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Meet Katerina Tolkishevskaya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katerina Tolkishevskaya.

Katerina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My mom signed me up for piano lessons when I was five – that’s really how it all started… I loved it and continued on with classical and jazz piano for the next 12 years, competing in national and international contests. Along the way I started singing (jazz and pop, mostly) and after many competitions ended up going for a summer program at Tech Music School in London. That opportunity had a huge impact on me and I’ve decided then that I want to somehow be involved in music for the rest of my life. Berklee College of Music was holding auditions in London at the time when I was studying there, so I decided to try my luck to get in. Before I knew it, I was packing up my suitcases to move across the world to get my undergrad in Boston.

During my time at Berklee, I got into music production, songwriting, sound design, composing – you name it. All of that eventually led to me getting an internship after graduation, with a wonderful film composer based in LA. So it was time to move again. I loved my internship and ended up staying after to work for the composer’s music production library (one of the top in the US), where I am still heavily involved. About a year after my move to LA, I ended up working with a music editor on a TV show – I loved doing that so much I knew I just had to edit more and more. So one show led to another, and that’s mostly what I do now – work as a music editor on top shows in LA.

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?
It has never been a smooth sailing :). Moving countries and continents, financial struggles, leaving family behind… The last one is definitely the hardest. My whole family is still in Russia and I don’t get to see them a lot, but I believe that it’s all worth it when you’re in pursuit of something. I know my family is proud of me chasing my dreams and I’m beyond lucky that they have been so supportive along the way.

I know I’ve made my choices and I am grateful for every part of this crazy life. I get to do what I truly love doing every day for a living – how many people can say that? Another big struggle for any musician/artist/creative person is probably the internal one – it’s a very competitive and pretty brutal space, so anxiety and insecurities are definitely a little bit of a battle. I think it’s normal, you just have to keep learning and growing, not just professionally but personally as well, make sure your skills and mindset keep evolving.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I specialize in music editing now, I love that it bridges working with composers and their score, as well as music supervisors and any licensed music, and producers of the show/film. I am still in the beginning of my career journey but I got to be a part of some very fun great projects and I can’t wait to see what else I get to work on. As far as what I am most proud of… I guess the efforts that it takes to stay on top of everything.

It takes village to make something like a TV show happen, and it’s such a rewarding feeling to be a helpful member of the team. I put 110% into everything I do – uncontrollably, I have to say haha. I am just a perfectionist and will not sleep until I know I did my best. I also score short films from time to time – it’s a part of creative process I just can’t give up. You get to help the director and producer tell the story as well as express your musical style.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Probably when one of the shorts I’ve scored was screened at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival… Shorts I’ve scored got screened before and were nominated for awards, but this was the first time I got to physically be there and it felt great to see people’s reactions and celebrate with the whole team. Also in general just the projects I got to be a part of as a music editor…I can’t talk about it too much, but it’s the best feeling to actually enjoy what you’re working on.

Contact Info:

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  • Instagram: @peoniimusic

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