Our Interview with Silas Hite Award Winning Composer on Ben Shewry and Netflix Chef's Table
The World Loves Melbourne was privileged to recently interview Silas Hite, the lead composer of the new hit Netflix Original Series, Chef's Table. Chef's Table is the brainchild of David Gelb, known for his award winning film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and more recently, The Lazurus Effect.
Chef's Table follows the life paths of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Melbourne's own Ben Shewry of Attica. Much more than a cooking show, each episode focuses on a single chef, delivering a unique look at their successes and failures, talents and passions, personal journeys and kitchens, blending it all into a visually tantalizing experience.
Says Silas Hite, "Besides having family in Melbourne, my upbringing was very similar to that of Ben Shewry and I felt more of a connection with him as I scored his episode than any of the other chefs."
Silas Hite: Attica of course! The food looks amazing :)
TWLM: How do you approach writing a score for an episode featuring Ben Shewry?
Silas Hite: His episode had distinct sections. For the sections about his childhood growing up in rural New Zealand, I was trying to create a more nostalgic and folk music-influenced sound. Then there were scenes depicting his uphill battle to find his culinary voice and make Attica successful. Here I tried to express this struggle musically, but with a more orchestral palette. When he finds some balance in his life and hits his creative stride, I tried to create music that captured the sense of accomplishment but still reflected what a humble and down to earth person he seems to be. This was done by using a blend of the nostalgic folk sound and the elegant strings, to tie it all together musically.
TWLM: What is the importance of the strings?
Silas Hite: I knew that there were going to be fantastic recordings of famous orchestral pieces used throughout the series, so I used live strings to help tie my score to these pieces. I want to blend the two so as not to jar the viewer. The visual world created in Chef’s Table is so magnetic and beautiful, I felt part of my job was to help keep the viewer fully immersed in it.
TWLM: What impresses you about Ben Shewry?
Silas Hite: I’m impressed that he has fused his sense of identity into his creations. To use uniquely Australian flavors in such an interesting, innovative, and yet personal way is admirable.
To make art that is personal, that is fulfilling for the artist, and that touches many people, is a rare accomplishment. As an artist that’s what it is all about, and he’s doing it.
TWLM: How can we get access to Chef's Table episodes?
Silas Hite: All of the episodes are now available on Netflix streaming.
TWLM: Are there more episodes planned?
Silas Hite: I can’t say anything official, however given the highly enthusiastic response that the series has received, I would say the odds are good!
TWLM: What's life in LA like for a composer?
Silas Hite: Either you work at a studio or you build your own studio close to home to avoid the horrid traffic. I just built a brand new studio at my house and my wife and I both work from home, which is pretty common in LA. Most of the time I wake up early and either start my day writing music or working on artwork. I love putting on a record, pouring some coffee, and drawing for awhile. However, most of the time I have music deadlines so I am just writing, recording and mixing music all day. I do a mix of film, television, video games and commercials. When I have time I write and produce songs as well.
TWLM: What was it like working with your uncle Mark from the band Devo? (I'm a huge fan having been lead singer of a popular new wave band in our city back in the day, heavily influenced by Devo).
Silas Hite: It was the experience of a lifetime! We worked together for about seven years. I was an on-staff composer at his music house and helped him with countless art and music projects. He taught me quite a bit and I am quite indebted to him, my uncle Bob who also worked there, and all of the other guys who helped me learn the ropes. When I arrived I had good musical ideas, but I had a lot to learn about scoring, mixing and producing. You just can’t learn a lot of that that stuff in school unfortunately. I was lucky to have a supportive environment at his studio and was able to put in a lot of hard work to make up for my lack of experience. Fairly quickly I was able to get up to speed and was soon creating quality music at a professional level. I went from being a coffee-making intern to a full time composer.
TWLM: Devo broke new ground both visually (MTV) and in their sound - are you influenced by what they did in breaking new ground yourself?
Silas Hite: Definitely. They’ve influenced me my whole life. I am always looking for opportunities to creatively push the envelope. I feel it’s my duty to my family lineage!
TWLM: Who is your greatest influence?
Silas Hite: That’s tough but I have to give props to my uncle Mark for showing me that it is possible to making a living creating music and art. I grew up with that idea seeming achievable. I think the other influence would be my parents who instilled a love of music, but also a strong work ethic. Without that, my dreams would still just be dreams instead of a career.
TWLM: Do you plan to visit Melbourne in the forseeable future?
Silas Hite: Yes, I hope to come soon! I have family in Melbourne that I am very fond of. They just had a baby so I have come visit and bring the baby some mini-instruments. And of course I am dying to try Attica!
Check out the Official Trailer of Chef's Table...
Silas Hite is an Emmy winning composer & producer currently living and working from his studio in Los Angeles. He has scored and co-scored many blockbuster and independent films such as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. His scores and original songs routinely play in television shows around the world, from kids shows like Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! and Disney’s Dance-A-Lot Robot, to adult shows such as Blue Mountain State and Duck Dynasty.
Silas Hite has scored many commercials for clients such as Apple, McDonalds, and Chevy, earning him an Emmy, a Cannes Gold Lion, a Grand Effie and Adweek's Spot of the Year. He’s contributed memorable music to some of the top selling video games of the past ten years such as The Sims 2, Skate 3 and The Simpsons. His music has played in such venerable institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney.