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Meet Marlon Lang

Hi Marlon, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in Toronto, raised in Florida, educated in Chicago. I began taking guitar lessons at age six. The early part of my musical life was spent in bands in Florida and Chicago. The pivot from songwriter to composer came in the form of advertising, most notably, writing/producing jingles for Publix Supermarkets, a Fortune 500 company located in the southeast. However, my true passion lied in film and after a few years in advertising, I decided to enter grad school to further my education as a media composer. I am currently a full-time assistant composer working and living in LA.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My first struggles were trying to make the shift from performer/songwriter to composer. There were many talented songwriters/pop producers around me, but I think what set me apart was my willingness to work in a corporate setting for a time. There is a certain cynicism from the artists I grew up with regarding the advertising world and many of them have little desire to be an artist for hire. The skills I developed in advertising would prove essential down the road. Like dealing with producers and non-musical types, as well as the storytelling tools that are necessary in film/tv.

A significant set back for me was an injury sustained early in school. I developed a nerve condition in my hands that hindered my ability to perform for a meaningful amount of time. This was a tough and emotional couple of years and still rears its ugly head to this day. This forced me to adjust my skillset. The next few years would be spent trying to understand the fundamental aspects of composition and to not rely on my skills as a songwriter. As a music student, I was surrounded by many talented composers that spent much of their childhood in the orchestral world and I had to force myself to learn at an accelerated pace.

The most recent struggle was transitioning from grad student to “working composer” in Los Angeles during 2020. Luckily, the industry is figuring itself out and there will always be great stories to tell. And luckily, much of a composer’s job can be done remotely.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am still a songwriter at heart and that has given me a style that at least seems to have allowed me to work in different genres. The composers that I grew up admiring were not the typical classical style composers. I was more inspired by the those that came from the rock/pop world. Ex-band members and songwriter that had their own transition into composition. They proved you could be a successful storyteller and still be a rock star. And the education I received has only made it easier to compete in a world filled with brilliant young composers. In addition to my work as a composer, I release pop music under the name Girl Recruiter. Girl Recruiter has been an outlet for me to express myself through songwriting, explore new production styles and develop as an artist. Also, on a more tech level, I got together with two colleagues from grad school and started a business called Green Light District. Together, we create sample-based instruments for the modern composer/producer. These instruments sell to composers around the world.

What are your plans for the future?
As an assistant composer, I just finished up a 4 part docuseries for HBO max and it was the hardest/longest I’ve worked on a single project. I am proud of what I contributed and all that I’ve learned in the process. My plan is to a urround myself with good people, continue to help tell compelling stories and enjoy life as an artist in LA. The world/industry is no doubt going through permanent changes and I plan on being at the forefront of it.

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Image Credits

Thomas Eggensberger, Dylan Love, Andrea Ingrande, Mike Mitzner, Chris Carpenter

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