It’s been a full decade since Jesse Zubot first made a mark in the world of film scoring. After beginning on short films, the B.C.-based composer/musician/producer collaborated with good friend Dan Mangan in arranging and creating the score for the 2014 feature film Hector And The Search For Happiness, and there’s been no looking back.

“I’ve done multiple films every year since then,” he explains. “Through Hector, I met film producer Christine Haebler, of Screen Siren Pictures, and she helped me get other work.”

Bones Of Crows, trailer, video, Jesse Zubot

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the trailer for Bones of Crows

Notable entries on his filmography include Indian Horse, Monkey Beach, and Two Lovers And A Bear, and acclaimed feature Bones of Crows,  co-composed with Wayne Lavallee, which earned a 2023 Canadian Screen Music Award, further boosting Zubot’s profile.

He’s now one of Canada’s most prolific movie composers, and 2024 will see the release of no less than five films he’s scored. The feature film Inedia, and documentaries Curl Power and  Resident Orca, are jointly scored by Jesse and brother Josh Zubot; Red Fever is a collaboration with Indigenous blues singer Pura Fe; and another documentary, Nechako, will feature a solo Jesse Zubot score.

“I’m really excited about Inedia, as it has a unique score,” says Zubot. “It’s not quite horror, but a dark and intense psychological drama. It explores the darkness of how it really is, as opposed to being a way over-the-top horror film.”

His current workload is so full that Zubot has enlisted two collaborators for a new venture: “I’ve formed a film scoring team, along with my brother Josh and Jason Sharp [who earned a 2023 SOCAN Award for International TV Music]. Our first score as a team is an upcoming documentary about renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.

“I’ve become so busy, I felt I needed help,” says Zubot. “Josh is naturally talented with composition, and as brothers we just understand each other telepathically. I’ll come up with a bunch of material, then I ask him to send me things. Usually, it’s, like, ‘Whoa, I’d never have thought of that,’ and I find this is elevating our scores.”

Both Zubot brothers are recognized as virtuoso violinists, and the instrument plays a crucial role in Jesse’s film work. “Perhaps 60 percent of all my scoring stems from violin,” he says. “Sometimes it may not sound like it, as the way I play, and use the instrument can be very abstract and unique. Often, I’ll start composing for a film with just violin through a mic, using different kinds of delays and reverbs to create atmospheres, from the get-go. I like to compose through my initial reaction to what I’m feeling. I’ll just lay down improvised ideas, then start editing and constructing.

“As I’m classically trained, I know how to write and arrange music in the traditional sense. With film scoring, strings are pretty huge. I’ll often create 80 per cent of score alone, and then get my string player friends to come and create larger more orchestral beds on top of that.”

Resident Orca, trailer, video, Jesse Zubot

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the trailer for Resident Orca

Zubot brings a formidable arsenal of skills to his film career. He’s won three JUNO Awards as a member of roots duo Zubot & Dawson, and as part of the adventurous ensembles Great Uncles of the Revolution and Fond of Tigers. He’s also contributed string arrangements to such artists as Hawksley Workman, Stars, Old Man Luedecke, and Dan Mangan.

Perhaps most notably, he produced Tanya Tagaq’s 2014 Polaris Prize- and JUNO-winning album Animism, and its follow-up, Retribution, and has toured extensively with her.

Despite his in-demand status as a film composer, Zubot continues to fill other musical roles, including international live dates this year accompanying FYEAR (a project led by Jason Sharp), and U.S. saxophonist/composer Darius Jones.

“Film is now my main thing, but it’ll never be just that,” he says. “I’ve been a musician my whole life, and I’ll always need to play concerts, create albums, and do other work.”