Grammy Award Winning Arranger Producer & Film Composer, "Rob Diggy," Is A Musical Genius!
Updated: May 12
Rob Diggy Morrison, is an accomplished, award-winning musician with diverse skills, including Music Production, Vocal Arrangement, Film Composition, Sound Design, and Engineering. Furthermore, he performs live piano and guitar. His imaginative approach and skillful composition have also been compared to Danny Elfman, John Williams, and Brian Tyler, the "Sixth Man of Music."
For his outstanding contribution as a musician and arranger, Beyonce's Multi-Platinum Award-Winning "Dangerously In Love" album in 2004 featuring Crazy In Love earned him a Grammy and Certified Gold Record. Rob Diggy is the Lead keyboard arranger on the Grammy Award Winning Remix of Crazy in Love. The Films he's scored are: The Gandhi Murder for Nugen Entertainment/United Arab Emirates, Dubai, The Family Business Tri Destined Studios/BET , I Got ProblemzNferno Productions, LLC/BET , Just As I am Nferno Productions, LLC/BET, Two Degrees Carl Gilliard-GilliardMediaGroup, Justice On Trial Mann Robinson Productions Nominated for an NAACP Award, Invasion The Horne Brothers, A Christmas Gift Nferno Productions, LLC/BET, The Swan Princess Christmas Richard Rich Sony Stage 6, For The Love of Christmas Nferno Productions, LLC/BET.
Aside from learning from Grammy Nominated producer and film composer Vassal Benford, Rob Diggy has completed music cues for Sony Pictures' "The Swan Princess Christmas." I asked him a few questions about his journey as a composer. Here's what he shared.
How is your day going? Thanks for asking. I am doing great.
Where did you grow up, and where do you currently reside? I grew up in Chicago, on the Westside we call West Garfield. Now, I live in the Austin area near Oak Park, IL.
You have accomplished a lot in this business, but everyone has an origin. Tell me about yours. How did it start, and what was the process you had to undergo to be where you are today? A great deal of my upbringing was due to a robust family support system. My uncle gave me my first guitar, a Gibson SG. He taught me how to form chords. He had a band that would practice on the weekends at my grandmother's house, and my siblings, cousins, and I would watch and learn from the band. As a result, our parents invested in music equipment, and we started a band similar to the Jackson 5.
We were pretty good too. We performed concerts in our front yard and around Chicago, and the whole neighborhood would come and support us. It was a humble start to something more significant in the making. My process was influenced by what was played on the radio, from Motown soul to the Philadelphia sound. They all paved the way.
Where did your love for music originate? Music played in our household included Motown, Stax, and The Sound of Philadelphia. The music played in our home was Motown, Stax, and The Sound of Philadelphia. On Sundays, gospel music was played in abundance. In the early 70s, I also developed a love for music through a local show called Jubilee Showcase, which featured the Staple Singers and other gospel greats of the time.
What is your primary instrument, and what other instruments do you play now or want to learn to play in the future? My primary instrument is the guitar, but I learned piano when I was seventeen. I am a brass player, so I play trombone and trumpet well, which I learned in high school, thanks to my band teacher Delano O'Banion.
What are some of the challenges you face being a musician? Stay motivated. When work is a bit slow, or I've come off a massive project, I'll receive another project. I will wait to start it. I'll delay for a few days. I'm a last-minute person when it comes to getting things done musically.
How often and how long do you practice your instrument daily? I practice throughout the day because I am always on a site that shows me new and innovative ways to play and watch cats perform while playing with them on YouTube to keep my chops up. When I was younger, I would practice for up to an hour on guitar and equally on piano.
What is your favorite genre of music to play? Hands down, I enjoy R&B (rhythm and blues) music best; it's the heart and soul of what I do.
Were you ever in a band, and who have you played with throughout your career? Yes, I was in a band in college. That was a big turning point for me. We were called Polo, a band of brothers who all went pro. I wasn't big on playing with many pro cats, but after college, I toured with the Mighty Dells as a backup keyboardist. That's when I met many old-school musicians and singers, from The O'Jays to The Whispers.
As a result of the talent that God has given you, what opportunities and doors has God allowed to open for you in this business? What are some of the projects you've worked on? God has opened so many doors for me. As a keyboardist, I have worked as a remix arranger on some of the biggest records worldwide. I received a Grammy for participating in Beyonce's "Crazy In Love Album Feat. Jay-Z". I have played on remixes for Janet Jackson's Destiny's Child, Bobby Jones Feat. Faith Evans, Shekinah Glory, and I can't forget the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to name a few. I've even had a few records Nominated for Consideration for the Grammy's. One, in particular, was a song called "Imagine," it was for a film I scored, The Gandhi Murder.
You're a fantastic arranger and film composer. Tell our readers about what a film composer does. As a film composer, I am responsible for all the other music in the film. A good film score should have a point of view all its own. It should stand on its own two feet and still serve the movie, transcending, not to outdo, but in a complimentary way which I like to call "the sixth man." An excellent score is all about communicating with the audience; I have to be the thing the director is not. A score evokes a certain feeling; it can pull at your heartstrings or have you biting your nails.
What challenges does a film composer run into occasionally? As a composer, you run into unforeseen circumstances such as computer crashes, losing files, or the director wants you to score a film by Friday, and it's Monday (lol). Also, software issues, but the biggest is hard drive crashes. Make sure you have plenty of backups and possibly an extra computer nearby.
How did you break into the film industry? I was at a studio, and my friends were editing a film. I walked into their room and said, "I bet I could add music to that scene." So, the director set up my piano, and I played to the scene; it wasn't time-coded or anything, just playing to it. So, they recorded the piano and added it to the scene. It worked.
Everybody in the room was excited that a real score would be soon added to the film. And with that, I was born as a composer.
One day, my dream is to compose for who? Fill in the blanks. Antoine Fuqua. I love all his movies. I would also like to compose for Steven Spielberg.
To date, how many film projects have you composed music for? Despite composing over one hundred films, they don't date back far enough for IMDb, The Internet Movie Database.
Do you go into their studio and record, or do work from a home studio and send them the music for approval? Mostly, I use my home studio, but occasionally, I go to other studios to record an orchestra. I also have a portable rig, which enables me to use it on the road and in the air. This is useful for sending them the parts. We refer to them as stems.
How do you determine what type of music needs to be played in what scenes and at what time? I approach a scene because you can typically look at a scene and tell what is needed for that area. It depends; it may be a car chase. You should start with a looping barrage of drum samples and add some shrieking strings for excitement and some drones that growl like low brass. Now, if it’s a soft-spoken scene where the character gets some bad news, I may determine that it needs some piano and light strings for a sad or melancholy effect.
What kind of films do you find yourself composing? Lately, I have done some comedy and many Christian movies. Some rom/coms and suspense thrillers.
When people hear you play, what have people who have listened to your music said about your style that sets you apart from other musicians? I always get that I am a genius, and I must mention this. I was conversing with my good friend Tony Grant, the lead singer for the Temptations. We were in a discussion about why he always uses me to produce his music. I said ‘’why me’ he replied, “because you are anointed, my brother.’
Who are your musical influences? The Motown Sound, The Philadelphia Sound, The Chess Records Sound, Quincy Jones, Prince, Elton John, and many more.
In a social media society, many opinions are floating around about everything. Artists today have to deal with so much. How can you encourage other artists to deal with public criticism of your work? Some criticisms are both positive and negative, and critique is something you can grow from, but when it becomes hurtful, you just let it roll off your back because everybody has an opinion. Just take the things that can be useful and grow from them and ignore the rest.
Tell us about any awards you have won. I am proud to say I graduated from The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. I was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame there for Music and Media Entertainment. My name will forever be etched there. I also have a Grammy for participation in Beyonce's "Crazy In Love, The Remix."
Have you recorded any albums/singles, and if you have, what are their names, and what are they about? I recently released a smooth jazz single in November titled "As Time Flies." It's about how I have triumphed as a musician. The piano tells the story. You can find it on all streaming platforms under Diggy Dubai.
Tell me about your latest project, The Family Business, and how you were chosen as a composer. Is it out now, and where can people view it? Well, I was the lead composer on The Family Business Season 4, chosen by Trey Haley of Tri Destined Studios, who found me on Instagram, a great conversation took place, and things were rolling. The project took three months to complete, having two episodes a week to score. The process was grueling at times because of tight deadlines, but I was able to handle it like the professional I am. Communication played a big part in scoring this project. Trey and I worked well together, and his vision is unmatched as a director. His favorite phrase was "finesse the scene." You can find The Family Business on BET+, streaming now.
Do you have any upcoming shows? Yes, I will be scoring a few films in April, and I plan to travel to Dubai to work on scoring music for a new movie.
What advice would you give to new musicians/ film composers entering this changing industry? I suggest they study the greats, read about your craft, and master your equipment. It's crucial in this fast-paced world to also use social media to their advantage, message filmmakers and producers even if you get a not at this time, or no response at all. It's okay. Try the next one.
Post your songs on sites like Apple Music and Soundcloud so people can hear your scores or soundtracks. Be relentless and pray for that blessing. Join social media film groups and director's groups. And lastly, your sound is your brand. You have to brand daily. Your arsenal of sounds is essential. You must invest and spend almost your last dime to have that cinematic sound.
Nobody will hire you if you are using stock sounds from the manufacturer, well, maybe. Write letters to companies that sell music plugins and suggest that you are a composer and would like to use their sounds in your upcoming film. They may go for it. Fly out to some music conventions like, (NAMM) the National Association of Music Merchants, or film festivals, where you can meet tons of film directors, actors, and producers. Some of my professional contacts to date are from film festivals. You cannot be afraid to sell yourself, be your walking billboard, and let people know you are hotter than fish grease.
Thank you so much for your time. I pray that God will bless the works of your hands, be it done according to His will for your life. Keep up the great work, and never stop giving God all the glory. Thank you for blessing the world with your talent.
Rob Diggy (@composer4filmz) • Instagram photos and videos
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All Rob Diggy Morrison, photo credits by Felix Namts