Podcast: Me-Lee creates her magic through music composition

Photo: Emma Rowan-Kelly.
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Me-Lee Hay is a musician and composer, and has written scores for various television series, documentaries, feature film and commissions for Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Theatre Company.

In 2017, Me-Lee won a Screen Music Award for her composition in Last Tree Standing. Despite the awards and experience working alongside household names (Geoffrey Rush, Sigrid Thornton, Luke Nguyen), it is not the extraneous recognition that drives Me-Lee, but internal gratification and a genuine love for her craft.

“I always try and ground myself by remembering that feeling – from before I started writing music for a career – where I just loved music, for music’s sake,” Me-Lee Hay said.

“Just trying to remember that passion…there was a reason why I came into this profession.”

Born in Malaysia, then moving to Sydney’s Inner West as a 5-year-old, Me-Lee learned classical piano from a young age and went onto Newtown High School of the Performing Arts for her final secondary school years during which she also gained her Association Diploma (A.Mus.A) in Piano performance. Later on, Me-Lee further honed her craft at Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and developed a strong practical understanding of musical composition for the film and television industry.

“It helped me with the nuts and bolts of the business…learning to read a contract, understanding how films are made. It showed how a film gets off the ground and actually gets funded,” Me-Lee said.

With years of experience and a growing portfolio, Me-Lee has found clarity in her work and is inspired about the impact that an emotive piece can add to a production.

“For film composing, it’s more about serving the picture…it’s always about making sure the music supports what the audience is seeing and supports what the director’s vision is,” Me-Lee said.

Now living in Katoomba and currently writing for a children’s ballet, alongside choreographer Simonne Smiles (who currently teaches at Bangarra Dance Theatre), Me-Lee reflects on the additional motivation through the vibrant arts community that the local area provides.

“Everyone is like-minded and everyone is always exploring…that’s really important,” Me-Lee said.

“It’s great to meet people and hear how different people get inspired. There’s so much out there to learn and discover.”

Find out more in the latest episode of the Passion & Perspective Podcast, hosted by Jonathan Robinson-Lees.

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