Marina Ortega Mira, a Spanish composer, singer, songwriter, and producer, has always been an artist. At three years old, Mira had already begun writing her first songs. To the musician, music has always been her first language.
Mira studied at the Sibelius Academy, one of the largest music academies in Europe, where she participated in the “Keys to Cancer” project sponsored by Roche Foundation Medicine. According to Mira, the project aimed to highlight the connection between science and music using genetic data.
“Me and two of my colleagues were given a voluntary patient’s genetic data. He was suffering from cancer and the data we received was related to the mutation present in his genes. The idea of the project was to show the many ways science and music can be connected nowadays, as well as to showcase the improvement of recent research and the human reality behind a genome analysis,” Mira said.
Today, “Keys to Cancer” is now credited as “one of the most pioneering projects in science and music collaboration” and acted as a source of inspiration for Mira’s later work.
“The piece I created was called Abstract Body. It transformed the genetic data into numbers according to their type and position. I went to the studio and recorded different vocal effects and processed them using an algorithm that integrated the data. The idea was to create a musical soundscape that would be an abstraction of the human body from the inside,” the producer said.
Following her studies at Sibelius Academy, Mira won the prestigious Fulbright scholarship, one of the most recognized achievements in the world, and pursued her master’s in screen scoring at the University of Southern California. Mira’s time as a Fulbright recipient and USC student opened her eyes to new communities and experiences.
“I love learning about the different music theory approaches that exist in the globe and that influences my music a lot, so for me, it was such a valuable learning experience,” Mira said.
Now, Mira scores music for films, TV, and video games. Her most recent work is featured on the soundtrack album of the video game Impasto, a game based on Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, where she collaborated with composer William Bourassa-Bennit.
“Impasto’s plot centers on a specific song I was asked to write. The concept explored the idea of exile, but in the sense of finding one’s own peace after having your freedom terribly stolen,” Mira said. “In developing the score, what helped the most was visiting the team as they were working together in the game development. We got to experience how the game was moving forward, the expansion of the main creative ideas, and the evolution of Goya’s world depiction.”
Mira has also worked on the documentary Abuelita’s Kitchen: Mexican Food Stories, where she was influenced by Mexican instruments and traditions.
“The film shows the beauty and complexity of Mexican culinary tradition, the same that has been so beloved by the US, and encourages the next generations to preserve it. Family and nostalgia for home were also central themes of the project, at the very core of this culinary tradition,” the musician said. “The influence of the Mexican son jarocho genre is all over the music score. It has such a rich texture, mostly because of the unique instrumentation…. It gives a sense of warmth and business that directly connects with this idea of a big family reunion at home. The instruments in use make it feel like the score is purely diegetic, played by the protagonist’s families.”
In the future, Mira hopes to work on multicultural stories and work on groundbreaking projects.
“I love working on projects that are willing to take risks and search for new ways of telling stories and implementing their scores. Also, those that take a multicultural approach from within, from their very starting point. I would love to contribute as much as I can in widening the borders in that sense, so we can enjoy more enriching stories whose storytelling style is not particularly tied to a specific part of the world, but rather absorbed from many places,” she said.
Mira is currently scoring two feature films and working on a concert piece that will be performed at the Music Palace of Catalonia in June. Her work will also be featured on the upcoming Boston Strangler movie that will be released later in 2023.
Learn more about Marina Ortega Mira here.