Benji Merrison & Will Slater 26th Aug 2022

'We’re in the best era for composer creatives to really go for it. Be brave. Take risks'

A couple of music-loving lads from the Midlands who didn’t have any local industry role models when they were coming up are now world-renowned in-demand composers following decades of exceptional contribution to their craft. With industry kudos, multiple international awards wins and an abundance of experience between them, Benji Merrison and Will Slater are here to advocate for an age of fearlessly creative independent composers. 

It’s the sweet spot between absorbing the brief and putting your own stamp on things. Music for picture, screen, visual media, can be powerful beyond expectation, but if there isn’t adequate space and permission to experiment and flourish, it can also result in a bundle of yawnsome cliches.

There are so many ways to think about scoring, and with the advancements in remote working, we’re in the best era for composer creatives to really go for it. Take your perceived image of a composer and what their working processes should be and throw it out – the reality is what you make it… see that boundary? Push it!

As independents, we need to be disruptors – be brave, take risks, consider colleagues outside of our regular sphere, and try different processes on every level. Also, take some license to be a bit cynical, or challenging, and speak your mind if something isn’t working. Don’t be stifled by someone else’s need to quantify things –  fight against musical and process-based cliches.

For true creativity to happen you need to be able to make some mistakes, sometimes the wrong avenues end up being right. Get on projects earlier and experiment with sound a bit more to give it that individual character. Find ways to reinvent things, take risks, be brave… so many times it evolves into something amazing.

Both as a duo, and individually, we can safely (modestly) say we’re quite successful now. Over the years we’ve crafted a massive library of our own, our sound world, that we are always adding to and finessing. We add new things to our ecosystem in a sort of modular approach which has proven invaluable and a successful way to nurture and expand our offering as a reliable, quality business.

"Indie production companies are more inclined to take risks, even with our bigger projects we have successfully pushed and been happier with the results for it."

We’ve been a part of so many brilliant shows, big and small. Recently, our soundscape for BBC Earth’s The Green Planet charmed UK audiences, and the David Attenborough-narrated series launches Stateside on PBS on July 6. Making music for plants was even more delightfully bonkers than that we created for Dynasties, including the Meerkats special. It’s great to have had our soundtracks for these shows released by Silva Screen Records and getting wonderful feedback from fans and industry friends alike. We’re grateful for the recognition of our work with our collective awards nods incorporating the Emmys, IFMCA, World Soundtrack Awards, Royal Television Society, HMMA, and Wildscreen Panda Awards.

In creating these aural worlds, we mix up non-linear methods, improv material and more, making them edgy, interesting and different. While, on the whole, indie production companies are more inclined to take risks, even with our bigger projects we have successfully pushed and been happier with the results for it. We take this approach to everything we do – aside from natural history, we’ve got documentaries, thrillers and other features among our film and TV works, a few recent ones including Missile From the East, I Came By (with Isobel Waller-Bridge)The Beatles and India, SAS: Red Notice and more.

Coming up, we’re looking forward to becoming mentors and nurturing the creative minds and role models of tomorrow, investing in a composer landscape that celebrates difference – in people, talent and sounds for the screen.

Listen to The Green Planet (Original Television Soundtrack), out now via Silva Screen Records 

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Benji Merrison & Will Slater

Acclaimed multi-disciplinary music masters in their own right, Benji Merrison and Will Slater have also cemented their reputation as a must-hire composer team creating sounds for the screen, calling upon their collective experience from a music and arts education, work producing and touring records, as well as composing for Film and Television. Benji’s latest projects include World Soundtrack Award (Public Choice Award) winning action movie SAS: Red Notice, documentary film The Beatles and India, and screen credits including General Magic, Britannia, Victoria, Tin Star, Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands, and more. Events and exhibition credits include the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, Top Gear, Tate Modern and MTV EMAs. The multi award-nominated composer is also co-founder of the Composer Wellbeing Collective. Will’s credits include BBC Africa, BBC Shark, BBC Mountains: Life in the Extreme, One Strange Rock, India In A Day, and Planet Earth Live. The twice Emmy nominated, 2x RTS winning, IFMCA won, HMMA nominated and Wildscreen Panda Award composer is co-director of sound design studio Slate and Ash, and is releasing an album this year as part of band The Fauns.