Interview with composer Omar Fadel

Supe Troop’s Laura Katz interviews composer Omar Fadel about film scoring, Critical Role (which they both worked on), and soup!

Omar Fadel

Supe Troop (ST): How did you get into scoring?

Omar Fadel (OF): I always loved film and film scores specifically, so it was always on my radar from age 10 and on. I graduated from college (University of Texas at Austin) and moved to Los Angeles, where I was incredibly fortunate to get a job working for Stewart Copeland. Working with him was like getting a masters in all things rhythm, composition, and the business of film-making/film score. After working for him, I started scoring my own projects and one thing led to another.

ST: When scenes give you trouble, what are some of the things you do to make them work?

OF: Most importantly, walk away and take a break. Doing something else for a short period can serve as a palette cleanser and help you see/hear the scene in a way you hadn’t before. If that doesn’t work, I try the Oblique Strategies card “Take away the elements in order of non-importance”. Removing all of the fluff from a cue generally sheds light on what is truly important when scoring a scene. If that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to throw everything in the trash and start the scene over. What didn’t work will inform your next idea.

ST: What is an example of where you think another composer nailed a project or particular scene?

OF: I recently re-watched Chernobyl and was wowed by Hildur Guǒnadóttir’s magnificent score. 

ST: What non-score music are you listening to right now?

OF: Stormzy – This is what I mean. Lana Del Ray – Did you know that there’s a tunnel under ocean Blvd?.  Rachid Taha  – DiwanPuccini – La Bohème. Charlie Hunter – Natty Dread. Julie London – Julie is her name. Jungle – Volcano.

ST: How do you start on the score for a new project?

OF: Typically, I review all of the materials and try to see the forest from the trees: what does the creative team want the score to sound like? What do I want the score to sound like?  What will the budget allow the score to sound like? If there is a temp score, what works and doesn’t work about it? How does the spotting differ from the temp? Once I know the answers to all of these questions, I step away from the film and any musical instrument.  To maximize creative potential, I try to come up with initial ideas in my head before ever playing anything on an instrument.  I’ve found that if I begin writing on an instrument, muscle memory can come into play and I’m less creative. 

ST: Although the project we worked on together, Critical Role, was not scored to picture, is there one cue that you particularly enjoyed creating and why?

OF: Probably “Hupperdook Tavern,” because it isn’t everyday that I get to write for hurdy gurdy and a trio of recorders!

ST: What’s your favorite instrument?

OF: Hard to say, as I own and play so many. I suppose the piano, as I literally play it everyday. It’s also the only instrument that I practice daily on. Though I recently purchased a vintage Fender Rhodes and absolutely love it. No sample library comes close to the real thing!

ST: What would be your dream project to score?

OF: I would love to score a fantasy feature or show!

ST: What projects do you have coming up that you are excited about? 

OF: I am starting a period feature that will have a large scale, modern score. Several of the featured instruments I have never written for before, so I am really looking forward to that!

ST: What is your favorite kind of soup?

OF: So hard to say. I love a good lobster bisque, but it’s so decadent that you can only eat it once in a while. For an everyday soup, tortilla, or lentil (Egyptian lentil soup).

Thanks, Omar! You can watch Critical Role on Twitch and YouTube.

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