Today we are excited to spotlight composer Michael A. Levine, whose recent projects include Freeform’s upcoming eagerly anticipated original series ‘Siren’ which premieres March 29.
What influences has music had on your family?
Older brother, Sam Levine, is a top session player in Nashville (reed instruments). Nephew Jeremy Thal runs an international music foundation called Found Sound Nation, and a slew of nephews and nieces that play and sing. Then there is my daughter, Mari, who is an outstanding Indie pop singer, and is the singing voice of the mermaid on Siren.
Current, Past, and Outside influences
Kepler for his integrity; Twain, Carroll, and Wilde for their wit; Da Vinci for, well, everything; Einstein & Feynman for their smarts; Epictetus for his philosophy; Bach Because He’s God; Hans Zimmer for his vision, Debussy, Coltrane and the Beatles for their music, John Ottman for his willingness to be more than simply a composer.
Best scored movie you’ve ever seen?
Too many to list. BUT that list includes ‘Vertigo,’ ‘Fearless,’ ‘Magnolia,’ ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘The Mission’, and ‘2001’ (yes, I know the score isn’t a “score” but it still works amazingly).
What’s your composing method? (a) sitting at a piano (b) computer (c) pencil on manuscript paper (d) improvisation with musicians (e) other
All of the above plus “In the shower”, “In the elevator” (in NYC), and “In my sleep”.
What makes your sound unique?
It’s a paradox. When it is unique it is because I got myself out of the way and just listened to what God, the Universe, the Collective Unconscious, the Big Whatever offered me.
How did you first get involved writing music? What challenged you most, and what rewarded you most, as your résumé evolved over the years?
I began writing songs when I was in grade school. At first they were parodies of existing songs. (What? You never heard my 2nd grade hit, “She hates you, yeah, yeah, yeah”? But they evolved to personal expressions by the age of 9 or 10. I didn’t set out to be primarily a film composer. I was going to be a songwriter/rock star but got diverted somewhere along the way.
What is your favorite song that you don’t want to admit that you like?
I love admitting that I love corny songs! I walk around singing them all the time! (Drives Mirette a little crazy – but I think she likes it). Especially old show tunes. (i.e. “I’m as corny as Kansas in August/High as the sky on the fourth of July…”)