Love & Loss, a new EP from Emmy winning composer Silas Hite was released November 21st, 2016. The Seven Deadly Sins are guest musicians, comprised of family and friends such as Sam Nelson, Ricky Nelson’s son, who adds captivating background vocals throughout the album.
Handling almost all the songwriting, singing, playing, recording and producing himself, Silas creates new music that’s a celebration of modern indie Americana and traditional singer-songwriter craft. Popular influences such as Mumford & Sons meld with modern, confessional troubadours like Jason Isbell & Conor Oberst on this record. Silas’s songs show thoughtful arrangement, personal lyrics and well-crafted melodies from a seasoned songwriting veteran. Love & Loss is no exception.
The Satin Cowboy is Emmy winning film and television composer Silas Hite. Silas has music in his DNA. He began his career co-scoring films, tv shows, games and commercials with his uncle, noted composer Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. Having made a career out of selling catchy melodies to the likes of Apple, Chevy and PIXAR, Silas fills his latest album with melodies that seem fresh, yet oddly personal and familiar.
Hi Silas, thanks for getting in touch, I have really enjoyed researching you, in fact I got so involved in listening to your numerous scoring of ads, TV shows and movies I lost track of time!
Haha, well thank you, I’m glad to hear it. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some really fun and unique projects over the years!
You must’ve started your love for music very young, with your uncles Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh being the co-founders of Devo no less! I was a huge fan when I was around 10 I think. Your whole family it seems is musical. Was this the start of your love for music or do you think it has always been a part of you like breathing?
My family had a lot to do with it. My dad plays a lot of instruments and we always talked about and listened to music together. When I was a kid we even took drum lessons from the same drum teacher. Separate lessons, but we would go together.
Music always just seemed like such a fun and important thing. My mom picked up instruments on and off while I was growing up so it seemed like a normal thing to do, to just decide to pick up a random instrument and go for it. Obviously Devo was a great influence, not only musically, but just as an example of real people I knew being able to succeed in the music industry. Later when I worked with my uncles Mark and Bob, they were very supportive and gave me both guidance and a creative environment to thrive in.
As a part time teacher I love reading a great story about a teacher that inspired their students. In your case it was Craig Walsh who inspired you.. What did you learn from him and are you still in touch with him so he knows how well you have done with your career in this industry?
We haven’t kept in touch, unfortunately. However, I have discussed doing a guest composer-in-residency at The University of Arizona with other faculty there and I heard he was on board to help make it happen, so I think he is aware of my career. Hopefully now he knows that he was a key influence.
Dr. Walsh was a fantastic teacher. He introduced me to lots of music and composers that might be considered “un-traditional”, such as Cage, Reich, Subotnik, Partch, and other lesser known composers. He also had a real hunger and drive to create, which is always inspiring in a teacher! The other thing he opened my mind to was being able to twist and manipulate sounds. This was the first time I was able to work with EQ’s, filters, and use a computer to shape sounds. That has come in very handy for not only mixing and sound design, but also producing interesting sounds in my music.
I have to say that I have been incredibly lucky to receive guidance from many excellent teachers over the years.
A big thank you to all you!
After you finished College, you started an apprenticeship at Mutato Muzika which you uncle owns but you did not have any nepotism there, you started making coffee and walking the dogs. You finally got your chance to write things here and there. Can you tell us what you learnt there and did you enjoy your time there?
I feel like they treated me like any intern (which was pretty well!) and I certainly tried to treat them with the due respect you would normally show your boss. I certainly didn’t want the other employees to feel like I was getting special treatment. Whatever they may have thought when I started, I quickly became good friends with everyone there and I think they respected my work ethic. I worked very hard and was able to earn my own studio and was soon one of the staff composers.
You are an Emmy award winner, that is pretty cool, and worked on so many TV shows, movies, ads and video games, way too many to mention. I was wondering if one composition stands out for you and you are most proud of or is there too many to mention?
I think I tend to feel the most attached to my film soundtracks though because they are larger bodies of work.
A few of my favorites that you can hear on my website are The Recordbreaker, Stories From The Evacuation, and The Invention of Dr. Nakamats. I suppose I also feel that way about the episodes of Chef’s Table I scored too. That was a great opportunity for me to work with real string players and flex a bit of creative muscle in a more traditional and elegant way.
Now on to your EP ‘Love and Loss’, your opening track ‘Not Afraid of the Knife was written 8 years ago on a plane, is that correct? Can you tell us about the writing and recording of this song?
Yes, I wrote the lyrics on a plane ride almost 8 years ago, and I recorded the majority of the music back then as well. The guitar solo I played on my uncle Mark Mothersbaugh’s sweet ’72 Telecaster when I was still working for him. He was nice enough to share his fantastic guitar collection. The chorus of this song (with beautiful harmonies sung by Sam Nelson, Ricky Nelson’s son) came together just a few weeks before the release. I sat on the song for years before realizing the obvious problem – it was missing a chorus! I played all the instruments myself on this one, and the vocals were my first take, eight years ago. Something about that first pass just had the right emotion.
The lyrics are the real story though. My wife and I met when we were children. She lived in Ohio and I would visit Ohio in the summers to spend time with my family there. I had a crush on her when we were kids but we lost touch for about fifteen years. I went back to Ohio eventually and when we reconnected, it was like Cupid was taking it personally that we waited so long to figure it out. We spent four very intense days together. At the end of that time, I had to fly back to LA to mix a record. As soon as I got back to LA , I knew I was making a mistake leaving her behind. In a fit of romance I hopped on a plane and flew right back to be with her. I just couldn’t help it. The lyrics for “Not Afraid of the Knife” were written on that plane ride back. We were both nervous and anxious as hell because even though we wanted to be together, it still seemed like a crazy thing to do and we really didn’t know what to expect. Anyway, turns out it was the right thing to do. We are happily married to this day and she means the world to me.
Sam Nelson was a guest on this song, singing some pretty sweet harmonies. How did this collaboration come about?
Sam is a good friend of mine and an excellent musician in his own right. We met years ago at Mutato Muzika when he was picking up a piece of my uncle’s artwork. We sorta just hit it off and became pals. Sam has now sung on all of my Satin Cowboy records and even a few commercial projects.
I really like the opening track, I can relate to the lyrics and I like the music, including the guitar solo. Do you have a song that you are most proud of?
Can’t say I have a favorite one, but a few would be “Love You Just The Same” and “You’re Making Me Paranoid” from my last album, Duel.
Can you take us through the writing process of one of the songs off your EP and the inspiration behind that song?
The process varies. Sometimes I come up with a lyric first, sometimes it’s a chord progression on a guitar. On “Another Weekend Apart” I started by just playing around on the guitar until I came up with something I liked. The somewhat over the top guitar solo and the final chorus guitar flash are not something I usually go for, but I was just having fun so I kept it in. The drums and bass are just serving the guitar. The lyrics were pretty much a straightforward reflection of me being home alone writing music while my wife was on a business trip. I missed her!
While I was listening on Sound Cloud I notice that your cover pic is an image with about 100 (Ok a little exaggeration! ) music instruments in it, do you play all of these?
I do, although that’s just my percussion collection. Or at least some of it. I play a lot of other instruments as well. I play almost all the instruments you hear on the Satin Cowboy albums or my scores, for instance. Guitars, bass, drums, lots of percussion, piano, synths, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, harmonica, accordion, etc. I just love picking up instruments and learning them.
Lastly, can you tell us who is in your support team right now, who inspires you and who supports you so you can follow your dream?
Clearly I get a lot of inspiration and support from my awesome wife, Lisa. I have a few pals Patrick Whitehorn and Shawn Kelley who have been big supporters of this project from the start, helping with artwork and photos (respectively) for my albums and website. My parents are big supporters, which I know sounds funny but I respect their taste in music! I have a lot of good friends who have lent their musical talents to my albums and who encourage me to keep writing in this style. Their support is much appreciated!
Thanks heaps, I could of kept writing a million questions! I hope you come out to Australia so we can meet and keep the discussion going!
I hope so too! I’d love to come to Australia. I scored an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix about Attica, a restaurant in Melbourne, so I am dying to try that. I’ve chatted with the director of the Perth Symphony Orchestra about them performing some of my work, so hopefully that will work out and bring me your direction in 2017!
Thanks Silas, I would love to see you out here. Best wishes for your EP.
Keep in touch with Silas on the following social networks.
Check out his websites here
Silas’s music plays in television shows around the world, from kids shows like Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! to adult shows such as Chef’s Table and Duck Dynasty. His songs and score appear in films such as Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
He has scored hundreds of commercials earning him an Emmy, a Cannes Titanium Grand Prix, and Adweek’s Campaign of the Decade. He’s contributed memorable music to top selling video games such as The Sims 4, Skate 3 and The Simpsons.
His music has played in such venerable institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum.
“Love & Loss” EP
Written, performed, recorded, mixed, produced by Silas Hite
Mastered by Hans DeKline
Artwork & Design by Patrick Whitehorn
All Rights Reserved 2016
releases November 14, 2017
Performed by Silas Hite
Sam Nelson – Backing Vocals
Gretchen King – Backing Vocals
Igor Kogan – Upright Bass
Timothy Loo – Cello