BABE #169: LYDIA DAVIES, Music Composer, Nylon Studios
Today’s Australian babe started her hustle at just three years old when her talent for music became apparent to everyone around her. At age nine, she wrote her first song — and the rest is history. Today, Lydia is a composer for Nylon Studios and a freelance composer for film and TV. Her music has been featured in the official trailers for box office hits like Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman, and she has recording experience at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios (#nbd). We're immensely inspired by her passion and grit and we can't wait to see where her career takes her next.
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Current city: Melbourne, Austrailia
Alma mater: Monash University
Degree: B.A., Arts
Very first job: Florist
Hustle: Freelance Composer for Film/ TV, Music Composer, Nylon Studios
Babe you admire and why?
I would have to say Mother Teresa. She had the kindest soul; selfless and always helping others. I want to be able to move and inspire and people through my music, as music transcends you to another realm and can be healing in many different ways. I have felt throughout this industry at times very alone, and have always wished I could find a mentor or someone I can speak with, and at times give me help. I want to be that person for people, help young aspiring musicians to believe in themselves and keep fighting for what they want.
How do you spend your free time?
Cooking, painting, socialising, dancing, reading, watching movies, horse riding, playing with my nephew, playing tennis.
Favorite fictional female character?
Go-to coffee order?
This changes often according to my mood, but probably a skinny cappuccino. I love a little chocolate froth.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Probably a big bowl of rigatoni ragu with lots of parmesan cheese, followed by sticky date pudding.
What is something you want to learn or master?
I really want to learn how to speak French. I think it sounds so sexy. I also want to learn how to surf, master the guitar and keep growing my musical knowledge.
What’s something most don't know about you?
I’m a private chef in my spare time. I cook for private families and dinner parties.
Tell us about your hustle.
When I was three years old, I would hear my sister playing the piano and be able to play exactly what she was playing. From this point, my parents enrolled me into the Yamaha Music School, where my teachers quickly discovered that I had perfect pitch. I skipped all the classes and got put straight in to the Special Advanced Course. It was here where I learned all about composing, variations on a theme, along with having private classical piano tutoring. I was 9 when I wrote my first song, and won numerous awards throughout school. During my senior year I received a music scholarship to a prestigious girls’ school, where I composed music for big band, choir and orchestra. Straight after school, I went to Los Angeles and Phoenix to collaborate with some notable songwriters, one of which was Gardner Cole, who wrote “Open Your Heart,” sung by Madonna. I guess the way I’ve always hustled—and still do today—is through networking with people online, not being afraid of putting myself out there and accepting that there will be more knock-backs than not.
What does your typical workday look like?
Every day is different for me. I try to be in the studio no later than 9 a.m. I wake up, have brekkie, try to do some sort of exercise (like reformer bed pilates, a walk or a gym session). Then I’ll head to my studio and write a list of tasks I want to achieve or need to finish. Sometimes I’ll have meetings thrown in there, or conference calls with Nylon clients In New York. I am often working with publishers overseas, so I generally compose music during the daytime and network/speak with my publishers in the evenings. I actually prefer to compose at night, so sometimes I’ll take the day off to do my admin stuff and daily errands. I also perform the piano and sing weekly at private functions, so that can eat into my evening time. I guess I wear many hats daily, which at times can be hard to juggle.
How has playing music from a young age impacted your musical style?
Learning music from such a young age had a huge impact on where I am today. I grew up in a musical family; my parents met in a band where they use to perform together. There was always music playing around the house, mum and dad singing away to us, jamming with us on the piano and guitar. I remember when I was 10 and I went to the movies to see Titanic, I was so inspired from the music that I went home and spent the day composing songs and instrumentals. It was from that point that my dream was to be one of the best female composers. Fast-forward 15 years later, and things started shaping up. I landed my first blockbuster Hollywood official trailer for Beauty and the Beast. From there I landed the official Wonder Woman trailer, and so on. I guess this is when I thought, OK, maybe I can really do it. To be honest, I still have my low days when I question if I will have a successful career. But, I’m not one to give up.
What does your creative process look like?
I always begin sitting at my piano. I usually flesh out the finished idea all on the piano, then I’ll record the idea in Logic, and start finding the instrumentation I will need to produce the track. I sometimes will listen to music online or movies to get inspiration.
How would you describe your sound?
I am a romantic at heart, so my music comprises very emotive, catchy melodies.
How has your music evolved since you signed with Nylon Studios?
Nylon has really allowed me to explore many more different genres of composing music. The other day I was asked to compose a Latin party track. I’ve never in my life composed something like that before, but it was a fun challenge. They’re such a great team of people. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a talented, lovely group of people.
What are some of your most notable music-related memories or experiences?
When I found out, after months of back-and-forth revisions, that Disney had selected my track for the Beauty and the Beast official trailer. Recording at Abbey Road Studios would have to be right up there, too. That was surreal.
How often do you deal with creative burnout?
I don’t find I experience it too often. I definitely feel when I am emotional, I am a lot more inspired. So if I am going through a burnout, I’ll watch something that will stir the emotions and hit a soft spot.
How have your past internships, education, and work experiences prepared you for your work today?
They helped teach me the process of composing. I never learned how to make a career out of my music. There is no one direct path in the music industry; a lot of it is based on luck, sheer hard work and being in the right time and the right place.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
Biggest career milestone was placing my music in the official trailers for Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, Law & Order, Patriots Day and The Mummy. They gave me the confidence to keep going. At times it feels like you’re on this big emotional rollercoaster: one minute you’re riding the highs, and then you’re riding the lows for a substantial amount of time, wondering when your next break is. But when you’re riding the high wave, it makes it all worth it.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Probably one of the biggest turning points in my career was when I came to New York for a specific meeting I had that made me stop and ask: How on earth can a young, aspiring, female composer be taken seriously? I was blatantly sexually harassed [and made to think] sexual favors would get me places. They picked the wrong girl in this instance, and I told them so. I was so appalled and disgusted with the infamous and entrenched casting couch attitude. Thank God this behavior is now revealed and these men are just beginning to be held accountable! I was incredibly shaken from this encounter. At that point in time I was pursuing being a singer-songwriter, but the negative experience made me change directions and instead I began focusing on what I originally wanted to do as a young girl: compose music for film and TV. This lead me to the trailer industry and a great internship with Kaveh Cohen (a successful film trailer composer) in Los Angeles. A huge amount of hard work, networking and composing found me signing with trailer houses.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your role we might not see?
Commercial work can be really hard at times. Trying to get in the headframe of what style of music the client is after can often be challenging. At times the client may think they know what they want, so you compose according to the brief, and then they change their mind and choose something completely different. There are a lot of knock-backs or revisions.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
The path to making a career in this industry is like no other. There isn’t one; you have to create it for yourself. Believe in yourself; there are a lot of fake promises in this industry, and a lot of talk, which can be very frustrating and challenging. It really is like riding a big, emotional roller coaster at times. Try to surround yourself with good people. Have a team of like-minded people around you that you can collaborate with, or bounce ideas off, or be able to talk to. It’s better to grow with a team of people as opposed to being alone.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Watching a good movie or TV series, taking a dance class, getting a massage or facial, or cooking.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Trust your instincts. Believe in yourself; don’t let negative comments or people deter you from living your dream. Surround yourself with good people who bring out the best in you. Don’t compare yourself. It’s a gift to be alive and healthy, so appreciate what you have. Make peace, not enemies.
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