Q&A with Oliver Weder, Film Composer at Spitfire Audio in London, UK
Photo courtesy of Oliver Weder
Berklee alumnus Oliver Weder ’14 of Switzerland is a film composer, performer, and producer with a background in jazz, contemporary music, and songwriting. A visit to London while he was completing Berklee’s Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games at the Valencia campus was the kickoff for his professional career. There he met Spitfire Audio directors, founders, and multi award-winning composers Christian Henson and Paul Thomson, with whom he’s currently working, creating music for the renowned music sampling company. Weder’s work at Spitfire Audio led him to write music for the BBC while allowing him to produce the debut album for his band Time for T. Prior to his work at Spitfire Audio, Weder wrote music for many short films across Europe and the U.S. Weder has collaborated with Keaton Henson, Ben Onono, Samuel Sim, and producer David D. A. Doman.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in Berklee’s Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program at the Valencia campus?
I have been pursuing a career as a pianist and performer since my teenage years and before I entered Berklee, I was touring and playing with my band. I had always been composing pieces of music, mainly on the piano, but never made any use of them.
It was not until I was studying a degree in music at college that I had to choose between writing an EP or 10 minutes of score for a picture. I was living in Brighton, England, and it was relatively easy to find some nice visual art projects, so I decided to write music for a picture. Turns out that I absolutely loved doing it; the amount of creativity that can be put into this form of art is unlimited! Now I wanted to know more about scoring for films, about orchestration, about the art of filmmaking and film music making. There was only one choice, and it was Berklee College of Music. I then learned about the campus in Valencia, and I had no doubt that I needed to get in [there].
How has your Berklee experience influenced you as a professional?
It has really paved the way for my professional career as a musician. It has changed my attitude towards arts and being a musician: if you work hard, really hard, you might actually be able to quit your side job.
Berklee has equipped me with the necessary tools to find my way into the industry. If I had told myself this exact sentence when I was graduating at Berklee, I wouldn't have believed it for a single second; I felt completely lost back then. But retrospectively, without Berklee I wouldn't have made the right contacts or learned the right skills.
Tell us about your work as a composer for Spitfire Audio in London, and how Berklee prepared you for it.
It’s quite ironic: when I started studying at Berklee, making music from sounds coming from inside a box sounded wrong to me. Now I work for a company that actually creates these sounds coming from a box, and I love it!
I am only here through Berklee, and the way it went is as follows: first of all, we visited Spitfire Audio headquarters during our trip to London to conduct our culminating experiences, and through a couple of coincidences, I bumped into the studio’s director, Christian Henson, who somehow talked me into it. I started off as his assistant a couple of days a week, which allowed me to do my own music projects on the side.
Now this is where Berklee comes into play: I was able to prove myself only because I had learned all the technical skills and orchestral knowledge during my year at the master’s degree, learning from our professors’ experiences and backgrounds. Again, I worked hard and showed my commitment, dedicating increasing hours a week, working even until late at night in the weekend. In a way, Berklee prepared me for this challenge.
Another important thing I learned during my time at Berklee is: it is a people business. Seriously, beyond the fact that you can write sextuplets in quintuple time, it’s really important to exercise your network and use your connections: just go to the pub and have a pint with the right person!
Through my assistant position, I have now become Spitfire's main in-house composer, which is a dream job; I basically get to play with and test the newest libraries we release.The contacts I make here are priceless; so far, one of them has led me to write for the BBC, and also to collaborate with great musicians.
What is your fondest memory of your time at the Valencia campus?
I think my best memory is the friendship and solidarity in Berklee. We all cared for each other and helped out wherever we could, which will come back to you one day (it has for me already). Also, the relationship with the professors and the whole Berklee team is fantastic! Everyone is helpful, friendly, and just happy to be at such an incredible place of education and creativity.
Although I had to spend a lot of time at the campus, I tried to enjoy the city as much as I could, which helped me a lot to recover my energy levels despite the short hours of sleep. It was an unforgettable year and I certainly wish to relive it.