Phrases like “seminally gifted” and “highly influential” are bandied about by colleagues with respect to Darren Fung. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Darren is one of Canada’s most accomplished composers. And, since the time he was four times-nominated for the Canadian Screen Award, his sublime score for Equus: Story of the Horse actually won him 2019’s prestigious trophy for Best Original Music Non-Fiction. It was Darren's original work on The Great Human Odyssey that opened him up to widespread critical acclaim, also winning him the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Music for a Non-Fiction Series and a nomination from the International Film Music Critics Association.
Now a Los Angeleno, this multi-instrumentalist is about so much more than racking up awards in his home country.
He has come a long way since composing a piece at age 15 for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composer Project. When Darren completed his first film score using an old-school technique of calculating a click track manually using the piano to compose to picture, which was something he learned at NYU from mentor and Disney icon Buddy Baker (“It’s A Small World”, “Davy Crockett”), he was convinced composing would be his career. And he was right.
Darren believes that what has contributed most to his success as a composer is a combination of resourcefulness and entrepreneurship. Teragram would say it’s also the fact that he is madly prolific, with a mind that is always in gear — always inventing, always exploring new and unpredictable ways to bring picture to life. He simply can’t help it.
Darren does something rare in the world of catalog music for motion picture advertising and television promotion: He conducts and records every single cue with live musicians. And he is a perfectionist. "Like all good Chinese boys, I started playing the piano at age three; then to violin, and then to saxophone, all by the age of thirteen. I studied jazz piano, avant-garde classical composition, electronic music, choral singing, and conducting — all that stuff I didn’t even really know existed early on and which ultimately made me into the well-rounded musician I am today.”
In addition to his full-time composing career, Darren currently serves as the Second Vice President of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, and acts as a Program Advisor for the Canadian Film Centre's Slaight Music Residency.
“The music I do for advertising is really not that different from what I write for anything else, because, at the end of the day, I’m just setting out to write damn good music. Just give me a good singable melody. That hook is so important.”
“How does it feel to create something from nothing? I think that's the hardest part of the job, period. Whether you’re writing score, or opera, or concert music, no matter what kind of music you’re writing, those ideas just have to come. Sometimes they come easy … sometimes!"