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Conversations with LexaCon Music (Alexa L. Borden & Connor Cook)

Today we’d like to introduce you to LexaCon Music (Alexa L. Borden & Connor Cook).

Hi Alexa & Connor, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Our journey started at Columbia College Chicago, where we were both in the MFA Scoring for the Screen program. We formed an instant bond at orientation over a shared love of The Lord of the Rings and our friendship took off from there. It wasn’t long before we decided to start composing together as a team. It just felt natural (like splicing our names together to create “LexaCon”)–our individual musical voices seemed to compliment each other and blend. We also have varying skill sets that play together nicely. We’ve figured out a workflow that really works for us and feels really fulfilling and fun. Fast forward and we’ve been living and working together in Los Angeles for about five years with about 40 projects under our belt (including short films, feature films, and musicals)!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s been a “smoother” road since we’ve been working together rather than individually. Having a constant teammate is not only good for the music and project side of things, but for morale and mental health too. Working alone in a creative field makes it very easy to get caught up in self-doubt. Having a writing partner (who also happens to be a great friend) definitely helps to lighten that burden and create a very positive, creativity-driven work environment.

Of course, we have had our distinct challenges: people in places of power impeding our growth, discouraging us and telling us our skills didn’t matter since we’d “have no problem just being assistants in the industry as attractive women who men will want around the studio” (an actual quote from an older male industry professional early in our careers).

All things considered however, we’ve been able to find projects that really resonate with us and fabulous people to work with. Learning to co-compose has been a great lesson in trust and in letting go just a little bit.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
In addition to being composers, we’re both multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, so we often record live instruments and vocals in our film music. We also enjoy creating our own virtual instruments and sounds, which really allows us to create a unique soundscape for each film or theatre production we work on.

We’ve written for a wide variety of genres and films, but we specialize in films with a female-forward narrative. Our most recent feature film, Balloon Animal, by Em Johnson of First Bloom Films, is a diverse and largely female cast/crew production that we really enjoyed working on (and designing some of our own synths for). Another recent female-centric and lgbtqia+ film that we really connected with and loved working on was Static Space, directed by John Klein and Kate Black-Spence. Both films are currently in the festival circuit, along with a number of our other recently completed short films.

Being a composing duo is something that sets us apart. There are many composers in our industry but few teams of co-composers, and that gives us a bit of an edge–we get to draw from both of our music and life experiences to create a score. It’s great because we can lean on each other and are constantly learning from each other. Composing together also allows us to focus on creating since if one of us gets a case of writer’s block or too in our own head, the other composer is there to help push forward with musicking. We’ve got each others’ backs, and that’s a great feeling.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
Connor: Currently, I’m reading “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s a book about friendship and life and loss and growing, I can always use a reminder to take moments to pay attention to the bits of life that are happening outside of work. For fun, I play the “Hogwarts Mystery” phone game. I’m also pretty heavily into Co-Star and The Pattern (astrology apps). I like getting to know people through talking about our charts.

Alexa: I’ve just started reading Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which feels like it can be applied to any creative field, not just writing. So far, I’m finding it very inspirational and would definitely recommend checking it out. I’d also love to give a shoutout to the podcast “80s Movie Montage” with Anna Keizer (who also happens to be an awesome filmmaker) and Derek Dehanke. It’s a really fun podcast that features one 80’s film (and a new guest to talk about said film) each week. It’s a weekly dose of positive energy, which is something I think we could all use.

We also both love Duolingo–we’ve each got pretty hefty streaks on that app in Italian and Spanish.

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