Soundtrack composer Alexander Parsons: music tells ‘great stories’
Posted on: Saturday 23rd of February 2019
A brief glance at the CV of soundtrack composer and musician Alexander Parsons – with its strong and eclectic representation of documentaries as varied as Grayson Perry: Rites of Passage, Extreme Dog Styling and Psychopath Night– confirms an undeniable specialism in non-fiction. But it’s not quite what you would call the result of a grand game-plan…
“When I first started out what I was really interested in was great stories – whether it be via factual or drama,” he says. “And I don’t know whether it’s because of the style of my music, or the fact that some people do ultimately gravitate towards factual, but I have ended up working on all these brilliant factual programmes. The number of adventurous, fascinating documentary series being made by ridiculously talented people is pretty remarkable.”
The advent of online subscription services has significantly enhanced the volume of factual production at any one time, and Parsons reveals that his current project list runs the gamut from a one-off entertainment documentary to a series about forensic science. And it’s evident he relishes the recent upturn in production values, too: “There is a lot of attention to detail, and that includes a greater focus on the music. There has been a massive shift towards music being a huge part of factual programmes.”
A multi-instrumentalist whose primary instrument is violin, Parsons undertakes much of his recording work at his own space in South London, but he also has access to a second studio in Tobacco Dock as part of a creative collective called The Rattle. “It’s great to be able to go there if I need somewhere very quiet to work,” he says. “And if I am recording a lot of musicians, including a full orchestra, I will go to one of a number of different studios in London.”
But although soundtracks are set to remain the dominant component of Parsons’ working life, he is also gearing up for more activity with Miro Shot – a collective of musicians, filmmakers, coders and designers who have already staged several innovative, visuals-heavy live performances and are currently in the latter stages of work on their debut album.
“That’s extremely exciting as we’ve been recording the album for about two and a half years,” says Parsons. The visual side will continue to be integral to Miro Shot – “we want to create an experience that is more than simply going to a gig” – and Parsons confirms that there are plenty of ideas in the mix for the next round of live performances.
Although contemporary electronica and modern classical composers such as John Cage and Steve Reich are among his abiding influences, Parsons believes that personal authenticity in music is always pivotal: “Many years ago a composer I assisted told me to ‘be yourself and be unique’, and I still think that’s the best advice I have ever received.”
For more on Alexander Parsons’ current projects: alexparsonsmusic.com
By David Davies