Ishaan Tyagi is a composer and performer from India currently based in Los Angeles. His recent work includes independent films (Go Dani Go, A Proper Education, Chasing Jupiter etc.) along with writing music for trailer labels and reality tv for Warner Brothers Discovery. Some of his scores were recorded by LA’s top musicians at some of the most iconic studios such as Warner Brothers Eastwood Scoring Stage, Eastwest Studios and Evergreen Studios. Epic Lab had a chance to talk with him.

Ishaan, would you briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

I started out as a performing artist working as a keyboardist and pianist with a number of live acts in India. Along with that, I was also pursuing a certification in Audio Engineering and Music Production from Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, Delhi which really helped me lay the foundation for my studies and experiences in the film music. I was always fascinated by film music and always had the desire to work as a film composer more than anything else.

I started working as an additional writer in Mumbai on some highly acclaimed shows and feature films. After working for a few months, I realized I needed to go for further studies in film scoring as my interests didn’t seem to line up with the industry in Mumbai and I wanted to be in an environment where film music is more deeply rooted and where I could learn from the top industry professionals.

But right at the point of this decision, covid hit and like everyone else, I had to wait for things to get back to normal for me to move forward. I spent a lot of time in covid studying film music and orchestral music on my own to better equip myself for my studies ahead. Since I do not come from a formal music education, it was really important to me that I get to a point where I’m able to make the best of my resources. I got accepted into the Royal College of Music, London and USC Thornton School of Music for the Screen Scoring Masters in 2022. I decided to go with USC as it seemed to be more in line with what I was looking for. And now after a year of being here and learning from the top minds in the film industry, I’m ready to start my next chapter and add to the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained in my time here.

Ishaan Tyagi conducting at Warner Brothers Eastwood Scoring Stage

Ishaan Tyagi conducting at Warner Brothers Eastwood Scoring Stage.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

We hear about these incredibly inspiring stories of how people get where they are through some really rough patches. But my road hasn’t been one with overwhelming struggles. There have been some hurdles of course, a major one being trying to convince my family that this is a viable path for me to take and while it’ll have its own bumps, it’s what I want to do and it’s not a thoughtless endeavor but a meaningful pursuit. Safe to say now that they have gained a lot more faith in me than they had when I first started and I’m sure it’ll continue to grow.

Another struggle could be my lack of formal music education which is always scary when you’re up against people who have years of training and the knowledge to back them up. I had to really make use of every single minute of my time before coming to USC to make myself familiar with the language of film music and classical music while also studying about the modern technological side of things required in this field. While it was a lot of work, it definitely set me off to a better start than I could’ve imagined.

Film composer Ishaan Tyagi with Orchestrator Pete Anthony (Fantastic Beasts, Dungeons And Dragons, The Mandalorian)

Ishaan Tyagi with Orchestrator Pete Anthony (Fantastic Beasts, Dungeons And Dragons, The Mandalorian).

Film composer Ishaan Tyagi with award winning composer Chris Young (Spiderman 3, Ghost Rider, The Empty Man)

Ishaan Tyagi with award winning composer Chris Young (Spiderman 3, Ghost Rider, The Empty Man).

Can you share with us more about what you do?

In simple words, I’m a film composer and a music producer. Which essentially means I write music for films, shows and other media – Video Games, advertisements, etc. I personally love working on films that allow me to write emotionally strong and bold music. Action, thriller, and animation are some of the genres I dearly enjoy working on. I’m a huge fan of the work done by John Powell, Michael Giacchino, James Newton Howard and take a lot of inspiration from their music.

There have been certain collaborations with filmmakers where I was able to come up with ideas that I’m really happy about. Which is difficult because as far as composers go, we are our worst enemy. It takes a lot of effort to feel good about your own work. But looking back at some of my work definitely makes me feel good about myself. I’m particularly proud of a choir piece of mine where I got to record 16 of LA’s finest session singers as part of my studies at USC. No idea how that piece came together but happy how it turned out! I believe it’s difficult to say this early on in my career if there’s something that sets me apart from others. I’m still very much figuring it out myself. I do think that my love and passion for films make me a good collaborator. I think I sometimes love movies more than I love composing for them. And I do bring that in when I’m on a project. The only goal ever is to make the film better and help the story and not make it about the music and about you.

Ishaan Tyagi with grammy winning composer Lolita Ritmanis (Batman The Animated Series, Women Warriors, Justice League Animated)

Ishaan Tyagi with grammy winning composer Lolita Ritmanis (Batman The Animated Series, Women Warriors, Justice League Animated).

Ishaan Tyagi conducting at Eastwest Studios

Ishaan Tyagi conducting at Eastwest Studios.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?

The most useful thing I’ve come to realize in becoming a film composer is to have a keen understanding of how different aspects of filmmaking work. I’d suggest paying close attention to elements of filmmaking as something to study and make yourself a better film composer like Cinematography, lighting, blocking, 3-act structures etc. Knowing how these elements impact the story will only help you make the right decisions when it comes to music. and serving the story. And when it comes to listening to film music, better to not just listen to the music by itself but to see how it functions with pictures. Get as analytical as you can when it comes to spotting, pacing, scale, emotion, etc., and try to apply those observations to your own writing.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Listen to Ishaan Tyagi’s music on his Official Website: