Carvin Knowles Biography

Carvin Knowles was born in Long Beach, California to a mixed ethnic, multicultural family of musicians. At the age of 6, his family moved to Oklahoma, where as a teenager, he became involved in the New Orleans-Tradition Marching Brass Band, "The T-Connection," playing funk and soul in a style that would eventually be banned as "indecent" in the city where he lived.

Carvin took his BMA in Music Composition from the University of Oklahoma in 1988, where he studied composition under film composer Michael Hennagin (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space) and Early Music under Dr. Eugene Enrico. His post-graduate studies have included classes in orchestration under Emmy® Award Winner Thom Sharp and master classes with opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti.


Carvin Knowles 2004. Photo by Jason Friedrich.
Inspired by the movie scores of Bernard Herrman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, Carvin flew to Hollywood the week after his graduation to compose music for film. In the years of struggle before his first break, Carvin worked on his unreleased opera "The Dream King," producing workshop performances and recordings.

In 1997, Carvin began producing albums for Oglio Records, a label dedicated to preserving the music of the '70s and '80s. Carvin was a contributing writer and producer for Oglio recording artists "Sex-O-Rama," who perform '70s-style funk with lots of wah-wah guitar grooves and "a bit too much bass." His production of "Porno-Style-Grooves" was so convincing that even his own mother believed that he was writing music for adult films.

Contrary to popular perception, Carvin did not write the music for "Debbie Does Dallas" or for any of the other 1970s pornos that are often attributed to him. When those films were made, Carvin would have been 10 years old. But despite the effect it had on Carvin's reputation, "Sex-O-Rama II" caught the attention of Paul Weitz, who directed "American Pie."


Carvin Knowles 2006.
Soon after his small taste of film success, Carvin began focusing on the music that he loved; Electronica, Funk and World Music. For several years, he was a part of Los Angeles' underground club scene, appearing "live" to play vintage Moog® synthesizers and theremin (a kind of primitive electronic instrument) or jazz trumpet and flute while the DJs kept the groove going. He has also continued his work writing and producing material for "Sex-O-Rama."

At the beginning of his film scoring career, Carvin was regarded as the go-to guy for any job that seemed too difficult, strange or controversial for other composers. While his first real break came with American Pie, his range has included Orchestral Score, Jazz, House, Jungle, Lounge, Dub, Breakbeat, Indie Rock, Blues, Ancient Music, World Music and, of course Funk. His love of controversy and his eclectic range led him to score Th!nkFilm's important 2005 documentary "F*ck" which explored issues of Freedom of Speech in Bush's America.

Carvin's music has appeared in over 25 feature films and a half-dozen documentaries.

His highly acclaimed first solo album, Hamsa, is a beat-driven fusion of Middle-Eastern music that features Turkish Ud, Egyptian and Indian percussion, vintage Moog® Synthesizers and a short-wave radio. HAMSA has been called "Infectiously Groovy" by the press.

In 2008, he formed the electronic duo, "The Nameless" with longime collaborator Adam Pike, and recorded the album Pareidolia, which was released on 4 July, 2013 on DMAFT Records. Pareidolia features House, Breakbeat, Nu-Funk and Dub, and was performed largely on vintage electronic instruments from the 1970s and '80s. On the Nu-Funk tracks, Carvin played all the brass instruments himself and contributed a flute solo on the track "WEFUNK."

Carvin currently lives in New Zealand, where he has recently written music for several episodes of Sir Peter Jackson's thehobbitblog.com.