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When Amin Bhatia released his 1987 debut album, The Interstellar Suite, his intent was to create a loyal tribute to orchestral music using analogue synthesizers exclusively. “I’m a sci-fi and 20th Century orchestral-music geek, » he says. « Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, film composers John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. My albums are an homage to that.”

Before then, Bhatia never imagined he’d make a living composing. “I was working as a radio producer, but after the album deal came along (brokered by Toto’s Steve Porcaro) I told my bosses, ‘Goodbye, I’m going to be a famous composer now.’” Unfortunately, owing to personnel changes at Cinema Records/Capitol, Bhatia couldn’t find a single familiar face at the label willing to promote it. “Six months later I said, ‘Can I have my job back, please?’”

Over time, however, the album gained a passionate following. Consequently, when the Toronto-based composer celebrates the record’s 25th anniversary with a new 5.1 surround sound remix later this year, he doesn’t intend to change a note. “Fans who’ve written to me have said, ‘Don’t change a thing,’” he says. In fact, when Bhatia released his follow-up, Virtuality (2008), and augmented his synthesizer tracks with acoustic orchestral instruments, some die-hards were upset, Bhatia explains, laughing. “They said, ‘How dare you bring in real players?’”

Ultimately, Bhatia has made a living in music; scoring the likes of Iron Eagle II and John Woo’s Once a Thief, winning multiple Gemini Awards, and garnering an Emmy nomination (with Ari Posner) for Disney’s Get Ed animated series.

Bhatia had no desire to leave Canada, but considered relocating to L.A. to further his career. “And then along came Flashpoint,” he says. Bhatia and co-composer Ari Posner have been scoring the groundbreaking CTV/CBS crime drama since 2008. Flashpoint’s score and theme have garnered the pair 2009 and 2010 Gemini nominations and two 2011 SOCAN Awards, for international and domestic film music.

“Ari’s the best collaborator I’ve ever had, » says Bhatia. « We each know how the other works. The thing I love about film and television music is that the story tells you what to do. When we sit down with the rough cut, we don’t know what our week will be like. That’s the joy – and the challenge.”
Although Bhatia works from Canada, after scoring Iron Eagle II (1988), his U.S. attorney recommended membership in BMI. In 2010, Bhatia finally made the move to SOCAN. “I’m an avid member of the Screen Composer’s Guild of Canada, » he says. « I’ve had a bird’s-eye view of what SOCAN is working on. Their emphasis on where copyright is going and philosophy of looking for fair ways to make it work just made sense to me. And, frankly, SOCAN answers my calls.”

Track Record
• Bhatia realized he wanted to work in film music after seeing Disney’s Fantasia at age eight and the original Planet of the Apes at age 11.
• He won the World Grand Prize at the Roland International Synthesizer Competition in Tokyo for two years running, in 1981 and 1982.
• As a synthesist, Bhatia has also worked on Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982), David Foster’s The Best of Me (1983) and Toto’s Fahrenheit (1986).