1) 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE WAS A GREAT FILM WITH A PHENOMENAL SCORE.
WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPOSITIONAL APPROACH TO IT AS WELL AS ABOUT YOUR COLLABORATION WITH J.J ABRAMS
I was hired early in the process, before the film was cast. I spent time on the set in New Orleans, and really got to know director Dan Trachtenberg. We talked about Jerry Goldsmith’s “woodwind twinklies,” Cliff Martinez’s “bell tones,” and so on. We also focused on the use of solo instruments as a way of identifying a film score, particularly the Blaster Beam in “Star Trek: TMP,” (an instrument I actually included in this film), and the harmonica in “Once Upon a Time in the West” (that pointed me to the reedy timbre of yialli tanbur).
My guess is that J.J. took a couple days off after Star Wars came out, and then set his focus on 10 Cloverfield Lane, because he was very hands on, starting the first week of January. I had weekly meetings with him, Dan and the team at Bad Robot, where I brought my current demos into the big screening room. On the first day we met, J.J. started talking about Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. I was literally speechless. I didn’t even have a chance to tell him that he was citing two of my favorite composers ever, and that the music he was referencing had been etched into my childhood. The producers, Dan and I formed a solid bond over two months of experimenting. As the release date crept closer, I slept less and less, but my adrenaline and enthusiasm just kept amping up. I was high on music the entire time. I wrote a lengthy blog entry about the film, for anyone curious to get the nitty gritty details.
2) HOW DO YOU HANDLE WORKING ON SO MANY OVERLAPPING PROJECTS? YOU MUST HAVE AN INCREDIBLE TEAM OR YOU ARE SUPERHUMAN…OR BOTH?!!
I love the opportunity to focus on one project for a while, but ultimately I thrive on multitasking. I developed these skills working predominantly in television for a decade. Over that time, I taught myself how to switch gears effectively, and how to methodically manage my time. I also built up a superhuman (or is it ‘Inhuman?’) team at Sparks & Shadows, a group I rely on day in and day out to help me keep this insane train on the tracks.
The key to multitasking is to never panic. I tackle each new situation as a problem that has a solution. I may not know what the solution is yet, but it exists. I don’t believe in the ’no win scenario.’ #KobayashiMaru
3) YOU RECENTLY PERFORMED LIVE AT SONY’S E3 PRESS CONFERENCE. CAN YOU
COMMENT ON THE RISING DEMAND FOR LIVE PERFORMANCES OF MEDIA MUSIC?
About ten years ago, I began performing my scores to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ live in small rock clubs, and those performances escalated over the years into pretty epic concerts. Since then, I’ve been thrilled to see that film music performed live is becoming ‘a thing.’ I’m curious to see where this trends goes.
My performance of ‘God of War’ at Sony’s E3 Press Conference was different than many other live events you see popping up these days. This was a performance of entirely new music, played before the audience even realized what they were about to see. The music, then, had absolutely no nostalgic value. No one in the audience knew what it was. I was nervous that it might not be effective. In fact, I was thrilled to feel a tremendous energy from the audience. Conducting that main theme, and the following live gameplay, remains one of the most exciting 15-minutes of my life.
I am so grateful to Sony for putting their faith in me. ‘God of War’ is one of their biggest legacies, and with this new game, they are relaunching it for a new generation. To be put out in front of that, as a featured artist, and contributor to the franchise, was an insane honor.
4) AFTER WINNING SO MANY AWARDS (EMMY ASCAP etc), HOW DOES ONE REMAIN FOCUSED, INSPIRED AND HUMBLE?
Winning awards doesn’t really affect me in any of those ways. Remaining focused has always been relatively easy for me, because I am truly excited and inspired by about all my projects. In fact, the only reason I’ve won any awards in the first place is because I can stay focused. For me, the work always comes first.
As for being humble, trust me… having a big award on your desk may look cool, but at the end of the day, you still have to deliver, make your clients happy, and be fun to work with. It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers, and that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something important. But, if I let that go to my head and started treating people differently, my career would tank, and no one would care that I’ve won awards.
5) YOU ARE ONE OF THE BUSIEST COMPOSERS TODAY BUT YOU ARE ALSO A PARENT.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR WORK ETHIC WITH YOUR FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES?
I work very hard to set aside time for my family. I find great joy in sharing my music with my daughter, Sonatine. She loves to sing, play piano, and she’s shockingly comfortable conducting with me on the podium in front of a 90-piece orchestra. Those are wonderful moments. But, I do have a goal to start chipping away at the amount of hours I spend in a day working, and to be prepared to give even more time to her. That is probably my biggest goal for the coming couple years.
This was fun, thanks!