Nicolas Salinardi, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, has contributed greatly to the field of music through a number of channels including film, television series, and albums. As the founder of the best recording studio in Villa Ballester, Argentina, Salinardi has worked with many notable artists such as Inversa, NoWon, Khumeia, InDeva, Artematica and singer/songwriter Mingo, all who travelled to the city just to record at his studio. The internationally acclaimed sound engineer has additionally worked with award-winning Spanish composer Zeltia Montes on the musical scores for the film “Sad Hill Unearthed,” a documentary following film fans working to restore the set of the climatic graveyard scene from the iconic 1966 western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The film, which featured Oscar award-winning actors including Clint Eastwood and Ennio Morricone, was nominated in the Best Documentary category at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Currently, Salinardi is at Remote Control Productions, a prestigious film score company in Santa Monica, California, run by composer Hans Zimmer, one of Hollywood’s most innovative musical talents. We had the opportunity to ask Salinardi about what drives him and where his career goes from here given his recent accomplishments.
What motivates and inspires you to continue pushing boundaries in sound and stay innovative while composing?
Music making has been and is a huge part of my life. I started studying music at the early age of 9 and didn’t stop since then. Over the years I composed in many styles and genres. It is very motivating for me to collaborate with people and to craft the music according to their needs. In my profession I deal with people who have no musical background so it is very rewarding when I compose music based on non-musical guidelines and find a way to be creative with it.
Who have been some of the more interesting and/or notable directors you have composed music for? What was unique about these collaborations?
I scored a short film not long ago called Impulse which was directed by Christopher Carpenter. By the time I was brought in, the film was already finished and he was really clear on what he wanted the music to say. He asked me to write music were industrial sounds, especially train sounds, would play a critical role, I had never done that before and I thought it was something completely different from what I usually write. In 2015 I scored another short film for Costa Rica called Old Knacks, which was directed by Juan Diego Otalvaro Ortega. Juan had listened to the heavy metal album I recorded with my band House of the Fallen back in 2011 and reached out to see if I would be interested in scoring his film. He wanted me to write music that would be a mix of cinematic music and rock. I started composing for this film before they started shooting it and would send him ideas and themes for his approval. I scored the whole film without any video. During post-production I used my skills as a music editor that I acquired while I was working at Bullsound since what we did is adapt the previously composed pieces to the film. The film was selected by the Shnit International Short Film Festival to take part in the Made in Costa Rica competition in 2016. In 2017 it was selected and released on blu-ray by independent production studio Bloody-Disgusting.
How did you initially get your foot-in-the-door within the composing side of the music industry?
In this type of business with so much talent and composition it is really hard to get the foot-in-the-door and everyone does it differently. My case was that I built my own studio, Bullsound, in Villa Ballester, Argentina after finishing my degree as an audio engineer. I started recording bands like Khumeia, Inversa and Indeva and I would get a lot of work through word of mouth which I think is key if one wants to be successful in this business. Nowadays with so much access to technology a composer needs to be able to compose, record, edit and mix his or her own music. Clients will expect for a demo to sound very close to the final product so having advanced knowledge of music sequencing, recording and mixing would be a great advantage.
Are there any particular styles of film that spark your creative spirit more than others, or certain genres that you feel the most confident composing for?
I composed for many different genres but I feel very confident writing for thrillers or even horror films. It is very hard to be creative in those genres so I find it to be very challenging to make every score different from the rest.
You originally began your music career as a musician in your own band, House of the Fallen. What was your role in the band, and do you see yourself getting back into producing/creating more traditional style albums moving forward?
In House of the Fallen I was the main composer and guitar player. I also did all the engineering for the album we recorded. Eventually I would like to get back to creating more traditional style albums but that won’t be for a while. I would also like to form a band and get back to playing live but I don’t know when that will happen since I am really busy composing for different projects.
Which of your film compositions has been the most well received either by audiences or critics, and why do you think these film scores were special?
I composed music for a short film last year (2017) called Anew. The film was officially selected and screened at various festivals including Best of India Short Film Festival 2018 and Five Continents International Short Film Festival 2017. The music was really well received by the audience and is a project I really enjoyed working on. I think the project was really original, the acting was great and the story developed very fluently.
Are there any notable projects you are currently working on?
I was recently hired by director Pamela Mora to score her sci-fi webseries Anamorfisi that is scheduled to come out in 2019. I was also contacted to write music for the webseries Mrs. Fitzgerald is Missing’s second season. The first season can be streamed at Amazon Prime and as of this moment we are in talks to make the second season happen.
What excites you most about your job as a composer?
I really enjoy composing music and it is exciting for me to always find a way to stay original on every score I work on. Nowadays film music can sound very similar among different projects and I also get music references from directors whenever I start working on a project. It is really hard to compose something different from what they give me since sometimes the music can sound very similar to the reference. Whenever I compose something that I feel will work better for a particular scene and they agreed with me, that is a great feeling.
What are some of the more challenging aspects of being a composer that most people may not realize or think about?
Many composers I’ve met over the years have a hard time getting projects and it is not for lack of talent but because of audio engineering chops. Being able to produce music on your own it’s very important because of the tight deadlines we composers need to meet. If a composer is not able to do that, he or she is at a great disadvantage. My years as an audio engineer back at Bullsound certainly paid off and I think that in my case, music technology is a great advantage since I can always deliver scores by the desired deadline and concentrate more on the music composition.