Hollywood Composer Interview

Tanja Segal interviewed Hollywood movie composer Misha Segal


IMDB Profile: Misha Segal

Website: http://www.mishasegal.com

Misha´s music projects:



Blue Lou (Blues Brothers) & Misha

Twitter: @mjzz1000

TS: When did you first realize you wanted to be a film composer?

MS: As a child I was fascinated by movies. When I grew up I studied cinema at the Tel Aviv University. When I became very successful in Israel, mostly as a hit songwriter and performer, I was called to write a few theater and movie scores but did not think of it as a career at the time. When I moved to the US I started out by writing and producing records in NYC. I got to work with some amazing artists like Luther Vandross. At some point it was time to get more seriously into music composition and that’s when I moved to Hollywood. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to write music in so many styles for so many different projects and get paid well for it. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a film composer. 107 films and 7 awards later I can say that it was a good move. All of this BTW did not deter me form signing with Motown as songwriter and continuing that career too.

TS: How long does it take you to write a song?

MS: I can write a song in 10 minutes, it depends on the circumstances.

TS: How does music get published?

MS: Many different ways. Today, with the advent of internet marketing tools, pretty much anyone can publish their own material. Getting material published in the main stream takes making the right connections. If a songwriter creates a relationship with a successful artist, the songs will be published. If he/she works for the film/TV industry then it’s a matter of hooking up with a good director or producer. Music publishers still exist but overall their role has been shrinking over the last decade and unless they are connected to the mainstream in a strong way, they have as hard a time as an individual trying to get material published.

TS: Where do you get your ideas for your music?

MS: It’s an interesting question because for every composer you will probably get slightly different answers. When I work on a project, film or artist, they inspire the music. The scene inspires it or the artist inspires it and it just happens very naturally and very fast. One has to remember that being a composer is being a professional and a true professional should be able to write, the same way a baker should be able to bake bread. Some people don’t realize that all the great masters, like Bach or Brahms, wrote every day no matter what. If it’s only a ‘leisure’ thing than you are not talking about a professional. When I write my own material I still call it a project and once I decide what it’s going to be it just comes to me, some of it is inspiration but 90% of it is craft, work. If one does not take pleasure in the craft, one is not a pro. A pianist practices every day or they can’t perform. Sometimes though, I will wake up in the middle of the night with an entire piece in my head. Then I will rush to the studio or piano and write it all down, otherwise, if I fall asleep again it could be lost. A beautiful environment can also affect my writing.

TS: When did you write your first song and how old were you?

MS: I always “Wrote,” Ever since I can remember. Writing, as in sitting down and writing is something I got around to much later on, after the army service. But ideas, sometimes complete ideas were floating in my head from about when I was 3 years old, I just was not educated enough to write them down. Professionally I wrote my first song that was recorded, when I was 21

TS: What do you like to do when you’re not playing / writing?

MS: I like to fly planes, cook, play chess, go to concerts, the theater, museums, travel and hang out with my wife…

TS: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your music?

MS: How infinite it is. That there is no end to ideas, that there is not even enough time to put them all down and that music could fulfill so much of one’s life. I always thought of the privilege of being able to sit at the piano and play when I had a tough day or whatever. I could just sit down and play and immediately feel better and get back to what I needed to do. I am always amazed at the healing powers of good music.

TS: How many songs have you written? Which is your favorite?

MS: I probably wrote about 300 songs. My favorite is a song I wrote in Israel called “At the End of the Summer.” I wrote it many years ago for a movie and years later a whole new bunch of singers discovered it and covered it. There is something about that song which is spiritually very close to who I am.

TS: What do you think makes a good song?

MS: There is no known answer for this question. If one had the answer they could write a good one each time. There are rules for writing a professional song, a ‘correct’ song but for a good song – I don’t think it’s one thing or another (music, lyrics, chords etc.) In art there is a thing called magic. Something happens which is so perfect that hits you between the eyes. After the fact it’s easier to say, well, the singer is great or the arrangement is fantastic or the chord changes or the chorus… Yes, things can be analyzed and explained but the magic is just magic. I don’t know that anyone can say exactly why “Autumn in New York” or “Your Song” or the “Yesterday” are such phenomenal songs…

TS: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

MS: Only one thing – music, music, music

TS: What are your next projects and which genre?

MS: I am working on a few things. 2 movies in the works for scoring, my own musical project, a CD which will develop into a tour, my piano solo performances, which I continue to do and a few other things which I will fill you in on as it gets closer.

Misha, thank you very much for the time you took to do this interview! I appreciate it very much! 🙂

MS: You are very welcome.

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