At only 28 years old, Jeff Morrow has already built a very successful résumé composing for film, television, radio and commercials. But where some find success by traveling established pathways, he’s done it by following his own course.
Growing up in Toronto in a musical family, Morrow’s propensity to forge his own path emerged early on.
“I don’t know if it was just dumb luck, but I quite literally Googled ‘music production Toronto’ and dropped off a CD, and it sort of worked out.”
“I had a lot of piano teachers who were frustrated with me because I didn’t want to sit down and practice,” he says with a chuckle. “I wanted to noodle around on my own. I didn’t want to practice what some old German guy had written.”
Later, he studied jazz at McGill, composing for their chamber jazz ensemble and big band. He also played in various groups as a trombonist, until he saw the writing on the wall. “I realized I wasn’t going to be a top-tier jazz musician. I just didn’t have that in me,” he says. “I enjoyed writing music for other people to play a lot more.”
So he headed back up the highway to Toronto, and it was there – either as a result of yet again following his nose, or perhaps through sheer serendipity – that he caught a break.
“I don’t know if it was just dumb luck, but I quite literally Googled ‘music production Toronto’ and dropped off a CD, and it sort of worked out,” he says with a laugh. His demo disc impressed the Eggplant Collective production company, and Morrow spent the next five years there writing music for TV shows and advertising jingles.
In 2012, he was selected as one of two composers-in-residence for the Slaight Music Lab at the Canadian Film Centre (CFC). As a result, more film work started coming his way. Morrow’s approach to film scoring also reflects his penchant for avoiding the well-worn path.
“I’m not a huge fan of film music that sounds overtly like film music,” he says. “I prefer more quirky, unique-sounding scores that jump out at you a bit. With technology the way it is now, there are endless ways to experiment with new sounds and new ideas – there’s not much point in reverting to old ones.”
Morrow now divides his time between work in Los Angeles and Toronto. As for the road ahead, his course is predictably simple: travel back and forth and see what happens.
“It’s funny; I kind of always wanted to be a film composer, but it seemed so far-fetched,” he says. “I didn’t think I could ever attain it because I didn’t know anyone who did it, so I feel pretty lucky to have worked my way in.”
Sometimes it pays to follow your own compass.
- Morrow has worked with such directors as Gemini Award-winner Cory Bowles, Amar Wala (The Good Son), and the acclaimed Sam Catalfamo (Innocent Things).
- His compositions appear in more than 30 television shows, numerous CBC radio news programs and in more than 20 advertising campaigns.
Selected Credits: Film: Anatomy of Assistance (2013), Cold Feet (2013), The Secret Trial 5 (2014). TV: Rocket Monkeys (Teletoon), WordGirl (PBS), The Bridge (CBS), Crash Canyon (MTV), The Fifth Estate (CBC), The Passionate Eye (CBC). Radio: CBC Hourly News, The World This Hour (CBC), The House (CBC).|
SOCAN member since 2010