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INTERVIEW: “Life Itself” composer Federico Jusid

Pic by Circe Ervina

King of tear-jerking dramedy, Dan Fogelman of This Is Us acclaim, returns to the big screen with Life Itself this weekend, a multi-generational saga that hops continents in its examination of a couple’s resonating romance. Aiding Fogelman in making the audience laugh and cry (and repeat) is Award-winning composer Federico Jusid. The Argentinian musician has had his shares of accolades from The Secret in Their Eyes,” for which he won Best Music award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina, to being deemed Composer of the Year by the Spanish Music Critics Association, in addition another recent release, Loving Pablo, starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

With Life Itself, Federico discusses with us the art of being an “architect” of emotion alongside the director, working with the renowned Fogelman, and growing up with a love of music.

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First off, congrats on all your hard work and success. How did you know you wanted to compose music for film in the first place? Was it a craft you took up as a child?

It came very natural to me. I became a musician because in my house, music was prevalent. Early on, I took piano lessons and improvised pieces. I studied classical. My father is a director and my mother an actor, and my aunt was an art director. It was natural for me to be around 35mm. At age eleven I was at convervatory. My role was to aid composers as an intern. It started with making coffee and other simple tasks. Then, they would ask me to write because they were more instinctual, so I’d be arranging the music for them. I experienced how music affects a scene. I worked on minor and humble projects in South America.

What would you say is the Federico Jusid style or what is your trademark when it comes to scoring music?

That is hard for me to decipher actually! People on the outside looking in, listening to my scores can decipher that. My job as a composer is not to bring an inflexible style. I am to understand the style of the filmmaker and connect with their language. We see Gary Oldman, for example, and can’t recognize him because he walks or talks differently per his role. I was to match the tone of the artist, who in this case was Dan Fogelman.

On that note, let’s talk about working with Dan. I look forward to Life Itself. I am a huge fan of Dan Fogelman’s work. We can probably expect a good mixture of laughter and tears from this movie! What are aesthetic choices you made in capturing the tone of Dan Fogelman?

I loved working for Dan because he has this very sweet and sour, straight to the heart style. He is profound but not pretentious. He has a direct way of storytelling. I have a classical background, so I did use string orchestra but with more of a pop accompaniment versus classical. One particular song is “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, which is like a character itself. I had to rearrange the song several time to sync to our story.

Usually, composers tell me of challenges that filmmakers give them when scoring movies. For example, they’ll say “listen to this song and capture that emotion,” or “I want it to sound like this.” Did Dan give you any challenges while making the music for Life Itself?

I was really lucky on this one! When I landed my first meeting they tempted film with my own music. I wasn’t asked to follow someone like John Williams. They weren’t like, “We want you to sound like John Williams.” They got to know my own music, which was great.

Is there a favorite piece you wrote for the film?

For me, it was just the experience as a whole and the film as a whole. I am a guest architect as a storyteller. The film is so sophisticated and has a complex structure that involves different geographies and time. Light motifs run through different scenarios. I helped Dan build this world for the characters.

What else is on the horizon for you that we can get excited about!

Coming up we have the remake of Watership Down on Netflix with John Boyega and Gemma Arterton. It is animated and is based on a novel by Richard Adams. There was a film in 1978. This version has 4 episodes. So, be on the look out for that!

For more on composer Federico Jusid, visit his official site at www.federicojusid.com!

by Erman Baradi

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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