Elna Myburg - Classically Trained, Piano Driven
In this Creator Magazine, we interviewed composers of the Audio Cartel team where they share their perspectives on composing music for films and TV, and talk in-depth about their careers and the production music industry.
We hope that these interviews will give you insight and advice about the library music industry, especially the business side and how to get involved with this fascinating industry.
Sit back and enjoy the ride!
What is your name, your location, and your musical specialty? “My name is Elna Myburg. I am from South Africa originally, but I moved to the United States and I'm in currently in Houston. My musical specialty is piano driven styles. I'm classically trained, but I have a passion for jazz and world music. I'm an instrumental composer, so I write in a lot of different instrumental genres.”
How did you find yourself in the library music industry? “It's something I've always been interested in. I've always wanted to compose but I don't really like performing live. I don't like performing my compositions live. I'm not a stage person, although I've done it before, I don't have a love for it. I wanted my music out there for people to hear and to use. That is how I found myself in the library music industry. I read about it and I saw other composers doing the same thing which sounded wonderful to me, so I knew I wanted to do it.” What is something you like most about the library music industry? “I really like talking to library owners and interacting with other composers. Most people think it's so lonely because you sit in your studio and write music. It can be lonely, but I really like talking to all of the wonderful people that I am writing for. I like to learn from them too and also network with other composers. I really like the fact that it requires a lot of different genres, so I write jazz for a specific library and for another library, I just write world music. It's interesting to me that it enables me to write a lot of different genres.”
What is something that you like about working with Audio Cartel specifically? “I love working with Audio Cartel because I really love the people who own it and run it. They're so humorous, friendly, helpful, and patient. We all make mistakes, I certainly do, and they are just very patient, helpful, and kind. I like to learn from them and I also love that they require a lot of different genres to keep things interesting. It's not just one genre that they require, so I really like that and they also give you the freedom to experiment and branch out. I can work on one album and then they can submit something saying ‘wow, this will be great for a new album, so let's start a new album’. When you send in something that doesn't quite fit the album that you're working on, it opens up new ideas and a new album can be created. It's always evolving and it keeps things interesting”
What is something you would suggest to a composer early on in their career? “I think we're all still learning. I've been in this industry for a while, but I'm certainly still learning. To young or new composers, be patient and learn from others. Make sure to learn from mistakes. Patience and perseverance are very important. I've been doing this for a while and I still earn a good income from music that I submitted to libraries 15 years ago, so it can take a while. I’ve talked to a lot of young composers who don't have the patience and they just want to give up because they've been writing for a year and nothing's happening. I would definitely tell young composers to be patient and just keep on writing, don’t quit. Don't give up, that's important. Always learn and try to constantly improve.”
Who are some of your favorite composers that have inspired you? “I grew up a long time ago, right? In the 80s, as a teenager, I listened to a lot of Dave Grusin and David Benoit, both great smooth jazz composers, so I was definitely inspired by them. Jeff Lover, Brian Culbertson, and Jacob Collier, a newer composer, is very inspiring and there's lots of amazing things that he experiments with. I grew up in a musical home where we always listened to music. I was classically trained, so the classical composers, romantic composers, and modern composers all inspired me throughout the years for sure.”
Was there any specific composition from a movie or TV show that made you say, "hey, that's what I want to do"? “That's an interesting question. I can't think of a specific movie that really inspired me, maybe The Sound of Music. I love the music. I love the songs. Although at this point, I’m not a songwriter, but an instrumental composer. I love the music, so that definitely inspired me. I think it's a combination of lots of movies over the years that have inspired me.” Do you have any challenges, mindsets, routines that you need to put yourself in before creating a new composition? “I need time. I think a lot of composers try to be like a sausage machine, they try to crank out as many tracks as possible in a day. I heard about a composer the other day that creates three to four tracks a day, which doesn't work for me. I think we need to work fast, but take time to rest between writing sessions. I don't sit there for five hours and begin a composition and finish it. I don't do that. I take breaks, I’ll work on something else and come back to the other composition. I do my mixing and some of the mastering myself, which also takes time, so you need to leave it and come back the next day to work on the mix again because you hear certain things the next day that you didn’t know you were thinking. Within the composition, I change things all the time. I might hear something that I didn’t hear the previous day. Maybe I was a little tired, and so I think taking time to do it well is very important. I think quality is more important than quantity. Taking breaks, working in sessions, and not trying not to do too much in one day are all things I keep in mind.”
What are some of your goals within the library music industry? “I want to get as much music out there for others to hear. I want to share my music, but I don't have a specific goal in mind. Many have goals like getting their music in 200 movies in one year. That's not how I think about goals, I just think about getting better. That's definitely one of my goals: getting better. Writing those cues better because there's a specific way of writing them. Learning from others and to just keep on writing and getting as much music out there as possible while also focusing on quality.”
What are your goals here on Earth?
“I'm a Christian and we have certain goals that we think of such as helping others. I'm a teacher too, so I can stop teaching and write full time, but I feel that's almost like administrative to me. Ministering to kids of all ages and adults in my studio and teaching others is a really important goal for me. I'm not talking just about music, but other things too, including important knowledge. Helping others is really important to me and then of course family. Raising a family and being good to them is key.”
What are some things that you want the audiences of Audio Cartel to know about you as an artist or as a person?
“I love people. I think when we go to the library's websites and we listen to the music, we don't really know the person behind the music. Since I am writing instrumental music, there are no vocals and no lyrics, so it's easier to get to know a songwriter when you have lyrics and you can learn something about that person. In instrumental music, it's harder to know who the person is behind the music, so I would like people to know that I love people and I'm a real person. I love helping others, especially other musicians to reach their goals.”
Is there anything else that you’d like to share, anything you want people to know about you?
“I really appreciate Oded and Amit. I appreciate them so much because they are so personal and humorous, and they really make it fun. I love that. I also have a sense of humor so I really love when people have that and I think we shouldn't take things too seriously all the time. Our lives here on Earth are not too long and I think we need to enjoy every moment. Music is part of the enjoyment of life, and I think it's wonderful to be able to create music and bring joy to others. It is important to me to reach out and bring joy to others through my music.”
Thank you for reading!
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