Sam Slater - General Reel September 2019
Sam Slater is an English composer, producer, and sound artist working in mediums for screen, stage, live and the studio. Studying drums, percussion and formal harmony since age 11, he played in bands for many years alongside teaching drums in UK Secondary Schools. Moving to Leeds University to study Contemporary Music Composition he developed a keen interest in music production as well as composition for film, combining both to finish top of his class. Since leaving the UK in 2013 he has been working on film and studio projects in either Berlin, Iceland or New York.
Slater’s composition for many years relied on heavily processed field recordings and he completed multiple projects recorded in Ex-Yugoslavia, Myanmar, Iceland as well as Europe. In 2018 he released his debut solo album after a month long collaboration in Northern India with Krishna Bohpa, titled Wrong Airport Ghost. This was released on Iceland’s esteemed ‘Bedroom Community’ label. The solo album was composed around a single stringed folk instrument unique to India’s Rajastahn. He recorded this in Pushka and returned to Berlin to create a dense hybrid string atmosphere. The work was described as ‘a magnificently surreal and unique sonic world’.
In 2019 Slater composed the score for Anyrin Bowyn’s foreign language film MOGA (Guerilla) which narrates the progress of two young Karen fighters creating a guerilla army in late 1990’s Burma. The musical soundtrack is based on niave string melodies and field recordings Slater made in rural Myanmar in 2016. The score is featured prominently throughout the film and will be released by Bedroom Community as an OST later in the year.
Parallel to composing, Slater is an in demand producer and sound-designer. In 2016 he was employed as Johann Johannsson’s principal musical sound-designer, informing the sonic choices made throughout many of the composer’s later scores, beginning on his unreleased Blade Runner 2049 score before continuing on Mother! and Mandy.
During 2018 he began a working relationship with Hildur Guðnadóttir, starting as part of her team to complete Mary Magdeleine, and then continuing as her Score Producer for HBO’s Chernobyl which ultimately won an Emmy for ‘Best Music in a Limited Series’. For this project Slater and Guðnadóttir developed a bespoke musical environment by field recording a nuclear reactor in Lithuania and then manipulating these recordings using computers and tape-machines. The final, ‘haunting’ score uses only processed sounds from these recordings as well as Guðnadóttir’s voice. Subsequently Slater worked again with Guðnadóttir, producing her score for Joker which premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2019 and won the coveted Golden Lion.
His studio credits and collaborations since 2016 include Colin Stetson, Ben Frost, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Mica Levi, Shapednoise and ZebraKatz, as well as producing a platinum selling single for UK House Act ‘Blonde’.
A live version of Chernobyl has been co-commissioned by the Barbican, Dark Mofo Festival and Rewire Festival and is to be premiered at Unsound Festival in October 2019. For this Slater will collaborate with Hildur Guðnadóttir, as well as Chris Watson, Francesco Donadello and Theresa Baumgartner to bring an immersive interpretation of the score to a series of industrial spaces around Europe.
Dir: Anyrin Bowyn
Composer: Sam Slater
Set and filmed in Myanmar last year, Messiahs of God’s Army is the true story of two 12-year-old twins, Johnny and Luther Htoo. They lead a small group who believed them to be bullet proof messiahs as, together, they fought for their people against the Burmese Army. The score leans on niave string melodies, and richly processed field recordings, recorded in Myanmar by Slater in 2017.
Wrong Airport Ghost
Composer: Sam Slater
Wrong Airport Ghost is a collaboration directly with, and only with one instrument, and its single string. In the summer of 2016, Slater travelled to Rajastahn where he worked closely with the musician Krishna Bhopa. The pair delved deep into the mechanics of a single stringed folk instrument; they relentlessly pulled it apart to begin to understand what made it work and what caused it to break.