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Meet Amelia Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amelia Allen.

Amelia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. I have been playing music for as long as I can remember and grew up in a very musical household with my dad always playing and writing songs on the piano and guitar. I wrote my first song on the piano at eight years old and I can still remember how to play it to this day. My musical roots are in songwriting, and growing up, it was always my dream to be able to make my love of music into my career – but for some reason, going into university I chose to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering while maintaining music as my hobby…I think I felt that trying to make it as a songwriter/performer was an unrealistic goal, and when I was really strong in math and physics it made more sense to follow that path. It wasn’t until my last year of engineering that I realized how unhappy and unfulfilled I was in that industry, and I promised myself that once I graduated, I would ditch engineering and follow my dreams in music – which is exactly what I did. I ended up working for a commercial audio post-production house in Calgary where I was exposed to music for film and I absolutely fell in love with it.

I worked there for a few years and then applied to the USC Screen Scoring program; I figured there was no way I would get in as it is a very competitive program and I a didn’t have a formal undergraduate degree in music – so I was completely shocked and elated when I was accepted. My year at USC shaped my music so much and provided me with growth I didn’t even think was possible. It was there that I had my first experience composing for an orchestra and the feeling of hearing a group of such talented musicians play your music for the first time is truly inexplicable. Since graduating, I have done a number of short films and I have my first feature documentary lined up to start in the next few months, which I’m really excited about. I’m also working on a feature track for a short film, which allows me to incorporate my love for songwriting and production into my work.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have definitely taken an unconventional path to get to where I am today, however, I do think that my background in engineering has allowed me to grow as a musician in unexpected ways – there is such a link between math and music and I think it has really helped me in both my fluency with production software and understanding music theory.

Beyond that, there is the obvious obstacle of COVID – the last three months of my degree at USC were online and I was completing them remotely from Canada. We had a lot of live recording sessions scheduled for those last three months, all of which either got canceled or reformatted into an online setting. But trying to take away the positive from this crazy situation, we were able to have guided experience in recording remote and online orchestras, which is likely something that will become more of the norm going forward, so I am grateful for the opportunity to have done that in a learning environment and to be better prepared to do it on my own as a professional.

What else should our readers know?
In addition to being a composer for film, television, and video games, I try to incorporate songwriting as much as possible into my work today.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am still early in my career so I think my ability to be a musical chameleon has allowed me to take on projects I never would have imagined I’d be doing. I am also a ‘yes’ person, which I think is a really important quality when working with a director who may want to experiment with the score and not be 100% sure of the direction – sometimes it means you take the long way to get to the end product, but it’s always worth it to find that sound that elevates the film.

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