The Leeds man who worked on music for the Sonic film and Netflix's White Lines

A Yorkshire man who has worked on the musical scores for the new Sonic the Hedgehog film and Netflix's White Lines has since been composing from his home in Leeds.

Friday, 10th July 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 10th July 2020, 4:48 pm
Jarrod Royles-Atkins, who has worked on the musical scoring of various TV and film projects.
Jarrod Royles-Atkins, who has worked on the musical scoring of various TV and film projects.

Jarrod Royles-Atkins, 26, had to frantically return home from his new life in Los Angeles - where he worked under the composer Junkie XL - when coronavirus took hold because his kidney condition, Minimal Change Disease, puts him at a higher risk.

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Mr Royles-Atkins started to play guitar when he was eight years old before getting to grips with computers and music software as he got older.

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A promotional image of Jarrod Royles-Atkins.

"I would always write my own things on it, never really knowing that's what I was doing," he said.

He spent five years at the Leeds College of music - two on a college course and three on a university course - before graduating in 2016.

It where he started to think seriously about writing music for film and was encouraged by his tutor, Brian Morrell, who told him that he did not need a "super classical" background to get into the industry.

Speaking about film scores, Mr Royles-Atkins said: "I've always loved the audience manipulation side - you're giving an emotion to the audience without them knowing."

He participated in the first version of Grammy-nominated producer and composer Tom 'Junkie XL' Holkenborg’s SCORE Academy, which teaches young people about the world of film scoring.

After being selected out of thousands of people to be on the course, Mr Royles-Atkins bagged a job with the producer alongside his now writing partner, Shwan Askari, who is from Switzerland.

This meant moving to Los Angeles in October 2018 - a major step for a young man who had never lived outside Leeds.

"It was a big shock at the start, being from Leeds," he said.

"I didn't even know how to drive and, basically, in LA everyone is driving constantly."

But "the team and my boss were really inviting," said Mr Royles-Atkins, adding that Mr Holkenborg asked him over for Thanksgiving just a short time after he began.

As part of his job, he has undertaken synth programming for this year's Sonic the Hedgehog film and 2019's Terminator: Dark Fate, while also writing additional music for White Lines, the Netflix series.

He has also worked on documentaries such as Lights in Dark Places, a short film by Vice in which Lily Cole reports on the refugee crisis in Greece.

But around a year ago he was diagnosed with Minimal Change Disease - a disorder where there is damage to a network of small blood vessels in a person's kidney, and given its name because the damage cannot be seen under a regular microscope.

He had developed heavy swelling in his legs and was mystified about what the issue was.

"It was all a very stressful time because we didn't know what was going on with my legs.

"I put on about three of four stone in water weight," he said.

Once diagnosed, Mr Royles-Atkins was prescribed the steroid prednisolone - its UK name - to aid his condition.

But the medication lowers the activity of the immune system, meaning he is "extremely vulnerable" to coronavirus, so he decided to fly home from a "rammed" LAX airport.

He said: "The situation was getting out of hand because I've got this kidney condition, [I thought] I'm going to have to go home.

"I got out two days before Trump closed the borders, so it was getting really hairy."

Since then, although he says his diagnosis was "a relief" when compared to other conditions, he has been working from his home studio in Rawdon.

He said: "It was a jarring experience. I'm still shielding now, I'm still recovering and still on steroids."

But come August 1, his time stuck indoors is due to end, when he finishes shielding.