Meet Sean O’Bryan Smith, a film composer as well as an internationally acclaimed solo artist and producer.
When did you know that music was what you wanted to do with your life?
I think in a way I always knew. My mother was a professional singer so music was always in the house and at age 12 my oldest sister and uncle went in together and bought me my first bass. There was no looking back and 30 years later I’m still at it.
What musical training have you had?
Actually very little. I was primarily self taught picking up some things from players here and there. My early blessing was my band directors in Junior High and High School. They were the first ones to really mentor me and teach me basic music theory. With that I started playing professionally at age 15 and moved to Seattle when I was 18 with many an adventure since.
Tell us a little about your musical experience and background.
As I mentioned I started playing pro early. Most shows were jazz socials and the occasional private party. That of course evolved over the years and I spent 7 years with my own jazz group called Ivory Punch that had a strong following in the Southeast. Once we lost a chance for a record deal I moved to Nashville and started working for some of the major artists. It’s been quite a ride.
Who are some of the artists that you’ve been blessed to work with?
Oh wow. Pick a genre. (HA!) Seriously, I’ve been blessed with artists from all over the gamut of music. Obviously living in Nashville there are many a country artist. I’ve recorded and/or performed with Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, Rascall Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus and more. I also work heavily outside of country and have done the same with jazz artists Larry Carlton, Randy Brecker and Esperanza Spalding and even complete random artists like the legendary George Clinton. As for Christian artists I was part of Billy Ray’s gospel band before staying onboard as part of his secular group and I’ve also worked with Rebecca St. James and Avalon.
What led you into the direction of film scoring?
It’s always been a part of me. Growing up I listened to Beethoven and Mozart as much as Miles Davis. I’m also a MAJOR Star Wars nerd so John Williams has been in my life musically as long as I can remember. Being an instrumental artist primarily anyway it has been a natural progression and I feel totally freed when I’m doing orchestral scores. It is basically me with the gloves taken off and that is the best way I can think to share the gift GOD gave me.
How does scoring a film differ from composing for other types of projects?
It is a lot like I mentioned in that there is a bit more production freedom. When I’m composing for my solo albums there is still restraints whether we are thinking about radio formats or trying to not escape the genre too much. Film is more freeing in that you are focused on the emotion of the scene and it is a very spiritual thing.
What film projects have you been a part of?
Currently I just wrapped a film for Louisiana’s R-Squared Productions entitled “America”. Otherwise I’m working on projects for Tennessee’s ViaCross Pictures as well as a couple of projects in Australia. Other than that my work has been involved with TV and maintaining my life as a signed solo artist with touring and guest appearances on artist’s albums.
How does working on faith-based projects differ from secular projects?
Obviously the content is more inspiring. The fact that I’m using my gift to glorify is always my focus but when it is actually a faith based project it inspires me even more. I love that I am able to share my talent and use it the way it was intended. I always meet astounding people this way too.
What are your musical goals for the future?
My primary focus is building my film repertoire. I’ve been actively searching for the right film companies that have the right motives. I’ve been very pleased with who I have found so far and with my three decades of experience in the music industry I know I have something that can help grow the Christian film community. Other than that I’ll be releasing a second gospel jazz album and continuing to tour worldwide. My first gospel jazz album entitled Reflection has already been successful globally so I’m excited to see what that part of my life continues to evolve into.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I just greatly appreciate the chance to chat and I’m excited about continuing to find people worldwide with the same passions. GOD has blessed me beyond belief and I hope to continue to share my gift. I’d also like to add that if anyone wants to “friend” me on Facebook please do so. I’m always up to chat with fellow followers and creators and I’m always up for a collaboration.