I will never forget the summer of 2009, when my unique band, The BSG Orchestra, rocked out on a crowded stage in San Diego during Comic Con, performing my score for Battlestar Galactica, just months after the epic series finale aired. The venue was bursting with my brilliant musicians, many of the cast, crew, writers, producers, and executives, as well as fans from around the world. Together, we experienced a collective euphoria, because we all loved the show with the same intense passion. After the last encore, the crowd erupted into an unprompted chant of “So Say We All,” a moment that remains one of the most magical and memorable of my life. As the house lights came up and the crowd dissipated, I collapsed into a sweat-soaked heap on the couch in the greenroom and realized that, for the first in my life, I had no new cues for the show to write. Battlestar Galactica had been the most significant part of my life for six years, and now, with this concert complete, it was over.(more…)
When I was growing up, film scores and movies were my religion, and the local cineplexes and video rental stores were my holy sites. Every weekend, I made pilgrimages to these communal spaces to soak in new movies and cement social bonds with my friends and family. After a recent trip to my hometown of Bellingham, Washington, I realized my childhood’s sacred places had closed, enveloped by merging media conglomerates, or made irrelevant by streaming digital content.
(Halloween, 1995. That’s me dressed up as Darkman, the titular character from the first major studio film directed by Sam Raimi.)(more…)
2018 has blasted by in a flash! The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I realize I’ve fallen a bit behind with my blog. With this update, I plan on catching up on a few of the projects I’ve scored that have come out this summer, and I will look ahead at what is over the horizon for the rest of the year.
AURORA – QUEENDOM COME
First up, I was thrilled to collaborate with singer-songwriter AURORA to produce a Celtic-inspired version of her track “Queendom Come.” The single was used by Electronic Arts for the official E3 reveal trailer for Unravel Two.
Last spring, I got a call from my friend Steve Schnur at EA who said that the marketing team really loved this particular AURORA song, but wished it had a more acoustic, even Celtic, sound. Somehow, Steve thought of me as someone who might enjoy doing music in this style! I listened to her song and fell in love with it immediately. The harmonic progression was satisfying, the melody and vocals were haunting, and the lyrics were nostalgic and moving. I knew right away I would have a blast working on the track.(more…)
What can I say about Beth Krakower that hasn’t already been shared by the massive outpouring of love and grief I’ve witnessed from our shared community?
Beth and I worked closely together for fifteen years. She was among the first people in the film music industry to believe in me, and to help me believe in myself. Together, we hatched ambitious schemes of creating soundtrack albums, labels, concerts, live events, websites, and more. She encouraged my wildest ideas, with equal parts enthusiasm and practical advice. She was a road manager, a publicist, a spirit guide, and a close friend.
I am heartbroken she is gone.
Today, I searched through thousands of photographs from events I did with Beth over the last dozen years, in search of the best one of her and I together. Beth was a very effective publicist, so effective, in fact, she consistently pushed me into the spotlight, while stepping back from it herself. She always made a point to grab a snapshot of me wherever we went. If I could only send a message back in time, I would tell myself to grab that camera out of her hand, and ask someone to take a picture of her and I instead. Alas, I seemingly have only one image of Beth and I standing side by side. Through the blurry low resolution, one can see how elated we both were in this moment. Beth’s true superpower was making her friends feel this way every time they were in her presence.
Rest now, my friend. Your fight is finally over. We are all grateful for the time we shared with you.
With so many shows and tours, I forgot all about Florence in 2013! I found one more, and its in focus. ❤️
This weekend, I flew to New York City for a film premiere. That, by itself, is not unusual. Just a year ago, I was in the city for the world premiere of 10 Cloverfield Lane. This time, however, I was there not in support of a film I scored, but a film in which I am featured! Score: A Film Music Documentary, directed by Matthew Schrader, is the first feature-length documentary to explore the world of film music. As one of the dozens of composers featured in the film, I attended the premiere to help spread the word about this unique film.
The weekend was fun, exhausting and surprisingly illuminating. (more…)
Richard Hatch was my friend. And tonight he is gone.
I first met the dynamic actor, who played Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica and Tom Zarek in its reincarnation a quarter century later, while I was scoring the new series’ second season. He was the first actor on the show I had the pleasure of meeting, when he interviewed me for a fan website. He quickly put my starstruck nerves at ease with his obvious passion for storytelling. I instantly recognized him as a man for whom art was a spiritual experience. A genuine curiosity about life, music and story radiated from him.
I have long dreamed of hearing my music in a film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. I can safely say that this last week, attending Sundance in support of not one, but three, unique films, is literally beyond my wildest dreams!
My journey to Sundance began two and a half years ago. The month my daughter was born, I realized that my career was not all I wanted it to be. My television career was at an all-time high, but my progress into in other mediums, especially film, videogames, theater, and live performance, had stalled. I partnered with Richard Kraft and Laura Engel and began pursuing every film opportunity I could. I wanted to work in new genres, to reach into both studio and independent films. (more…)
I was honored last spring to be the Outstanding Alumnus and Commencement Speaker for my alma mater, the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. I took very seriously this opportunity to offer advice to a new generation of musicians, determined to communicate something practical to students they could use to kick-start their careers. In the fourteen years since I graduated from USC myself, I have learned many lessons, the most profound resulting from humiliating mistakes. From these I learned that “Attitude is Everything.” That universal message is applicable to any career in any field.
With that in mind, I am sharing my USC Thornton School of Music commencement address with you all. The following is adapted and expanded from my speech, given on May 13, 2016.
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You are about to embark upon your professional career, armed with the skills you have honed during your education. You are good at what you do. You might even be the best at what you do. Building a successful career, however, relies on more than talent or skill. Being “good” isn’t enough. Even being “the best” isn’t enough. In the music business, as in life, attitude is everything. A successful career emerges when the person with the right talent and skills also has the right attitude at all times. (more…)
If asked who my heroes were when I was eight years old, James Horner’s name would have been on a very short list of film composers whose work I adored. My cassette tapes of his soundtracks to Star Trek II, Star Trek III, Aliens and Willow wore down over endless repeat plays. Taking my mother’s VHS camcorder, I recreated Star Trek II scene by scene, using toys and puppets against a set I made out of a cardboard box, just so I could hear his score against it! Horner’s rich orchestral writing and thematic development ignited my imagination on long car trips, while walking to school, or while simply sitting in my room in front of my stereo. (more…)
Ten years ago today, the world lost one of its most influential musical figures of the twentieth century: Elmer Bernstein. Most people know his music long before they ever know his name. His themes are iconic, woven into the fabric of our popular culture. To industry veterans and film aficionados, his name is legendary. Elmer was the first composer whose film career reached a fifty-year milestone, achieving success in every conceivable genre and medium along the way. He was revered by musicians, filmmakers, executives and fans alike, and was known for defining, then destroying, genre expectations. He was, truly, a titan of the industry.
To me, he was much more. Last year, I wrote a blog entry sharing my favorite quotes from my years as his student, but that did not come close to expressing how much he inspired me and impacted my life, both creatively and personally. Elmer encouraged me to pursue my dreams in Los Angeles, to become a well-trained musician, and to always write music with “personality.” He heard something in my work when I was a kid and decided to help me find my way into the business. (more…)