Local Spotlight: AJ Sorbello – Music Supervisor for “When War Comes Home”

“I set the tone from the beginning of the film or dj sets, then build from there that moves with the film, or what moves an audience in a club. Both will have breakdown moments that build tension, and after the build it resolves to the answer.” – AJ Sorbello

AJ Sorbello, originally from Sacramento, California, now residence here in Seattle as a Music Producer and DJ (also known as A.J. “Spider” Sorbello). Recently, he has worked on a film, When War Comes Home, as Music Supervisor while working with Director – Michael W. King and Music Composer – Jeff Beal. Sorbello’s part in this film was to be in charge of bringing the right music. Sorbello is intuitive when it comes to music and has made his has developed his passion of DJing into becoming a Music Supervisor, as well, for films.

Music Supervisor’s helps intensify the feelings brought out in the film by giving it a certain depth. What a Music Supervisor generally does is feel for the type of energy the film is and coordinates that with music that fits that style and mood in connection. Once the Music Supervisor finds the perfect match they then arranges the licenses and contracts with the artist and label.


When War Comes Home Synopsis

When War Comes Home is a documentary feature film focusing on the lives of these three soldiers returning from combat. They search for the courage to overcome their demons and painful memories of war. The crusading efforts of Seattle’s retired Four Star General Peter Chiarelli to find better solutions for treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury is an ongoing challenge to provide the help our Veterans need.

The film puts a “spotlight” on how secondary trauma inflicts the Veteran’s families and children. As such the film provides insight to how post-traumatic stress affects our nation as a whole.

This film is in association with the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, and the Warrior Canine Connection.



Q: How were you introduced to the film?

A: Michael King came to me after I had worked as an extra composer for his previous film The Rescuers. He gave me a new opportunity to work close on his latest film When War Comes Home. I decided it would be an honor to bring along my very talented band members Geoffrey Castle and Brian Fischer (Katori, formerly known as Fractal Music Works). I spent over a year and a half studying movies with a similar line of music. The one that stuck with me the most was House of Cards. I always came back to that to study. We all came to the conclusion that Katori wasn’t the right fit for this project. So Michael and I were on the hunt. We came across amazing talent, but still it takes the right glove to get the music right. Michael Calls me one day, and lists three composers. The 2nd option was Jeff Beal. Like a mic drop, I almost dropped the phone. This was the guy I’ve been studying for over a year. Needless to say, Michael agreed with this choice.

Q: What was it like working with Michael W. King, director for documentaries – The Rescuers and Rapping with Shakespeare, and working with Jeff Beal, whose worked on many documentaries and also know for Netflix drama – House of Cards?

A: This is the second film I have worked on for Michael King. He’s been a great friend, and a mentor to me. He always gave me insight on what type of instruments he would hear in particular scenes, and I grasped his ideas to combine them with my own.

Working with Jeff Beal was a breath of fresh air. The communication was smooth between us. He would present to me what he had done, and I would give him feedback, and immediately he knew exactly what I was looking for. He knew how to convey the message with the right instruments and set the tone right from the beginning. Having previously worked on the music, we discussed the cue points like when to begin and when to exit. His intuition was on point and he was very open minded to my ideas. We even worked on the credits song, to give it a jazzy hip-hop blues sound with a former rapper I worked with, Billy Shultz.

Q: What would you say has been the most rewarding thing, as a Music Supervisor, to come out from the films production?

A: Watching films throughout my life I’ve always appreciated the music and sounds that helped intensify the experiences. The most rewarding thing is having been a part of the creative process that help shape that same experience for someone else.

Q: What were your more challenging moments as Music Supervisor for WHEN WAR COMES HOME; and what was the outcome from those challenges?

A: Traveling back and forth between LA and Seattle less than 24 hours at a time. The outcome was successful!

Q: What are some professional differences and similarities you’ve experienced working between documentaries and producing your own music as DJ?

A: I can write an essay on this question, but I will shorten it to the micro and macro perspectives. The main differences from a micro perspective is you typically take a more directional approach to film because you are writing music to the scene. Club music isn’t written to a scene, but it’s written with freedom to create a vibe for people to dance to. Looking at music from a macro perspective, film and dance music are very similar. I set the tone from the beginning of the film or dj sets, then build from there that moves with the film, or what moves an audience in a club. Both will have breakdown moments that build tension, and after the build it resolves to the answer.

Q: What was the process you applied in your position for WHEN WAR COMES HOME?

A: I directed the composition, sound design, and engineering. Luckily I knew all the artists who performed. So getting the licensing wasn’t difficult.

On behalf of everyone at SeaDoc, thank you AJ for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us! We’ll keep an eye out for your next projects!

Please click the links below to find more information!

When War Comes Home Website

AJ Sorbello Music Facebook

AJ Sorbello IMdB