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Daily Inspiration: Meet Michael Van Bodegom Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Van Bodegom Smith.

Hi Michael, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I moved from Chicago in August of 2020 with no immediate plan, no money, and in a world turned upside down. With my Grandfather’s old Ford Focus, low pandemic gas prices, and a general lack of industry jobs due to Covid-19, my best option appeared to be driving for Uber to pay the bills. Yes, driving for Uber was nothing to text home about, but it allowed me to flexibility to attend networking events and workshops, as well as any freelance gig that came my way. After more or less one year of Uber and small one-off gigs, suddenly the phone started to ring more consistently and I made some genuine connections and friends that supported me professionally and personally. Suddenly I began developing original sounds for Output’s Arcade, writing additional music for various movies and TV series, flying to Europe to record a 60-piece orchestra, and recording as a multi-instrumental for composers such as Cindy O’Connor, Esin Aydingoz, Michael Kramer, and Dara Taylor.

Speaking of Dara, by chance I happened to fill in for her scoring assistant one day on the studio lot and since then she has been a wonderful mentor and employer to me. Through Dara, I have had the chance to work with every major studio and work on legendary scoring stages such as the Newman stage and the Eastwood Stage. In my third year in Los Angeles, I have been busy writing music for the new hit Netflix series Princess Power alongside the phenomenal composer and producer JP Rende. Although it took a couple of years, living in Los Angeles has been an absolute thrill and I am so excited for what comes next. Now that I have my head on straight in the music composition department, I am aiming my sights toward my work as a songwriter/producer and I hope to start performing around LA later this year!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The idea of a ‘smooth road’ sure does sound enticing, yet it’s hard to imagine something being truly rewarding if you didn’t have to fight for it. My journey hasn’t been easy by any means, but I was always fighting for something I am truly enamored with and that made everything worth it. It isn’t easy paying $6.00 a gallon for gas, over two thousand a month for a small one-bedroom apartment, all while working 70+ hours a week and somehow still amassing crippling debt, but I would choose this path any day over having stability and a ‘smooth road’ that leads me somewhere I never wanted to be, to begin with. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in the arts and I am eternally grateful to my wonderful partner and all of my amazing friends who have helped me through it.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
It’s hard to pinpoint what ‘I’m known for’ at this point in my career but if I had to answer I would say I am known for my expertise in orchestration combined with my work as a songwriter/producer, jazz arranger, and a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. I primarily write music for film and TV, although it is an absolute dream of mine to write music for games! I specialize in writing music for animation but I love good live-action comedy or drama as well. I have written music for four animated films, roughly thirty episodes of animated television, eleven feature films, and I have contributed to many blockbuster feature films as a score coordinator.

I am also constantly working on original songs and producing music for myself and many other Los Angeles-based artists. I am on all streaming platforms and I always greatly appreciate any and all support! What I am most proud of and what I hope I am known are probably synonymous. Of course, it is crucial to deliver a unique and inspiring soundscape tailored to each project, but I believe it is just as important to deliver the best version of yourself to your collaborators. I hope that alongside my work as a composer and producer, I can foster an authentic collaboration where every individual’s creative input and values are appreciated and understood.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
While it is hard to recall a singular favorite memory, I can share a general favorite pastime. Growing up in the Metro Detroit area, I was constantly surrounded by nature. One of my absolute favorite things to do was to go out to the lake and spend hours catching turtles and frogs with my friends. Of course, we would always release them after admiring their beautiful amphibian and reptilian physiques, please don’t kidnap animals from their natural habit! Even today this is a favorite pastime of mine Whenever I have the opportunity I love hiking up in the local mountains and admiring the wonders of nature.

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Image Credits
Holy Smoke Photography

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