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Meet Lionel Cohen of dna-productions in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lionel Cohen.

Lionel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I couldn’t ask for a better gig than making music all day long, but I didn’t know I’d be a film composer. I thought I was going to be a heavy metal guitar player! It kind of evolved gradually and organically for me. I started off writing songs and playing guitar in heavy metal and punk bands in Montreal in the early 90s. Eventually I started to incorporate synthesizers and machines in my songs to create industrial music. This wasn’t very popular in Montreal, so after moving around for a couple of years I ended up in New York City. At that point I was writing more and more instrumental music and not as many songs. I found not having to stick to a song structure incredibly liberating. I also believe not having any lyrics allows for a greater and more personal interpretation by the listener. You’re not overtly telling them it’s about love, or solitude, or dancing!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Trying to get to any position in an artistic field where you can support yourself is definitely not easy. After a few years of struggling I knew if I was gonna keep going I’d have to start appreciating the journey and not focus on the destination. You have to enjoy trying to reach your goal, because the goal will keep moving farther and farther away no matter what level of success you reach. And to be freelance in any field you really need to know how to manage a budget!

Please tell us about dna-productions.
Unlike most film composers, I didn’t study music composition. I studied cinema in Montreal and Toronto so I think like a director first, and then as a composer. I believe this puts me in a unique situation when reading and understanding a film or talking with the director or producers about the role the score will take. I also studied audio engineering in New York, so when the budget is tight, and it usually is, I can be a one-man operation and deliver a fully produced, mixed and mastered score.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Well, if I knew this was what I wanted to be doing, I would’ve tried to start off as an assistant for an established composer or something. I envy people who know at a young age that they want to be composers, but I don’t regret the many different roads I took to get here, because I think they all contributed, in one way or another, to my distinctive creative voice and outlook.

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  1. guess who...

    April 10, 2017 at 17:25

    so proud of you!

    • lionel

      May 25, 2017 at 16:59

      Thank you!

  2. Jeanine Burgan

    April 11, 2017 at 16:58

    He’s incredibly talented. It’s about time the world took notice.

    • lionel

      May 25, 2017 at 17:00

      Thank you! 😉

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