Munich-born composer Kubilay Uner has bounced around the planet and through every musical genre, which explains a thing or two about his individual approach to music.
With numerous feature film scores and TV pilots to his credit, as well as a number of concert music works performed, Kubi is as comfortable in the concert hall as he is on the dubbing stage. "Whether the music is part of a film or stands on its own, my goal is to deliver an intense experience, one that completely immerses and transforms the listener. I believe a good piece of music should take you on a journey. That's what I want to achieve."
In addition to writing for concert, theater and film, Kubi has acted as a record producer and arranger for a range of artists, from soul legend Bobby Womack to Mexican-American chanteuse Perla Batalla. Active in the Los Angeles contemporary music scene, he produces a series of composer salons, with presenters ranging from songwriting legend Randy Newman to Pulitzer-prize winning composer Steven Stucky and electronic music pioneer Mort Subotnick. These stylistically diverse salons are yet another expression of Kubi's conviction that "good music can only happen when you mix things up."
To help intensify the listening experience, Kubi started building his own instruments: A fretless banjo built from a cookie tin, a construction of 20-foot strings suspended over oil cans, a gamelan-style instrument made of marble tiles, and all manner of found objects that were never meant to make music. "It's amazing how expressive and unusual the simplest object can sound if you just record it right."
Some highly unorthodox processing techniques further enhance the transportive character of Kubi's music: Choir parts filtered through the sound of ocean waves, a live singer duplicating the intricate micro-tonal fluctuations of time-stretched vocal parts, water bubbles processed to sound like a steam-driven, retro-futuristic synthesizer. "In order to have the right impact, every process has to sound absolutely natural, as if there were no process at all."
Yet, traditional instruments remain ever-present in Kubi's work. He plays piano, bass and guitar, and collaborates with many accomplished instrumentalists, including LA piano legend Mike Lang. "I would never dream of abandoning traditional instruments. Like filmmakers who use actors and real sets as well as computer graphics to create their worlds, I use traditional instruments, custom creations, and original sound processes to create mine."
Kubi studied composition with Johannes Fritsch and Klarenz Barlow at the State Academy of Music in Cologne, Germany; with Luigi Nono at a Centre Acanthes workshop in France; and with Mort Subotnick, Fredric Rzewski and James Newton at CalArts. He currently lives and works in Chicago, where he also serves as the director of the Music Composition for the Screen MFA program at Columbia College.