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John Swihart

John Swihart’s contemporary scores are characterized by unique sounds and surprising instrument choices.

Raised in Bloomington, Indiana, he spent a portion of his formative years in Europe and Asia. While he had some musical training, he was not deeply absorbed by music until age 8; he discovered the saxophone, which he played exclusively before switching to guitar as a teenager. He was admitted to the renowned Berklee College of Music, in Boston. At Berklee, he was struck by the level of commitment of his classmates to immersing themselves in musical experimentation.

After years as a musical drifter (i.e., house painter, bike messenger, et al.) and performing in numerous bands, Mr. Swihart decided that it was time to put a studio together. While still working in corporate communications and advertising, he scored Emerson College student films. An audition for the Boston iteration of Blue Man Group led to his being hired for the show; he played the Chapman Stick, bass, guitar and the zither in the Boston and New York shows.

In Los Angeles, he scored a few independent films before composing the music to his breakout project, Jared Hess’ sleeper hit Napoleon Dynamite. His distinctive style has since been heard in, among other movies, Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt; Danny Leiner’s The Great New Wonderful; Katrina Holden Bronson’s Daltry Calhoun; Greg Coolidge’s Employee of the Month; David Mackenzie’s Spread; Jonas Elmer’s New in Town; Don Roos’ The Other Woman; Gil Cates Jr.’s Lucky, starring Ari Graynor of For a Good Time, Call…; and Stephen Sommers’ upcoming Odd Thomas, starring Anton Yelchin and based on the Dean Koontz books.

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