S. Peace Nistades is a composer for film and fashion, having scored films in 6 countries and for 30 film festivals. Below, we gave him the A-Z interview to learn more about him, his work and how he sees himself and his work.
A Song Which Made You Want To Make Music:
The Ludlows (from Legends of the Fall), James Horner
Best Experience While In the Studio:
My best experience in the studio is always when I record a live group of musicians on my scores or whatever project it is. As much as I do love tinkering with recording techniques and manipulating my own audio, I love working with other musicians. Casting a musician is very much like casting an actor for a role and over the years I’ve come to have my own extended ‘band’ so to speak and I constantly find myself writing certain parts for certain people. That’s one of the gifts of creative collaboration. You are the captain of the ship, but you’re also able to hand over the best you’ve done to someone who can bring a whole new perspective to it and who can make it come alive with their own creative energy.
Cover you would really like to do?
One of my favorite musical endeavors has been working with my close friend, director Benjamin Gabriel on a score for a project of his that infuses Wagner’s Tannhaüser or rather, grows out of that. The moment he mentioned it to me over the phone when we first started talking about it was very special because the Tannhaüser overture has been a big part of my life ever since I first heard it back in school. I’d listen to it on my first generation iPod each morning on the school bus (the Karajan recording of course, from his Wagner Karajan CD) and it would help prepare me to face the day. So getting to work with the material years later, getting to study the piece deeply, the opera, the orchestration, was a joy and an honor and I’m still very proud of it (though the project itself is not complete yet). In a way I’ve gotten to ‘cover’ a piece that I’ve always loved and admired.
Deepest Lyrics One Of Your Songs Features:
Most of my favorite music doesn’t have lyrics but I can tell you my most personal piece of music is the Adaghietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. I’d say that sums up in many ways the core of who I am.
Easiest Song You Wrote:
The Adventures of Iris Lily was a quick one but mainly because I had two days to write it for my friend, director André Hedetoft’s daughter’s ceremony. It was a great honor for me, and was the only time I’ve written a piece directly for someone. Knowing André’s tastes and passions made it rather simple to slip into his world and create this gift for his first daughter.
Favourite album/single/EP you have released:
This current one, Los Angeles Pieces (2007-2017) because it’s the first and most personal album I’ve released.
Greatest Show/Festival You Have Played:
The last concert I performed as a concert pianist was memorable. I performed Rachmaninov’s Prelude in D Op. 23, No. 4. I’ve always loved the longing and romanticism of the Russian composers so this was a good way to go out.
Happiest Moment You’ve Experienced In The Project:
Generally during the recording of the project, hearing it all come alive. That’s the happiest moment. Right before the abyss of editing and mixing and getting close to deadlines and feeling that it really isn’t all that good really but you’ve got to keep trying to make it better. The recording is really the summit.
Interesting Fact About One Of Your Members:
Though we’re not officially members of a band, they are both a big part of my team: my mixing/mastering engineer Gerhard Westphalen and my orchestrator and former assistant Ian Chen both share the fact that they are Canadian educated and play both violin and orchestral percussion. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing!
Jokes You Have In The Band:
I’m often teased for my love of French and foreign films. More like an inside joke when the name of a foreign filmmaker pops up in conversations.
Kicking Off Your Set Is Best With Which Song:
Probably The Adventures of Iris Lily.
Longest Distance You’ve Travelled To Play A Show/Score A Project:
Not very far. I’ve done everything from my home-base in Los Angeles though the farthest country I may have worked with filmmakers from is perhaps Sweden and Norway?
Movie That Best Represents The Project:
Well a recent favorite of mine is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread last year.
New Band/Composer You’d Recommend:
Max Richter, Johann Johannsson. Not ‘new’ per se, but greats that are relatively newer in the world of film music.
Opening For This Band Would Be Ideal:
Max Richter. Jonny Greenwood.
Place You’d Most Like To Tour:
The Weiner Musikverein in Vienna for new year’s eve? I grew up watching their new year’s eve concerts on new year’s eve all the way from Thailand with my family. Ending the year with the Radetzky March has become a bit of a tradition for me.
Quote That You’d Like To Pass On To Readers:
The quote I live by and remind myself constantly is the last three lines of Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable: you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.
Reason For The Title Of Your Recent/Forthcoming Release:
Los Angeles Pieces (2007-2017). I see it as a collection of pieces, like a photo album from a certain period in your life.
See Us Live At:
Don’t have any current plans for a live performance but I’d like to get back to it at some point perhaps with the release of my collaboration with concert pianist Christopher McKiggan.
The First Song You Ever Played Together As A Band:
One of the first songs I learnt on piano was James Horner’s If We Hold On Together from The Land Before Time.
I don’t have any other than the usual music releases but I should think of something!
Variations You’d Like To Do On Any Of Your Songs:
There are always an almost infinite number of ways I’d like to try re-envisioning any given song or piece of mine. And they can be mostly valid depending on what you’re going for. I once did seven or eight variations on one song until I gave it all up. What anchors me is the story, the characters. It gives me a sense of direction and you know when it’s right.
Worst Experience In The Studio:
Generally that involves dealing with the politics of the room. I certainly think of myself as an open person and I do love collaboration, but it’s when I sense there is no honesty and it’s just a lot of offense and defense and protecting various interests etc. that really hits a nerve in me. I’ve always felt that any form of art is an attempt to find truth, whether it is social truth, emotional truth, cultural truth, and for that to even be a remote possibility in one’s work, it has to come out of a process which is honest and open. And that doesn’t mean rude, but it also doesn’t mean playing ‘politics’. To work creatively well with others requires trust which for me comes out of a mutual respect in one another’s ability and taste. My best experiences working with filmmakers or any other collaborator has been when there is that complete trust and therefore openness and honesty. It really is the only way I’ve found to be able to have a shot at creating something that at least has some decency to it.
X-rays Or Any Other Treatments For Band Related Injuries:
As I’ve grown older, I’ve had to take care of myself more and learn to manage stress and sleep more carefully. I do feel I’ve been able to work smarter and not necessarily harder, though still quite hard.
Your Favourite Show You’ve Ever Played:
I performed a show in Houston a few years back with concert pianist Christopher McKiggan which was a lot of fun. It was fun to take material I’d written and created in the studio (a combination of writing and manipulating recordings of a piano with Chris) onto the stage. This has grown into the album we are collaborating on right now.
Zoo Animal That Best Describes The Band: