Hollie Buhagiar

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Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Production)

Year of Graduation: 2013

Top Career Highlights:

  • Scoring a BAFTA-winning film (Poles Apart) is pretty high up there!

Hollie Buhagiar is an award-winning composer who specialises in the creation of bespoke scores for film, TV and games. Hailing from Gibraltar, Hollie gained a First Class Honours degree in Music Production from Leeds College of Music and subsequently completed a Masters at the National Film and Television School.

In her career to date, Hollie has worked for the likes of Channel 4, BFI, Creative England, Film London and the BBC. More recently, she produced the score for the 2018 British Short Animation BAFTA winning film – Poles Apart.

Below, Hollie took some time out to offer a fascinating insight into her unique compositional style.

You grew up in Gibraltar. What was the musical scene like there? What encouraged you to study music in Leeds?

Indeed I did, there’s quite a large and thriving music scene in Gibraltar actually, especially when you consider its size. Overall I would say it's a very supportive environment and was a really great space for me to experiment and develop myself musically. I was drawn to Leeds College of Music mostly due to the course and what it offered within its curriculum - it encompassed all the elements that I personally wanted to explore at the time and it was ultimately there that I discovered my love of film.

What do you attribute to Poles Apart's win and recognition at the BAFTA’s?

There truly are just so many brilliant aspects of the film, but personally I believe it’s the strength of its story that really allows it to have the impact that it does. It has a wonderful narrative that I find you just can't help but connect to. It balances different themes and subject matters in a really thought-provoking way.

What clients have you worked for? How do you tailor your compositional approach towards the needs of each organisation?

I’ve worked for quite a vast array of clients so far and each project absolutely requires its own set of unique considerations. It’s part of what makes the job so appealing to me; every day is different and challenging in exciting and often surprising ways. I’d say the key to really capturing what the client is after is to simply make sure that you truly understand in-depth what they are looking to achieve, from the stylistic approach through to emotional architecture and overall story.

How beneficial is it being a vocalist and songwriter when composing for moving image?

It’s been so incredibly beneficial, I could never have foreseen just how much they would intertwine down the line. Many times in my career there has been a need for diegetic pieces that require a more pre-existing sound and it’s brilliant having that foundation of knowledge and understanding about what allows a track to feel genuine, from compositional elements through to engineering and mixing. I very much owe thanks to Leeds College of Music for this - I most definitely attribute a lot of my knowledge of these skills to the institute, the close proximity you are given with the other students and courses was an education in itself.

In your opinion, what makes your composition’s unique?

This is quite a hard one to place, I’d like to think a lot of the timbral qualities of my music are quite different, I forge a lot of them electroacoustically out of personally recorded found sounds. In addition to this, the development of my vocals and the different palettes within its range has quite literally contributed to the creation of my sonic voice as a composer. It’s extremely rare that I’ll use a sample in its original form. I also have some go to ways of processing different instruments that I imagine contribute to my sound. Engineering and mixing to me, are all part of the compositional process.

What was the most important lesson you learnt from your time spent at Leeds College of Music? How did studying Music Production prepare you for a career in the wider industry?

What I really enjoyed about LCoM was that almost immediately I remember the tutors being extremely transparent with regards to how difficult these industries are as a whole. Whilst it was incredibly sobering at first, I didn't take it lightly and this honesty truly prepared me for the career path I’d chosen and it most definitely contributed to my resilience after I’d left.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their ‘foot in the door’ in the industry?

I would probably say that it's crucial to recognise that you will most likely have to pay your dues and that you’ll probably be paying them for quite some time - it’s the nature of the beast.

What’s coming up next for you in terms of projects or compositional briefs?

I’ve got some really thrilling projects on the go from features through to ads and even some session work, watch this space!!

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Click here to learn more about Hollie via her website.

Learn more about our BA (Hons) Music (Production) – here.

If you’re a graduate of Leeds College of Music, click here to join our exclusive alumni networking portal.

Perfect opportunity from the @ASurteesTrust for students and @LCoMAlumni whose work is rooted in, or influenced by,… https://t.co/ZnOnmDxM6Z
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