Composer Spotlight: Arnold Nesis

Arnold Nesis is an ascending Israeli composer, who is best known for his work in video games and movies. He studied film scoring at the Rimon School of Jazz & Contemporary Music. Though based in Israel, Arnold has worked with companies in the United States, Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. He is also the founder of Capricia, a progressive project that released its album, “Fooled by the Hush,” in 2011with Melodic Revolution Records.

He was happy to interview with TMV, and I present to now the following discussion.


1) How did you become a composer?

I have always loved music, but actually only started playing when I was 14. My parents, while very educated people, didn’t have any connection to music whatsoever and so I was never pushed in that direction; In fact, quite the opposite happened. When I was 14, I saw a couple of kids from my class sitting together and singing while one of them was playing the guitar. I decided I want to be that guy playing the guitar in the future and happily told my parents that I wanted to study guitar.

They said no.

Being the stubborn teenager that I was, I borrowed a guitar from a friend and started teaching myself from the Internet. I tried to play “Nothing Else Matters” and failed miserably. I decided that I was going to take it more seriously and actually study until I would be able to play it. After a few months I finally was able to play it and by then I was hooked! I was going through some hard times then and the guitar was my way out of the world. Practice was a kind of a therapy for me and so I practiced a lot. After a year or so, I decided I needed an electric guitar. I approached to my parents again and told them that they should get me a more serious guitar!

They said no.

So… I went to eBay, saw guitar auctions that were about to end and had no bids, and I sent a message to the sellers that I was a poor boy from Israel, that my parents hated me and hated music, and if they couldn’t sell the guitar and didn’t need it, I’ll be very happy if they would give it to me. I was very surprised to get a message back from one of them saying “Hi, I’m Jewish too and this is my present for you for Hanukah”. Without this person I really don’t know if I’d be a musician today and, sadly, I lost his contact information. But whoever he was, he had sent me a guitar for free and that had changed my life.

Few years later, I decided that I want to make this a career. I understood that this probably meant that I’d be a waiter for my whole life, but I didn’t really care. I applied to G.I.T without telling my parents about it, and I got in. I wanted to go but like all Israelis, I faced a dilemma — at the age of 18, I was supposed to go into the Army for two years. I decided that was important and so I joined the Army.

When my Army service was completed, I went to study film scoring at the “Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.” After my graduation, I composed for a few short films and worked as a musical director at a musical center in Jerusalem. One day I heard that the CEO of a big gaming company was coming to give a lecture in Israel and that they had just released the opening cinematic for their upcoming game. I decided to re-score it and show it to him. I did it in 2 days and brought him the CD. He didn’t listen to it, but I posted in on my Facebook page anyway and the day after a company contacted me and said that they wanted to see if we could work together. This was the beginning for my as a composer for video games.

2) What are your inspirations? 

I have always loved thematic music for as long as I can remember. I didn’t mind if the style was symphonic, metal or jazz, I loved the concept that the story should come first and the music should support it. Most of my inspirations are composed this way. My earlier influences are “Scenes From a Memory” by Dream Theater and “The Odyssey” by Symphony X. My later influences are composers such as Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Russell Brower, Nobuo Uematsu, as well as Stravinsky. As I get exposed to more music, my inspirations grow – I find talented amazing composers every day and each good piece of music I hear is an inspiration, for example Neal Acree, Brian Tyler and Austin Wintory. But there are many others.

But as cheesy as it may sound, the most important inspirations are the people around me and things that I experience in my life. I always try to find the point that I can personally relate to in a character or a story of the project that I am working on. When I go through something dramatic in my life, good or bad, I have to share it and let it out and music is the best, if not only way, I know how to do that sincerely.

3) What are you looking forward to most?

If I was asked this question a year ago, I would probably describe where I am now. But each time when you get somewhere you find out there is always somewhere new to go. Although I had the chance to make many of my dreams come true, I think the major one that I had since I got into composing is to work on a project for Blizzard. I can’t point to the exact reason but Blizzard’s games always had a special feeling for me – they where always different, even before they became a major company, and I hope that one day I will get the option to contribute to their games.

4) Any comments?

Yeah, I want to point out that at the end, when I approached my parents and told them that I decided to become a professional musician they sat me down for a talk and once they did realize that I serious about this they became very supportive and helped me a lot during the years and I am thankful for that and love them a lot.

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