Ask Her: Film Composer, Julie Roué

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Tell me something you love about film composition.

Collaboration. When I compose film music, I meet somebody else's universe, I need to enter their mind, understand their system. My job is to reveal the emotions underlying the script, to make the screenwriter's deepest thoughts audible.

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What advice would you give to a smart, driven, young woman about to enter the workforce? What advice should she ignore?

Don't be apologetic for being a woman or a beginner. What you have to offer is what you are and what you can create. Some people will connect with it, some others not. And it's fine!

Observe and analyze how more experienced people work. Take what you like and do the rest your own way.

Advice you should ignore: be patient!

What do you tell yourself during high-pressure situations that helps you deal with stress?

I try to consider one issue after the other. Don't look at the top of the mountain, look at your feet. Make sure every step is safe and efficient. In high-pressure situations, I try to remember that I’ve always managed to get through without compromising my mental sanity or my integrity so far.
I am not saving lives, just composing music to entertain people. If I fail, no one will die.

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Ever given?

Don't say 'sorry', say 'thank you'. There is no use of feeling sorry for yourself or contemplating what we can't do. All this energy you could waste in feeling sorry can be used to find solutions. Often, you need other people to help you solve a problem. Whether you need an actual hand or moral support, it's good to be surrounded by good people. That's when you need to say 'thank you'.

My advice: trust your instinct. Before accepting a new project, ask yourself what is your motivation to do it, and if it doesn't sound like a good reason, consider saying no. 'No' is the most empowering word. I still consider myself a young composer, so I try to follow this advice too, which is not always easy!

Which women in your life have inspired you? Why?

My friend Marie, who is the most joyful and adventurous person I know. She taught me that when you are positive, the world gives it back to you, doubly.

The other inspiration is my mother. For a long time, I considered her a naive person. Then I realized that this naivety was rather awe than naivety. A decision she had made to look at the world through a positive filter, in order to seize beauty and not let the downsides affect her. It's a constant effort that makes life better, for yourself and people around you. And in the end, from awe comes inspiration, and joy.

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Where do you think creativity comes from? Are you born with it or can you find it?

I think creativity comes from curiosity. A way of observing the world and changing these observations and emotions into something you can share. Maybe some people are born with more curiosity than others, but curiosity is also stimulated by your education, by confrontation to other ways of thinking, by a constant questioning of what you think you know.

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Furthermore, creativity is one thing, but even more important may be what you do with it. I know it's not the romantic idea of the artist creating out of nothing, but having an idea is not the most difficult part of creation. What is hard, and takes time, is making use of it, giving it a satisfying shape, being able to share it. In other words: craftsmanship. You learn, you try, you fail, you try again. You perfect your craftsmanship little by little, and you are rewarded when other people like what you do. Nothing romantic, like I said.

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What are some tools you use to appear/feel confident?

I can think about two things: 

1) I try to be as prepared as possible and I know my subject thoroughly. if you master the craftsmanship, you appear competent. 

2) I dress myself up the way I want people to see me, and I try to be this person. I am not saying I play a role like an actress. I just try to be the best version of myself. And the clothes definitely help.

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Drink of choice?

Freshly squeezed lemon with hot water, at any time of the day. And for cocktails, champagne (yes, I'm French).

Ask Her question from previous interviewee, Sarah Cook: What song/scores do you find empowering?

I recently fell in love with Jeanne Added's voice. Listening to her song Mutate makes me feel in harmony with the world. In terms of score, I love Under the Skin by Mica Levi and any score by Jonny Greenwood. They open a way to a very experimental and demanding way of composing music for films. It's empowering in the sense that it's an encouragement to find my own voice.

What question do you want to ask the next women we interview?

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 12-year-old self?

Rebekah Wood