TALKING TO SECRETS OF THE WHALES COMPOSER, RAPHAELLE THIBAUT.

AFTER SHE WAS BORN, RAPHAELLE SUFFERED FROM A SERIES OF SEVERE EAR ISSUES THAT LED TO SINGLE-SIDED DEAFNESS. AT THE AGE 4, FOLLOWING HER DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION, SHE STARTED AN INTENSE PIANO PRACTICE.

MUSIC BECAME HER PATH TO RECOVERY.

SHE CONTINUED STUDYING MUSIC FOR 15 YEARS AT THE CONSERVATORY OF LILLE, FRANCE, WHERE SHE GRADUATED IN 2002.

FROM HER EARLY TEENS, ENNIO MORRICONE, JERRY GOLDSMITH AND FRANCOIS DE ROUBAIX SCORES WERE ALREADY PLAYING ON HER DISC-MAN.

IN 2015, SHE DECIDED TO LEAVE HER MARKETING JOB AT GOOGLE TO PURSUE HER LIFELONG PASSION FOR MUSIC AND FILM SCORING. SHE QUICKLY STARTED WRITING FOR INDEPENDENT FILMS AND MUSIC HOUSES AS WELL AS FOR BRANDS LIKE UBISOFT, COCA-COLA, SALESFORCE AND NIKE. MAJOR PLAYERS LIKE KPM/SONY PICTURES, WARNER MUSIC AND AUDIOMACHINE SOON STARTED TO COMMISSION HER TO COMPOSE LIBRARY ALBUMS FOR FILMS AND TV. SHE THEN BEGAN TO WORK FOR TRAILER HOUSES AND GOT FEATURED IN MAJOR HOLLYWOOD PRODUCTIONS LIKE INCREDIBLES 2 AND MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

info from the official Raphaelle Thibaut web site.

SECRETS OF THE WHALES is such a beautiful score, how did you become involved on the project?

Thank you! Two agents who have been representing for years have been in touch with the production team at Red Rock Films at some point in the UK. The team remembered me afterwards and asked me to pitch for it. I was supposed to be writing for the series among other composer’s, but they finally decided to hire me for the whole show.

The music is at times classically orientated but then it displays a more contemporary style, did you have any specific direction from James Cameron the producer, or did you work with the two directors about the score or what style of music the series required, and was there a temp track on the film when you first viewed it?

Secrets of the Whales | Official Trailer | Disney+ – Bing video

The orchestral genre was a requirement from the beginning because it’s a Disney program and they wanted to be consistent. The score is more hybrid that it might sound indeed, with layers of pads, drones, synthetic brass and drums. I mostly worked with the filmmaker Brian Armstrong and the editors. I’ve worked on temp tracks that I think are already owned by National Geographic. And they were great cues! So, it was both inspiring and a challenge.

The series took three years to make, how much time did you have to score and record the four parts of the documentary and did you score them in the order that they were screened?

I started working on the score right after they were done with the filming. I worked one episode at a time, starting with Orca Dynasty in March 2020. This show was my Covid project! The four-episode scores were finished and approved by September.

The score sounds as if it is a mix of both synthetic or electronic and symphonic, what percentage of the score was performed by live musicians?

0% if we exclude me! There was no plan to record live players from the beginning, and this was even less of an option after the pandemic started. So, I did everything “in the box” as we say, using my software instruments, my piano and my voice.

still from secrets of the whales Disney +

What musical education did you have, and was writing music for film something that you had always wanted to do?

I played the piano from a very young age and pursued a classical education at the Conservatory for a good 10 years. I was always obsessed with film scores, but I don’t think I was ever aware of the concept of soundtracks when I was a kid. I was kicked out of music school at the age of 18, being told that I was not meant to be a professional pianist. Which was true! I found no interest in playing classical music in public, I actually hated it. But I wish someone would have told me back then that there were other paths, other genres I could play and that I could be a composer. Then I spent thirteen years of my life doing something completely different. But I went back to music, my first love, at 30 years old after I suddenly decided to quit my job in Tech. Never regretted it.

You are credited in the music department on Maleficent Mistress of Evil and The Incredibles 2, what did you work on for these movies?

I wrote the music for the official trailers.

Do documentaries require more music than say a feature film?

I would instinctively say yes, but I think it depends on the film. I don’t think I have enough experience in fiction to really make a clear statement about this, but I felt very free when writing for Secrets of the Whales and was allowed to go really big.

Sigourney weaver narrates the four part documentary.

What do you think music should do in a movie or a documentary?

It depends on the film, always. But I think it should always be this invisible character in the movie that subtlety squeezes your heart, hands you the tissues or makes you laugh. Sometimes, a music decision made during the spotting session or later can determine a scene. So, although it has often more of a supporting role, I think it has much more power than we’d sometimes think.

Were any of your family musical and can you recall any early memories of music as a child?

My parents are big fans of classical music, and my older sister is a professional violinist. I do recall these long Sundays filled with non-stop loud music in the house. I also remember wanting to listen / to play other genres of music. Sometimes in secret!

What artists or composers would you say have influenced you or inspired you?

Already as a kid I was very attracted to the composers from the late Romantic era (especially the Russian composers)- and I think it was an early sign of an unconscious fascination for cinematic music. A lot of the cinematic music genre took inspiration from the dramatism, large orchestra, use of leitmotif, and emotiveness of the romantic era). I was also very influenced by composers moving between classical and jazz. Polymath geniuses like Gershwin, or Leonard Bernstein. And I think my core film music influences come from the French and Italian cinema of the 60’s and 70’s. Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota (Amarcord, Romeo & Juliet), Giorgio Moroder (Midnight Express), François de Roubaix (Daughters of Darkness, The Old Gun.) George Delerue (Truffaut- The Day of the Dolphin, Agnes of God, Shoot the piano player).

When you are working on composing music, how do you work out your ideas, via piano or maybe computer?

Everything always starts with my piano. I try to have it next to me when I see the images for the time, then start writing melodies. This first encounter with the images is paramount to me. It’s the closest I can get to the audience experience, and I want to know how my music reacts to my emotions.

Introducing Selma Blair.

You have also recently scored another documentary, Introducing Selma Blair, will there be a soundtrack release of this score, and when a score of yours is released do you have any input into what cues are included?

Yes, this is a beautiful, powerful film. I can’t wait for it to be released. I hope there will be a soundtrack! Nothing confirmed yet. For Secrets of The Whales yes, I had a say on everything related to the soundtrack (what cues, what titles, what order).

What is next for you?

Two TV projects that I can’t share yet unfortunately, and a personal album for early next year! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s