Carvin’s music has appeared in over 20 feature films.
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 of 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. His post-graduate studies have included classes in orchestration under Emmy® Award Winner Thom Sharp and master classes with opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti.
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 for Oglio’s “Sex-O-Rama” series that included ’70s-style funk with wah-wah guitar grooves and heavy 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.” His first big break came when he composed a produced the music for the infamous "Pie Scene" in "American Pie."
Soon after his small taste of independent film success, Carvin began focusing on the music that he loved. Electronica, Dub and World Music. For several years, he was a part of Los Angeles’ underground club scene, appearing “live” to play theremin (a kind of electronic instrument) or jazz trumpet or flute while the DJs kept the groove going.
From the beginning of his film scoring career, Carvin has been regarded as the go-to guy for any job that seemed too difficult, strange or controversial for other composers. His first real break came from playing Funk, but his range has included Orchestral Score, Jazz, House, Jungle, Lounge, Dub, Breakbeat, Indie Rock, Blues, Ancient Music and World Music. 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.
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.
Carvin currently lives in New Zealand.