Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Composer Tzuriel Kastel

Tzuriel Kastel is a composer in various musical genres. His work has been described as similar to Tom Petty, Cheap Trick and Mozart meets Huey Lewis and The News. He is influenced by Todd Rundgren and John Lennon. You can hear Tzuriel's songs and compositions on his Soundcloud page at Follow him on Twitter at

What is the current project you are working on?

Neighbor Nate. A new comedy web series directed by Nate Phillips (@narcherFILMS, We plan to launch a crowd-funding effort soon. The pilot episode is already done and ready to launch!

How do you handle rejection?

I hope that I remember quickly that each rejection means I'm closer to the next "Yes"! I try not to dwell on it and focus on at least one thing that was positive from the whole experience. Sometimes that's a new piece that will get used later or a new technique I learned while preparing the music I submitted.

Did you always want to be a composer?

I originally wanted to be a Rock Star. Then a singer/songwriter. Then just a songwriter and now a composer/songwriter.

What inspired you to become a composer?

Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman were HUGE inspirations when I started playing piano. John Lennon made me want to write my own stuff and Todd Rundgren made me want to record it. These days I am inspired to compose by various composers I hear in movies and tv including Chris Tilton ( who composes for the TV show, 'The Fringe' and Bear McCreary ( composed for Battlestar Galactica, Human Target, Eureka, and many other shows. On the indie side of things, Rob Gokee ( and Christine Wu ( are major inspirations to me.

What is the best thing about being one?

The possibilities of communicating emotionally with so many people via music. To make a diffence in how the picture makes the viewer feel.

What is the worst thing about being one?

There's a lot of competition and getting started is challenging. Sometimes, the inspiration is slow and it's frustrating to wait for the right notes to materialize.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

Recently, I've worked on or am working on 3 different projects.

Who is your favorite composer?

I really like Mark Snow from the X-Files a lot. The aforementioned Bear McCreary and Chris Tilton are 2 favorites and then of course the classic soundtrack composers: John Williams, Ennio Morricone, James Newton Howard. I'm also a huge fan of Frank Zappa, Edgar Varese, Anton Webern, and Igor Stravinsky. Recently I was turned on to Olivier Messiaen who is really fabulous.

What do you like to do besides composing?

I have 7 children so that keeps my wife and I pretty busy. I'm a big Green Bay Packers fan so I watch the games when I can. Otherwise, I listen to lots of music to stay current and inspired.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a composer?

I still have other jobs until composing/songwriting earns me enough to go fulltime. I have worked in IT for the last 10 years as a Network Engineer and Systems Administrator.

Did you go to school to become a composer? 

Nope.  Although I have been reading PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION by Rimsky-Korsakov and some other Orchestration texts to learn more.

How would you describe the music "scene" where you live?

I have met several local musicians and composers through Twitter and we have developed relationships. I am not really sure about the local scene from a band perspective because I haven't performed in a band in many many years. However, I try to keep up with what's going on musically and there are many musical opportunities to enjoy in Milwaukee.

How has social media changed the independent music industry?

For me, it's changed it completely. 6 months ago, I had virtually no connections or relationships with directors or producers in any media. Today, I have become friends with many all through twitter and facebook. These networks have helped me locate composers here in Milwaukee as I mentioned and I have actually spoken on the phone with a few of my twitter friends. Social media has made everything feel a little smaller and less overwhelming. Reaching one's audience is not as daunting as it once was.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding?

I am fascinated by it. I remember my first exposure to it was Victoria Westcott's (@VWescott) Locked in A Garage Band. The idea that movies could be made through donations was simply tremendous. It was through the crowdfunding process that I connected with several of my favorite people on twitter. I hope it continues to be successful as it has presented great art to many people who may not have found out it any other way.

What is your process for composing?

It sort of depends on the project. Usually, I play around with melodies while watching the picture, if it's already available. When it's not, I read over the notes I took during the conversations with producers/directors and try and play the emotions that I am feeling when reading about the concept for the picture. Once I have an idea for the melody, I record it to the sequencer and start to add instruments, effects, other sounds, and anything else that makes sense at the time. Eventually, something starts to develop and I edit the orchestration and arrangement that suits the mood of the scene I am working on.

What's your favorite lyric and why?

Out here in the fields

I fight for my meals

I put my back into my livin'

Pete Townshend, Baba O'Riley

I really like the raw energy and image it conveys. Even though things might be challenging, we keep working hard towards our goals.

What is your opinion on song covers?

I like a good cover version. Ideally, the cover version adds something to the original and is not just a clone. I like when the cover emphasizes a certain nuance or mood that enhances the original and makes me feel something different.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I really want to say thank you for this opportunity. I was really surprised when you asked me if I was interested in being interviewed. You have interviewed so many of my Indie heroes and I am truly honored to be among them on your blog!





Thanks for doing the interview Tzuriel. I'm really glad you allowed me to interview you. I checked out your work and I really enjoy your music.I wish you the best of luck with your crowd-funding effort for Neighbor Nate.