Spinema Issue 64: TV and Movie Composer Frank Cogliano Talks Collaboration and Love of Film

On the heels of his new album COMPUTERS OF THE WORLD, Spinema catches up with Frank Cogliano about writing music for TV and film

Lend an ear to SPINEMA: a column exploring all movie music, music related to movies, and movies related to music. Be they film scores on vinyl, documentaries on legendary musicians, or albums of original songs by horror directors, all shall be reviewed here. Batten down your headphones, because shit’s about to sound cinematic.

After listening to his latest offering, Computers of the World, I noticed that musician Frank Cogliano was heavily involved in creating music for numerous scores and soundtracks all over television and film. As a diehard music and movie guy, I naturally had to talk to him about what that’s like. Frank was kind enough to share some of his thoughts with me. So without further ado, Frank Cogliano

Hey Frank, thanks for taking the time for a short interview. I love getting the chance to marry my love of music with my love of film, so naturally when I was checking out your latest release and found that you’d worked on the music for a variety of films and shows, I had to talk more about that. Let’s start off simple for the readers… who is Frank Cogliano?

Of course, thanks for sitting down with me! As far as who I am…I am a person who lives in Brooklyn and makes music.

Thanks. So, how did you get involved with doing music for films and shows?

When I was in college I worked with some student filmmakers, and also went online and contacted music production companies to work for. A few kind people gave me a head start with some early work, and I’ve been lucky to be doing it ever since. I actually started by writing 100 short tracks that I thought sounded like the things I typically heard on TV, and went around trying to license them.

Are there any particular pieces or projects that you really are most proud of? Stuff you find yourself really gravitating towards or pieces you felt like were among your best?

My new album Computers of the World probably is the thing I’m most proud of because its exactly what I want it to be. But I’m even more excited about the new music I’m working on for the next release.

How is doing music for film or TV different than doing music for your own releases?

TV and film is a collaborative process, and when I release my own music I’m not really concerned with anyone else. Its always nice and a little surprising when people respond well to it, but I mainly make it for me. TV and film can’t be so selfish, I’m trying to help others tell a story that is theirs and not mine.

Do you find it as gratifying and rewarding as putting out your own albums?

Yes, in a different way. It’s nice to be able to say whatever I want on my albums, but the collaboration with other creatives on film and TV is also something I really enjoy.

I noticed a few particular projects that stood out for me. Notably, you worked on the music for the Mortal Kombat animated film Scorpion’s Revenge, a film I particularly enjoyed — as well as the award winning I, Tonya and the VICE television series. Do you approach working on music for different media differently? Like is working on music for news shows different than for scripted shows… or better yet, is writing for film different than TV? How does that all work?

Good question! Actually not really, surprisingly, now that I’m thinking about it. I am always open minded about working on anything, as you may be able to tell by the wide range of genres in my credits. But its always about finding how to best serve the story without getting in the way. Finding the simplest most elegant way of providing support. So as things become more simple, the more versatile, and sometimes something that I write that is rejected for a kitty litter commercial ends up underpinning a hard hitting news show, or vice versa. You really never know how people respond to things, but simplicity is key.

Some of your credits on IMDB are as the composer and others say you’re part of the “Music Department”, what is the difference in how you were involved in such projects? Do you know what determines the level you’re credited at?

If I’m credited in the music department, it could be that some of my pre-existing music was licensed in the show, or I could have worked as a guitarist or something like that.

Before we start to wrap things I have a few more questions about film, in general. What are your personal favorites? Like what films do you love most, both specific titles and genres?

Fellini, Varda, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Antonioni. I cant choose a specific film but any of theirs are worth watching again. Maybe if I had to choose a favorite film of all time… The Shining.

Do you think your love of film and love of music go hand in hand or are they two separate loves?

Yes, I think they’re the same because music and film speak to people very clearly and at the same time is a very personal thing that people will not agree on.

Well… thanks again for talking with me. I think the readers are going to really love this conversation and the insights it gives. As we close, tell everyone a bit about your new album and where they can find it.

My new album is available on all streaming platforms and limited edition vinyl in select stores, as well as directly from my website frankforsale.com

Any parting words about what’s next for you and how they can follow your projects in the future?

Yes, I’m looking forward to putting together a live solo show where I trigger samples and play instruments and hopefully have some complementary generative video as well. Should be ready by the end of the year, follow me on Instagram and Twitter for updates!

You can read my review of Computers of the World over at The Farsighted or check out the album on Spotify below:

Previous post Criterion Collection Review: MR. KLEIN, a Brilliant Kafkaesque Character Study
Next post Carol Kane Shines in HESTER STREET