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Meet Paul Zambrano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Zambrano.

Paul, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started off wanting to be a classical pianist. That’s how I made friends really. Someone hears me play, they walk up, do that whole “omg that’s beautiful” spiel, and sometimes we become friends. Eventually, I began to take more interest in writing music after an old neighbor of mine hired me for a measly $8/hr to do various tasks, one of them was improvising at a synthesizer to make tracks for his videos. My first time doing that as a total disaster, but since then, I fell in love with the process of writing music to picture!

I made the decision to move to LA then and there. Finished my undergrad at Florida Atlantic University, worked a full-time job to save up enough money to move out here whilst taking a full credit load. Prepping myself for the big move was a journey in and of itself, and because of that, I’m not planning on giving up out here any time soon.

I’ve worked on some very rewarding, with the most recent one being Slipping Into Darkness, which is streaming on HBO, planning to realize my third solo independent album, and excited to see what comes next!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think anyone has a smooth road. Having a smooth road is less rewarding and feels too easy. In my case, the struggles are the same now as they were when I moved here four years ago. I’ve done Uber, Grubhub, door dash, worked a few part-time jobs here and there, and even delivered medical marijuana for a time. Throughout all this, I’ve been slowly but surely building up my name and my brand.

I made it harder on myself, and didn’t through the old school Hollywood system of getting someone coffee for minimum wage, and hope that something comes out of it. Many people in this town will preach that you have to be okay with being taken advantage of, and going above and beyond without as much as a “thank you”. But, I didn’t go through that channel.

One reason being is that I lacked the “in” that someone from, let’s say, Berklee or USC had, which put me at a disadvantage from the start.

Also, I funded my entire move here, and my savings were being depleted, so I couldn’t do unpaid internships, and wouldn’t resort to asking mom and dad to help with bills. Mind you, some of these internships required full days of work, sometimes 3-5 days a week. The tasks would sometimes involve things that an actual PAID employee would do, and if you had to drive, some of these “employers” wouldn’t reimburse gas. The employees would sometimes make interns pay for gas out of pocket.

One composer I assisted for short time made me get him at the airport at 4am for, go up on his roof to clean the gutters, and so forth. He crossed the line when he had me shine his shoes at one point. I thought to myself, “is this what I have to do in order to make it?”.

My options were limited, I didn’t want to go hungry and homeless, but at the same time I want to be a media composer. Challenge accepted!!

So, despite not working for a AAA composer on the next Marvel movie, I’m pretty content with going the slow burn route, connecting with fellow filmmakers, and fostering relationships. As I’ve stated earlier, I’ve been fortunate to work on many great indie film projects, and grateful for all the opportunities so far, and yet to come!

Funny enough, this year I got hired to do some MIDI mock up programming for a composer on referral from a friend. It’s a great working environment, and everyone is considerate for not only our mental health but our physical well being as well. In other words, we are treated like human beings! So, I guess I’m now slowly entering the composing assistant scene, but it feels right.

The best part? I’ve never been late on rent, utilities, car payments or credit card bills in the four years I’ve been out here (Now I’ll probably jinx that statement, haha!)

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Well, I’m primarily a media composer, mostly doing film and TV work. I’ve composed scores that varied from old Hollywood, Bernard Herrmann-esque sounding types, to hybrid, dark soundscapes. Really depends on the project, but generally, I’ve become known to compose really dark music. I love it though. I thrive in the darkness, and I channel it.

I’m proud of a ton of things, specifically, Binlowes’ Locker (Dir. Andrew James Mitchell), The Only Way (Dir. Mike Coleman), Timmy’s Playdate (Dir. Rudi Silva), Take Care of Emily (Dir. Nick Rapuano), Enfleurage (Claudia Musikul), and, of course, Slipping into Darkness (Dir. Alex Ferrufino), which is on every platform HBO has!

My upcoming album, Death is Beautiful, is project I’ve been working on, and it is turning out to be a huge undertaking. It has a fictional story to it, as well as amazing artwork.

I think what sets me apart is that I’m constantly making an effort to evolve as an artist, whether it be adding new software every week to increase me arsenal, or learning new skills.  I’m also mostly self taught as a composer, and have had little to no formal training.  Mostly everything I’ve learned so far was from books, YouTube, and the occasional online courses I invested in.

What were you like growing up?
All my life, I have had difficulty making friends, and remember it taking all of my effort and bravery just to go up to someone I KNEW and say hi. Up until very recently, now in my late 20’s, I was diagnosed with social anxiety, which was caused by traumatic events between the ages of 6-9 hat involved consistent bullying. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been living life without a clear reason why I’m so distant (scared?) towards people in general, as well as lacking the ability how to put others around me at ease in normal social settings. With that being said, I’ve been a self-proclaimed loner all of my life, and I’ve seemed to take the best of it!

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Image Credit:

Rudi Silva

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