Harry Escott

Composer Harry Escott made his name with scores for hit flicks including Shame and The Road To Guantanamo. We find out why composing for screen is like ‘turning a light on’ a film…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 23 Jul 2014
  • min read
Screen composer Harry Escott’s name first came to people’s attention after he wrote the music for psychological horror film Hard Candy, directed by David Slade.

It opened the door for Harry to work with some of the most exciting new directorial talents including Michael Winterbottom on both A Mighty Heart and The Road To Guantanamo, Nick Broomfield (Ghosts), and Steve McQueen (Shame).

He cut his musical teeth at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University before throwing himself into working with film and TV.

Other notable career highlights include composing for Deep Water, a documentary about the disastrous 1968 round-the-world yacht race and the multi award winning The Arbor, a portrayal of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Harry is currently busying himself with Face Of An Angel for director Michael Winterbottom. We get to know him better in our 30 seconds interview…

I first started writing music because…
I found it relaxing. To completely focus on musical thoughts was a way of escaping into a different world.

I have been making music since…
I was seven but I wouldn't say I deliberately set out to compose a piece until I was about 13.

My music is…
Helpful if you want to tell a story.

My favourite venue is…
The Royal Festival Hall. In particular, the foyer. I remember spending many happy hours there as a teenager, with other equally nerdy kids whiling away the hours chatting about the latest recordings or pieces of chamber music we had recently discovered. Actually, I used to escape from my school to go and hang out there. Whilst others were escaping to go and meet girls and get drunk, I was risking all to go to the Southbank Centre. But, in my defence, you could smoke there in those days: anyone remember those tinfoil cup cake shaped ash trays? Also, The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. That is an incredible venue.

Music is important because…
Life would be so much more grey without it. I spend a lot of time working with film and never fail to be surprised by how much sharper and emotionally vivid scenes become when you add a little bit of music. It's like turning a light on.

My biggest inspiration is…
Usually something non musical. Something from the stuff of life: an emotion, a story, or an experience, but mainly, fear of failure and a deadline.

My dream collaboration would be…
To work with Wes Anderson.

To try me out, listen to…
Unravelling from Shame.

If I wasn’t making music I'd…
Make soup. I like making soup. That is after I'd been a taxi driver for a few months. Encounters with complete strangers where the rules state that you will be parting company soon and will never see each other again is the perfect set up for some surprising conversations.

In 10 years time I want to be…
Doing what I am doing now. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that. Maybe that means it's all downhill from here ... read about someone else, I'm a has-been.

twitter.com/harryescott

Harry recently signed to publishing and management company Manners and Mcdade. Read the full story.