Welcome to the Compressed Interview!
I had the opportunity to ask Majo Felix a series of questions about her life as a composer. María José Félix is a Mexican composer; she holds a Master’s Degree in Film Composition. She moved to Seattle in 2015 and since then her music has appeared in television, films, video games, apps, and other media.
This is what Majo shared with me:
Threshold: Getting Started
J: How did you get started in audio? What was your first job and how did you get it?
M: I started singing in choirs since I was six or seven years old and I originally wanted to be a singer. Eventually, I started moving into composition and changed my main instrument to piano. Then, after earning my Master’s Degree in Composition, I started to work in film and games composing original music. My first job was as an assistant to a composer that also did original composition for film, TV, videogames, and other media, and I interviewed for the job after the composer contacted my master’s program founder and he sent the job description to the program’s alumni.
Attack: Things to discuss
J: When you are feeling creatively blocked, what do you do to get back in track?
M: One advice I got from one of my good friends and mentor, was that, if I could manage to, I should let the project rest. Depending on the time you have to work on and deliver the project, it can be just for a couple of hours, but it can be for days or even weeks. It’s extremely hard because you get a guilty feeling inside of you, like a voice that tells you to keep working on it, but the truth is, that sometimes we are too close to a project and we obsess on the tiniest stuff, and that is not letting us see the bigger picture, our mind is creating roadblocks that it can’t pass through. When you step away for a while, your mind clears up a bit, and you are able to go back to work with a new mindset and new ideas.
Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What has been your favorite project to work on and why?
M: I have two. Last year I had the honor of recording original music for the videogame Greak, which is a videogame coming out next year on Switch and PC. It’s done with traditional animation and has a beautiful art style, and we got to record the music live with an 82-piece orchestra in my own hometown, so that was very special to me. I also often work with this app called Novel Effect, which uses voice recognition to add music and sound effects to children’s book, and I really love the concept of how to use this technology, and how it lets me explore different kinds of music and implementation ideas to bring the books to life. There’s something very special to me when writing music for kids because that’s when I first fell in love with music, when watching films and TV shows aimed at kids, and this app also has the added advantage of being a teaching tool that makes kids excited about reading.
J: What would you say is the most important thing when composing music for games?
M: I think the most important thing is to create music that feels seamless when the player takes different decisions. The player is making decisions in real-time that change the direction of the game, and they have to feel as if everything was planned to happen exactly the way it’s happening. Adaptive music has a big role in videogames because of this, so having a concrete plan on how to approach music before the composition begins is very important in order to create a roadmap of possible actions that the music will follow. This way the music doesn’t feel like an afterthought, but it is weaved in the fabric of the game.
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?
M: Be nice. It sounds simple but sometimes it’s very hard. We all have our battles, and we all are going through our own stuff, and choosing to be nice might not be easy every time, but I think the world would be a better place if we all choose to be nice and see the good in everybody.
To know more about Majo, and to listen to her amazing work, visit her website: https://www.majofelix.com/
We’ll talk in a couple of weeks with our next guest.