Meet Award-Winning Film & TV Composer: Russell Thornton
Melodie is a music licensing platform providing authentic, simply-licensed music for creators, businesses and creative platforms. Powered by AI search tools, and with an award-winning roster of artists, Melodie makes it fast, affordable and incredibly easy to find and license great music for any type of content.
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Meet Award-Winning Film & TV Composer: Russell Thornton

We caught up with Melodie composer, Russell Thornton, to talk about his journey into music, latest projects and writing process.

Russell Thornton has worked on a diverse range of projects for the screen, including children’s television and animation. He’s been awarded an APRA Screen Music Award (Best Music for Children’s TV – “Get Ace”) as well as a Bronze Lion at Cannes, 2004 for the Red Cross Australian TVC Campaign “We Gave Blood”.

The Interview

Melodie: Hey Russell! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. What have you been working on lately?

I recently finished composing the music for an animated series here in Australia called Space Nova, along with providing production and library music to a local reality series.

How did you first get started in music?

I knew around 16 that I wanted to pursue a career in music, and eventually screen music composition. After studying Music Composition at University, I worked on a variety of short films and got my first break composing the music for a Red Cross Australia TVC. From there I worked for a Music and Sound Company in Sydney on a variety of Television Shows before finding my niche in composing music for animated series’. When the studio closed, I became freelance and have been so since.

Can you take us through your writing process?

I often write in a through-composed style, just starting somewhere and responding to where the music wants to take me. I often think in terms of harmonic progressions first.

When a brief comes in, I take a lot of time setting up a unique template for that project and often set a rule for myself to compose to. This may be to explore a new sample library or “sound world” within the palette, or varying my writing style, or applying a particular mixing approach to achieve an emotion effect or whatever! 

I read an interview Trent Reznor gave once saying he followed a set of rules when writing and producing Hesitation Marks and I really connected with that approach. I tried it on my next project, and I’ve stuck with it since! It gives me something to answer to and can often help inspire new ideas.

If I am composing for a series, I like to get a core group of themes established very early on and then I compose from the first frame to the last, rather than going to key scenes or moments. I just find that easier to work to. My sequences are often extremely long as I just compose one cue for the whole episode.

Which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) do you use?

I use Digital Performer and host my libraries and samples within VE Pro.

What do you like doing outside of production music?

I enjoy exercising, surfing poorly and fixing my natural Golf pull! I love a good craft beer and started learning how to do slow-cooked smoked meats during the lockdown. I am quite passionate about Music Education as well.

Favourite band/artist and why?

I have a couple if that’s ok! U2’s Achtung Baby changed my life along with the Zoo TV Tour (in a past age I wanted to be Bono, and probably still do quietly). Billy Joel is another as I learnt a lot about chord progressions from playing his music. The Beatles because they are the Beatles – one of my favourite albums is the Cirque du Soleil LOVE soundtrack! Also, many of the well-known screen composers are up there for me too.

What was the first album you bought?

I think it was either Storm Front (Billy Joel) or Achtung Baby (U2).

Favourite track of yours in the Melodie library and why?

Ignite the After Burners is one I am particularly proud of as I worked quite hard on getting a lot of spatial clarity and textural variety within that track – I wanted to feel like you could sonically reach into it. Having it be nominated at the 2022 PMA’s obviously helps it to be a favourite as well!

Watch HYPNOTISE: Life On A Shipwreck, a short film by Ste Everington featuring Ignite the After Burners by Russell Thornton.

Want to hear Russell’s music? Click the button below to check out his amazing tracks!

Melodie Music

Melodie is a music licensing platform, founded by a family of composers, musicians and sound designers - all with a deep understanding of the essential role music plays in storytelling. Our purpose is to connect and inspire Melodie artists, content creators and employees - growing a benevolent, diverse and sustainable business.