Category Archives: Interview

Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Oh dear…I actually had some hope for this sequel at first. When Alice Through the Looking Glass was announced, I felt excited because I’d enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and I was initially up for a return to this crazy world. And then the previews started and things got…weird (and I don’t mean weird in a good way).

The more I watched and learned, the more this felt like a re-hash of the first film (with Sasha Baron Cohen thrown into the mix). I’m not ALWAYS opposed to sequels, but if the best they can do is remix the original plot…then forget it!!

That being said, Danny Elfman DID return to score the film, so that is one positive in a film that largely disappointed. I hope you enjoy this brief interview with the composer.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here

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An Interview with Adam Blau, part 1

Not long before Christmas I received an email inquiring if I would like to interview Adam Blau, a composer of film and television scores who currently works on the hit FXX show You’re The Worst (2014-present). I accepted and this past Sunday evening I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam and talking about his work.

(From Adam’s official bio): Adam is a rising star in the comedy world, with many directors entrusting his musical talents to bolster their projects, often working closely with writers and performers to lend a strong and humorous musical sensibility to their projects. His music has uplifted projects by some of the world’s most popular comedians, including truTV’s Billy on the Street, starring Billy Eichner; NBC’s Mulaney, starring John Mulaney; several Funny or Die shorts; and IFC’s upcoming Brockmire starring Hank Azaria. In addition to composing score, Adam regularly collaborates with the showrunners and writers of projects to create and develop a variety of songs for special episodes – songs ranging from “serious” to intentionally over-the-top satires.

Adam has also scored music and written songs for celebrated films like Warner Bros.’ License to Wed, starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Krasinski; SXSW favorite The Overbrook Brothers; Phoebe in Wonderland, starring Elle Fanning; and Indian Pictures’ Fuzz Track City. Known for his expertise in percussion, Adam has spearheaded specialty drumline sessions for high profile projects, including Christophe Beck’s We Are Marshall and Mark Isham’s The Express, as well as arranging and producing world percussion for Joel McNeely’s scores to Disney’s popular Tinker Bell films.

The interview is broken up into several parts, with my questions in bold. I’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to talk with me and I hope you enjoy part 1 of the interview.

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What got you interested in composing for film and television?
Well, I had been a musician to some extent for most of my life…I started playing when I was very young, and I’ve always been involved with music in some capacity. And while I was living in New York I was pretty active in theater, music directing and accompanying, that kind of thing. As part of that, I had some friends who were writing comedy shows and they needed some interstitial music between scenes, or maybe they needed a song, and so I would help them out and it was really fun. And as an extension of that I wrote some songs for a friends show in Los Angeles, and while I was visiting LA I met a couple of people who needed some extra music for a film they were working on, they’d had a composer drop out of the production and so from New York I experimented with some music for this film and I ended up really enjoying it. In fact, I ended up being “bitten by the bug” and picked everything up and moved from New York to LA and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.
Are you inspired by any particular composer?
In general sure, I have those (soundtracks) I like to listen to independent of the film, but being so involved in multiple facets of music production, it’s rare these days for me to be listening to any current film scores while I’m composing, because I do so much of that as part of my actual work. But Carter Burwell’s score for Adaptation is a big one, it really got me in tune with what a film score could be/should be…in terms of what I’m writing, so much of the scoring process is dependent on the material and who I’m working with. There is an extent to which it’s a bit of a service industry because I’m writing music for what is essentially someone else’s vision. I think a huge part of the job is finding out what the vision is for the director and seeing how the music can best manifest that idea for them. Now I’m going to put my on thumbprint on it one way or the other, but especially in writing for television comedy, it’s writing in a particular style, usually to form the “punchline.” So I do listen to works by several composers, but in terms of my current writing, they don’t really influence/inspire me in that sort of way, because it’s dependent on what the director needs.

That’s all for part 1, part 2 should be uploaded by Friday night or Saturday morning at the latest. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @adamblau and if you’re curious about You’re the Worst, seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Hulu (seriously, you should check this show out if you haven’t before, it’s hilarious and at times very serious). Thanks for reading!

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James Newton Howard talks Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

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James Newton Howard talks Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

I can’t say it often enough: Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of the most underrated films that Disney has ever made. Seriously, the animation is beautiful, the story is great, and the MUSIC is one of the best parts! (See Atlantis: The Lost Empire “The Crystal Chamber” for more of my thoughts on this score)

This film was my first exposure to James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games series, Maleficent), and I will defend this score forever. That being said, I was beyond happy when I stumbled across this interview on YouTube where Howard talks about his work on this film. And as Howard puts it, there are really two films going on in this story: there’s the action/adventure of finding Atlantis, and once our hero Milo arrives, a totally new story begins (with a new score to match). To help distinguish Atlantis musically, Howard used a variety of Balinese instruments (which favor bells and gongs) to create a very unique sound.

I hope you enjoy listening to this interview with James Newton Howard! If you also enjoy this film, let me know what you like about it 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of James Newton Howard, see here

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John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

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John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

It’s no secret that I have mixed feelings about the live-action Disney remakes. It just so happens that The Jungle Book (2016) is one I dislike, only because I have very strong feelings for the animated original. My own feelings for the work aside, I have heard that the score was well done, not surprising since it was composed by John Debney (his musical magnum opus remains the score for The Passion of the Christ (2004)).

In this short interview, Debney talks about how he came to work on the score for the film, what kind of vision the director had and how Mowgli needed a theme of his own. But that’s not all I discovered. I also found a B-roll of footage from the scoring sessions, and I’m pleased to share it with you here. Please note around 1:58-2:00 the giant score that the composer is flipping through. You can also see a beat counter next to his head at the beginning of the video.

The Jungle Book scoring session B-Roll (2016)

I love watching scoring sessions, it’s something I really hope to witness firsthand someday in the future. I hope you enjoy this interview and the footage from the soundstage. I have a lot more interviews queued up and I can’t wait to finally get them published!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of John Debney, see here

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Patrick Doyle talks Brave (2012)

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Patrick Doyle talks Brave (2012)

Brave is a gorgeous animated film that was created by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Studios in 2012 (Disney acquired Pixar in 2006). The lead character, Princess Merida, has a distinct honor: she is the first Pixar character to be named an official Disney Princess.

In Brave, Merida, a headstrong princess of the clan Dunbroch, is upset to learn that she will be betrothed to a prince from another clan. Wanting to change her fate, Merida defies her family with near-disastrous consequences for all involved.

The score for this film was composed by Patrick Doyle, a Scottish film composer best known for his work on several Shakespeare films (Henry V (1989) and Hamlet (1996)) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). In this five minute interview, Doyle talks about the score and how he created a musical theme for Merida.

I’m ashamed to admit I have never seen this film, though I have heard mostly good things about it.

Have you seen Brave? What did you think of it? Did you like the music? Let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Patrick Doyle, see here

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in the longest time (would you believe I have about ten interviews in draft form that I’ve been sitting on for the last four months?), so hopefully I still remember how to do this 🙂 Also, this is unbelievably my 500th post!!! Wow!!

This film (in brief), follows a retired UN investigator (Brad Pitt) as he seeks to keep his family safe from a global zombie outbreak. Along the way he works to find a cure (if any) and stop the zombie hordes from overwhelming the human survivors.

World War Z was never on my list of “must see movies” because I can’t watch zombie films (they’re too real for me), but when I saw that Marco Beltrami had score the picture, I decided it was at least worth investigating to see what the composer had to say. This brief interview I found, while all too short, is enlightening nonetheless. The part that really jumped out at me is when Beltrami describes how he incorporated the tonal sounds of the Emergency Broadcast System (you know, that annoying buzzer/screech that comes on the TV every six months or so when they test the system) into the harmonies of the film score. I haven’t heard it for myself, but it sounds very clever, and would certainly be a great way to heighten the tension in a film like this.

Beltrami also discusses the need for the film to have a main theme, something to ground the story in. And let’s face it, a good theme (or the lack thereof) can make or break a film. If you watched (and liked) World War Z, then you will definitely find this brief video interesting. I only wish I could find a longer interview.

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If you’re interested in learning more about the film scores of Marco Beltrami, see here

John Powell talks How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

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John Powell talks How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Following the success of the original How to Train Your Dragon (2010), a sequel was released in 2014 to general praise. Five years after the village of Berk made peace with dragons, they live together in harmony and Hiccup is still riding Toothless and exploring new lands. But there’s an enemy on the horizon: the mad warlord Drago Bludvist is on the move with an enormous dragon army. He seeks to conquer the world with his dragons and it’ll be up to Hiccup and his friends to stop him.

Composer John Powell returned to compose the music for this film (having scored the original film and earning an Academy Award nomination in the process). The interview that I have found features the composer speaking in-depth about his score for the film, how he created the various themes and what his creative process was. John Powell is familiar with scoring animated films, having previously worked on such films as Robots, Rio, Happy Feet, Antz and three of the Ice Age sequels (to name a few).

This is another film series that I haven’t seen due to a lack of free time, but I’ve heard good things about it, so if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it to you. A third film, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is due out in 2018. Enjoy Powell’s talk about How to Train your Dragon 2! -Becky

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of John Powell, see here

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*poster image is the property of 20th Century Fox