Going Against the Grain: Thanh Tran

Going Against the Grain:
Thanh Tran

Thanh Tran, who has worked on the feature films 9, 500 Days Of Summer and the soon to be released All Good Things and has worked with David Foster, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige and Harry Connick Jr., takes a moment to serenade us on what makes him go Against The Grain.

Give us a short biography:
In 1975, I moved at the age of 4 and immigrated to the US from Saigon, Vietnam. I grew up in Southern California in Mission Viejo and eventually moved to Boston to study music at the Berklee College of Music. I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and currently work as an independent film, TV and video game composer. I have worked on the feature films 9, 500 Days Of Summer and the soon to be released All Good Things, CAPCOM’s video game “Bionic Commando,” the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, composed TV commercials with News 9, film trailers with American World Pictures and has worked with David Foster, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige and Harry Connick, Jr.

How did you come to the decision to pursue music composition?
At the age of 5, I began studying piano and violin, and when I reached my high school years, I was involved with everything –  music from marching band, jazz band to orchestra and musical theatre. I lived and breathed music, so this inspired me to venture into composing.

Who are your influences/who inspires you?
My influences for classical music include Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Ravel, Debussy and Rachmaninoff. For film music, I admire Ennio Morricone, John Barry, Bernard Herrmann, James Newton Howard and Alexandre Desplat. The two most influential film composers to me would be Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams.

What are some of the projects of which you’re most proud?
I am most proud of scoring Nadine Truong’s Shadow Man. This was the first Vietnamese film I scored, and working with another Vietnamese artist was a real honor and privilege. I’m also very proud of my current project scoring the Vietnamese TV Series, Porcelain. This project is extra special since it will air both in the US and in Vietnam. Being able to share my music in both countries is something I’ve always dreamed of happening.

What has been some of the biggest challenges you all have faced as an Asian American composer and lessons that you have learned?
Working as an independent composer in an extremely competitive field, some of the biggest challenges have been networking and convincing industry professionals an Asian American composer has the skills, abilities and talents to work on large scale motion picture productions.

What do you hope to achieve through your music?
I hope my music will allow people to open their minds and hearts to fulfill what’s missing in their lives and for it to give people hope and joy. A big aspiration would be to conduct my music with a large orchestra in Los Angeles, where the world’s best musicians are.

What is the most important lesson/advice you would give?
Persistence, preparation and patience are the three P’s that help me get through each day working in the entertainment industry. Never giving up hope, believing in oneself and staying positive has really helped me. The one most important thing I truly believe in is the support from family and friends.

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