When Louis Robert King is at work in his New York City home studio, composing the perfect score to accompany a film, his typical method is as follows: First, he studies a single video sequence intensely, absorbing and interpreting the emotion that it means to convey—in his own words, “finding its musical soul.” This may go on for several hours, as he views the same sequence over and over and over again. Then, he looks for something completely different to do.
“I have to step away for a while and let the ideas marinate,” King explains. “At times like this, it’s good to unload the dishwasher, or go for a walk, or turn on Colbert.” Once the marinating is through, the writing begins. It could start with anything—a melody, a rhythm, a chord progression, a particular combination of instruments—but in the end, it leads to an engaging, full-bodied composition that connects directly to what’s taking place on screen.
“Something happens when a narrative is supported by music,” King says. “It takes both of those things—the narrative and the music—and increases their effect exponentially. That’s a kind of artistic partnership that doesn’t really have a parallel.”
As a composer, King has created award-winning aural branding for major companies like Xbox, Google, and Geico, and taken part in BMI’s Composing for the Screen workshop. As an orchestrator, he helped bring to final fruition the music you hear behind the Columbia Pictures logo, as well as scores for various Disney and Warner Bros. films and Broadway stage productions.
“From the time I was a teenager,” he says, “I knew music was what I needed to do.” That need eventually brought him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he tapped into his burgeoning interest in film scoring and learned the skills of the orchestrator’s trade, which he took to “like a fish to water."
As the years have gone by, King has cast his net of influences ever wider. “The more music you’re familiar with,” he says, “the easier it is to find a unique emotional voice for every story. It could come via Stravinsky, or it could come via Tom Waits. Because the answer for any given project is always different from the one before, you need as many different wells to draw from as possible.”
King’s compositional approach may change from day to day, but his principal goal never does: “My intention always is to give directors what they didn’t know they wanted.”
During the times he’s away from the composing studio, King regularly indulges his passions for wine, food, and poker. “There’s an interesting parallel between poker and composing,” he notes. “They both keep your mind sharp by giving you problems to solve. And I love being a problem solver.”