Kevin Riepl is the composer of horror films like “Silent Night”, “Contracted” and a segment from “The ABC’s of Death”. His latest film is the horror/thriller “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” directed by Kaare Andrews (Altitude and The ABCs of Death) and staring Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Currie Graham (Pompeii, NYPD Blue), Ryan Donowho (Soldiers of Fortune), Mitch Ryan (One Tree Hill) and Jillian Murray (Bad Ass). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about the score and working in the horror genre.
Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved to score the film “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”?
Kevin Riepl: I met the director, Kaare Andrews, when we worked together on his contribution to THE ABCs OF DEATH, “V for Vagitus”. When I heard he was selected to helm CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO I was eager to have a chance to work with him again. Likewise for Kaare, so we submitted my reel to the producers and once they were on board, we were all set to go.
MG: Did you look back at the previous two films for any ideas?
KR: I refreshed myself a little bit with the first film’s score. As much as we wanted to create something new, we also wanted to carry over some of the ‘rawness’ of Nathan Barr’s score and incorporate a lot of scratching and dissonance in the string instruments.
MG: What was your biggest challenge you faced with this film and was this score unique in any way from your previous scores?
KR: I think the main challenge on the film (even though it wasn’t really a big challenge) was coming up with and deciding on the palette for the score and what style would best support the story and its setting. I do believe this score is unique from any of my previous scores and that is because this film is different from previous films I’ve scored. Yes I’ve scored a decent amount of horror and thriller, but each of those has been artistically different from each other as well. A film’s story dictates the sound and style of the score. If you look back through my previous films many of the scores are quite different and unique to the film. That’s the ultimate goal – to give each film its own sound. Of course it is a collaborative effort with the director since it’s their vision, but I try to bring ideas to the table that will help their vision stand out and be that much more unique.
MG: You have worked in the horror genre before with projects like “The ABCs of Death” and “Silent Night”; what do you love about the genre itself?
KR: It’s usually dark, gritty and fantastical. Ever since I started music at a young age I’ve always wanted to explore the darker side of music, melody and sounds. As much as I love writing all styles of music, it seems that the horror genre lets me experiment a little more when writing scores. Being a creative person, how can I pass that up?
MG: “Contracted” was a sick film BTW; tell us about your process for this film?
KR: CONTRACTED, indeed, was sick and A LOT of fun to work on. Eric England is a young director and has so much to offer the film world. It was great to work with him on this film. At the very start, Eric knew he didn’t want traditional ‘horror’ music. So we approached the score with a synthetic, almost ethereal sound to help support the main character’s innocence and naiveté, until of course things start to go south. At that point I start to include more grit and experimental sounds and rhythms to help throw the viewer off balance so they can feel as much angst as the main character does as she goes through her changes.
MG: How is it going from scoring video games to TV or film? Which is more challenging?
KR: I don’t find it to be challenging. It’s all music. Yes, there are specifics and deadlines you need to be concerned about during the process of creating for each medium, but in the end it’s still about coming up with ideas and you’re still supporting story and visuals. The most important thing and it is sometimes a challenge, is scheduling…especially when you have a video game, a TV show AND a film on your plate.
MG: What else do you have in the cards coming up next?
KR: I just recently completed the action thriller THE NIGHT CREW directed by Christian Sesma. Hopefully I will have more news concerning the release of the film and an official soundtrack. Other than that, I am currently working on Ubisoft’s and Signal Studios’ TOY SOLDIERS: WAR CHEST video game as well as a small independent feature.