, I’ve been entirely focused on writing production music.
And how are you finding it?
I absolutely love it. It’s really different from working with an artist in a studio. With stock music, your music is going to be placed in production, so you have to get an emotion out, and I find that much more fun. You also don’t have to worry about putting too much melody in the music as you would when creating music for a singer given they want to, and should be, the main melody. So, production music gives you more freedom to be creative and produce without any rules. The only limit is your imagination.
I’ve always wondered – where do you get your inspiration?
Hmm it varies but is mostly from a rhythm that I hear completely randomly – could be on Spotify, when running errands… I find inspiration from the melodies in my surroundings. Then I build on it and let myself get carried with it. That’s when the true magic of creating happens.
Can you take us through your writing process?
I make one piece a day (or two if I’m feeling ambitious). I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, so the process is super familiar to me, which helps a lot. What I can say is that it always starts with the chord progression, like a drum loop. Then if I’m feeling the chord progression, I build the melody on it. Then I move onto the structure, followed by the mix and finalised with the mastering.
Which DAW do you use?
Ableton Live 11. It’s so simple and incredibly fast thanks to the shortcuts – they make the whole workflow really efficient. Before Ableton, I used Logic (Mac) and Reason, but Ableton Live 11 is my go-to now, definitely recommend it.
Sounds like you get to call your hobby your job, which is amazing. How do you feel about making a living by creating?
Absolutely, I’m very fortunate to have my hobby as my day-to-day job. That said, I work hard for it, as being a creator is essentially being self-employed, which has its difficulties. But you do get to be your own boss and do what you love every single day with absolute freedom, so I never take it for granted – I’m very lucky to be able to create and make a living with it.
That’s nice to hear! What keeps you busy outside of music?
I’m a family man – a dad and a husband. My 2-year-old daughter takes a lot of my time. I look after her until late afternoon so my wife can do her work, which leaves me the rest of the afternoon to work and create until late night. When I get to have some me-time, I go to the gym. I also go out for a run every now and then and have recently started doing some yoga (still a beginner!). So nothing crazy, a normal and happy life 😊
Sounds great to me! Favourite band/artist and why?
This has always been a question that I’ve found hard to answer, as I don’t really have a favourite artist/band. That said, I mostly listen to current/pop music, some R&B and EDM too. A bit of everything!
Favourite track of yours in the Melodie library and why?
To be completely honest, I like all my music 😊 I send out my pieces only when I’m 100% confident in them, so if it’s out there in public, you can be sure I like it!
You said it’s just your style, which made me curious. Do you ever get requests from clients for specific music that isn’t your style, and if you do, how do you go about it?
Yes, I do! Sometimes they ask for rap/trap music, something dark or moody, which is quite unusual for me. That said, I like to call myself a chameleon who is able to adapt to everything. I actually really enjoy this because it’s a challenge – pushes me out of my comfort zone. And in the end, I get to say I tried, so I feel proud of myself no matter how it goes.
That’s a fantastic attitude to have and a great closing point 😊 Thanks Simon!