Interview: Composer Aimee Bessada on being Ready for Anything and Dazzling Audiences with Holly Hobbie
An alumnus of the prestigious CFC Slaight Music Lab, Aimee Bessada is a composer, songwriter, and performer who has toured internationally and opened for Cyndi Lauper and Sia. You can hear Aimee’s original music on FuseTV’s recently-released documentary series Shine True and on Hulu’s award-winning series Holly Hobbie. Aimee also worked on a number of projects for Netflix, including Four Weddings and Irreplaceable You under the guidance of renowned composer Lesley Barber. Aimee is a mega-talent and we’re excited to share this interview with you.
Kurrent: Hi Aimee! How have you been?
Aimee: Hi! Well it’s definitely been an interesting year! It’s starting to feel like things might be turning back to normal. I had a few months of panic about the future but now I’m feeling pretty hopeful!
Kurrent: What is it like working with a collaborator as successful as Lesley Barber? Tell us more about your working relationship and short hand with them.
Aimee: Working with Lesley was an incredible privilege. I was fresh out of a film program and Lesley was looking for an assistant so timing was on my side. I jumped in halfway through the Netflix Original film Irreplaceable You and got to immediately be in the world of studio film composing and deliveries. From there we went on to work on a number of projects together. Lesley has a very feelings-forward way of approaching film music, so if she wanted me to add something to a cue it would usually be a more abstract vernacular- which I appreciated. It was always deeply rooted in the character’s journey/internal world and that way of scoring a scene is one I took with me into my own projects.
Kurrent: You brought a unique approach to Hulu's Holly Hobbie. Can you take us behind the score of one or two of your favorite episodes? Tell us more about your process and how you decide the right way to approach it.
Aimee: Sure! Holly Hobbie is such a great project I’m so lucky to be a part of. The main character, Holly, is a bright young songwriter, so myself and Sarah Glinski (show runner) agreed that all the underscore/stings should reflect Holly’s mind - as though the score was perhaps little musical nuggets of songs that Holly is working on in her head. So I kept all the instrumentation and themes pretty accessible, ie. instruments Holly would have access to and pop-leaning melodic progressions. Ultimately all of the musical moments in the show are like tiny song snippets.
Kurrent: Let’s talk about your experience in the prestigious Canadian Film Centre Slaight Music Lab. You were one of only six music creators granted a spot in the program (congrats!) - how did it feel to get this recognition? What one main lesson did you take away from this program?
Aimee: Getting into the CFC was life-changing. Truly. I heard about the program from a fellow musician who’d just completed it the year before and they had a similar background as me - touring musician, songwriter/producer, slightly adrift. The day I was accepted into the program I was over the moon and I really believe I did the best I could to take advantage of what was offered within the lab. We networked with upcoming and established directors, writers, producers. Honestly, the lessons were many and too many to even try to pick one but I think what I gained the most from the CFC were lifelong composer friends who were also in the program that year and whom I will forever be able to turn to for advice, laughs, or just to commiserate over the struggle!
Kurrent: Did you approach scoring characters in Hulu's Four Weddings in a specific way at all?
Aimee: Four Weddings was another project I worked on as an assistant to Lesley. I got to write the theme for one of the four main characters - Duffy. He was a geeky but charming guy, the unlucky in love type. So the theme for him was a slightly stumbling but mostly buoyant acoustic guitar theme. All the characters on that show got their own theme and instrumentation and sometimes those themes interacted with each other as well as developed over the course of the season. It was a lot of fun to play out.
Kurrent: What are some of your other favorite past projects?
Aimee: One of the first projects I did, before I was accepted to the CFC, was the music for a short film called Stake. It was directed by my friend Ally Pankiw and actually starred a really hilarious Toronto comedian named Alex Tindal and me! This was the first of many projects I scored for Ally (and hopefully many more to come) but I felt it was a really unique experience to both be in the film as well as write the music for the scenes.
Kurrent: What were some of the other challenges you encountered with Holly Hobbie? How did you overcome them?
Aimee: In the second season of Holly Hobbie I was asked to write a couple of original songs for some of the other characters who appeared on the show. It was my first time writing music for actors in that capacity. Namely, writing a song, recording the demo and sending it to the actor who then has to record it (realistically within a couple of hours) in a session. The challenge is hoping that you’ve written something that the actors can sing as well as bring their character to. And of course, hope they like it at the end of the day. I wrote a song called “Ready for Anything” for the character Oscar - the season two heartthrob. And I felt really good about it but I remember on the day of the recording meeting the actor, Tomaso, and thinking “oh man I hope he thinks this is cool.” At the end of the day I think he was into it and frankly I think the song was cool.
Kurrent: What else is happening next in your world?
Aimee: I’m really excited about the release of a show I just worked on called Shine True which has just started airing on FuseTV and OutTV. It’s a show about some folks all along the gender spectrum and at different stages of their own journey along that spectrum. Each episode features a different person and dives a little into their personal story as well as helps them realize how to bring some of their internal gender expression to their current daily life, through conversation, sometimes meditation but mostly - through fashion! So that show was a lot of fun to do music for because the music traversed all kinds of emotional moments but mostly I had fun writing my version of 90’s club music.
Learn more via Aimee's website: -- thanks for reading!https://www.aimeebessada.com/music