Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, film composer Pedro Bromfman has been writing, playing and producing “Music For Images” for well over a decade. A Cum Laude graduate from Berklee College of Music, Pedro has worked as a session musician, music producer and arranger before his passion for film scores brought him to Los Angeles.


Was music for film something that you were always attracted too and at what age did you become interested in music generally or first play a musical instrument?

I’ve loved and studied music since I was a kid. I started playing guitar at age 11 in Rio de Janeiro and got more and more serious about it as I became a teenager. By the time I was 15 years old I knew I wanted to be a professional musician. I’ve always been very interested in film as well, but to be honest, I had no idea this is the path my music would lead me to. However, I do remember being completely moved by film scores. For example, Ennio Morricone’s music in Cinema Paradiso, I was probably 13 years old when I saw it in a movie theatre and I was completely obsessed with it. I didn’t really know composers could make a living composing for films. I had a career as a musician, composer/arranger and music producer before I moved to Los Angeles and started composing music for shorts and  documentaries.

th (14)Were there any family members that were musical and encouraged you to take up music as a career?

My mother loved music and used to tell me she had always wanted to be a singer but she had never really had any musical training. My father loves classical music and he is an avid concert goer but has no musical aptitude or studies. I was the first one in my immediate family to play an instrument. My grandmother studied piano in a conservatory but, by the time I was born, she had already stopped playing. The major influence in my desire to lay and study music was certainly my mother. She passed away when I was young and I think her passion for music and her desire to be a singer were influential in my musical studies. I didn’t realize this for many years…


What musical education did you receive and what instruments or areas of music did you concentrate upon specifically?

I’ve studied classical and electric guitar as a kid as well as music theory, harmony, ear training, etc… By the time I was 16 I was really into Jazz and started studying Jazz composition and arranging while still playing the guitar. I moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music when I was 18 years old, to study Performance and Composition. At Berklee I had my first experiences studying counterpoint, traditional harmony and orchestration, something I would dive into right after college.



Your most recent scoring assignment is ROBOCOP, which we all know is a re-make of the classic sci fi film, your score is certainly a powerful one, how did you become involved on the movie?

I was brought into Robocop by director José Padilha. We had worked together on two movies before this: Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. MGM hired José primarily because of the Elite Squad franchise, the biggest in Latin American history, and allowed him to bring on board key members of his team.





I was pleased to hear parts of the original Basil Poledouris ROBOCOP theme within your score, was this something that you thought of doing when you were asked to score the film or did the films director ask you to include it?

I’ve been a fan of Robocop and the original score for many years. I flew to Toronto right after they finished shooting, to meet with José Padilha and to watch some of the scenes being assembled, and I brought a copy of Mr. Poledouris’ score with me. I knew from earlier conversations this was a very different film and we had talked about creating a very different score, but I did want to try and find a place for it in the film. At first it seemed difficult to find a spot for such an iconic and heroic piece of music in a dark and much less heroic score. Until we decided to place it with the Samuel L. Jackson character, an over-the-top TV personality who sees Robocop as the salvation for all of America’s problems, and it just seemed to fit really well. It was just a matter of changing the orchestration a bit and bringing some electronic elements so it wouldn’t completely stand out from my score.


What size orchestra did you utilize for ROBOCOP, and what percentage of the score is made up of synths and samples and did you conduct the score?

We recorded a 75-piece orchestra at Air Lyndhurst studios in London. I’ve also recorded solo cello, hang, guitars, bass and quite a bit of percussion before recording the orchestra. I’d say the live instruments represent 60-70% of the score and the remaining 30-40% are a mix of synthesized sounds, pulses and beats, sounds designed and developed by me and my programmer specifically for Robocop and processed acoustic instruments. I did not conduct the orchestra; we brought in a great conductor, Gavin Greenaway. On this project I really needed to be in the booth and hear how the orchestra was blending with all of the pre-recorded tracks we had created. I really needed to hear the balance of the orchestra with all of the electronics and percussion as we were recording.

1385237_10151820084543267_354634610_nDid the director of ROBOCOP have a lot of input into what music should be on the soundtrack to his film?

José and I have a great working relationship. He tends to hire people he trusts and usually let’s them do their job with little interference. There is certainly no micro-managing with him which is great! However he knows what he likes and what he is very quick in letting me know if I’m going in the “wrong” direction, if a piece of music is not “right” for the scene. He has a very clear vision of what his film is and the elements he needs to make it come through.




How much time were you given to write and record the score?

I worked on the score on and off for about 8 months. I had the privilege of being involved with the film from very early on in the process. I would write some music and send it over to the editing room, sometimes it would take weeks until I had feedback or until I received a new cut of the film to continue working. It was a very organic process and we had time to find the score we needed for the film.


Do you think we will see a sequel to this re-make?
I really don’t know. I think this is all about numbers, not my area of expertise. The important thing is we are very proud of the film and that it stands on its own with or without sequels.

When you began work on ROBOCOP did you at first establish the main themes and then work around these and create the remainder of the score based on these, or did you begin by writing the smaller cues and leaving the larger cues till later?

We’ve determined the themes first. We started with the family theme, the new Robocop theme and the Omnicorp theme.


Do you orchestrate your film scores, and do you think that orchestration is an important part of the composing process?

I do a lot of the orchestration as I compose the music. I think the choice of instrumentation, breakdown of the orchestra and numbers of musicians determine a lot of my choices early on in the process. But a good orchestrator is an invaluable asset in film music. Especially when you’re getting close to the recording session and I’m trying to finish the last few cues and re-work the ones already approved to the new picture edits, it is maddening… It is impossible to keep your sanity and review every voicing and counterpoint.


Who as in composers or artists would you say has either inspired you or influenced you either in the way you compose or approach scoring a movie?

I am a big fan of film music. Ennio Morricone as I mentioned before is an amazing musical influence. He is certainly one of my favourite composers, not only in film but in general. I am also a fan of composers pushing the boundaries of film music and incorporating different instruments and unexpected sounds with the orchestra. Composers such as Thomas Newman, Santaolalla  and Alberto Iglesias. Jazz and Brazilian music are a huge part of my background as well as British rock and experimental music. I think every experience I’ve had as a musician somewhat contributes to the composer I am today.

Have you ever come up against writer’s block or just had a difficult time on a score, if so what do you do when you become stuck on certain things?

I think every score you work on presents its challenges and difficulties. A lot of times, starting a new score can be overwhelming. Thinking you’ll need to have 80 minutes of approved music by the time you’re done with the film can seem like a daunting challenge. In my opinion the best solution for writer’s block is taking a score one day and one piece at a time and sitting down everyday to compose something new. No matter how good or bad you think that piece of music is I usually tell myself I have to finish one idea a day.  Film music is about transpiration and not inspiration meaning you can’t sit around waiting for something to hit you out of left field you have to search for it and find it. The deadlines are usually brutal and you can’t afford to waste time. Of course some themes do come to you in a moment of pure inspiration but that’s usually not the case.


The temp track is something that is discussed a great deal, some composers find it helpful others find it distracting, how do you feel about the use of a temp track on movie you have been asked to score?

When I’m dealing with extremely tight deadlines, temp tracks can be invaluable. It is impossible to conceptualize a score, discuss it in length with a director, create all of these custom sounds and experiment with different instruments when you have 4 weeks to compose an entire score. In that scenario temp tracks give you a very good idea of what the director is looking. However, experiences like we’ve had with Robocop are, to me, by far the most rewarding ones. Not having to chase a temp score, being able to spend time creating a palette of sounds and figuring out exactly what your director wants and the picture needs is a rare commodity nowadays. Being involved very early on also represents a lot more work for a composer since you have a lot more experimentation to do and, the film is constantly changing, scenes are trimmed, moved around, removed, added and your music has to follow along every step of the way.

How many times did you view ROBOCOP before you began to get any fixed ideas about what music you would compose and where music should be placed to serve the picture in the best way?

We didn’t have a film assembled when I started out. I started with a few scenes trying to establish the themes. As the film started to take shape we had a more organic idea of where my music should and shouldn’t be.


Were you involved in the sequencing and compiling of the soundtrack compact disc for ROBOCOP?

Yes, I tried to create diversity and keep it interesting. There is around 80min of music in the film and 54min in the CD.

You have also worked on TV scores and provided music for video games etc is scoring a game very different from writing the music to a feature film, what would you identify as the main differences?

The main difference to me is that, in writing for a video game, you have very little control as to where and how your music will play in any stage of the game. You’re much more detached from a very creative aspect of film music which is scoring a scene and all of its nuances. In a game, everything has to loop and you have to create several different intensities for every piece. You can’t really plan to start a piece really small and build it up throughout a scene. That is done by the programmers who tell the software, when more enemies appear on screen release more stems. It is somewhat more mathematical; you’re not really scoring a scene and adding your sensibility to it. I think in a video game the music is driven more by the action than the emotion. Of course, video games now also have cut scenes, and those are scored like scenes in a film. I think with advances in game-play technology and programming, video game music may start changing significantly in the near future, allowing composers more control.





What is next for you?

I’ve finished Robocop and a much smaller European film earlier this year and, to be honest, I’m still not certain what I’ll be doing next. I’m likely doing the music for a Netflix show later in the year and I’m currently meeting on a few different movies.



rien-a-declarer-la-maison-du-bonheur-les-chtisAnother wonderful release from the ever industrious and un- stoppable French film music specialist label MUSIC BOX RECORDS. This time they treat us to not one but three soundtracks on one great compilation, which have all been penned by the highly talented and versatile composer Philippe Rombi, the films from which these scores are from are LA MAISON DU BONHEUR (2006), RIEN A’ DECLARER (2010) and BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH’TIS (2008) all of which were directed by French actor/film maker Dany Boon. The latter which has already seen a compact disc release is represented by a selection of cues from the soundtrack with the inclusion of a variation of one of the themes performed on chimes. The other two titles are first time released scores and are presented here in their entirety. The collaboration between film maker Boon and composer Rombi has been a fruitful and interesting one, Rombi’s eloquent, melodic and robustly infectious music complimenting and enhancing perfectly the scenarios and images that have been created by film maker Boon.  The compact disc opens with the score for RIEN A’ DECLARER, (NOTHING TO DECLARE). This lively and full-bodied sounding work includes a handful of themes that are hauntingly beautiful and also an equal amount that are slightly boisterous and definitely infectious. Rombi’s score posses a puckish and uncomplicated comedic atmosphere, the composer creating not just highly thematic passages but bringing to the surface an almost joyous and effervescent mood. In many ways this score reminded me of the style of past French film music Maestros, Michel Magne and Georges Delerue. Magne was brought to mind because of the upbeat sections of the score and mainly because of the presence of a quirky waltz like theme that establishes itself as the core and  foundation of the score, a madcap and almost eccentric sounding piece on which the composer builds a pulsating and strident central theme which in turn influences thee remainder of the score, this theme first manifests itself within the scores opening track, Générique début, which opens with a  grand and lavish sounding introduction that is almost operatic in its stature, performed by strings and brass this imposing opening melts away to allow the composer to bring his more mischievous sounding piece into the equation. Rombi ushers this impish and infectious motif in very gently in fact almost warily but soon expands and enlarges it until we begin to hear the full roguish entertaining impact of this humorous sounding composition, which has the ability to be haunting in a kind of annoying yet pleasing fashion. The composer makes excellent use of the jaunty and mischief infused theme throughout the score and re-invents it on a number of occasions within the score, thus keeping it fresh and vibrant and above all original.




I also make comparisons with Georges Delerue; my reason for this being that I think Rombi like Delerue takes a simple theme or motif and turns it into an intricate and fragile sounding tone poem that at times although making only a fleeting appearance manages to add depth and greater atmosphere to any scene within a film. Creating a high degree of emotion and colouring the scenario with glorious and haunting music. The second score that is represented on the compact disc is  LA MAISON DU BONHUER (THE HOUSE OF HAPPINESS) which was the first  film that Rombi and Boon collaborated on, the score for this movie is written in the same comedic style as  RIEN A’ DECLARER, but in my opinion goes a little further in the humorous department, it is a far more deliberate sounding score, in some ways the music sounds almost clumsy but immensely effective, the composer using strings to great effect to create a comical apprehensive sound, there are also a few more jazz orientated moments within the score where solo piano is utilised to great effect as in track number 18, CASINO, track number 20, La bague and track 21, Rêve de maison, where light and airy piano is underlined by smooth and sultry sounding strings. There is also present a feint hint of subdued samba or a laid back bossa nova beats which make an entrance within a few of the cues and these soon become infectious and entertaining. The final score as mentioned in the opening of this review is Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Land of Shtis), already issued on compact disc this is another delightful score, and this edition of the soundtrack includes a bonus cue in the form of Le carillon d’Antoine performed on bells or chimes. Again the score is for the most part comedic in its overall sound and style but does also include a beautiful theme Valse des Ch’tis which is track number 29 on this release. A lilting and quite melancholy sounding piano performance is centre stage of this piece with subdued strings acting as punctuation and support; these however soon become more prominent the composer increasing the volume of the string section as they glide into a delightfully mesmerising waltz.  The compilation ends as it begun with music from RIEN A’ DECLARER, this time in the form of a concert suite, which includes a number of the scores principal; themes, it is an almost five minute musical pleasure, the themes are interwoven into a resounding and attractive suite and it is a fitting end to a wonderful compilation of quality French film music, this I cannot recommend highly enough and I urge you to add this to your collection as soon as you can, because any self respecting film music connoisseur should not be without it. Presented to the normal high quality that is now normal for music box records, this is a must have release.



FEBRUARY 20, 2014 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2013. This year’s awards have a real international flavor, with the top awards going to composers primarily from Poland and Spain, but also from France, Japan and Argentina.

The award for Score of the Year goes to Polish composer ABEL KORZENIOWSKI for his beautiful score for director Carlo Carlei’s new cinematic version of the classic Shakespeare story of tragically doomed love, ROMEO AND JULIET. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen called the score an “epic romance”, and felt that the film “inspired greatness out of the right composer”, while IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that Korzeniowski “is a composer who is not afraid to bring out the deeper sentiments in a film through his music, and it’s so refreshing to hear music from a man who so clearly understands what good film music can achieve”.


abelkorzeniowski-ifmca2Korzeniowski was also named Composer of the Year, having not only scored Romeo and Juliet, but also the surreal fantasy ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW, which underscored the story of a man gradually losing his grip on reality while visiting a theme park with a soaring satire of traditional Disneyland music. The score for Romeo and Juliet was also named Best Score for a Drama Film. These are the second, third and fourth IFMCA awards for Korzeniowski, who previously won the Drama Score award for A SINGLE MAN IN 2009.

The IFMCA’s ongoing recognition of emerging talent in the film music world this year spotlights Bordeaux, France native LAURENT EYQUEM, who was named Breakthrough Composer of the Year. Having made his film music debut just five years ago in 2008, Eyquem impressed the IFMCA greatly with two spectacular scores in 2013: director Ronald Maxwell’s epic civil war drama COPPERHEAD, and a biopic of the great South African civil rights leader WINNIE MANDELA, starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard. Eyquem’s emotional orchestral music for these projects really struck a chord with the IFMCA membership.



Spanish composer ROQUE BAÑOS wrote the IFMCA’s Film Music Composition of the Year, and won the Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror score award for his astonishingly brutal, violent, brilliant orchestral music for the remake of the horror classic EVIL DEAD. Employing huge orchestral and choral forces, as well as the eerie tones of an air raid siren, Baños’s score is a wonderful example of the best in contemporary horror movie scoring, and the composition of the year – “Abominations Rising” – is a tour-de-force of power, intensity, and musical excellence. This is the first IFMCA Award win for Baños, who was previously nominated for his score TORRENTE 4: LETHAL CRISIS in 2011.

th (13)

The various other genre awards were won by THEODORE SHAPIRO for director Ben Stiller’s globetrotting comedy-drama THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY; Spanish composer VÍCTOR REYES for the ingenious classical music thriller GRAND PIANO; Japanese composer JOE HISAISHI for his warm score for director Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film THE WIND RISES; and CONRAD POPE for his exquisite music for the artistic documentary TIM’S VERMEER.

In the non-film categories, Argentine composer FEDERICO JUSID won the award for Best Original Score for a Television Series for his outstanding work on the most recent season of the Spanish historical TV drama ISABEL, while French composer OLIVIER DERIVIÈRE won the award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for his creative, unconventional score for the reality-altering REMEMBER ME.

La-La Land Records won the Best Archival Release of an Existing Score – Compilation award for their superb work on Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn’s classic action scores in the LETHAL WEAPON series, released in a lavish 4-CD set by producers Neil S. Bulk and MV Gerhard. They also continued their monopoly of the Film Music Record Label of the Year category, winning for the fourth straight year, and solidifying their position at the top of the list of labels specializing in lovingly restoring the greatest film music of the past.

Finally, conductor Nic Raine and producers James Fitzpatrick and Luc Van de Ven won the Best Archival Release of an Existing Score – Re-Release or Re-Recording award for their outstanding re-recording of one of Jerry Goldsmith’s once-lost 1980s action scores, THE SALAMANDER. The IFMCA also chose to present a special award to Welsh composer and orchestrator LEIGH PHILLIPS, who worked with the label on The Salamander. With the original recordings lost and virtually no sheet music to work with, Phillips faithfully re-created the score by ear, watching the film over and over again in order to fully understand Goldsmith’s music. As a result of his diligence, technique and dedication – as well as the subsequent performance by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – this long-desired work has finally been made available to collectors.



• Romeo and Juliet, music by Abel Korzeniowski

• Abel Korzeniowski

• Laurent Eyquem

• Romeo and Juliet, music by Abel Korzeniowski

• The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, music by Theodore Shapiro

• Grand Piano, music by Víctor Reyes

• Evil Dead, music by Roque Baños

• The Wind Rises, music by Joe Hisaishi

• Tim’s Vermeer, music by Conrad Pope

• Isabel, music by Federico Jusid

• Remember Me, music by Olivier Deriviére

• The Salamander, music by Jerry Goldsmith; re-recording conducted by Nic Raine; album produced by James Fitzpatrick; liner notes by Frank K. De Wald; album art direction by Paul de Blieck, Johan van den Broeck and GINKO DIGI (Prometheus/Tadlow)

• Lethal Weapon Soundtrack Collection, music by Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn; album produced by Neil S. Bulk and MV Gerhard; liner notes by Jeff Bond; album art direction by Jim Titus (La-La Land)

• La-La Land Records, MV Gerhard and Matt Verboys

• “Abominations Rising” from Evil Dead, music by Roque Baños

• The Salamander, score reconstruction by Leigh Phillips


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is an association of online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing and broadcasting about original film, television and game music.

Since its inception, the IFMCA has grown to comprise over 60 members from countries as diverse as Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Previous IFMCA Score of the Year Awards have been awarded to Mychael Danna’s LIFE OF PI in 2012, John Williams’ WAR HORSE in 2011, John Powell’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON in 2010, Michael Giacchino’s UP in 2009, Alexandre Desplat’s THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON in 2008, Dario Marianelli’s ATONEMENT in 2007, James Newton Howard’s LADY IN THE WATER in 2006, John Williams’ MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA in 2005 and Michael Giacchino’s THE INCREDIBLES in 2004.

For more information about the International Film Music Critics Association visit or, follow us at, or contact us at




I suppose the trouble or problem with re-makes of movies that are considered classics or iconic films is that one is always looking to compare the re-make with the original, I know its hard not to do this even if you consciously say to yourself you must not. I decided what I would do with the new version of ROBOCOP is not actually see the movie until I had listened to the score. Again it’s hard at times to put out of mind the score for any original and inevitably we began to make comparisons, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the score to this new take on ROBOCOP, composer Pedro Bromfman has produced a pulsating and highly vibrant work that is filled to overflowing with tense and nervous sounding cues that are action driven and relentlessly powerful. I am so pleased that the composer saw fit to pay his own tribute to the late Basil Poledouris by including the familiar strains of the Robocop theme, which makes its entrance into Bromfman’s score at track number 3 -TITLE CARD, it is a short 50 second track but is dominated by the strident and infectious theme that we first heard back in 1987 and now so readily associate with the central character.




Bromfman,s unyielding powerhouse of a  soundtrack is a fusion of conventional orchestral textures  which are enhanced, coloured and embellished to great effect by a variety of synthetic components, these are further underlined and supported with booming and urgent sounding percussive elements that play a major role in the soundtracks effervescent and increasingly taut musical persona, the composer brings into play fearsome and rasping brass flourishes which although are but fleeting add much to create an atmosphere of urgency, he combines these with slightly apprehensive sounding strings and adds little touches from percussion to maintain a more than anxious action led mood. This I think is displayed fully in tracks number, 14, GOING AFTER JERRY, 16, MURPHYS CASE IS FILED and is developed and added to in track 23, BATTLING ROBOTS which is a cue that builds tension upon tension until it overflows and boils over into a full blown action piece, this is also the musical scenario for track number 15, VALLONS WAREHOUSE, the composer bringing together both conventional instrumentation and electronics to create an unstoppable and insistent musical accompaniment. There are a few quieter moments within the score that add an air of intimacy and melancholy to the proceedings but these are short lived and in most cases as in Track number 6, CALLING HOME, soon return to being brooding and dark orientated cues rather than building or developing into anything that we could refer to as romantic or emotive. This for me is a score that is well worth investing in and also an interesting addition to any film music collection. Available  on Sony and at I. Tunes.

Tuomas Kantelinen.


Tuomas Kantelinen, is one of the brightest stars within the cosmos of film scoring, his highly original and innovative music has ingratiated numerous movies and television productions. Born on September 22nd in Finland, he won the Finnish Jussi Award for Best Film Music in 1997 and 1999 and was awarded the Finnish Art Critics’ award for “Most impressive Artistic Breakthrough of the Year” in 1999 for his achievements in the fields of film music and classical music. He is known for his beautiful orchestral film themes, but has also scored ads for well-known mobile operators, banks and consumer products, as well as the theme music for MTV3 (Finland) news. in addition to film music, he also composes concert music, ballets and even operas. His opera about long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi was performed on the Helsinki Olympic Stadium to 22.000 spectators per night in summer 2000.

The Legend of Hercules is one of your most recent film scores, how long was the scoring process on this project from start to finish?

I met Renny for lunch in the beginning of February a year ago he had just gotten the gig – so for a big film with so many effects ‘The Legend of Hercules’ was completed in record time. I don’t usually get involved that early in the process, but for this film we started right away, by making a sort of teaser for which I wrote some music, it was shown to buyers at the Berlin market a year ago. I also composed some cues for the set so they could have action music or music for some emotional scenes while they were filming. I was also working on the temp score of the movie, both helping to choose temp music and writing little atmospheric and transition pieces while they were editing the movie. We spotted the movie around the beginning of October, and then I started composing in earnest. Recording was in the beginning of December, final mix from the second week of December, and the movie came out on January 10th. All in all a very compact schedule, especially since the release was changed to an earlier date fairly last minute!


You worked with director Renny Harlin on MINDHUNTERS did he have specific ideas or instructions for you regarding the music on this and HERCULES or was he happy to let you create the score and see what you had produced?

From the start Renny knew he wanted an ‘old-fashioned’ epic and orchestral score in the vein of classic swords & sandals movies. I have learned to know his taste he really goes for the melody – the more memorable and ‘hummable’, the better. He isn’t one of those directors who think that everything or anything is ‘too much’ where you might end up with a drony music for the duration of most of the movie. Renny wants it big, and epic, and unashamedly massive. When spotting, we were laughing a lot, because for almost every scene him or one of the producers would say: “and this one has to be really huge and epic” – there are so many action scenes and each is bigger than the previous one.


What size orchestra did you utilize for the score and where did you record?

We had a big orchestra with almost 90 players in Budapest, where we recorded for a couple of days. We then continued to London, where we recorded all the brass for the score and also a smaller string ensemble for some cues that needed the accuracy of the London players. Those we recorded at Air Studios, and also mixed there for about a week. We were unfortunately in quite a hurry due to the final mix starting two days after our last recording day, so we mixed all day and delivered reels in the evening when it was the start of the day in Los Angeles.

The female vocalist on the score for HERCULES plays quite a large role on a number of the cues, who is the vocalist?

There are actually three female singers in ‘Hercules’ – one of them is my own sister Karoliina Kantelinen, who is a singer and ethnomusicologist. She is one of the three singers in the Finnish folk band Värttinä that is quite popular all over the world among folk music fans. Then there are talented twin sisters Nicki and Tanya Wells, whose singing we can hear in a couple of key scenes like when Zeus visits Queen Alcmene in her bedchamber. Nicki and Tanya are very well versed in many musical styles and have studied singing in India, so the base of that cue is a ‘shloka’, a sort of mantra that they sing in harmonies. On top there is more melodious singing by then. This was the last cue that we hadn’t recorded. Nicki and Tanya came in around midnight to Air Studios, where we had just recorded a full day of brass and strings. We were watching the pictures and talking about how we wanted to layer singing and give the scene a sort of ‘divine intervention’ feel without being too ‘angelic’. In about two hours we were done, and super happy with the result. It is such a privilege to get to work with such creative people.

Your music is I think very unique as you create many highly original passages and are inventive when it comes to orchestration, do you orchestrate all of your film music when possible or because of schedules do you find it a better arrangement to use orchestrators at times?


I do love to orchestrate myself, and try to get into detail whenever it is possible. Even when someone orchestrates, I like to work with the cue quite a lot before giving it forward, so there usually aren’t that many ‘surprises’ for me. That said, I have a wonderful long collaboration with Matt Dunkley from the UK, a great orchestrator and composer who really understands my way of creating music (both in the artistic and logistic sense – meaning I tend to be a bit last minute sometimes).  I wouldn’t use an orchestrator for my classical concert pieces, because I feel the craft is in all those intricate details. But in film music often there is just not enough time to go that deep into it, especially when dealing with the US way of doing things which is much more a group effort of a number of folks giving notes and the composer addressing them, sometimes until the recording. A lot of time is used into honing cues, and for Hercules I certainly couldn’t have pulled it off without Matt’s endless patience and talent.

What musical education did you undertake and did you concentrate on any one instrument whilst studying?

I played a number of instruments from when I was a child, but my main instrument when I’m composing is the piano. I went to Sibelius High School and then to Sibelius Academy, where I studied composition for about six years. As you probably guessed, we Finns are proud of our countryman Sibelius, that’s why these two specialized music schools are named after him! Sibelius Academy is a serious university, so most of my composer colleagues who studied at the same time only work in concert music. When I’m working I’m ok with the life of a hermit, sitting alone and composing but I like the added benefit in film music of meeting other people and collaborating with them.  I guess I’m just too sociable to just work on my own all the time. With scoring for films, I strike this nice balance of being able to work with people, while the core part of the composing is of course done alone.


Do you come from a family that has a musical heritage?

My grand mother Liisa used to be a kind of ‘grand old lady’ of music education in the area of Ostrobotnia. She made us sing, dance and play instruments when we were little and three of us four siblings have ended up in the music industry. We all played piano but got to choose other instruments as well. I played the oboe, my sister plays

The ‘kantele’ – a traditional Finnish instrument, my brother Kustaa played the guitar and became a rock musician. My brother Johannes played drums, but he didn’t end up choosing a musical profession, he directs news broadcasts.

In a number of your scores you use human voice which has returned effective and original results do you look upon the voice as another instrument within the orchestra?

You could say that. I find the human voice a very suggestive instrument, it can touch emotions – maybe we relate to it because it’s the instrument that we all have. In addition to film scores I have written concert and stage music, also choir pieces, song cycles and now recently, a musical. So I guess I am fascinated by the human voice!


 Do you have a preference when it comes to a particular orchestra or maybe a studio when you record your film scores and what would you say are the main differences from recording in the United States and Europe?

My first preference for long as been Air Studios in London, with the sublime musicians that can be contracted there. I have recorded in the U.S. a couple of times, but recordings tend to be more in Europe due to the flexibility of a buy-out deal, usually the producers don’t want to worry about royalties and residuals to musicians afterwards. L.A. musicians are great though, so I hope I will be able to record there again!

Did you always think that you would like to write music for film?

Originally when I started seriously studying music and composing, I think I thought I would become a ‘classical composer’ and would write symphonies and concertos. I still do that on the side and enjoy writing concert music as then you are really the artist – no one is going to send you notes or reject your piece, you are at liberty to write anything you want. I love beautiful music, so I try to make everything beautiful and harmonious, both when I write for concerts, the stage of for the screen.

At what age did you first begin to take an interest in music and what composers or individual artist, bands etc do you think have influenced you at all?

When I got into film music, it was still the golden age of adventure movies in the vein of ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Goonies’, ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Star Wars’ etc. – the sort of 80’s crowd-pleasing big films with good old film music. Growing up and watching those, I looked up to John Williams, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, Michael Kamen, among many others. On the classical side my heroes are still Tchaikovsky, Rahmaninov, Shostakovich, Steve Reich and Philip Glass.



 You composed the music for the ballet SNOW QUEEN, how does writing a ballet differ from scoring a motion picture?


I worked together with choreographer Kenneth Greve, the artistic head of the Finnish National Ballet, so he was my ‘director’ on this one. We went through the story and I would compose on-site at the National Opera House, he would come in and give me comments. I learned a lot about how to structure music for dance. For instance there always has to be a sort of ‘prologue’ for each piece, to facilitate the dancers’ entry on stage. I didn’t even think about it before, but got quite good at it towards the end of our collaboration! Ballet has a lot of repetition as many a times you’ll have 20 or 30 dancers in several rows who will be doing some dance moves by the row with the next row following etc. All in all it was a fascinating experience and I look forward to working on another ballet in the future!

How much time do you normally have to write the score for a movie, maybe you could use THE YEAR OF THE WOLF as an example?


Usually time is short from locked picture to final mix in the worst case scenario I only have a couple of weeks or less. If I have two months I consider that pure luxury. With ‘The Year of the Wolf’ I had way over a month, so it wasn’t too bad. As the music for the film is sort of minimalist, it was fairly easy to produce in that time. We recorded at Air Studios as well with engineer Geoff Foster, who made it sound great, as usual.

How much music did you write for HERCULES and how much of the score made it onto the CD release, do you also have any input into what music will go onto any   CD release?


I wrote about 85 minutes of music and a lot of it is on the soundtrack CD, but not all. CD’s are always difficult to compile as cues are short and it could sound very ‘fragmented’. This time Geoff Foster made the selection for me, and we changed a couple of things, but it’s mostly his ‘vision’ on the soundtrack. I find it hard to make play lists as I am probably too close to the music that I have just composed. I probably wouldn’t leave anything out and would be attached to some strange little cues… All in all it’s important that the music flows and provides a nice listening experience to the film music fans that get the soundtrack.

I think LIPTON COCKTON was your first movie score, how did you become the composer on this movie

I was studying at Sibelius Academy at the time and met with director Jari Halonen, who is a very interesting, intense and talented guy. His movies are of the ‘true indie’ type, he really isn’t going for a commercial appeal, but follows his own intuition. Lipton Cockton is a futuristic conspiracy drama and has become a kind of cult film with time. Jari trusted me with the music and was very demanding, he has a reputation of being demanding towards everyone in his projects, but I enjoyed the challenge and trying to come up with exactly what he wanted for his film.

I think before that I had only made the music for one other film, Helsinki City Symphony, which was an ambitious documentary about moments and facets in the life of Helsinki and its inhabitants.

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MONGOL is a highly original sounding score, what research did you do for the music before you began to write the score?

I listened to a lot of music from Mongolia and Kirgistan, and acquainted myself to the local instruments and traditional music styles. The score itself was a hybrid of those Mongolian sounds and a traditional epic orchestral score. We really had all the western musicians and traditional players and singers in the same hall, playing together. It was the most inspiring process and the movie itself is great, I never get tired of watching it. The Mongolian musicians, who participated, Altan Urag, are an amazing group of people and it was such a privilege to get to know them.

What is your opinion of the increased use of electronics and also samples within film music, and how do you arrive at your musical ideas, do you use keyboard, piano, computer or pencil and paper?

I like to compose on the piano, and scribble things down with pencil on paper. But then of course I move to the computer and work with Pro-Tools and Logic and all those mod cons. As my final outcome is usually the orchestra, I find it challenging to use a lot of time and resources into mock-ups, but that is how it works nowadays. If they don’t sound good enough, the client can not imagine what it will sound with the real orchestra, beautifully recorded and mixed. I like the flexibility of adding things with the computer, but am a big fan of the traditional orchestra sound and don’t see myself writing only electronic or sample music, it complements all my scores but alone it really isn’t my thing.


Do you agree with the use of temp tracks by directors, or can these at times be distracting, especially if the director has grown fond of it?

I am sure all composers have struggled with the dilemma of the temp track. In Europe, we don’t have this tradition that much – sometimes I will even get a cut movie that doesn’t have any music other than source. But in the U.S. system everyone works with temp, and it can be both blessing and curse. The good thing is that with temp it’s easy to understand what kind of music the director wants in each scene, so in a way it sometimes helps to understand what musical style they are after. Of course when you work on a movie with a limited music budget, it is sometimes frustrating when they use super expensive music as temp. They sort of expect the same from you, even if with the funds at your disposal, you can hardly afford a fourth or third of the sessions and musicians this big expensive movie score has. Of course, if asked to do it, I will try to ‘copy the temp’, but I bet none of us composers do that happily as it’s wrong to both the composer of that original cue, as well as your own artistic integrity. But we’ll all try to make the director and studio happy and think of the big picture, to make the movie work and the best it can be…

What is next for you?

I am now writing for a Russian epic movie based on a popular book, and this spring I will also work on a Finnish-Swedish co-production with a comedic premise. Some projects in the U.S. are ‘bubbling under’, but I can’t say anything official yet. I hope to be able to continue this sort of eclectic mix of US based bigger movies, European art house, Indies, concert and stage work. After a hectic film music gig it’s nice to sit a couple of weeks at the countryside house, look out of the window and write something of my own… After doing that for a while, I crave another crazy adventure in the film music world!



Many thanks to the composer for answering my questions and also a big thank you to Beth at Cine media promotions for making the interview possible and supporting the web site.