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As a self confessed experimental musician, guitarist and pianist David Saunders has always looked to push the boundaries in his personal exploration of musical genres.
From an early age David played in a number of different bands throughout school and college, which gave him the necessary experience in composing, arranging, musical directing and production.
During his time at ACM, David attained an ACM Guitar Diploma & Cert HE before graduating in 2010 with a BA (Hons) degree in Music Production. Since then, David has since worked on a number of high profile projects.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to since leaving ACM?
Whilst I was at ACM I made a conscious decision to actively pursue a career that I’d wanted to do since I was very young. I wanted nothing more than to work as a composer for film and television.
Since graduating, I’ve turned it into a full-time career. I write music for everything from television adverts (recent work includes Batiste Dry Shampoo, Colgate, Nectar, Chevrolet & Oxfam) to videogame trailers (Devil May Cry, Aliens: Colonial Marines) to films (Fare, Up On The Roof, Oak Trees).
Who have you been working with?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing people, and the opportunity to score even more onscreen. Last year I signed with AIR Management, up at AIR Studios where a vast number of blockbuster motion pictures are scored. I share the roster with the likes of Jake Jackson, and Geoff Foster (who works closely with Hans Zimmer as his score engineer on all his films).
I’ve worked with Ray Staff, who mastered my last score – a great honour, as he’d mastered the likes of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, just to name a few. I’ve had the opportunity to score the likes of Emma Watson (Harry Potter), Sir Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly) and Jeremy Swift (The Smoking Room).
I’ve also had the pleasure of working with ACM Alumnus and Sound Designer Will Tonna, whom I’ve worked with on a number of projects over the last 3 years, from film to theatre.
What’s been your proudest moment/career highlights so far?
The highlight of my career so far came earlier this year. I was asked to write the music for the opening ceremony of the Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium.
A huge, choreographed battle took place on the pitch between two armies reenacting a chess game. Underneath the epic, orchestral soundtrack I was asked to provide, I also had at my disposal 300 of the Olympic drummers, who marched onto the field playing the percussion parts I’d scored alongside all of the battling archers, knights and gladiators.
It was a mammoth project on an extremely tight schedule – I had a great team working with me, and to hear my soundtrack pumped out over the Wembley Stadium speakers to 70,000 people and the wider television audience was totally unparalleled.
So what’s on the horizon for 2013?
I have just finished scoring the film Up On The Roof, starring Maisie Williams who plays Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. I am about to begin work on the feature documentary of Sam Mendes (Skyfall) and Kevin Spacey’s production of Richard III.
What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
After leaving college I really wanted to up my game – not just my musicianship, but my skill set and my knowledge of the business. I was already aware that the music industry is a tough one to survive in and that I’d need all the information I could get my hands on to give me an edge over the competition – something I deemed ACM could provide.
What was the best part about studying at ACM?
For me it was two-fold – firstly it was how well it prepared me for the industry. All the bad habits I’d formed over the years were gradually eliminated, I was made acutely aware of just how hard I’d have to work to achieve my goals, and I was getting all this information from fantastic lecturers who have been there and done it.
Secondly it was the connections I made with my fellow students. It’s easy to forget while you’re at ACM that the people around you, the people you make friends with are the pros of the future and that it’s extremely important to form strong personal and working relationships with these people. You will need their help at some point!
My list of go-to session musicians, producers and business contacts is packed full of ACM alumni.
Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
Relentlessly pursue every possible opportunity that presents itself – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. I have seen the biggest gigs I have ever landed materialise as a result of a tiny opportunity that could’ve easily been missed or written off.
And don’t stop working. Work every day. Work weekends. Work long hours into the night. Work when you’re on holiday. If you really want it, you’ll work for it, and believe me, it will eventually pay off.
ACM would like to thank Alumnus David Saunders for getting back in touch to update us on his recent work and wish him the very best for the future.