Emmy Award-winning Hollywood composer Nicholas Pike has scored films ranging from the family-oriented Captain Ron, Return to Me and Virginia’s Run to darker films like Fear Dot Com, The Shining mini-series and The I Inside. He has scored large scale music videos like Michael Jackson’s Ghost, Rock My World and Will Smith’s Wild, Wild West. Nicholas recently won the 2013 Outstanding Music and Sound Emmy for the HBO documentary In Tahrir Square. Other awards include the Elmer Bernstein Award for his score to Love Object at the Woodstock Film Festival and the Best Music Award from the Sitges Cinema Fantastic Festival for his score to Critters 2. Pike is a sought-after film composer and was hand-picked by actress/comedienne and talk show host Bonnie Hunt to create and lead the first-ever daytime talk show live band for The Bonnie Hunt Show on the NBC network. Nicholas Pike also composed and scored The Bonnie Hunt Show theme.
Nicholas Pike started his music career at age seven when he auditioned for and was accepted to the prestigious Canterbury Choir School in England. There, aside from singing in the choir, he was required to learn two instruments: one had to be the piano; Nicholas chose the flute as his primary instrument.
Nicholas Pike’s family moved to South Africa where he continued his music studies, and where he eventually becoming Head Chorister at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. As a teenager, he was asked to sub for the flute chair with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. During these years he also became involved with HAMMAK, one of South Africa’s best known bands. This led to a world of composing and playing music from R&R to improvisational jazz.
After finishing high school Nicholas came to the U.S. to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, majoring in composition. During the subsequent years in Boston and New York he wrote for and played flute with his band FluteJuice whose members included music greats Bill Frisell, Billy Hart, Hank Roberts and Kenny Werner, among others. He also recorded a solo album called Waterlilies, featuring Bill Connors and Nana Vasconcelos.
He conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of his Master Harold and The Boys suite, originally composed for a film version of playwright Athol Fugard’s apartheid drama. He recorded the orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London and this led to him scoring his first movie, Graveyard Shift. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles where he continues to score films as well as compose and conduct for high-profile television projects and music videos.
Nicholas is known for his innovative use of instruments and sounds to create music. An example of this technique is Stephen King’s thriller Sleepwalkers, where he used the rubbing of a crystal wine glass to generate an edgy, metallic sound simulating the cats’ wail. When the monster appears, Pike uses a sampled Tibetan mountain pipe played two octaves below its original range giving it an unsettling kind of growl. This technique created the “instruments” with which he delivered thematic ideas.
Pike has turned to creating unusual samples in other work. With the Emmy-winning HBO documentary Baghdad ER, Pike took the sounds of stomping boots and rifle clatter overlaid with cello harmonics to create a military and yet emotional texture, underlining the horror of the army hospital.
In creating the signature sound of Freddie’s bladed glove for the television series “Freddie’s Nightmares”, Pike sampled a bowed cymbal for its stringent metallic sound and then raised it to a higher pitch. On a Marshall’s Department Store commercial which involved a lot of dancing, Pike sampled the sound of a live tap dancer working on different surfaces to get a range of tones. He then combined those sounds to create a complex rhythm track.
Exhibiting a wide stylistic range and facile command of both orchestral and electronic composition, Nicholas Pike has become one of the most sought-after composers. Pike’s ability to work in creative partnership with a film’s director, as well as his skills as an arranger, conductor and engineer add to his appeal.