TBE Member Spotlight: Lydia Davies
Film/TV/Trailer Composer and Singer/Songwriter • Melbourne AU
By Ashley Davidson
Have you ever considered what goes into making the music for a movie trailer? You know: the music that has to both capture the story and sell the film in approximately 2.5 minutes? (No big deal.)
We recently had the opportunity to connect with a renowned Aussie composer, Lydia Davies, who - lucky for us - wrote the composition for The Broad Exchange’s recent #IResolve film. Upon initially speaking with Lydia and her EP at Nylon Studios, we realized just how much there is to know about the field of composition and how few women work in it. So we wanted to get the full scoop on life as a lady composer from Lydia herself.
The first point that struck us creatively is that the brief a composer uses to inform the music they will be writing doesn’t include the name of the movie or any specifics on the plot. It typically only describes a vibe of the story, and the composer takes it from there – like a shot in the dark with only emotional cues as their guide.
That's how it was for Lydia, with the award winning composition she created for the Wonder Woman trailer. She wrote the piece to feel epic, like a period war film, heavy in both drama and inspiration, but had no idea the piece was being commissioned for the legendary Gal Gadot superhero film… until it was.
Intrigued, we had to know more, and basically peppered Lydia with questions for an hour. Below are the notes from our conversation.
Lydia began playing the piano at the age of 3, and her parents quickly saw their kid had something special. This wasn’t mere parental doting: they enrolled her at Yamaha Music School where they learned she had perfect pitch. By 10, she already had dreams of becoming a Hollywood composer.
Together with her sister, who is also a vocalist, Lydia began to pursue a career as a pop musician in her teens. It was an internship in NYC, where Lydia was told by a music executive that she could get far fast, but it meant she’d have to agree to certain favors.
THE UNWELCOME ADVANCES MADE BY SOMEONE WHO COULD MAKE OR BREAK HER CAREER WERE DEVASTATING BUT ALSO FUELED HER TO PIVOT INTO HER DREAM JOB.
That situation changed the course of her life into what it is today. The unwelcome advances made by someone who could make or break her career were devastating but also fueled her to pivot into her dream job. As she began to realize the career path of a pop musician might not be all she dreamed, she was also learning more about the field of film composition. Her early explorations would lay the groundwork for success in her chosen career.
Soon after she decided to make the leap, Lydia began working with a trailer publishing company called Really Slow Motion where she composed the trailers for Beauty and the Beast and the recent feminist smash hit, Wonder Woman. It was her big break, and from there she signed with with Nylon Studios and hopes to one day write for other artists. But for now, the music of film is what she’s most interested in – and she’s really good at it.
It’s not an easy job, but it seems rewarding. Lydia is often alone composing and while she’s connected with a network of other composers from around the world, none of them, she tells us, are women. The male-dominated nature of the music industry poses both a benefit and a detriment to Lydia. On one hand, she feels that women are more commonly in touch with their emotions, and therefore more able to stir emotional responses through melodic tones. And there companies like Nylon Studios – who represent Lydia's commercial work – championing women in the music industry for their skills. But on the other hand, there’s not a huge support system of colleagues, and none in Lydia’s inner circle are female. So while there is a huge opportunity for women to help shape the industry, it can be difficult to find support and at times that can be quite isolating.
But Lydia is sticking with it. And the results are the emotive, heroic notes that motivated us to stand in line to see Wonder Woman last year, as well as the inspiring score behind our #IResolve film, and the many scores that will inspire and move us for years to come. We’re so excited to see the ranks of top composers fill with more women like Lydia!
Her advice to anyone considering the field:
Watch out for people who will use you and spit you back out. (That slimy feeling is your intuition saying NOPE!)
You should have thick skin for when you’re let down.
Don’t get too excited until things are 100% - there are a lot of broken promises.
Believe in yourself and work hard, and with determination, you’ll get there!
Here is some of her work: