Apr 3, 2023
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Gabriel de Leon. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Gabriel, appreciate you joining us today. Are you happy as a creative professional? Do you sometimes wonder what it would be like to work for someone else?
It’s difficult to detach myself from the music industry. Ever since day one, I have been doing music since I come from a musical family myself. However, I’ve had several interest deviations, namely in astrophysics, linguistics and becoming a football (‘soccer’, that is) player. Music has always been my comfort zone, and it’s something that I’ve always been good at, but sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed back in Malaysia, and working in some other capacity while working in music on the side.
I think that we all run the risk of instability when we choose to pursue the arts, and that security is something I wish to achieve purely from music. Honestly, I’m an open-minded person when it comes to trying new things and I am pretty certain that if I went to college for engineering, I would have had a great time. Doing music on the side, though, would be difficult and I’m not quite sure if I could do that.
One of my best friends from high school was a linguistics student in Australia and it sort of inspired me to think of a scenario where I would be doing something similar. I have always been fascinated by ethnolinguistics, human interaction and the history of human migration and I feel like working in that field would have been a fun alternative for myself, but again, it would mean leaving music in the shadow for a little too much.
It has never been a case of whether I can or can’t, but a question of whether I should pursue music full time. I love what I do, and I’m not sure if I could just treat it as a secondary.
Gabriel Lucas Khaw, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am a composer, specializing in media as I have worked on short films, video games and tv shows. The passion began when I began to love orchestral compositions, and eventually pursued jazz composition and music production in college.
I think that most people see me as capable in many aspects from the creative side. Thanks to their trust, I have had the privilege the compose, arrange and produce in various styles like samba, trap, orchestral and jazz fusion. I believe that this has come as a byproduct of my multi-instrumental upbringing. Ever since a young age, I have been playing the violin, and the drums soon overtook it as my main instrument. Utilizing the melodic and rhythmic aspects of each instrument respectively, I have been able to culminate a unique, personal sound.
I have been fortunate enough to work on various projects but I believe that the biggest takeaway from these collaborations was the personal connection I have made with fellow collaborators. I would say that I put them at ease, knowing that I will produce quality product and with efficiency. I am an advocate of a demo seeming close to a final product, if not already.
One of my recent projects was composing music for a video game, “Muffin Tour Legacy”, as a collaboration with BatteryCake. Personally, it has felt like a breakthrough for me as it was the first time I’d ever done such work, and it has certainly opened several doors for me since moving to Los Angeles. The team was amazing to work with, and everyone was very encouraging to create the best product that they possibly could.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?
Something that I have learned through countless meetings with fellow composers, was the aspect of respect. We have all heard horror stories of young and budding creatives being taken advantage of, and to a certain extent, exploited. Hearing similar stories from fellow industry people has made me feel that more and more people and growing aware, and that moving forward, we as the future do not end up causing the same issues as those that were done unto us. It is a mutual respect of each other, our time, our work and very importantly but often overlooked, compensation.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
I would like to establish myself as a well-known composer here in Los Angeles, and ultimately my goal is to inspire others with similar backgrounds as myself to believe and trust that they will be able to achieve what they want to achieve through seeing my work. It felt so unattainable, as a 10-year old Malaysian boy wanting to move to the US to pursue a career in music, but seeing that there were many others who have gone through very similar processes, it gave me hope, and that is what I wish to give back.