I'm an ex record clerk with a conservatory degree living in Los Angeles writing film scores and playing bass (upright and electric). I love all different kinds of music, and am comfortable working in whatever style you need.
Matt Orenstein is a Los Angeles-based composer. He has scored several shorts, features, and trailers, and has written music for branded content from companies including Mercedes-Benz, Square, and DoorDash.Films with Matt's scores have screened at several film festivals around the world, including Mostra São Paulo, Prix Videoformes (Paris), Chicago Independent Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and SXSW.
Matt got his start as a bass player in the experimental Minneapolis music scene as an adolescent in the early 2000's, the spirit of which he carried with him to Oberlin, OH. While at Oberlin Conservatory, he studied bass with Peter Dominguez (and Eddie Gomez during Dominguez's sabbatical), studied electronic music and composition, and played in as many different kinds of ensembles as he could. He spent 2011 to 2015 in Chicago, where he worked as a teacher, composer, songwriter, sound designer, and instrumentalist. Matt's work and performances have seen favorable coverage in several publications, including The New York Times, The LA Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Allmusic Guide. He has worked with Four Larks, Laboratory Dancers (Chicago), Le Tour, Oberlin Dance Company, Fonema Consort, High Concept Laboratories, Access Contemporary Music, Death & Pretzels, Sheet Ghosts, and several other groups around the Minneapolis, Oberlin, Chicago and LA areas.
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2 ReviewsEndorse Matt Orenstein
Matt is a very talented musician and his work is professional, on time, and of the highest quality. I enjoyed working with him because he was always available, understood my needs, and delivered a final product that superseded my expectations. I would definitely work with him again on other projects.
I've collaborated with Matt multiple times and can't say enough nice things about the experience. One project involved an eclectic range of sound-a-likes ranging from funk to Southeast Asian folk music, and Matt was able to ingest all of my various references and create cues that were right on the many, and yet uniquely his own thing. He's a clear communicator and an extremely talented composer. Will definitely hit him up for my next project!
Interview with Matt Orenstein
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I think I wrote my first piece of music when I was eight, and never really stopped. I picked up a bass at 12 when a few friends and I decided we wanted to start a band ... but they never got their instruments, and I became obsessed with mine. I've been playing in bars since I was sixteen, mostly stuff that I wrote, but didn't get into film scoring until I was at Oberlin Conservatory. For my final thesis project, I scored the 1919 silent film "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari" for string trio, jazz trio, upright and electric bass, live electronics, and prerecorded electronics. I had a blast and was proud of my work, but wanted to spend some time figuring out what I wanted to do before committing to a career in composing. I lived in Chicago from 2011-15, where I started writing for theater, dance, performance art, all while continuing to play in bands and work as a bass player. For most of my time in Chicago, I worked at Reckless Records. First as a clerk, then as a buyer. I was surrounded by people who knew a ton about a ton of different music, so I just tried to soak up as much as I could and reflect what I had learned in my composing. So by day I was listening to music shown to me by the people who loved it, and by night I was implementing what I had learned into my bass playing and composition. Bass was always my conduit into composition ... the more I played, and the more I heard, the more I wanted to write, and the richer my voice became. It became clear after a while that if I wanted to make money as a composer, I had to move to LA. Film music was what spoke to me. So I got here in 2016, and have been working steadily ever since.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love writing and playing music in a collaborative setting!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: It depends on the project! As far as workflow, though, I find that a hybrid is best. Digital is precise, but you can't beat analog warmth
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: If money were no object and you could have any music you wanted, what would you get? And what can I do to get you something in the spirit of what you're after?
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My ARP, my upright bass, my Pbass, my Jazzmaster, and my computer. Is the last one a cheat?
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a small but mighty setup at home near DTLA. My 2013 Mac Pro and UAD Apollo are the central hubs, and I monitor through a pair of Yamaha HS-7s and AKG K712s. Wherever possible I pump MIDI into my hard synths – Arp Odyssey, DSI/Sequential Prophet Rev 2, and Roland GAIA – and run the audio through the Apollo. I play all my bass and guitar parts live on my upright bass, any one of my three vintage Fender basses, my Jazzmaster, and a Madera acoustic. I have extensive sample libraries and VSTs.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: As far as film composing, I love Johann Johannsson (RIP), Cliff Martinez, and Reznor & Ross, Ennio Morricone, and of course the greats like John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Hermann, etc. On the bass playing side of things, I love the way Paul McCartney plays electric bass, and the way that Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, and Jimmy Garrison play the upright. I'm keeping this list relatively short, but the reality is that I'm inspired by tons of different music. It's a central focus in my life, and my ears are always open.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most commonly, I write music for films. Short films, narrative features, docs, etc. That's about where common stops ... every project is different. I like it that way. It's a lot of fun working with a director, and using my skills to help them tell the story they want to tell.