Fans of director Guy Ritchie movies know that music plays a huge part in the experience of the story. In the 2015 summer blockbuster The Man from UNCLE, theatergoers will hear one of the best scores and a slick and sexy soundtrack to help move the spy thriller along. Daniel Pemberton is the man responsible for the soundscape to capture the action, humor and story of the film, and we were lucky enough to speak with the talented composer in a brand new, exclusive interview! Keep reading to learn about Pemberton’s score, his work on the upcoming Steve Jobs project and more!
How did you get involved in The Man from UNCLE?
I had some meetings in L.A., and I had a meeting at Warner Brothers, and they mentioned the film. I was like, “That sounds great!” They asked me to put a show reel together. So I did this show reel of some of my music, but it was one of those show reels where you go, “[sigh] it’s not that good … I can send you a better one…I can do better music than this.” It was a lot of weird music I’d done for TV rather than film stuff. Basically, Guy listened to it and liked it, and he said it was the only show reel he liked because everything else sounded exactly the same. He said he’d heard every Hollywood composer’s show reel and he couldn’t tell them apart. So I had a meeting with him and they offered me the film like, “do you want to do it?” and I was like” Yep! [laughs]” and it just went from there. That was the beginning of the crazy journey of doing The Man from UNCLE.
How involved was Guy Ritchie with the music?
If you do a Guy Ritchie film…every Guy Ritchie film, the music is such an important part of how he makes movies. He really knows the importance of music and how much power it can bring to a film. For composers, it’s very exciting and very daunting as well because you have nowhere to hide with what you write. Everything you do is going to be up front. It’s got to be rally bold, it’s got to be really strong and it’s got to kind of feel unique, otherwise Guy won’t like it.
You work with the editor, an amazing editor called James Herbert who is brilliant and also very good with music as well – so I’ll work with him and he’ll come up ideas, I’ll come up with ideas , we’ll throw them around and try and make something happen. Then Guy will see it and tell you whether he likes it or not, and you work like that. You kind of work alongside him, keep coming up with new ideas and try and get Guy excited! Eventually he gets excited and it goes in the movie, then you have another one to do, and so on. Eventually, after a lot of work, you get somewhere where you have this really cool movie that just has all these awesome music scenes.
Guy doesn’t like anything that’s like a kind of “filler” piece of music. Every single piece has got to be like a standout track and he wants you to “reinvent the wheel” every time, so it’s hard work but the end result I think is really good.
Your score is full of wild percussion and other elements. What were your influences for this score?
The influence for that [percussion] is the phrase “put some mad bongos on it,” which was used every time we got stuck with a scene. We were like “Oh, just put some mad bongos on it.” It became this like joke, catchphrase in the edit.
Percussion is a big part of the score and that was like the logical conclusion. That big scene at the end, we just got hold of every piece of percussion we could in London. That piece is crazy. It goes in and out of time, a kind of decent into chaos, and then comes back together. We’ve even got a Hungarian milk churn on it. Everything from like huge bongos, little bongos-tiny bongos make an awesome noise that’s what I learned. The smaller the bongo, the cooler the noise. Guy, a big guy, was playing these tiny joke bongos, for kids, and they sound amazing.
With that, basically, Guy is always trying to surprise the viewers, keep them excited and that’s what we tried to do with that queue. We tried to score that scene very differently a number of different ways, but they all felt quite conventional. When you watch a film, you want to be surprised, like “what the hell is this?” because it makes you pay attention. IF you’re watching something and you’re like “oh, I know what’s happening here, it’s a chase…here’s some chase music,” it’s like well why go and see a movie? Because if you know what you’re going to get, it’s not very exciting. If you go to a film and it’s a surprise, then it’s always going to be exciting.
What was the process like, working with and/or around the songs in the film from the 1960s?
It was great! There’s really great tracks in this film. I love it when you have great tracks to sit alongside and sort of compliment what you’re doing and you try to compliment what they’re doing. We even worked with some of them. There’s a scene where Napoleon Solo drives a truck off of [a dock]… so for that instance, that was a great track by an old Italian guy called [Peppino Gagliardi], a brilliant track (“Che Vuole Questa Musica Stasera”), but it wasn’t doing enough for the scene. They wanted it to kind of have this climax, which the song didn’t have, halfway through it. So I ended up writing a whole string part for the song that we recorded and put on top of the song to give that scene a bit more of a push. So, you would get involved in the score like that, which no one would know. You watch the film, you’ll never notice this string part, but if you see it again you’ll spot it.
Like I said, music is such a big part of Guy’s films, so you get involved in every aspect.
How did get involved in the Steve Jobs movie?
[Director] Danny Boyle really liked my score for The Counselor, which is a film I did with Ridley Scott. He really liked it and was familiar with quite a lot of my work on British television. I had a meeting with him and pretty much at the end they were like, “okay, we want you to do it!” and I was like “oh, oaky, cool! Really? Great! [laughs].”
It’s so weird, because I’ve ended up working with these huge directors, Ridley Scott, Guy Ritchie and Danny Boyle, all of whom, music plays a really big part in their films. It’s quite weird-it’s great! It’s very exciting but it’s also very scary because each of those directors have such good musical legacies and you’ve got to really step up when you do one of their movies. You can’t just phone it in, you’ve got to do the best score you can.
Considering the project lost two stars and even a director before moving into production, was there any hesitation on your end before signing on?
Oh, no. When you read the script you were like “this is going to be brilliant.” The script is phenomenal. No. No hesitation for one second. Danny Boyle is one of the greatest directors, not only in Britain but in the world and the script is from one of the greatest script writers in the world [Aaron Sorkin]. I think all the other stuff is all based around- I mean, it depends how far into the hacked emails you’ve read – I think everyone involved in this project wanted to do this project.
The thing about this film is that it’s not a mainstream film in a number of ways. It’s more like a piece of theater. The concept behind how the story’s told is very original, very different and it’s going to be challenging in that aspect for mainstream audiences. That was the problem, I think, studios had and I think what Danny’s doing to it is incredibly novel and incredibly exciting and I look forward to you seeing it.
Are there any other projects you’re working on in the future?
No, not at the moment – everything else I’ll keep secret [laughs].
When I work on a film, I get really, really involved in it. It takes over my life so I can’t do that many at the same time. Man from UNCLE was about a year. Steve Jobs I’ve been on since January, probably working on it every day. I get really involved with the edit and work very closely alongside filmmakers. So it’s very tiring but I hope it means you get a more unique score.
Tyler Bates scored James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” (Photo : Twitter/@tyler_bates)
“Salem” music composer Tyler Bates is set to be on board and be in charge in the soundtrack of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.”
According to Collider, Bates stands as the second composer to score a direct film sequel in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, with Henry Jackman as first, scoring Joe Russo and Anthony Russo’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War.” Bates scores have been remarkable to fans, in addition to Peter Quill’s “Volume 1” mixtape.
Bates wrote some scores in advance for Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” so that the director could shoot some scenes that synergize with the music. Hence, it is possible that the music composer will do the same in Gunn’s film sequel, as per Cinema Blend.
Aside from scoring Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” last year, Bates is also known to compose the music for Zack Snyder’s action fantasy film “300” and “Sucker Punch,” and Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s action thriller “John Wick.” He is set to score Emilio Estevez’s drama film “The Public” and Greg McLean’s horror thriller “The Belko Experiment.”
In addition to Bates’ music in Gunn’s sequel, fans will see the comeback of Kraglin, Yondu, and Nebula, along with a possible storyline involving Quill and his father, who was not central in Gunn’s “guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice), Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, and Sean Gunn, among others.
Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” is set to hit the big screen on May 5, 2017
He has spent over two decades in Bollywood as a music composer and singer. During his journey, he has bagged prestigious honours, including multiple National Awards and even two Academy Awards. But meet AR Rahman, and you are taken aback by his humility and calm demeanour. Post the launch of his new band, NAFS, HT caught up with the composer-turned-scriptwriter to discuss Bollywood music, the use of technology in film music, and much more.
In an earlier interview, you’d mentioned that there is a dearth of good music in Bollywood today. Has your opinion changed?
There’s some good and passionate stuff happening. I only think that classical music, which is something very important, is being left out. Understanding and implementing it in mainstream movies is challenging, and people are not able to take up that challenge. Because of that, a lot of boring stuff is happening. I think if music makers keep that challenge in mind, work can get better. That’s what I always try to do.
When one listens to your tracks, it’s not difficult to make out that they are your compositions. Do you fear becoming predictable?
I think predictable is not the right word; it is identification. Usually, I don’t like to be predictable. That’s what has made me survive for so long. I think identity is very important.
You have been keeping a low profile on the Bollywood music front.
I have been busy developing a lot of film scripts, so unfortunately, I had to make some sacrifices on that front. My first script for a Bollywood film is in the pre-production stage, and [we are] casting [for it]. It’s taken us four years to reach here. As far as Bollywood music is concerned, I am currently busy with the soundtrack of Imtiaz Ali’s film.
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Tell us about your new band, NAFS?
It took us a year-and-a-half to finish work on the band, which will be operated by Qyuki. It comprises nine members — eight vocalists and one bassist. We want to make this a performance band, and turn it into an ambassador of Indian music at international festivals. The aim is to spread our music. The members of the band can sing in western genres, as well as Hindustani and Carnatic music. There is a lot of emphasis on Indian classical. The band may also perform at a mall or a railway station.
Do you think the excessive use of technology in film music affects the musical growth of an artiste?
Yes, I agree with that. That’s why I am focusing more on live performances. However, I think technology is just a tool. It is the convenience and laziness of humans that leads to irritation. I think composers should be concerned about what they are putting out. When I make music, I take more time to remove things from my compositions. I listen to a song at least 100 times to remove what’s irritating and unnecessary. That is very important.
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Has your process of making music changed over the years?
It’s become more complicated now. That’s because I want to live with my songs all my life. I want to be proud of my work. Whether people like it or not, it’s been my formula.
Who are your favourite young singers?
There are many upcoming singers and independent artistes. I keep promoting them by putting up their works on Facebook. Among the current lot in Bollywood, I like Amit Trivedi and Sneha Khanwalkar (composers).
James Horner, who has died aged 61 in a plane crash in California, was one of the most successful and admired composers of film soundtracks in Hollywood. He wrote music for more than 100 films, and his extensive list of awards included two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes, as well as 10 Oscar nominations, seven nominations for Golden Globes and three for Bafta awards.
Horner’s music was an integral part of some of the most successful films of recent decades. His score for James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) won an Oscar for best original dramatic score, and he also won best original song for My Heart Will Go On, the love theme from Titanic, which was co-written with Will Jennings and sung by Celine Dion. It became a huge hit in its own right, selling 15m copies. The recording of Horner’s Titanic score also sold 27m copies. He had previously collaborated with Cameron on Aliens (1986), which had earned him his first Oscar nomination, and on the score for Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi fantasy Avatar, which was also nominated.
There were several films with Mel Gibson, of which Braveheart (bringing another Oscar nomination) was the most prominent. His Braveheart score, like his work on Titanic, showcased Horner’s fondness for folk and ethnic musical influences. But he would also cite composers such as Britten, Prokofiev and Tallis as influences on his work.
He formed a successful partnership with the director Ron Howard, and his work on Apollo 13 (1995) and A Beautiful Mind (2001) again put him on the Oscars shortlist. With Edward Zwick, a director Horner described as “very difficult and very opinionated”, he worked on Glory (1989) and Legends of the Fall (1994), earning Golden Globe nominations for each.
Horner was born in Los Angeles to Joan (nee Frankel) and Harry. His father, who had been born in Czechoslovakia, moved to the US in 1935, and was an art director and set designer who won Oscars for his work on The Heiress (1949) and The Hustler (1961). James began playing the piano when he was five, and was sent to study at the Royal College of Music in London. He returned to Los Angeles, took a bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Southern California, and went on to postgraduate work at University of California, Los Angeles.
He began his film career in the late 1970s by working on shorts for the American Film Institute, and wrote his first full-length score for 1979’s The Lady in Red (directed by Lewis Teague, but re-released by Roger Corman in 1980 as Guns, Sin and Bathtub Gin). After cutting his teeth on films such as Oliver Stone’s horror flick The Hand (1981), he made the leap to large-scale popular work with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Walter Hill’s buddy-cops yarn, 48 Hrs (1982), and Michael Apted’s well-received 1983 film version of Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Gorky Park.
That same year he wrote the score for The Dresser, Peter Yates’s adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s West End and Broadway play. He knew Harwood’s daughter, Alex, now a film composer herself, from his time studying in London. “I remember my father coming back from a visit to James when he was studying at UCLA, and saying he had heard his music and it was all bumps and squeaks,” she explained. “Dad asked ‘where are the melodies, James?’ and that was a joke for years in our family. Then he became a film composer and he was writing these incredible melodies.”
She recalled him as “a lovely person and incredibly gifted, though obviously deep down incredibly driven,” adding that he was “one of the last of that old school of composers, like John Williams, with proper classical training and unbelievable musical knowledge”.
In 1985 came Horner’s first collaboration with Howard, on Cocoon, the whimsical tale of a group of senior citizens in Florida being rejuvenated by aliens. Cameron’s Aliens followed, as well as An American Tail (1986, another Oscar-nominated project for Horner) and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s medieval detective story, The Name of the Rose (1986). Annaud became another regular partner and the pair later worked together on Enemy at the Gates (2001) and 2011’s Day of the Falcon.
Alongside his involvement in heavyweight drama productions, Horner worked on music for a string of children’s and animated films, including The Rocketeer (1991), We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993), Casper (1995), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). He perhaps enjoyed these as a respite from the demands that often came with major products for big-name directors; he was also regularly bedevilled by producers, whom he criticised for being too interventionist, particularly on The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012.
At the time of his death Horner had three films slated for release in 2015: the boxing drama Southpaw, Annaud’s Wolf Totem, and The 33. But he was not solely concerned with film work. In 2014 he premiered his double concerto for violin and cello in Liverpool, and in March this year he unveiled his concerto for four horns at the South Bank in London.
He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and their two daughters.
• James Roy Horner, composer, born 14 August 1953; died 22 June 2015
• This article was amended on 24 June 2015. Through an editing error, the quotation beginning “a lovely person…” was attributed to Ronald rather than Alex Harwood. On 14 July, a further amendment was made to details of surviving family members.
Ant-Man is a 2015 American superhero action film directed by Peyton Reed and starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll. Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil. The score is composed by Christophe Beck.
It’s Marvel time! (again), and I couldn’t be more excited. Sure, I don’t know anything about Ant-Man except he’s a guy in a suit who got shrunk and is one of the tiniest superheroes out there. The movie looks great based on the trailers I’ve seen, mostly because Paul Rudd is awesome. This Ant-Man character is even part of The Avengers so don’t be surprised if he appears in the next Avengers movie. Beck has spent some time on this. Rumour has it that he had to give Terminator: Genisys to someone else because he was so busy on Ant-Man. No idea if this is true, but that can only be a good thing. The ‘Theme From Ant-Man’ was shared by Beck a few days ago and it is a curious one. It’s very different from what you’ve used to in recent years from Marvel. It feels partly like 60s spy film music. Then again, this Ant-Man character (Scott Lang) is a thief, so it might just fit the character perfectly. In any case, I like it a lot. It’s different and fun. ‘Honey, I Shrunk Myself’ is next and what a fun title. It must be a spoof on the classic Rick Moranis film ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’. Now the music is more “standard”, but standard doesn’t mean it’s bad. This is quite fun, particularly the action sequences in the second half of the cue.
I like that it’s not just a modern action style, but it’s mixed with a more classic orchestral action style. It also has that classic spy feel in certain cues like ‘Ant 247’ and I have to admit I love that style. I love the energy of this score, this really feels top quality all the way. Ant-Man is an anti-hero in a way, and I guess that’s why there’s not so much heroics in the music, but ‘San Francisco, 1987’ has a bit of a heroic feel to it and there’s a stint of heroism on ‘First Mission’ which makes sense. The score has a definitive tongue-in-cheek feel to it and I love that. It needs a bit of humour, and it seems that the music delivers. The score feels so developed, like a lot of time has been spent scrutinising every detail to just make it right. The horns, the percussion, the strings, it all feels just right. Love how a well-developed score like this can make me feel. At first when I listened to the Ant-Man theme I didn’t think it would be something I would remember, but as soon as I heard it in another cue, I remembered it instantly and was hooked. It’s actually quite catchy and hummable. The final track is a lot of fun, it sounds like a classic surfer track. I won’t spoil any more than that but it’s a hoot!
Nothing to say really except that this is the best superhero score of 2015. Beck killed it. Killed it!