Let’s start at the beginning. How were you first introduced to music?
My mum is a high school music teacher. From a very young age, she got me into instrumentation. I played the piano growing up, and my dad is a huge jazz fanatic. When I went into grade five, the Toronto district school board had a program for getting kids into strings, so I started playing the viola. I played the viola from grade five through to grade 11.
My first steps into the world of production were making four-track recordings with GarageBand on my old school computer.
How did these four-track recordings develop into your electronic productions?
During university, I got really into early dubstep – stuff like Digital Mystikx and Loefah. I really liked that and the deeper sides of jungle and drum and bass. Around 2011, I wanted to try and replicate the music I loved, so I downloaded a trial version of Ableton.
When I was recreating the early dubstep stuff, I was trying to learn synthesis and all this crazy drum programming, but my mind doesn’t work like that. I still to this day have trouble with it. I was really struggling – I couldn’t figure it out. But then I started listening to artists like James Blake, Mount Kimbie, and Jacques Greene – and suddenly, it really made sense to me. It was all based around chords I knew from my piano and viola background.
Every Sunday I would watch a YouTube video and try to learn a new production technique, and then I’d make a new song using that technique. By the ninth month of using Ableton, I had my first two EPs ready to go. Scoring has always been my main goal out of all this. I love club culture, I love DJing, but I enjoy living a healthy life.
With such a successful DJ and production career, why move into scoring?
I have been very quiet about it, but I’ve been scoring for the past few years. I’ve already done a feature film and a bunch of shorts. Scoring has always been my main goal out of all this. I love club culture, I love DJing, but I also had begun to feel burnt out from the late nights and relentless travel. Last year, I realised that I needed to focus on scoring.
All the scoring stuff I’ve done in the past is with a friend of mine called Alex Ordanis. He’s an Oscar-nominated producer. He’s my age and a friend from Toronto. He made a feature film called, The Definites. That was my first experience with professional scoring.
How did you go from being an indie composer to working with HBO?
I’m very lucky to have been releasing music for the last few years with LuckyMe – who are a partner label to Warp. I’ve been telling Dominic, one of the co-owners of the label, for many years that scoring is what I want to do. So at the end of 2018, Dominic asked me to put together a reel of some of the best scenes I’d worked on. I didn’t think anything would come of it. I didn’t think you could get into scoring from just being an artist in your own right. Well, I did, but I knew the chances were slim. Suddenly, a year later, I got the call for a meeting with HBO.