Ric Mills Discusses His Compositions and Long-Standing Career
Taylor Furby | On 30, Jan 2018
The Creative Issue spoke to composer Ric Mills about his achievements in music and his many roles.
Ric Mills has spent the last couple of decades building a well-rounded career in the music industry. From composing music for short films to owning a music academy to orchestrating a lullaby album with Ed Sheeran, he has worn many hats as he grows and develops in the industry. We spoke to Ric about how he started composing at university. â€œWell a bit before then I probably watched a movie. Maybe it was Jaws at the time and I got excited by the sound. So I started to compose.â€
Having fallen in love with composition through film, we asked how important music is in a film. â€œ I always call it the most powerful unseen element. It emotionally takesÂ you places that the director wants you to go. For instance, the music in Jaws is scary but denotes the presence of the shark. Obviously when the musicâ€™s getting faster, the sharks getting closer. Itâ€™s an unseen element but extremely powerful: itâ€™s magical, quite literally.â€
Starting out is difficult in every industry but Ric said that the secret is to train yourself in a lot of areas and to be adaptable. According to Ric, â€œthe more versatile you are, the more jobs youâ€™ll get.â€ Not only has he composed music for short films but he also talked about one of his earliest projects. â€œOne of my first gigs was a rap track and I wasnâ€™t that kind of person. I submitted something and it wasnâ€™t very good. I never heard from them again because I obviously had done something that couldnâ€™t be used.â€
This was a turning point for Ric where he began to work on his skills outside of film composing. He stated that thereâ€™s a lot of good courses in Australia in film and television schools which are a great way to start composing. He also emphasised how important it is to get music out there. Like all other genres of music, if youâ€™re starting out, you need to make your music accessible. Putting it online is the first step.
Both the music and film industries are tough and take a lot of persistence and motivation. Ric says that the secret (apart from coffee) is the be involved in a lot of things. â€œIâ€™ve got lots of projects on the go all the time. Iâ€™ve got a lullaby music album with Ed Sheeran so Iâ€™ve got to orchestrate that. Thatâ€™s different to the reality music I do which is basically writing music to be used in reality shows. Thereâ€™s also short films and I also write production music for Universal. I probably couldnâ€™t make a career if I did just one of those things but Iâ€™ve been able to create one out of all of them together. The thing that keeps me motivated is going from job to job.â€ The lullaby album idea came from playing lullabies through YouTube to his children only to be interrupted by loud ads.
Another one of Ricâ€™s endeavours, on top of composition and a lullaby album, is a music academy. He is the owner of Octave8 Music Academy in Sydney. Before his entry into music, Ric was a teacher. He moved around from school to school because he didnâ€™t agree with the way things were taught in schools and couldnâ€™t change it. He left teaching but offered to start a music program in his daughterâ€™s school. Starting as just keyboard, he was suddenly expanding to guitar and drums. What started as a â€œlittle keyboard academyâ€ turned into 150 kids and eight tutors.
Teaching young people is clearly a big part of Ricâ€™s life. We asked about the importance of teaching young people to learn and appreciate classical, orchestral music. Although he thinks itâ€™s important, he also understands that young people can be put off by music theyâ€™re forced to learn. He likened this to learning Shakespeare in school. He didnâ€™t appreciate the works at the time but slowly in his adult life heâ€™s learnt to appreciate Shakespeare. â€œThe same way some of Beethovenâ€™s piano sonatas are too powerful for kids in year seven. Especially when kids nowadays are being pumped full of chart music and they think this orchestra thing doesnâ€™t really sound likeÂ anything they like and dismiss it.â€ Despite that, Ric believes there is a key to teaching young people orchestral music and that is through film.
So what else does Ric want to do? What can he possibly add to his career and long list of achievements? Heâ€™s looking into performing again. â€œI used to perform when I was younger and I stopped doing that when I started writing music so I think the next step might be to take some compositions and perform them. Maybe take an orchestra out and perform live but weâ€™ll see, itâ€™s going to be exciting.” You can learn more about RicÂ here.