Michael Montes is a Peruvian-American composer of music for films, album projects and all other media.
He was born in Houston, Texas, the son of American nurse Anne Pryor and Peruvian doctor Mario Montes who came to the United States in the early fifties. The family eventually settled in idyllic Eden, NY.
He began piano studies at age seven, quit in rage and frustration with his teacher’s methods, returned feverishly on his own at age thirteen and later dropped out of medical school in order to pursue composition as his life's work.
As a child his first film music experience occurred while watching the Jules Verne classic Mysterious Island. Years later he discovered that Bernard Herrmann had composed the score.
Later on Pink Floyd became an influence, specifically their innovative production techniques and use of hallucinatory textures.
While studying at Bard College he played in jazz groups, wrote and performed experimental music for dance and joined the chamber choir that specialized in the works of Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez.
After school he steeped himself in the worlds of Brian Eno, tape loops and musique concrète while working on his first commissioned piece A Porcelain Dream for modern dance troupe Floorplay.
Moving to New York City he began an extended period of composing in every possible format for thousands of television commercials while collecting multiple Clio and AICP awards. Several of his pieces are included in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
He was brought in to work with Aimee Mann's band 'Til Tuesday as keyboardist for their studio album Everything's Different Now and subsequent tour.
He created the Zoar project, a trilogy of dark atmospheric albums, with guitarist Peter Rundquist and cellist Erik Friedlander. The debut album Cassandra was released on the Philip Glass label Point Music.
He began a collaboration with noted filmmaker Bill Morrison scoring his films Ghost Trip, Trinity and more recently Her Violet Kiss which in addition to screenings at MoMA and The Louvre has appeared in film festivals worldwide.
He conceived and produced Erik Friedlander's breakthrough solo album Maldoror.
Allan Kozinn of The New York Times called his String Quartet No. 2 "an experiment in intensity... a forceful wave of sound.”
He has been the composer of choice for The TED Conference, The Nobel Prize Summit, The World Science Festival and The AICP Show. His TedTalks opening title music has enjoyed billions of views.
Subsequently he has composed scores for numerous films including Joan Stein's Oscar® nominated One Day Crossing, Alexander Olch’s The Windmill Movie, Michael Tully’s Ping Pong Summer and Sophia Takal’s Always Shine.
His latest personal albums are Persona Ficta, When the World Was Now and the upcoming Acorn Blue.
SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY IMDb
Her Violet Kiss - Short film Directed by Bill Morrison. A clandestine affair plays out among scenes of revelry. Telluride, MoMA, Clermont-Ferrand, The Louvre.
Scenes From an Empty Church - Directed by Onur Tukel. Starring Kevin Corrigan, Max Casella and Thomas Jay Ryan. In a locked-down NYC two priests open their church doors to those seeking salvation during the most isolating of times. Chattanooga Film Festival, MPI Media Group.
The Oil War - Documentary Directed by David Schisgall. Iconoclastic historian Andrew Bacevich delivers an anti-colonial critique of US foreign policy in the Middle East informed by his long career in the Army. While other historians analyze changing presidential administrations, Bacevich sees one long Oil War. NYC DOCS, Peacock.
Into the Dark: New Year, New You - Directed by Sophia Takal. Starring Suki Waterhouse, Carly Chaikin, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Melissa Bergland. A group of friends from high school reconnect for a special New Year’s Eve girls night but as they begin to rehash old memories many of the gripes they’ve been harboring manifest in murderous ways. Blumhouse/Hulu.
Don’t Leave Home - Directed by Michael Tully. Starring Anna Margaret Hollyman, Helena Bereen and Lalor Roddy. An American artist's obsession with a disturbing urban legend leads her to an investigation of the story's origins at the crumbling estate of a reclusive painter in Ireland. SXSW, Good Deed Entertainment.
Brigsby Bear - (Additional Music) - Directed by Dave McCary. Starring Claire Danes, Greg Kinnear, Kyle Mooney and Mark Hamill. Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children's TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James's life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself. Sundance, Sony Pictures Classics.
Always Shine - Directed by Sophia Takal. Starring Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin Fitzgerald. Best friends Anna and Beth take a weekend trip to Big Sur, hopeful to re-establish a bond broken by years of competition and jealousy. Tribeca Film Festival, Oscilloscope, Sony International.
King Georges - Directed by Erika Frankel. Documentary about Philadelphia restaurateur Georges Perrier and the closing of his iconic restaurant, Le Bec-Fin. Full Frame, Sundance Selects.
Ping Pong Summer - Directed by Michael Tully. Starring Susan Sarandon, John Hannah and Amy Sedaris. A family vacation during the summer of 1985 changes everything for a teenage boy obsessed with ping pong. Sundance, Gravitas Ventures, Millennium Entertainment.
The Windmill Movie - Documentary Directed by Alexander Olch. The story of filmmaker Richard P. Rogers and his dogged attempt to document his own life. Featuring Wallace Shawn. New York Film Festival, Film Desk, HBO.
Gold Rush - Documentary Directed by Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein. Part of the Emmy Award winning documentary series Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America. The History Channel.
One Day Crossing - Directed by Joan Stein. Starring Erika Marozsán. Budapest 1944. A young Jewish mother poses as a Christian to protect her son from the Hungarian fascists. Academy Award® Nomination for Best Live Action Short.