Jeanne-Peri Foucault is a composer and pianist from France and Turkey. She started playing the piano at the age of 4, and later on, enrolled in La Schola Cantorum Conservatory in Paris to take classical piano and theory lessons. Soon after moving to Bodrum, Turkey, she continued her musical education with private lessons and started her composing journey in high school while writing music inspired by poems from Nazim Hikmet, Baudelaire, Prevert, and many more.
After completing a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Film Studies in Paris, she decided to pursue a career in film scoring and moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in UCLA Extension’s Film Scoring Program. She received her first Best Score award in 2018 at the Paris Art and Movie Awards for her work on her first short film, L’Oiseau, directed by Lisa Hurel. In 2020, she scored the TV documentary Les Communards de Nouvelle Calédonie co-produced by JPL Prod and France TV. In 2021, she worked on her first feature film Rebel//Rebel, a drama directed by Drew Harwood about a once-famous actor grappling with drugs, addiction, and self-discovery.
We spoke with Jeanne-Peri about where she finds her inspiration and her most recent project, Rebel//Rebel.
How do you decide which projects to take on?
I really enjoy working on a variety of genres and meeting new people because I consider all new projects as new opportunities to explore my own musical capabilities. I value human connection a lot. Whether the filmmakers and I are able to connect and open the space for safe communication right from the start is, in my opinion, the first factor that will determine whether I will take on the project or not. I find it very important to create the right environment for them to express themselves freely and to feel understood, whether they are music pros or working with a composer for the first time. Do we understand each other, are we seeing things in the same creative direction, does what I say to them or my interpretation of their story resonate with them? Once this is established, I’m looking at whether I, as a composer, can deliver the kind of music and tone the director is looking for. Practical capabilities aside, every composer will have a different creative perspective and musical interpretation of a story. And as film composers, we are here to serve the movie. For that reason, if I don’t think I’m the right person for the job. I would much rather recommend someone else who I think would be a much better fit musically.
Where do you find inspiration for the scores you compose?
Technically speaking, I will go and do my research. If I need to write something that is in a specific genre or instrumentation or needs a certain feel, I will go and listen to precise examples. Creatively speaking, most of my inspiration comes from my own feelings and memories, things I read, and places I visit. Even though in my day to day I always have the project on my mind, I find it easier to get inspired when I’m not actively thinking about it and doing something totally different, including washing dishes. Sometimes out of nowhere, I will start to hum a melody while I’m grocery shopping and realize it would be perfect for a project I’m working on. Generally speaking, I do have specific things that will spark my creativity and inspire me. For example, one of my favorite books is Just Kids by Patti Smith. I read it a few years ago when I was having some creative blocks and it helped me get through it. Thanks to it, I started improvising more, learning to be more in the flow, and letting go of the fear of not always having to complete a piece of music. I also find that sometimes, when I am uncertain about a musical choice, a simple conversation or brainstorming session with a friend will be the missing piece in my own perspective and fully shift my scoring process.
What can you tell us about your most recent project Rebel//Rebel? How did you approach scoring for a coming-of-age drama?
Rebel//Rebel is a feature film about an actor grappling with drugs and addiction, and it is my first feature film as a composer. I met Katie Garland-Noble, one of the producers, in 2020, when I was invited on an episode of a podcast called This Industry Life Podcast. They were hosting with Anthony Wilson and Brandan Haskell, who’s the DP. I got an email from her in November of 2021 when I was still in France, about licensing one of my compositions they’d seen on Instagram. We scheduled a call with the director Drew Harwood, so I could talk about what he was looking for exactly. That call turned into me scoring the rest of the movie. They already had some temp tracks and pre-existing music, so I understood the atmosphere they were going for. Though it was a quick turnaround to score and mix it all, I was very excited. I first started by finding a theme on the piano, and then looked for some instrumentations and experimented around that. I had some synths, some piano, some more ambient tracks, and others more melodic. Our conversations and exchanges with Drew were very fluid and constant, so it didn’t feel like the deadline was adding more pressure on my side. Everything felt like it was moving in the right direction.
What was your first step when composing the score for Rebel/Rebel?
Because it was a particularly time-sensitive project, the first thing I did was map out my own weekly schedule, the number of total tracks I needed, though it ended up being more in the end, and which tracks to start scoring from. I rarely work in a linear way, from start to finish. This way, I could more or less see how much music I’d need to score within a day and knew what I should start with. The fact that I was in France and Drew in LA worked perfectly. We had a 9-hour time difference and I was ahead. So by the time I was finished with that day’s work and sent it to him, he’d be waking up and listening. I would either have his feedback that same night or when I woke up in the morning, and that would shape what my day would look like work-wise. He was very responsive, always ready to listen and reach back out which made the process much smoother and stress-free.
Do you have a favorite instrument to include in your scores?
I started playing piano at the age of 4, so I consider it to be my main instrument. And it’s also the instrument on which I started to compose even before I knew I wanted to be a composer professionally. Today when I start working on a score, I still write something on the piano first and then find different instrumentations, still leaving some space for at least a few piano notes! Just like in Rebel//Rebel.
From time to time I do have a few favorite instruments or sound libraries on which I obsess and incorporate depending on what I’m working on. I really like Spitfire Audio’s Intimate Strings library, for example, it’s kind of my go-to when I want to have a close-sounding, organic and intimate sound. I’ve recently been working with Hang and Theremin a lot as well and experimenting with these instruments.
Where can readers follow you on social media and learn more about you?
My website is still under construction so I try to stay active on Instagram and share my music there. It’s @jeanneperi.foucault I also have a few playlists available on Soundcloud. The link is accessible through my Instagram page. Always keen and excited to meet other creatives!