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Meet Daniel Rojas of Los Angeles CA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Rojas.

Daniel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Costa Rica, in a town called Heredia. My parents are both musicians, my mom is a classical pianist and my dad was a trumpet player and band director. My brother also played trumpet when I was growing up and was a big influence for me because he was a huge fan of film scores (which is what I do now). Growing up we would always collect scores and listen to them at home, and I would often learn the parts on the piano and guitar so that’s how it all started. I studied classical music as a child and played in bands all throughout high-school.

I decided to pursue music professionally when I was about 15-16 years old. There weren’t any options for media music in Costa Rica, so my parents helped me research schools in Colombia, Mexico and the US. I applied to several schools and scholarships and ended up deciding on the University of North Texas, which did not offer a media music program but had a great jazz school and was offering a helpful scholarship. I moved to Denton, TX right after high school to study Jazz Guitar, but spent a lot of my time writing and arranging music. I worked at several studios in the Dallas area and spent some time in NYC before deciding to move to LA in 2009.

When I first arrived here, I started working as an assistant and occasional guitarist at the studios of composers like Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt. I spent several years with Klaus where I also did a lot of orchestration and composed additional music. I then moved to France for several months in 2012 and worked on a number of French movies, after which I decided to come back to LA and open my own studio. My first studio was a small room in Santa Monica with terrible sound isolation and no parking. I worked there for a bit before moving to my current studio in Culver City. I’ve been here for almost 5 years now working independently on all kinds of film, TV and media projects.

Has it been a smooth road?
Not at all. Like most careers in the entertainment industry, composing is full of ups and downs. The first 2-3 years were probably the hardest… when I was working with other composers. Those are incredibly restless and underpaid jobs, with very little reward other than the fact that you do learn a lot and meet people. I spent at least 2 years without a single day off, not a weekend or holiday, not even Christmas. It was non-stop, 15-18 hour days with phone calls at 4:00 am to go back to the studio. I’m not making it up, it truly is a very tough start especially if you try to work at high-profile studios.

But ever since I went independent I have a lot more control over my life and maintain a better balance so the stress level has decreased significantly. The main concern now is how to get the jobs, which is a constant challenge. You also have more financial needs as your company grows, so you need more and better gigs all the time. Another common struggle is having to always follow up on invoices and remind people, cause they often pretend to forget! haha

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I currently run two businesses: my own composing and music production career under the company “506 Music”; and a music library and production house that I co-own with my friend Jack Gravina, called “Nimble Music”. I have a studio in Culver City where we run both businesses from and also rent a few rooms to other composer friends. We specialize in media music: film, TV, commercials and songs.

I’m very proud of the people I’ve been able to surround myself with. It takes many years and a few mismatches to find the right people you want to collaborate with and I feel like I’m finally there, now it’s just a matter of growing the amount of work so that we can all stay busy and grow together.

I think this collaborative environment is something that sets us apart because we truly have a very broad range of things we can do properly. I’ve had a lot of different jobs and learned many things over the years, but there are always things you are not as familiar with. Having a solid network of talented people you can bounce ideas with gives you an edge that some others might not have.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
LA is the best for what I do! I love our city and the fact that I can call Los Angeles my home. The landscapes and weather in California are an endless inspiration, which is why LA is inarguably the world’s capital when it comes to film and contemporary music.

We have many of the best studios, the best musicians and a very refreshing diversity that provides all the tools you need to make great music. So not only would I recommend it, I think there is no better place for it. Of course, a lot of people think that so it’s also perhaps the most competitive place to pursue a career in what I do… but everything has its pros and cons.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Carla Dauden, Taisuke Kimura

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