Vince Emmett is an American composer, Executive Music Producer, and Artist. He became the first composer in history to apply a musical score to a John Steinbeck work for stage, scoring East of Eden for The Actors Theater. His work as Executive Music Producer can be heard on the Emmy-nominated “SOS” and the Grammy Award-winning “Pray”.
Vince has composed and produced works for TV and Film, recording with American and European Orchestras including the Royal Prague Philharmonic. He has produced Grammy award-winning artists Emmylou Harris, Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi, Ricky Skaggs, Kris Kristofferson, The Dixie Chicks, Belá Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Phil Keaggy. We had the chance to ask Vince 10 Questions about life as a composer and the music of Death in Texas.
1.What inspired you to compose music for this film?
Well first, I’d follow Brandon Menchen into a burning building. He’s a very talented producer and he invited me to contribute. It’s always about the people and this group is exceptional. As a bonus, it was a rare chance to do a guitar score.
2. What was the process for putting together the music for Death in Texas?
Shut up and listen, listen some more, and watch. Part of the power of the script is that it leaves things open; so, there were no musical suggestions. But if you’re listening, someone always says something that puts wind in your sails. In this film, it was Executive Producer Allen Gilmer. When I met Allen, in the first 30 seconds he turned to me and said, “we’re making a modern Western.” That was it. With those words, I was off and running.
3. What was your favorite Death in Texas moment?
Getting paid. Kidding. Well, the ending is amazing; it’s so well written and provides the perfect payoff to the story. But there’s a lot of great moments for sure. I can’t pick just one.
4. What is the one piece of music in Death in Texas that makes you the proudest?
When you’re responsible for the score plus all of the background songs and you’re producing artists Joan Osborne, Shovels and Rope, and The Last Knife Fighter for the opening and closing credit songs, you don’t have time for pride – you deal more in pure fear. In the end, we created a world that takes people away, makes them laugh and cry and that’s the job. I’m proud to be a part of the team that did that.
5. The music captures the emotions of any story. Which emotion is your favorite to work with?
People being pushed to the edge and Death In Texas has a lot of that. Covering the entire range of emotion is the real challenge. I respect it – but I do like that power.
6. Is it more fun to compose music for the scenes with the antagonist or the protagonist?
Both, because we are all both.
7. What inspired you to be a composer?
I’m a film composer today because of Kris Kristofferson. He heard a score I was involved in for a theatrical version of John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden. At the time he was making a film and suggested we score it. I’m so very grateful to Kris.
8. How does it feel when you hear the music on the big screen after all the work that has gone into it?
It’s like listening to a miracle. It’s really emotional work that at any given time feels like it will never come together. For that very reason, I don’t listen to it for a couple of years of I can help it. I never visit my own stuff much anyway but every now and then I try to see if I can entertain myself.
9. How did you start playing music?
I was blessed to have two great parents that sacrificed their dreams to help me find mine. I started playing on a country music TV show when I was 9 and performed with Allison Krauss on live TV every Saturday. I got to wear Johnny Cash boots… so I was a happy camper.
10. What would you say to young people who aspire to do what you do?
Don’t aspire to be, just be.