What would you say are your earliest recollections of music of any kind?
My earliest memory of music was actually me making some music. I’m not sure where I got it, but I distinctly remember singing “boom, chick, boom, chick” as a young kid. Some kind of super primitive beatboxing when I was probably 4 or 5.
Was there music in your family, by this I mean were any of your parents musical?
I’d say so. My father’s side of the family played instruments and sang together. My father had a Bachelors of Music in Tuba performance. Despite having that he became a lawyer.
My sisters and I took piano lessons each starting in 1st grade throughout elementary school and Junior high.
So it was definitely around us.
YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER, is in my opinion a very good score, its a pastiche if you will of styles and sounds that are associated with the horror movies of the 1990.s, Was this something that you set out to do, or did the director
ask you to write in this way for the movie?
Thank you so much, I really enjoyed working on Killer.
The whole movie is a send up of the 80s/90s horror genre. So at the first meeting with the director we sat down and started going over tone and ideas. From the start we intentionally wanted it to be more retro. They had taken great care to do the same to the movie, so I needed to match that in the score.
What size orchestra did you use for the score for YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER?
Believe it or not, there are almost no live elements in the score. That mostly came about because of turn around time. I ended up scoring the movie in about 3-4 weeks and couple that with being an indie movie, the resources just weren’t there. The only live element is an exotic percussion part that a buddy of mine, Joe Martone tracked. After he tracked it I processed it heavily so it almost feels textural during some of the more intense creepy scenes.
You worked on JEEPERS CREEPERS 3, how did you become involved on this picture and had you seen the first two films in the series or heard their scores?
I ended up working on Jeepers 3 through the editor, Misty Talley. I’ve worked with her for years, both on movies she’s edited and directed. When the original composer dropped out, she recommended me and I got on the gig. I hadn’t seen the first two when I was first approached, but when I got onto it I immediately watched them. Checked out the scores and how the score felt in the movie. I wanted to make sure it felt like it was in the same world as the previous movies, but updated to match today’s changed tastes.
Do you think that the horror genre in particular needs more music than most other types of movies?
It definitely can go that way. It’s important for sure. So many times in horror you’re making up for some deficiency that has cropped up. Especially in the indie world. On the other hand, there are some truly masterful horror scores that know how to build up tension then drop out and let the quiet really bring you to the edge of your seat.
Do you buy soundtracks at all?
I do. I recently jumped on an Apple Music subscription though, but if I really think a score is great, I’ll pick up the album as well.
When you are working on a score for a movie, do you try to come up with a sound or even just a phrase that the audience will after seeing the film associate with it.
For sure. On every project I like to know basically where I’m going. So whenever I start out I’m always trying to lockdown a general palate of sounds that I’m going to use. That would include themes or soundscapes if it’s a textural based score. It’s important for my creative process as well as giving the project its own identity emotionally and sonically.
What musical training did you have and were there any areas of music or individual instruments that you focused upon?
I started piano lessons in 1st grade. Joined band playing saxophone. Dabbled in different instruments through high school. I attended college pursing a Music Media and a Music Composition degree (All the while playing saxophone). I also attended the Aspen Music Festival’s film scoring summer course while they still had it.
How did you become involved in the writing of film music did you set out to become a film music composer or did this just develop as your musical career progressed?
Around sophomore year in high school I started to want to become a film composer. Once I got that stuck in my head, I seemed to push everything I could into that direction. My first project was for a guy making commercial and promo videos that I lived by. From there I just kept putting myself out there and it kept progressing.
What composers either from the world of movie music or from other genres of music that have influenced you or indeed may have inspired you to write in a certain style of fashion?
From the classical side, Gustav Holst is always a great influence. There is a concert band composer named David Maslanka that I’ve loved.
On the film side, not to be cliché, John Williams is amazing. John Powell, Jerry Goldsmith, and Dennis McCarthy are favourites as well. I’m a huge science fiction/science fantasy soundtrack person. So anything in those genres I love usually.
When you worked on YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER did the director have a temp track on the movie when you were first seeing it, if so do you find temps helpful or maybe at times distracting?
Yeah, there was temp music. On fast turn arounds, which Killer was, temp can be extremely helpful. This holds even more true if the temp has been very carefully selected. Usually what ends up happening with temp is I’ll watch something with temp one or two times. Then only hear it again if it’s ever referenced in notes. It’s definitely useful when communicating with non musical people. They can point to the temp and say, “I liked when the temp turned as she said [xyz]” and you can go back and reference and take away something that they may have trouble expressing without that music background.
How much time were you given to complete the score for JEEPERS CREEPERS 3, and what is the normal amount of time you are given to work on a score for a movie?
Jeepers 3 was a bit of a weird situation. Originally the Jeepers 1 and 2 composer was going to do the score, but during the edit it didn’t work out. So I was brought on as they were trying to get reshoots done and the edit done. So I would get reels as they locked and I’d work on them. This ended up being a hurry up and wait situation. I had 6 weeks to score the movie total, I believe, but I wasn’t working continuously on it. Sometimes, I ended up waiting on the next reel to lock. This culminated in the last action laden reel getting dropped on me 3-5 days before the deadline. So I furiously wrote 18 minutes of action music for that reel till the last second.
Most of the projects I work on run about 3-6 weeks. Sometimes it’s longer, but TV runs on a pretty strict schedule.
You worked on projects for SYFY channel, how much effect does it have upon a score if say the budget is not that great, are there ways of writing to make a score sound larger or grander than it actually is?
It does have an effect for sure, but I’ve found I always have to produce at a high level. I don’t want to turn in anything I don’t feel comfortable putting my name on.
No one knows how long you worked on something or how much you were paid. They just hear your music. The last thing I’d want is for someone to see a movie I worked on and they just hear a score that doesn’t sound good.
That being said, samples sound pretty great and knowing how to use them pretty well can get you fairly far. Add in some soloist live parts over good samples and it can do a great deal to trick the ear into making your score sound more real and large.
Do you think that a central theme is important within a score, or at least a theme that acts as a foundation to the remainder of the score, or a theme that you can develop the remainder of the score upon?
I think a musical identity is really important to a project. I always prefer for that identity to be a traditional theme, but that can even go for a texture. Themes and textures are so integral to telling a compelling story. Giving the audience something to connect to emotionally as our characters go on their journey. Also, having a cohesive theme and texture for the movie will allow the audience by suspend disbelief more and buy into whatever is happening on screen.
Were you involved in the compilation of the music tracks for the soundtrack releases of JEEPERS CREEPERS 3 and YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER?
Yes, I personally made the JC3 and Killer albums, although my audio mixer did the mix on the Killer album. I wanted to make sure that the right sections of the score remained and all the tracks flowed nicely.
What do you think is the purpose of music in Film?
Music in film allows the audience to experience the ride in the movie. It fills in the blanks that we need to better understand the concepts and characters that they’re watching.
What is next for you?
I’m wrapping up some indie films that have been a nice change of pace. Moving onto a cool branded music library for an app after that. We’ll see what the rest of 2019 holds.