At the age of 20, while he was studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Lucas Vidal was diagnosed with cancer. During his chemotherapy treatment, which he underwent in Madrid, he could only think about two things: eating snails and composing film music. The snails were soon replaced by ham and other delicacies, but the film scores have never stopped playing in his head.
Now 28, and a Los Angeles resident since 2009, he has written the music for 15 or so features, mostly American, but also Spanish titles such as Sleep Tight and Invasor. His most recent work is the soundtrack for Fast & Furious 6, the latest installment of the hit Hollywood car-racing/heist franchise, which cost $185 million and is released in Spain on Friday.
The piano entered Vidal’s life at a very young age — his father is also a musician and his grandfather was one of the founders of the record company Hispavox — and he immediately started improvising the finales to Mozart and Bach concertos. He also liked turning off the sound of the films he was watching and imagining the music that might be playing. “My mother punished me by not letting me play the piano,” he says.
But he shows no signs of being a young prodigy enjoying a glittering career in Hollywood. “Hollywood has zero glamour for me,” he says. “You work a lot. I get up very early, I go to the studio, I eat in front of the computer, I carry on working and then go to sleep. Only on Tuesdays do I let myself play ping-pong at a club.”
He admires the United States for the speed at which decisions get made and the opportunities for collaboration there. At the studio that he shares with his business partner Steve Dzialowski — he also now has a Madrid headquarters — three new commissions have just arrived from Los Angeles. “I’m now starting to choose projects, something that I hadn’t been able to manage until now,” he says, adding that he plans to juggle these jobs with his cello lessons in the coming months — he already plays the piano, flute and saxophone.
Although he describes himself as a complete “chicken,” his illness made him stronger and put him on the path of hard work to enable him to fulfill his dream.
“The key is work,” he says. “You have to knock on every door without leaving any out. Of the hundred you knock on, one opens and you sneak in through there.”