Sleep is not something iZLER is getting a lot of these days, but that’s fine by him. Not only is he father to a toddler, but when you’re one of the most in-demand composers in primetime television, insomnia just comes with the territory. As the musical brains behind ABC’s hit drama series Revenge, the Prague-born, London-raised multi-instrumentalist actually conducts a 50-piece live orchestra for each episode of the show - a rarity in the world of TV scoring but hopefully a trend that will catch on. His work has not gone unnoticed - Variety has described iZLER’s work as “smoky, elaborate, film noir-inspired compositions,” while Beatweek Magazine has praised iZLER for making “beautiful music that almost acts as another character, further enveloping the audience in its grasp.” As of this week, Revenge fans can enjoy the Season Two DVD as well as the show’s soundtrack (ABC is currently offering a free download), all while eagerly anticipating the show’s return on September 29.
“I really hope that it’s more cinematic than your average TV soundtrack,” says iZLER via phone from Los Angeles, where he resides with his family and keeps a spacious recording studio. “I’m very thankful to be on the side of being able to use live musicians, especially a fantastic union orchestra in Los Angeles. More and more people are waking up to the fact that it’s really a great way of elevating the quality of a show and elevating the emotions within a story. There’s a few shows doing it now but I suspect we’re still in the minority. I would certainly hope that changes, because whenever people do go that extra mile, you’re never short of comments about how great people think it is. They just have to hear it to understand it.”
And what better way to get that feedback from fans than on social media? iZLER is one of the few composers who is very active on that front, starting with Twitter (follow him @iZLER), where he has over 2,000 followers. iZLER regularly interacts with fans of not only Revenge but also Showtime’s Emmy-winning show, Shameless. In 2013, he was recognized for his work on both shows at the BMI Film & TV Awards. He confesses to being starstruck by other BMI composers that night in May at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “Who doesn’t get star struck by John Williams, for God’s sake?” he jokes. “I can’t think of a film composer whose life he hasn’t touched in some way and he has certainly touched mine. There were so many other people that night - Lalo Schifrin and all sorts of people. But John Williams is the don and you can’t mess with that.”
Before he attended awards shows with Hollywood’s most distinguished composers, iZLER was a touring musician - traveling, recording and writing with artists as diverse as Robbie Williams, Ryan Adams, Imogen Heap and Kylie Minogue, among many others. But ever since he discovered his talents as a composer, there’s been no turning back. Among his many achievements, iZLER was selected for the BMI Conducting Fellowship under the tutelage of Lucas Richman in 2009. The year before, he was among up-and-coming composers invited to the Sundance Film Composers Lab in Park City, Utah. Both experiences were incredibly valuable to him. “I really didn’t want to be the guitar composer in L.A. that did orchestral music but didn’t really understand it,” says iZLER. “I wanted to understand orchestral music on a much deeper level and it’s all stemmed from conducting for me. I learned so much from that crash course. I went on to study at UCLA and with various teachers and orchestrators, and ever since then I’ve been doing it for a living, which is pretty great. There is no education like having to do it day in, day out. It’s something I love dearly.”
Now iZLER expertly juggles the demands of working in television - the main one being the short window of time a composer has to turn music around for any given episode. In that regard, scoring for TV differs greatly from film projects, but iZLER has turned this challenge into an advantage. “On a TV show, you have maybe four or five days or seven, if you’re lucky, to turn a score around,” says iZLER. “On a movie, because you have more time, what tends to happen is - and this is like a natural creative process for most composers and artists in general - if you think of an idea and then you have an infinite amount of time to second guess it, you will second guess it. On a TV show, you very rarely have time to do that, so I think it develops your instincts. And you’d be surprised at how many times when you go with that first instinct, that first idea, it develops into something great.”
As for what’s in store for the rest of 2013 and 2014, iZLER is scoring Growing Up and Other Lies, an indie film starring Adam Brody and Amber Tamblyn, on top of gearing up for yet another TV show, Reckless, on CBS. “I always seem to do one-word titles these days,” he jokes of his TV projects. “If it’s got two words, I can’t do it.”
The truth is, there’s nothing iZLER can’t tackle.