Based in Los Angeles and originally from Rio de Janeiro, Antonio Ibrahine has spent more than ten years composing for films, video games, live theater, and even video art.
Ibrahine’s composition career started back in Rio de Janeiro, where he composed for the documentary O Sonho de Laura, the stage play Desconhecidos, using an innovative improvisational technique, and joined game studio Kimeric Labs as Lead Composer, writing the score for Satellite Rush.
After relocating to Berlin, Ibrahine collaborated with director Tasya Martin on the score for Martin’s film, The Audience, which was nominated in four different categories at the Feel the Reel Film Festival, including Best Original Score.
In Los Angeles, Ibrahine has scored a range of compelling films, including the short film Check Mates, which was accepted to the Cannes World Film Festival, where it won Best Music.
We recently had the chance to speak to Ibrahine about his prolific and award-winning career, and in the process, we also learned more about his thoughts on versatility, musical decision-making, and the benefits of collaboration.
We’d like to ask you today about some of your film scoring work specifically. As we understand it, your earliest composition work was for film. Is that true?
Yes, for the movie “O Sonho de Laura.”
And you’ve clearly done a great deal of composition work since then, and in many different styles, too. Is it necessary for a film composer to be versatile in terms of genre, instrumentation, arrangement, etc.?
I would say it’s very important for a composer to be as versatile as possible. The myriad of narrative situations in different movies and games is such that it creates a myriad of emotional situations as well, which can only be well expressed by very specific musical decisions.
For example, an orchestra playing a specific chord evokes a different emotion in us compared to a guitar playing the same exact chord. That said, having a unique voice that somehow shines in any genre is just as important as being versatile.
Your work for The Audience sounds fascinating. Did you create this style in collaboration with the director? Is it something you discovered independently?
Tasya Martin and I pretty much developed the style of the movie together. Unless the director wants it differently, I do prefer to have a strong collaborative process where we search for the ideal tone of the movie. And for this purpose, the director is the composer’s best friend!
We started with a more Balkan-based style and ended up with a mixture of Benny Goodman’s Big Band style with sound design and synths.
Was Dominate your first time working with Kateryna Kurganska? Did you know right away that you would be working with her again in the future?
Yes, Dominate was the first time Kateryna and I worked together. We had very strong chemistry from the first moment we started working together. So yes, very soon we already started talking about her next production, Two Breaths. I had the opportunity to read the script, and I’ll start composing the music in May of this year.
Check Mates was awarded Best Music by Cannes Shorts. What was that experience like?
Being awarded by Cannes Shorts did mean a lot to me. Care used as reference music for the movie, a song that was so perfectly connected to the narrative that it ended up becoming a big challenge to overcome. We were both so proud of what we achieved in the movie and how the score was supporting it, that when the news came we had the best feelings possible.
You seem to be quite prolific in your composition work. Have you always been adept at balancing different projects and styles?
To be honest, I didn’t plan on being prolific. But I do love composing and being challenged by different projects. And the challenge of managing to deliver meaningful work while having an intense workload with tight deadlines also gives me joy, somehow.
Before we let you go, can you share with us which film projects you’re currently working on?
Right now I’m working with the director Shengwei Zhou on one of his films in his Perfect Mother Series, and in May we’ll start the process of a new one. In the next few months, I’ll also start composing the score for Two Breaths.