Meet Dmytro Gordon — New Classics From the Block!

23-year-old Dmytro Gordon is a visual media and music composer, orchestrator, arranger and producer. Currently, he lives and studies in the United States. He works primarily in 2 genres: “classical” and film music. This week, his “Waltzing with Life” won Hit Funding and so we wanted to learn more about the impressive life of a young composer.

Y: Hello, Dmytro! Happy to see your track reached the Soft Cap! Congratulations!

DG: I am quite surprised! I never imagined that an orchestral piece would get so much support, especially since it’s competing with pop, rock, hip-hop, electronic, and other popular genres. I am truly grateful to the Younk community for supporting my track! I would really love to have a beautiful and interesting visual story to be filmed to accompany it. Being a film composer, you almost always write music for video, but now it may happen vice verse, so it is very exciting!

Y: Indeed! How would you describe your current sound?

DG: I would say that my sound is constantly changing, going through different phases all the time. Currently I would label it as “melodic”, “poly-stylistic”, and rooted in “expanded tonality”.

Y: What instruments do you play?

DG: I have been playing piano since I was 6 years old. It was the instrument that opened the doors to composition for me. It’s what I mostly use to for composition.

Y: And when did you start composing?

DG: I was 14 when I wrote my first track. Two years later, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music. I graduated four and a half years later with a double-major in Composition and Film Scoring, and a Video Game music minor. Right after graduation, I was invited to work with Walter Afanasieff at his studio in LA, where I have been co-composing and orchestrating with him.

Multiple Grammy Award-winning musician Walter Afanasieff and Dmytro Gordon

Y: Wow! So you’ve already worked with a well-known composer! What inspires you to compose?

DG: Having a deadline is definitely the best inspiration when it comes to film music or a commission for a classical piece. :) But if I have plenty of time before the deadline or if I’m writing for myself, the inspiration can be anything: current mood, impressions from a good film or a recent journey, hearing other people’s music and writing my own as a response, or a concept for a specific piece. At times that can be even help create a good title.

Y: You seem really dedicated to the process of songwriting in so many ways. What do you think is the relationship between lyrics and poetry?

DG: As a classical music composer, I usually rely on the pre-existing text, which is almost always poetry. For me, it is crucial to be able to save or correctly interpret, with music, what the author of the text had in mind. It is extremely important to set every sentence and every word to music the correct way. I personally hate it when the accents on the notes are misplaced, and when the composer stresses the wrong words in a phrase. For example, if I were to set the phrase “Glance at the Moon”, I would make sure to stress “glance” and “moon” as the main characters of this phrase. Many composers and songwriters stress the words “at” and “the”, thus completely disregarding the importance of the text. The balance between musicality and clarity is extremely important to me.

Y: Who is your favorite musician?

DG: My role model in the music industry is John Williams. It was his music in the Harry Potter and Star Wars films that inspired me when I was a little kid and has influenced my perception and taste in instrumental music. I especially respect him for helping the audience become familiar with complex stories, for educating people through his music, and for helping the movie-goer appreciate music for what it is — with or without the visuals.

Y: Is there a cherished piece of advice you received from another musician or music expert? What is your advice to other beginning artists? Any advice to music experts?

DG: One of the most important pieces of advice I got was from Walter Afanasieff, who I’ve been working with for several years now. His advice was also mostly non-verbal, but I once asked him: “When do you know a song is finished? How do you know when to stop tweaking it?” He said that you just have to keep working on song after song, project after project. That it comes down to experience and the only way to get experience is to keep working. It’s as simple that, just keep going! Again and again. Do thousands of songs or compositions. Eventually, you’ll notice that you know exactly that you did everything that this piece required. It all comes down to very unromantic things: practice and experience.

Another great piece of advice I got was from Bill Ross. He said, after listening to a very bombastic and dramatic film cue of mine, that if you hold back with the volume, thickness of the texture, and the amount of instruments, the effect is much more powerful and dramatic. What he meant was to hold back to draw the listener into the music. To not overwhelm the listener by “shouting at them” with a full symphony orchestra.

If I were to give my own advice to other beginning artists, I would suggest to never forget about the melody, especially when writing instrumental music. It is the melody that stands the test of time and makes a specific piece memorable.

Y: What do you think is the best way to touch someone’s heart with your music?

DG: I feel that the right balance of “head” and “heart” is crucial for this. If music is too intellectual, addressing what’s new, what’s fresh and fashionable, it will most likely be noticed fast, but will be quickly forgotten. If music is too emotional, then there’s a big risk of sounding cheesy or boring. If we were to look for a specific feeling or emotion, I have noticed that “nostalgia” always resonates well with my listeners. It is hard to describe how to make someone feel nostalgic through music. There is no specific formula, but you can feel it very well when it’s there. Such songs as “Mad World” by Gary Jules captures nostalgia very well.

Y: What does it mean for you to become successful in the music industry? What’s your next step, if you reach a Soft Cap? Are you ready for it?

DG: Becoming successful in the music industry for me means reaching as many people with my music as possible, eventually becoming a household name. I remember when I was little, I was going to a small town in Western Ukraine for a couple of weeks every summer. It was a place with very limited contact with the outside world, and no internet back then either. Yet somehow, I was hearing Ennio Morricone’s music being played here and there. Later, when I found out that this was the music from “The Mission” I was shocked twice: firstly, that this music became so popular and gained a life of its own, aside from the film, and secondly, how it made it to this small town in the middle of nowhere. This, to me, is true success. Not the stadiums with hundreds of thousands of people or packed concert halls, but households, small towns, and villages all around the world playing your music year after year.

Y: Good luck, Dmytro! Thank you for this truly inspiring interview!