Helmet’s Page Hamilton talks about the 20th anniversary of “Betty” and scoring films

Page Hamilton Music (www.pagehamiltonmusic.com)

Page Hamilton is the lead singer and guitarist for the band Helmet. The band is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary of hit album “Betty”. Page has also collaborated on numerous film scores like “Heat” and also recently created an original score for the film “Sons of Liberty”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Page about music, movies and Helmet’s anniversary tour.

Mike Gencarelli: How is it going from playing with Helmet to collaborating on film scores like “Heat” and “Titus” with Elliot Goldenthall?
Page Hamilton: Playing our music live is physically demanding, there’s no coasting with backing tracks or candlelit, acoustic-sit-down sections in the set, and with a 70+ song repertoire remembering lyrics and certain guitar parts can be challenging. Working with Elliott is a whole different kind of challenge. Sometimes he has concrete ideas and colors he describes or sings to me, sometimes there are written parts and other times he wants me to ad-lib. Elliott works with very talented people, there is a lot of trust in the room; it feels like a brilliant family that adopted me to come in and mess up Elliott’s beautiful music. Teese, Joel, Rick, Lawrence etc. are all amazing people to work with. Also Julie Taymor (Elliott’s wife and director extraordinaire) has been there for the movies of hers I’ve worked on: “Titus”, “The Tempest” and “Across the Universe”. I love working with them.

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from your upcoming compilation album of your own film scores?
PH: I chose to do new mixes of about 40 cues from the 1st 3 movies I scored for Mudbrick media in Mobile, Alabama. When we’re doing music for a scene obviously the director has ideas regarding what works and what doesn’t for each scene but he gives me a lot of freedom to experiment. We disagree from time to time so I wanted mixes for my compilation that I dug compositionally, i.e. remove the visual imagery & dialog and make sure the music is still interesting. In many cases I put back parts I had removed for him and even added a few things. I wrote, recorded, programmed & mixed everything so it’s pretty, low-tech and raw with a fair amount of my guitar mess spilling over the rim.

MG: How do did you approach your original score for the film “Sons of Liberty” and how did it compare to your other scores?
PH: I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Patrick Kirst for several years, we wrote the “Sons of Liberty” score together, though it was mostly a dropbox collaboration between Hollywood (my place) & Venice (his place). He brings a lot of film scoring experience so I bounce music bits off his stubborn German brain & classical music ears and then create sounds that annoy him, sonically, melodically and harmonically. That’s what they get for hiring a noise-metal guitarist.

MG: This year is the 20th anniversary of “Betty”, which was (and still is) a sick album; how can you reflect on this album?
PH: We’re 20 shows into our European “Betty” tour, it’s not an easy album to pull off live but it’s been really fun to perform. I had to work on a variety of guitar and vocal sounds to get the vibe we had on the recording. I remember everyone having an idea about what we should do after the success of “Meantime”, they wanted “Meantime” part ll but it’s not in my nature to rewrite songs. Fortunately my bandmates were on board and contributed in a big way. Either that or they were just humoring me.

MG: Looking back on 1994 in general, why do you think it was such an epic and important year for music?
PH: I’m not sure though part of it has to do with the strong indie rock scene from the previous 10 + years. Labels like Am Rep, Discord, SST, Blast First and Touch & Go had a lot of good bands that could develop without industry interference. When the demand grew, major labels saw money to be made so a bunch of us signed deals to get paid & quit our bartending jobs. We didn’t know any better so we (more or less) continued as if we were still on Am Rep. Maybe this was the case with other indie bands as well? Melvins and The Pixies come to mind.

MG: How did you get involved working with Linkin Park on their new song “All for Nothing”, from their latest album The Hunting Party?
PH: They contacted my manager in NY and asked if I’d do some guest vocal & guitar bits on their new album. I met with the guys and liked them a lot. They played me a bunch of new songs including “All for Nothing”; I couldn’t get that chorus out of my head. I really enjoyed their recording process and had a great time.

MG: You are currently on tour with Helmet across Europe; tell us what we can expect from the tour and any plans for US dates?
PH: We’re playing the “Betty” album beginning to end followed by a second set of material including songs from “Strap it On”, “Meantime”, “Aftertaste”, “Size Matters”, “Monochrome” and “Seeing Eye Dog”. I’ve always wanted to tour without any opening bands so this is it; 30-35 songs a night. We have some east coast US “Betty” dates booked for December.

MG: What else do you have planned for the rest of the year and in store for 2015?
PH: I’ll be in the south of France producing a French band between the Europe & US “Betty” dates. We have a movie lined up for early next year and I plan to finish writing and recording a new Helmet album. I’ll continue to flounder around with my Jazz Wannabes group back east and my good NYC pals M’Lumbo have asked me to sit in for some recording and a few live gigs.

Austin Wintory talks about scoring video games like “Journey” and the concert “Mythos”

Austin Wintory is a composer known best for his scores to the acclaimed video game titles “flOw” and “Journey”. His score for “Journey” was the first video game to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Austin is currently taking the role of conductor for the upcoming concert called “Mythos”, which is a 70 minute continuous musical presentation played by a 15 piece classical ensemble performing live the music of composers for Film, TV and Video Games. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Austin about the concert and what can we expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with conducting the concert “Mythos”?
Austin Wintory: “Mythos” is a concept I first had in 2011, which I conducted as part of a fundraiser for my non-profit Education Through Music – Los Angeles. The idea behind it was to mix together some of the most interesting, engaging music in today’s scene, totally regardless of the media from which it came. I was approached by Peter Sachon about performing video game music during New York Comic Con, and pitched back the idea of reprising “Mythos.” And here we are!

MG: Having done scores for video games like “flOw” and “Journey”; was this a natural transition for you?
AW: Yes I’m fortunate to have lots of conducting opportunities, which I love taking advantage of in the midst of composing commissions. I grew up conducting in concert, but eventually my primary outlet for it was in the recording studio for films or games, so the onslaught of concerts lately has been a joyous return!

MG: When you did the score to “Journey”, did you ever think that this would become a Grammy-nominated score and the only video game every to be nominated in the “Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media” category?
AW: Needless to say, not in the slightest. And now, almost two years later, it’s not really sunken in. It’s no less surreal than it was that day.

MG: What is the video game(s) that influenced you to do what you do?
AW: The infectious and witty nature of Tim Schafer’s games was a big part of my early gaming, and the music Peter McConnell wrote for them was basically the first game music I truly loved. It all culminated in Grim Fandango, which I think is one of the greatest games ever made, and with a score to match. It’s such soulful, passionate music and all around brilliant game.

MG: Why do you think that 8-bit music has stood the test of time and still resonates with fans?
AW: Chiptunes, those authentic early 8-bit hardware-based scores, were a huge musical contribution. There was nothing really like it before then. Electronic music was, before then, an extension of either the classical or rock scenes, using analog synths and tape manipulation and such. This, in games, was something now totally different. I think a big part of why it still resonates today is that the music was forced to distill a lot of dramatic intention into a very narrow bandwidth. But also a lot of game developers AND gamers alike are nostalgic to the games – and game scores – of their childhoods. So it’s gotten a revival as children of the 80s now enter the mainstream of professional game development.

MG: Can you tell us about little bit about what we can expect from upcoming game “ABZÛ”?
AW: Only that it’s still very early, and a massive delight to be re-teaming with Journey’s art director Matt Nava. I’m very very excited about this one!

MG: What can you tell us about your project “Our Curiosity”?
AW: This was a really special and wonderful experience. I’m a die-hard about NASA and scientific literacy in the general public, and this opportunity emerged to pay tribute to the Curiosity Mars Rover. An old friend, astrobiologist Jeff Marlow, had been working directly with the Curiosity team and so were able to get green lit to produce the tribute. We co-wrote the script, and then recorded our two narrators, actress Felicia Day, and acclaimed science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson. After that I wrote the score around the VO performances, and recorded it with a fantastic orchestra in Nashville. We co-directed the film and tossed it back to NASA who put it on YouTube. I like to think of it as an officially-sanctioned fan love letter.

MG: What else do you have in the works for the rest of the year and 2015?
AW: Lots and lots! But I will say, *hopefully* more Mythos performances!

Kevin Riepl talks about scoring the film “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”

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.

John Ottman Talks about editing and scoring “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

John Ottman is known best for his roles of editor and also composer on numerous films including “The Usual Suspects”, “X2”, “Jack and the Giant Slayer, “Superman Returns” and most recently “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with John again about working with Bryan Singer and returning to the “X-Men” franchise.

Mike Gencarelli: Having score “X2” and now “X-Men: Days of Future Past”; tell us about returning to the franchise and about your approach to this score?
John Ottman: “X2” was one of my first big movies that I got to tackle. I always look back at those times very fondly because that exhibits an exciting time in my life. It was also a film that went very smoothly for all of us involved. I looked forward to going back into the series, especially since musically I had themes that I always wanted to go back to but wasn’t able to because we didn’t stick around for the third film. In the score for “X2”, I wrote a lot of motifs that I had planned to put somewhere in the next movie. So it always irked me that I wasn’t able to complete what I started. So this film came me an opportunity to pick up where I left off with “X2”. Naturally, it is a different kind of story, a little more modern, and also eleven years later. So I was just really excited that I got to preserve my themes.

MG: Since the film takes place in the past and the future; what was it like combining those two different sounds into one cohesive score?
JO: That is the trick actually to make it all cohesive. But because there is such a vast difference between the past and the future, it wasn’t that difficult to work with because the score was actually set the difference between the two time periods. In the 70’s, I got to infuse some analog synthesizer sound, some electric piano and guitar and so forth. So, that was actually really fun for me to do.

MG: What was your biggest challenge on “”X-Men: Days of Future Past”?
JO: Time travel [laughs]. I have said this in a few interviews. When I look back at this movie, I think about a Whac-A-Mole game. With time travel, you Whac-A-Mole to solve one problem and then create another. We just kept whacking and whacking until the smallest mole comes up that we could live with. Since you can never solve every issue. Really my job was to build consensus and really fight for things I thought we needed to do in the movie. That is how I look back on my experience on the movie basically. There was a lot of passion pleases to do certain things [laughs]. It was a very complicated film. The main challenge was the keep the story clear given all the convolution of the various situations.

MG: This is your seventh film working with Bryan Singer; what keeps you guys coming back together?
JO: I guess good stories and scripts. He keeps telling me to edit his films otherwise he won’t let me score them [laughs]. It is the blackmail that keeps us together.

MG: Speaking of the editing, as with “X2” and many other films, you took on the role of editor as well as composer; tell us about this other aspect of working on the film?
JO: The short story is that when we did out first feature film way back, “Public Access”, which won the Sundance Film Festival. I came on as the editor on the film and also ended up writing the score as well. So when we put “The Usual Suspects” deal together, I said “I just want to write the score” and Bryan said “Hell no, you are going to edit the film as well”. He saw the symbiosis that occurs when you do both jobs. Basically the same story just continues through today. He prefers that I leave my scoring career and go into what I call “editing jail” for two years. Both tasks are telling the story and if they are both being done by the same person it can bring better clarity into the storytelling.

MG: What is your next project and what can we expect next?
JO: Life [laughs]. A life. I purposely did not line anything up after this. I didn’t want to jump right into another project. After “Jack and the Giant Slayer” and then “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, it was three solid years and I need to take a break. I am sure I will get itchy and start looking in a few months but then again maybe not [laughs].

 

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Matthew Llewellyn talks about scoring the film “Deep In The Darkness”

Photo credit: Fitz Carlile

Matthew Llewellyn has various on films like “Dead Souls” for the Chiller Network as well as additional music for “John Dies At The End” and even the video game “Far Cry 3”. His latest film, “Deep In The Darkness” is premiering on Chiller Network on May 23rd. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Matthew about scoring film and also working with composer Brian Tyler.

Mike Gencarelli: You mentored with Brian Tyler, who is an amazing composer, how did that come about?
Matthew Llewellyn: A good friend of mine Bob Lydecker, who I attended graduate school with at the University of Southern California referred me. He was Brian’s assistant at the time and they needed some extra help in the studio so he gave me a call. After getting my feet wet with projects like “Final Destination 5” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” I continued working there for a few years. It wasn’t always easy but I definitely had a blast.

MG: Tell us about how you ended up composing the film “Deep In The Darkness” for Chiller Network?
ML: I’ve worked with director Colin Theys and Synthetic Cinema International for a handful of years now scoring Colin’s previous films for Chiller, “Dead Souls” and “Remains”.

MG: When you score a horror film, tell us about your approach to finding the sound?
ML: Whenever I sit down to write a score I always focus on the thematic material first. After Colin and I spotted “Deep In The Darkness” we talked at lengths about what characters and/or places will have themes. We eventually decided upon the following themes:

Michael’s Theme – “Back into the Light”, “Ashborough Assimilation”
Michael’s Contemplative Theme (Secondary) – “A Good Fit”
Ashborough Theme – “Welcome to Ashborough”
Lady Zellis’ Theme – “Don’t Trust Lady Zellis”
Isolates’ Motif – “Infiltrating the House”

Most are very melodic aside from the Isolates’ motif, which is a creepy pulsating string cluster that returns whenever the Isolates are present. After all of the themes were approved I went through the film and mapped out how they would evolve with the story. When the musical framework was in place I dove into writing individual cues.

MG: What would you say was your biggest challenge on this project?
ML: I would say the shear amount of work. I composed and orchestrated every single note of the score so the sound you’re hearing is 100% me.

MG: Now for a relatively hard one…favorite score of all time and favorite score last/this year?
ML: Tough question indeed! I think my favorite score of all time is John Williams’ “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” with his score for “Hook” a close second. E.T. is one of those incredible filmmaking moments where the perfect score was written for the perfect movie and I’m confident that it will go down in history as one of the greatest film scores ever written. It has become iconic and a staple for the term “movie magic”. Whenever I hear the “Bike Chase” ostinato start in the last reel of the film I just smile because I know something amazing is about to happen. I was fortunate to see John Williams conduct the last reel of E.T. to picture at the Hollywood Bowl a couple years ago; it was definitely something I will never forget.

I just saw the new “Godzilla” film the other night and I have to say Alexandre Desplat’s score is absolutely incredible. That definitely takes the cake for my favorite score of the last year. It’s not overly thematic but it is full of brilliant writing and orchestration. I loved his work on “Grand Budapest Hotel” as well.

MG: What else do you have on the cards upcoming?
ML: I’m currently working for Brian Tyler on “The Expendables 3”. I have a few other things in the pipeline at the moment but they are hush-hush.

 

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Heitor Pereira talks about scoring “Despicable Me 2” and 2015’s “Minions”

Heitor Pereira is a musician who has worked with bands like Simply Red, Elton John, Jack Johnson. He is also a composer who has worked on films like the “Despicable Me” series and and “The Smurfs series”. He is also gearing up to compose the upcoming “Despicable Me” spin-off “Minions”m which is due out in 2015. Media Mikes had the pleasure to chat with Heitor about his work on the “Despicable Me” series and his work with kid/family films.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you approach the score to “Despicable Me 2” and how did it differ if any from working on the first film?
Heitor Pereira: With the first one there was a lot of time spent looking for the right tone and themes. I was also trying to find my way of incorporating some of Pharrell’s material into the score. It worked to a point but I still had to find the right themes for the Minions, the bag guys etc. I got to work together with Pharrell quite a bit on the first film and I would say that there was a lot of influence from him in my score actually. In the second film, for scheduling reasons and other things the job was more divided. He wrote the songs and I completely wrote the score. My goals were to find out how to take advantage of Pharrell’s great energy in the score. The new one was all about discovering the melodies that would go hand and hand with the old melodies for the Gru and the girls. Additional I had to find the tones for Lucy, the purple Minions, El Macho and his three different incarnations. The process I focused on was to try and keep the original themes of the main characters and still at the same time create new music.

MG: Sticking with this franchise, tell us about what we can expect from “Minions” next and how do you plan to approach?”
HP: Coincidentially, I just had a meeting with the directors and it is a completely different project. I won’t say much because the fun is actually the surprise. I also can’t say much about the score because I haven’t written a note yet [laughs]. I saw parts of the movie since it is not yet finished and I know that it is so different and it is definitely going to generate different music, which makes it more fun for me. So I am very excited about getting started.

MG: Besides the “Despicable Me” series, you’ve worked with tons of other kid/family films; what draws you to this genre?
HP: Look, I ask that same question to myself. I am be very dark also [laughs]. It seems like people prefer me smiling [laughs]. I could tell you that soon this will turn around and I will show how bad I am [laughs] but this is a profession and I am sure it will come around. What is nice is that I am a family man myself, I have two kids and I love making this type of music. It is a part of my life right now and I am not neglecting it, I am living it and enjoying the opportunities to the full. I am telling you though that orchestrally it is actually much more demanding than live-action. In terms of composition, because it is animation, the picture changes a few times a week. So that means that the music also changes very frequently. So it is a very challenging world but I love it.

MG: What else is in the cards for 2014?
HP: It’s funny because IMDB lists me as composing “Alvin and the Chipmunks 4″…but I am not unless someone hasn’t told me yet [laughs]. But I am actually have a film called “If I Stay”, which is directed by R.J. Cutler who does TV’s “Nashville”. It is not for little people at all. It is with Chloë Grace Moretz. It is a beautiful movie and very sad but perfect for me. Things are mixing up a little bit, so I am very lucky.
 

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David Schwartz talks about scoring “Arrested Development”

David Schwartz is known best for scoring the TV series “Arrested Development”. He was nominated in the 2013 Emmy for the Outstanding Music Composition for A Series for Original Dramatic Score for the show’s revival on Netflix. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with David about his work on the show.

Mike Gencarelli: Were you shocked when you found out that you were nominated for an 2013 Emmy for the Outstanding Music Composition for A Series (Original Dramatic Score) category?
David Schwartz: More surprised than shocked. It was particular great to be nominated for Arrested Development. Comedies are rarely nominated in the Original Dramatic Score category. I think the category represents a lot of great music this year, so I’m proud to be a part of it.

MG: Working on “Arrested Development”, how does it compare to be working on the first run of the show and now the Netflix series?
DS: It’s been a little different in some ways we were doing all 15 shows at once. In the first three seasons, we’d usually have about a week to turn around a show, finish it, and then immediately start on the next one. During season 4, we were often dealing with multiple shows at the same time. The episodes being longer also allowed me to further develop some musical ideas which wasn’t possible in the shorter format.

MG: What was the most challenge aspect of working on season four?
DS: After six years it was a challenge to get back into that musical head space. Once I had rough cuts and was writing it for real, it all came back to me.

MG: Going from a TV series like “Arrested Development” to a documentary like “Gonzo: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson”, how does it compare?
DS: The Gonzo documentary was a really fun project. Alex Gibney, the director, really encouraged me to write bold and wild music in the spirit of of Hunter Thompson himself. Often documentary music is subtle and plays in the background. Alex inspired me to write bolder and more challenging music for this film.

MG: Tell us about your work with Lucy Schwartz on her upcoming full length record?
DS: I’m very proud of the work Lucy and I did together on her new Timekeeper record. I think these are her best songs yet and we had a great time producing this record together.

MG: Of all the great scores of 2013 so far, what has been some of your favorites?
DS: I’m still catching up on this year’s scores. I was a big fan of Michael Dynna’s “Life of Pi” score and Thomas Newmann’s score for “Skyfall”

MG: What else do you have in the cards for this year and on wards?
DS: I’m working on the soundtrack album for Arrested Development. It’s going to have some extended versions of the more popular songs from Arrested. There are some scoring projects in the works, but I won’t talk about it and risk jinxing it until it’s final.

Roque Baños talks about scoring the new “Evil Dead”

You may have heard composer’s Roque Baños work in films like “The Machinist” and “Fragile” but he recently made his U.S. film debut with scoring “Evil Dead”. His score is not only amazing it is down right terrifying. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Roque about his work on the film and what we can expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with scoring “Evil Dead”?
Roque Baños: I sent a message to Fede Alvarez by Facebook. We didn’t know each other and I introduced myself to him thinking that he might not have any idea about me and my work. We answered very excited saying that he knew my work very well and he loved it. From there we started a very hard obstacle race to get the score. He temped the lock picture with my music from other movies and everyone was agreed that I should be the composer.

MG: How does it feel to have created a score that literally scares its viewers?
It is very satisfactory, seeing how the music does with the movie and the audience react to that in the way you were looking for. Our proposal was to create the most terrifying score you’ll ever hear.

MG: Tell us about the use of sirens in the score?
RB: I always look for a unique sound in a score that makes it special, as it was with the theremin in “The Machinist”, or a wolf-ghost-like sound in “Intruders”. So in Evil Dead, I wanted a sound that really freaked out the people. At the beginning of the process I was really scared for the movie, and couldn’t sleep for two weeks! I was hearing sirens very late at night in the city, and I thought this could be a good option to make the pope really scared. I tried an acoustic siren and Fede loved it! Me too, actually, each time the siren sounds, everyone is frighten!

MG: With your work on “The Machinist” and “Fragile”; what do you enjoy most about creating scary music?
RB: For me the most satisfying aspect of if is that you can experiment a lot with the music. Scary movies allows that more than any others, and I love that.

MG: Did you get any inspiration from the past “Evil Dead” films?
RB: I knew the very well, but I didn’t use any of them for inspiration. I just try to start from zero-point when I have to compose a new score for a film, that’s the way I think it gets more freshness on it. Fede and I talked a lot about that, and our goal was to create a “classical” score for the movie, more similar to those from the 80’s but with a modern sound on it.

MG: What was your biggest challenge on this score?
RB: To not repeat any music, or get boring with it. To try to caught the audience and stick them to their seat without letting them even breath. And of course, to get an emotion coming out from everyone, beside of the scare.

MG: Do you have plans to work with Fede Alvarez again in the future?
RB: Of course!! We have became very close friends and we have talked already about our next protect together. I wish it happens! Fede is a great director, very talented and very comfortable to work with.

MG: How does this project compare from your past score work?
RB: I believe this score is a resume of all my work since my first movie. I’ve truly put all my knowledge on it, and so far, I consider it my best one. It contains emotion, action, fear, despair…

MG: What do you have lined up next?
RB: I’ve done a couple of movies from Spain since there, and still trying to decide my best option to be next in the US.

Lucas Vidal talks about scoring “Fast & Furious 6”

If you are a fan of film scores, then you are going to want to keep an eye out for Lucas Vidal. At the young age of 28, Lucas is taking over Hollywood with his fantastic talent. Last year, he scored the film “The Raven” with John Cusack and this year he took on the score for one of the biggest films of the year “Fast & Furious 6”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lucas about taking over this franchise and his work on the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got attached to score “Fast & Furious 6”?
Lucas Vidal: Universal called me and said they wanted me to meet for the film. So I went for the meeting and sent them a couple of tracks from my other films and they really liked them. So that was how it started. This was going back to last year about eight months ago.

MG: How much time does it take for you to prepare for a film of this scale?
LV: Oh, a lot of time. I had to watch all the previous films, analyze them and also their scores. I had to study the sound of the franchise. It took me about a month at least just to make sure that I was ready.

MG: You became one of the youngest composer to ever score a major studio picture of this scale; how does that feel and does it compare with its own pressures?
LV: There is a little pressure yes, since now people are looking closely at my career. But I am good and I am very happy with it. The most important thing is to stay focused and keep working. The best thing is that I am learning from some really talented people, like the best orchestrators, music editors etc in the business. So that is the best part. Yes,  am young but I am learning a lot in the process.

MG: How was it following great artists like Brian Tyler, David Arnold and BT?
LV: They are all really good composers. I just tried to do my best, while also respecting their work as well. I was very fortunate to be able to be a part of this franchise. I respect them a lot and for me it was like a privilege. It was an honor.

MG: How do you feel that “Fast & Furious 6” differs from the past films in the series?
LV: It is similar to the others, yet still different. This one has a certain European feel to it. There is also a lot of electronic music.

MG: Tell us about your biggest challenge on this score?
LV: I had to also respect the theme song from the past films, as well. So that to me was the biggest challenge. I was doing something new but at the same time respecting the franchise.

MG: What was the timeline on this project from beginning to end?
LV: I think it was at least six months. It was pretty intense. There were five film editors involved, so there was a lot of people working on the film and the picture was constantly changing.

MG: After “Fast & Furious 6”, what do you have planned next?
LV: I am scoring a film called “Mindscape” and I have a project for the Boston Ballet. Then I have about three or four other films coming up as well. So I am going to be busy, man!

Christopher Tyng talks about scoring the TV series “Futurama”

Christopher Tyng is a composer that has worked on various television series including “Futurama”, “Suits” and “Rescue Me”. With Volume 7 of “Futurama” hits Blu-ray and DVD this month, he is releasing a brand new remix version of the “Futurama” theme on iTunes. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Christopher about working on the show and his influences over the years.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get involved composing for “Futurama”?
Christopher Tyng: It all started with Matt Groening when he was searching for the style of music for the show. He has heard some of the stuff that I had done prior. He called and asked for a meeting. He was getting a lot of demos from other musicians but I guess they liked what they heard on mine. The rest is history, as I have been with this show for the last 10 years. Matt is a great person to work with.

MG: What is some of your inspiration that you pull from for this show?
CT: The visual aesthetics of the show goes back to the 50’s/60’s idea of what the future will be like. So we really wanted the music to reflect the same thing. We were looking at the hey-day of bachelor pad space age music. That was the music version of what they thought the future would be. The synthesizers were just started to get popular. There was this whole new pallid of sounds. People were also trying to stretch the boundaries of what music was then. We looked at what was happening with music at that time, so some of the influences were Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Of course then the show also takes place in the year 3000, so even though it has that visual aesthetic of that 50’s/60’s era, it takes place way in the future. We wanted to take those influences and modernize them a bit. Matt has always been a bit component of having a orchestra and doing it live. I was able to go back and do some remixing with electronica music, so we brought in that element as well. It is really a nice hodge-podge of elements in our influence.

MG: How do you do to differentiate the score season to season?
CT: That is a really good question! What is really great about “Futurama” – and different from any other show that I have worked on – is that in each episode, the story is set in the future where anything in possible. The show gets its story lines from pop culture reference over the years. Every episode is like a different journey. That has actually made the music different from episode to episode. We have this big orchestral sound with this bachelor pad space-age sound. They go back to ancient Egypt and the music takes on that tone. What is really fun for me is that when I go in to record, I really don’t know what I am writing for the next week. Due to that aspect, my job has never gotten stale since it is always changing.

MG: Tell us about the new extended remix for the “Futurama” theme available on iTunes?
CT: We wanted something that was going to play at a longer length for the iTunes release. We are excited that all the fans of “Futurama” are finally going to be able to own this piece of music in their collection. The TV scenes always tend to be a little shorter and don’t play the full single track. Some parts of the remix actually go back to the original premiere of the show at Griffith Observatory, which is this circular dome at the top of Hollywood. They had a DJ there and I decided to come up with some music for the DJ to spin. So there is actually some stuff on this single that I did way back then that was never able to been released. We were able to take all those elements and made it into a really great single length release.

MG: How composing for a cartoon compare to your other TV work?
CT: For shows like “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”, it isn’t the traditional cartoon music like the old-school Warner Bros. In the show there might be an epic space battle with deep comedic irony involved. But the music will always stay like it is an epic space battle. I thought originally that getting involved with a cartoon would be a totally different mindset. In truth though, the shows aims to play the aspects of the music like they are completely legitimate. If they are doing an emotionally intense moment, then the orchestra swells in a “Braveheart” sort of way. We are treating the show like we are scoring an epic movie even though the characters are doing something so ridiculous. That is what makes “Futurama” such an interesting project to work on due to the fact that it has such a wide set of influences.

Terrance Zdunich talks about Scoring and Playing Lucifer in “The Devil’s Carnival”

Terrance Zdunich is known best for playing the Graverobber in “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, his first collaboration with Darren Lynn Bousman.  The duo recently re-teamed on their new film “The Devil’s Carnival”.  Media Mikes has a chance to chat with Terrance about the film, it’s music and their city tour.

Mike Gencarelli: Where did you come with the idea for this film?
Terrance Zdunich: After Darren and I collaborated on “Repo! The Genetic Opera” 4 years ago, we knew we wanted to do another musical project. We looked around for awhile and eventually came up with this idea that really stuck with us. We knew that this was something we were now going to invest the next few years of our life creating and promoting. As far as the concept for I think it came out of a love for amusement park dark rides. Rides like Disney’s The Haunted Mansion where you get a really cool immersive experience. I thought of how cool it would be to create a world where it felt like you’re moving through one of those rides. That was the emphasis and “The Devil’s Carnival” grew out of that.

MG: Can you tell us about your character Lucifer in the film?
TZ: Who doesn’t want to play the devil [laughs]? I think it’s a character I sort of sympathize with in some ways. He is the ultimate rebel. He was punished for questioning authority and as an artist that kind of spoke to me. I wanted to do a take on the character that maybe has not been done before. I thought that what if hell tries to do what heaven does and offer redemption. That would be the most rebellious act of the dark world. Put heaven out of business.

MG: Can you give us some background on the soundtrack?
TZ: Like with “Repo”, you can listen to it and get one experience or idea of the world. When you see the songs attached to the imagery they will take on new and hopefully better doings. When you are doing a film where music is part of narrative it comes down to what are the stories, which are the characters and what is the heart of what they are doing? We then try to put all that to music. We had to distill what a song would sound like for each element in the film. The song “Trust Me” takes the theme of the Aesop’s Fable story “The Scorpion and the Frog”. We knew that character had to be seductive in gaining ones trust.

MG: Can you tell us about the song “In All My Dreams I Drown”?
TZ: That song is one of the last ones we wrote. Up until about two months before filming there was only going to be nine songs on the album. We had originally envisioned a world where only the carnies sang. Darren and I thankfully changed that idea. It was a challenge to write a song for the Tamara character to where it seemed like she was singing in a dream. We came up with the idea of Lucifer representing all the men in her life. He really is the ultimate bad boy. We did a lot of research when writing that song.

MG: How do you feel this film compares to your work on “Repo! The Genetic Opera”?
TZ: We knew that this was going to get compared to “Repo” no matter what we did. On one hand we wanted to live up to what fans love about that film. While on the other hand we really wanted to do something new. With “Repo”, the music was really a futuristic industrial sound. We used a lot of modern instrumentation and sounds. With “The Devil’s Carnival”, we decided to make everything sound like it was from the past. We used no electronic instruments. Everything is acoustic. I think tuba is the main instrument featured on the songs.

MG: Is there any truth to this film being the first in a series?
TZ: That is absolutely true. This film is a little over an hour. Even though this film is a contained story we left it open to grow. The second film is actually already written. This story just continues to grow. The fact that we are using something like Aesop’s Fables gives us some 600 story lines to use. If the tour ends up being successful and the people respond we are chomping at the bit to do another one.

Lucas Vidal talks about scoring “The Raven”

Lucas Vidal is the composer for the new horror/thriller “The Raven”.  Later this Fall, he is also composing the new action film “The Cold Light of Day”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lucas about his new score and inspiration behind it.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you incorporated Edgar Allen Poe’s legacy into your score for “The Raven”?
Lucas Vidal: The first thing I did when I started was to do research into Allen Poe’s life and state of mind in the film.  The music that he was listening to at the time.  When I spoke to the director (James McTeigue), he wanted to make sure that the music was something contemporary, not a period sound. We ended up getting into a really cool stage of creativity.  In fact we ended up doing really cool sounds for Allen Poe’s main theme.  We used an distorted electric guitar, which then interacts with the orchestra.  It helps the rhythm of the film a lot.  Overall it was a combination of real orchestra and electronics, since they were looking for a modern score.

MG: Did you have a lot of creative freedom working with “The Raven”?
LV: Yes, I did.  I was very open for ideas and suggestions though.  (James) McTeigue he knows what he is talking about, I mean he did “V For Vendetta”.  I was lucky to be able to learn a lot from a guy like that.  I was very opened-minded and yes I definitely had a lot of freedom on this project.

MG: What was your most challenging aspect for this score?
LV: I think to find the sound. Since McTeigue wanted something different than I expected.  The specific themes in the music are a lot of different than the movie. Once we got that got that down, it was a lot easier to start working.

MG: You also worked on the score for “The Cold Light of Day”, which is coming out this Fall; how do you feel it compares?
LV: The genre falls more under action for this one. There were a lot of big hits and rhythm in the orchestra.  “The Raven” was much darker.  I had a lot of of fun with both films.  We recorded in London at Abbey Road and we used a huge orchestra for both.  I think the approach was different but similar in the sense that it helps whats happening on the screen.

MG: When composing a film, what genres do you enjoy working in most?
LV: Well, I have done a lot of horror, thriller and action.  I would love to do more dramas and animation.  I love animation and dramas, like a really good drama!  A lot of dramas are orchestra driven and that is what I enjoy the most.

MG: Tell us about what you have upcoming?
LV: I cannot tell you right now, but I have a really cool movie coming up.  We are signing in the next day or two.  It is going to be very very interesting.

 

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