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How to Make It As a Composer

How to Make It As a Composer

Sofia Hultquist tells us what it's like to write music for fashion films.

Introducing How to Make It, Clover's career column. Here, some of the smartest, coolest, and most successful women we know share career tips, life advice, and other invaluable wisdom they've learned along the way. 

The most awesome careers are often the ones you never even knew existed. Just ask Sofia Hultquist, the LA-based composer who founded her company Drum & Lace a few years ago simply because she couldn't find anything like it already. Sofia's the creative force behind some of the coolest fashion and beauty films, working with designers like Tanya Taylor and brands like Into The Gloss to shape their attitudes and vision through music. Get advice on Sofia about finding your niche and doing your own thing below, then see more of her work here.

What were you like as a teen?
I was not “cool” in your average teenage girl sense of the way. I was neither trendy nor the most sought after girl by any means, and as much as I felt like I was friends with more or less everyone (I went to a very small international school in Italy), I never fit into one group or clique. I wasn’t quite confident enough to completely be myself, and I often did things out of pressure on myself (and from peers) that in my mind were “normal” teenage things. I also had a tattoo and multiple piercings by age 16, which didn’t sit great with my family, but then got really good grades and was reliable. Needless to say, I was never completely comfortable in my skin and always felt somewhat out of place.

As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
To be more confident in myself and my choices, even if they don’t sound “cool.” I doubted myself so much at times that I ended up not standing up for what I truly wanted or thought. I would also tell myself to practice more piano and not to wear low-waisted jeans. *Facepalm*

How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally? 
Music has always been my life, so in high school I applied to (and ultimately got into) Berklee College of Music in Boston for vocal studies as I wanted to be the next Janis Joplin. While in college, I realized I was more interested in how music and visuals/film work together, and veered towards a degree in Film Scoring and Composition. I'd developed an interest in music synthesis and technology by the end of college that lead me to pursue a master’s degree in Music Technology at New York University. Once I finished my grad studies, I worked at a few audio companies doing sound design and composition. At one point, though, I realized that what I really wanted to do was write music for fashion and film on my own terms, so I took a big leap of faith and left all behind, and started writing music under the name Drum & Lace. It’s now been just over two years and, although the hustle is very real, I’ve never felt more musically and personally fulfilled and happy!

What's one thing you wish you had known then that you know now about having a career?
I wish I’d know that it’s not just about “having a job,” it’s about having a job that is challenging you and in which you see your own growth potential. When I was a teenager, I thought that merely being employed and having a "good" job was the key to being a successful "adult." I never thought I would be working for myself and that I could make my own career path.

What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
Do as much as you can, be ambitious, and honestly just go for it! There have been so many times that I’ve held myself back from emailing someone that I thought was “out of my league,” and I probably missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it. Something specifically related to primarily male-dominated industries: Some days doing what you want to do seems really hard to get to and unattainable, but the important thing is to stick with it. A lot of times it’s about being at the right place at the right time, but determination is also important. Always stay true to yourself and what you stand for, and your (rad) work will speak for itself.

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